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Instant Pot Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Enjoy a BBQ style meal anytime with our Instant Pot pulled pork recipe. Made with our special dry rub seasonings and a sweet and tangy homemade BBQ sauce.

Every now and then, I get a craving for BBQ. Now, since I don’t have a smoker, I’ve had to learn how to improvise and make a BBQ style meal in my own kitchen.

For example, we have a slow cooker pork sandwich recipe that works pretty well for us. Notice I said it works, not that it’s the perfect substitution for slow smoked meat.

Let me be the first to say, nothing replaces the low and slow process of smoking bbq pulled pork. With that being said, if you live a place that doesn’t allow grills or smokers, then a kitchen method might be your only option.

For today’s post, Kim decided to adapt that recipe for preparation in her Instant Pot. The main concern for me was the pork drying out and being tough.

While pressure cookers create meals quickly, if not used properly, you can end up eating well-seasoned shoe leather. Fortunately, Kim has gained a lot of experience working with our pressure cooker and has discovered an important aspect to creating pressure cooker recipes.

Natural release seems to be vital in keeping meat tender and juicy. For that reason, she allowed the Instant Pot to complete a full natural release. Hence the long cooking time.

I’ll say this though, it was worth the wait. You can chose to do a quick release after 20-minutes, but do so at your own risk.

With that little bit of information out of the way, how about we get started making this shredded pork.

A small serving dish filled with the instant pot pulled pork.

Instant Pot Pulled Pork Instructions:

First, gather up all the ingredients you need. Trust me, there are a lot of them for this pressure cooker pulled pork.

After that, go ahead and grab a small bowl and combine all of the dry rub spices. Use a fork or a whisk to break down all the clumps.

Set the dry rub aside and start prepping your pork roast. Next, remove the netting the from the butt or shoulder.

At this point, you can either trim away some of the large pieces of fat or leave them in place like we did. I leave that option up to you.

Personally, I like to keep all the fat on my pork, then remove it during the shredding process. Much like a burger, fat equals flavor so, I tend to leave it place when cooking any meat.

The pulled pork ingredients, like a dry rub and bbq sauce.

After you’ve prepped the pressure cooker pork shoulder, it’s time to apply the rub. Make sure to coat the roast entirely with the seasonings.

Also, massage the dry rub into the meat with your hands. You can use latex or kitchen gloves if you don’t like touching raw pork.

The point is, the spices need to be pressed into the butt or shoulder and allowed to rest so they’re properly absorbed. Once the dry rub is in place, put the meat into your fridge to rest for at least 30-minutes.

Overnight is best, but 30-minutes will suffice.

Instructions Continued:

Then, while the roast is resting, get your BBQ sauce ready. In a medium to large mixing bowl, combine all of the BBQ sauce ingredients.

Once again, use a fork or whisk to mix everything together and break down any large clumps. Pour the sauce directly into your Instant Pot liner.

A close-up view of the pork shoulder coated with a dry rub.

Afterward, once the roast has rested, place it into the liner and submerge it into the sauce. Close the lid, seal the valve, and set the manual/high pressure button to cook, using the following formula (3lbs. x 15-minutes =45-minutes, using the 12 psi tab).

According to the Instant Pot website, pork needs to cook for 15-minutes per pound. Our roast, with fat, was between 3-3.5 lbs, hence the 50-minute cooking time.

When the timer goes off, you will need to let the pressure cooker complete a natural release for at least 20-minutes. Otherwise, the meat will most likely be dry and tough.

As stated above, Kim let ours go for 40-minutes for a full release. Again, it was definitely worth the wait. Consider serving it with coleslaw or fries.

An aerial photo of the cooked pork in the instant pot.

Last, use tongs to shred the pork and remove any excess fat pieces, if desired. That’s it you’re all done.

You can serve this pork as a sandwich, or a main course. The Instant Pot pulled pork can be stored in your fridge for up to 3-days in a sealed container.

On a side note, I enjoy using the leftovers on a BBQ hot dog or having it with a side of Instant Pot potato salad.

In closing, Kim and I hope you like this adaptation. Hopefully, it will help you enjoy a BBQ flavored dish when you either don’t have access to a smoker or just don’t feel like waiting 12 hours for a low and slow meal.

The pulled pork, ready to be served with metal tongs.

Pulled Pork Recipe Tips:

The consistency of our BBQ sauce is closer to a North Carolina thickness, meaning it’s thin. If you like thick BBQ sauce, you have two options: cook it down using the sauté function on your cooker, or use a corn starch slurry as a thickening agent.

Another way to lock in juices when working with large cuts of meat is to saute it first. Once you add the rub, you could saute the meat for a minute or so on each side just seal in all the juices.

Apple cider vinegar is usually the vinegar of choice when it comes to BBQ. However, feel free to experiment with a different type of vinegar.

I’m sure sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar would add a unique flavor to the dish.

All out of brown sugar, then try mixing molasses and white cane sugar together to make your own homemade brown sugar.

Can’t get enough BBQ? Then take a look at our grilled BBQ chicken breast. It can be made on a gas or charcoal grill or on a stove-top griddle pan.

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The pulled pork, ready to be served with metal tongs.

Instant Pot Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Yield: 12 Servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Come to Pressure and Natural Release: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Enjoy a BBQ style meal anytime with our Instant Pot pulled pork recipe. Made with our special dry rub seasonings and a sweet and tangy homemade BBQ sauce.

Ingredients

  • 32 Ounces Pork Shoulder, (approximate weight for pork butt or shoulder)

Dry Rub

  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Chipotle
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika

BBQ Sauce

  • 15 Ounces Tomato Sauce, (1 can)
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon All-Spice
  • 2 Cups Water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, prepare and combine all the dry rub seasonings. Set aside.
  2. Remove any netting from the pork and check for any large pieces of fat. Some of the fat will melt away during the cooking process, but large, thick pieces may need to be cut off prior to cooking. (We left the pork shoulder in one large piece to keep the integrity of the meat. However, feel free to cut it into smaller pieces to reduce cooking times.)
  3. After any netting and fat have been removed from the pork, apply the dry rub. Make sure to message it in liberally over the entire piece of pork. Place the pork in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. 
  4. While the pork is resting, make the BBQ sauce. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the BBQ sauce. Pour the sauce into the liner of the Instant Pot.
  5. After the pork has rested, place it into the Instant Pot directly into the sauce. Close the lid, make sure the valve is set to “sealing,” and use the manual (pressure cook) button to adjust the time. According to the Instant Pot website, pork should cook for 15 minutes per pound. Our pork shoulder was 3.5 pounds, so we cooked it for 50 minutes.
  6. Once the time is up, allow a natural release for at least 20 minutes (we did a full which was 40). The longer you can wait, the less likely the meat will be tough. Carefully, open the valve to release any pressure, then remove the lid. 
  7. Shred the pork with meat claws, two forks, or tongs either directly in the Instant Pot or by transferring it to a bowl or plate.
  8. The BBQ sauce will be thin, but it can be cooked down some using the saute function or thickened with a cornstarch slurry. We like to serve it the way that it is. After shredding the pork, place it back into the sauce or ladle the sauce over it. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Notes

The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients and a serving size of 2-3 ounces of pulled pork. Actual calories will vary. The pulled pork can be stored in your fridge in a sealed container for up to 3-days.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 3 Ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 181Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1026mgCarbohydrates: 28gSugar: 26gProtein: 9g

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