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Instant Pot Pulled Pork (The Best)

by victor

The ultimate Instant Pot pulled pork seasoned with a tasty pork dry rub and cooked to perfection using a much improved cooking method that works like magic.

Pork being pulled apart in a bowl with amber juices.

There is no question that smoked pulled pork takes the crown every time. But if you really want that juicy pulled pork sandwich quick, Instant Pot pulled pork will do the trick.

The problem with pulled pork made in a pressure cooker is that it tends to taste bland and the meat comes out a little dry and tough in my opinion. The added liquid required for building up pressure dilutes the flavor and ruins the texture.

My solution to make pressure cooked pork butt taste better is to cook it in isolation from any added liquids. You want the pork to cook in its own fat and juices. This way the meat will be more flavorful, juicy and have a softer texture.

Close up of juicy pork being pulled with two forks.

The best way to make pulled pork in a Instant Pot

So, how do you do that? It’s very simple. All you need to do is cook the meat in mason jars. Just cut up 3 pounds of pork butt into 2-inch pieces, stuff into four 16-ounce mason jars, put the lids on and cook in a pressure cooker.

This method is not new, this is how canned (or jarred if you will) meat is done anyway. But it works like magic for making pulled pork. Sounds pretty simple, right? Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Cooked this way, pulled pork tastes a dozen times better and has a superior texture.

Pork butt in mason jars cooked in Instant Pot.

What if you don’t have or don’t want to use mason jars?

No problem! Simply wrap seasoned pork pieces tightly in several layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, place on the rack inside your Instant Pot and cook like that. I tested this method several times and it works very well too.

Pork butt, wrapped in foil, inside Instant Pot.

Pulled pork in foil pouch.

How long to cook pork using this method?

This depends on what kind of texture and tenderness you want to achieve. Here is a summary table that will be of help.

Pork Butt Pressure Cooking TimeTaste Results
45 minutesFairly juicy meat, but somewhat tough still. Some pieces are easier to shred than others. Tastes way better compared to the one cooked directly in the pressure cooker.
60 minutesBest balance of juiciness and tenderness IMHO. The meat pulls fairly easily. Just a tad drier than the 45-minute one but barely. It tastes great.
80 minutesThe meat is fork tender, literally disintegrates as you push a fork through it. A little drier but mixed with the juices it tastes great. You can almost spread it with a fork. I like this one a lot, actually. The meat almost melts in your mouth.

Pulled pork, cooked in pressure cooker, in a bowl with juices.

Dry rub for pork butt

Oh, and don’t forget to put a good rub on the meat. Even smoked pork benefits from a good dry rub. If you want to give the meat that awesome smoky flavor you can add some liquid smoke. I provided the recipe for my special homemade pulled pork dry rub below. I’ve been using this rub for years on anything from pork butts to  pork loins and even chicken. It makes any meat taste great.

Tips

  • Do let the pressure cooker depressurize naturally. If you don’t a fair amount of the liquids from the jars will get expelled. You want all the juices to stay inside the jars. This is less of an issue if using foil.
  • The liquid inside the jars will be very hot even after a 20 minute natural depressurization. Carefully remove the jars from the pressure cooker using a jar lifter, or a towel, and let cool down for about 20 minutes before opening.
  • Open the jars slowly and carefully to avoid spilling hot liquids.
  • Any unopened jars must still be refrigerated. They will keep in the fridge for a few weeks easily.
  • When wrapping pork butt in foil, keep all seams at the top to prevent water from getting in and natural juices from leaking out.

Must try recipes that use pulled pork

Diana Rattray’s Macaroni and Cheese with Pulled Pork
Pulled Pork King Ranch Casserole by Serene from House of Yumm
Diana Rattray’s Pulled Pork Barbecue Biscuit Cups
Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie by Steve from The Black Peppercorn
Marian Blazes’ s Arepas With Pulled Pork and Cilantro Garlic Mayonnaise
Leftover Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese by Janelle from Num’s the Word
Derrick Riches’s Fresh Pulled Pork Spring Rolls With Mustard Barbecue Dipping Sauce
Diana Rattray’s Pulled Pork Barbecue Biscuit Cups

Close up of juicy pork being pulled with two forks.

Best Way to Make Pulled Pork in Instant Pot

The secrets to making the best pulled pork in a pressure cooker.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: instant pot pork, pulled pork
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 245kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs pork butt cut into 2-inch pieces

For the dry rub

  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Ancho chile powder optional
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine all of the dry rub ingredients.
  • Throw pork butt pieces in a large bowl. Add the seasonings and mix well.
  • Stuff pork into 4 16-oz mason jars leaving about 1/2" head space. Close until finger tight. Alternatively, wrap the pork tightly in several layers of heavy duty aluminum foil.
  • Place the jars or the foil pack (seam facing up) on the removable rack of the Instant Pot. Pour enough water to reach about 1/3 of the height of the jars or the foil pack.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and make sure the pressure valve is sealed. Set for MANUAL, HIGH pressure for 60 minutes cook time.
  • When the pressure cook time is up, let the pressure cooker naturally release for 20 minutes. Then open the valve completely to quickly release all the remaining pressure.
  • Remove the jars or the foil pack from the Instant Pot. If cooking pork in mason jars, let the jars cool for about 20 minutes before opening them. If cooking in foil, let the pork rest for 5 minutes before opening.
  • Dump the meat in a bowl together with the liquids. Shred with forks, mix with juices and keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

For smoky flavor, add about a 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke if desired. This stuff is potent so less is more in this case. If 1/4 tsp is not enough, add a few drops more.

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1009mg | Potassium: 648mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 890IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2.8mg

 

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