This Instant Pot Pork Shoulder is super easy to make and great for weekend gatherings or busy weeknight meals. Made with a perfectly spiced pork rub and saucy BBQ – it’s tender, juicy, and made in record time.
I’m just not ready for the summer to end! I made these Smoked Burgers the other night, and I had almost forgotten how incredible a smoked burger tastes! We also cook Smoked Chicken Quarters during BBQ season, and we really can’t get enough tasty summer dishes.
This pork shoulder recipe gives you that melt-in-your-mouth shredded pork with smoky BBQ sauce any time of year! I love it because it’s made in one pot which means less mess and easy clean-up. Plus, you get all those great flavors of summer throughout the year!
What you need to make this bbq pork shoulder
For the spice rub
- Brown sugar
- Garlic powder
- Ground mustard
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Pork shoulder
- Olive oil
- Chicken stock or beer
- Apple cider vinegar
- Barbeque sauce
It literally takes only 10 minutes to prep this pork shoulder and takes about 1 hour to cook (minus the time it takes for the instant pot to pressurize).
In all, you’ll get 6 servings of juicy, saucy pulled pork in record time.
- You can use light, dark or coconut sugar.
- I like Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, you can you use whatever type is your favorite.
- If using beer, go with something light in flavor like a pale ale or a light wheat beer. Try to avoid anything heavy or with too much hops.
- If you have a favorite BBQ spice rub, you can use ¼ cup of it in place of the spice rub above.
- With any type of pressure cooker recipe, you will always want to allow extra time for the cooker to come to pressure. This is not calculated in the actual cook time. So if you’re timing this meal to be on the table promptly, add 5 to 20 minutes extra to come to pressure.
- Pour the broth or beer around the meat rather than directly onto it. You don’t want to wash off all that great seasoning.
- I suggest doing a natural release once the cooking time has finished. To do this, just let it sit for about 15 minutes and let the cooker release the pressure. Once it’s done, you can manually release the remaining pressure, and you’re ready to shred and serve.
- When you do a natural release, the floating valve will start to lower, but you will not be able to open the lid until the pressure is low. Don’t force it because there is a lot of pressure built up, and you could burn yourself.
- I use oven mitts when releasing pressure for added protection.
- Be careful when releasing pressure as steam could rise quickly.
- Always cut your meat into equal parts so that it cooks evenly.
Can I make it ahead?
Yes! You can make it ahead of time so that it is ready when you are.
How to store
Store any leftover pork in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
How to reheat
There are several ways you can reheat this pork dish without drying it out!
In the oven
If you have time to reheat the pulled pork slowly, then the oven is the way to go. By setting the oven at a low temperature, and adding a little liquid back into the meat, then you’ll get moist, juicy seconds of pulled pork.
Preheat the oven to 225°F (107 °C). Spread the shredded leftover pork in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Add a little BBQ sauce and a touch of broth, then cover tightly with tinfoil.
This allows the meat to steam under the foil and makes it nice and juicy.
Once the internal temperature reaches 165°F (174 °C), it’s ready.
It should take about 30 minutes. Carefully take off the tin foil, stir and serve!
In a toaster oven
Since a toaster oven is basically a mini oven, you do the same as above. It’s best if you are reheating smaller portions.
In the microwave
The microwave can be known for drying out foods, but leftover pulled pork contains a lot of moisture, and reheating it in the microwave is doable.
Just place the meat into a microwave-safe dish, add some BBQ sauce and a splash of broth, cover it tightly with a lid or plastic wrap, and cook it on high for about 2 minutes increments until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (174 °C).
Give it a stir and serve.
On the stovetop
Reheating this dish in a pan on the stovetop is quick and easy. The secret to reheating is locking in moisture, so it doesn’t get dry and tough.
Place the pulled pork into a heavy-bottomed skillet and add BBQ sauce and broth. Cover the pan tightly with a lid.
Heat the pan over low-to-medium heat, stirring occasionally until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (174 °C) which should take about 12 to 15 minutes.
If the meat begins to dry out, just add more liquid and stir.
In the air fryer
Easy enough! If you want just a small portion reheated, then portion out the pulled pork into a ceramic ramekins. Add 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce and a little broth. Repeat for other ramekins.
Place ramekins in the air fryer and cook for 6 minutes at 320°F (160 °C). If the pork releases a lot of liquid, drain it off and mix in a little more BBQ sauce before serving.
In an Instant Pot
Why not?! We cooked it in the Instant Pot, and we can reheat it in the Instant Pot!
Just place the insert pot into the machine, and add a little water to the pot. Place a trivet inside.
Put the leftover pulled pork into a heat-safe dish and place on top of the trivet inside the Instant Pot. No need to cover it. Close the Instant Pot with the lid, and select the steam function for 5 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, do a quick release. Check the internal temperature to make sure it is 165°F (174 °C) and serve warm.
If it’s not to temperature, repeat the process for an additional minute or two.
How to freeze
It’s easy to freeze pulled pork to use for later. Just place the shredded pork in a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Pork shoulder vs pork butt
For this pork recipe, we used a pork butt that actually comes from the shoulder of the pig. I know it’s confusing.
Pork shoulder/butt is fairly inexpensive and used for pulled pork, roasts, stews and sausage.
It can be a tougher meat compared to a rib or loin, but that is why it is more affordable. And when cooked properly, it’s super tender and perfect for shredding.
I love this cut because it is beautifully marbled and has enough fat to keep the meat juicy.
When selecting a pork shoulder look for the marbling and fat for the best tasting results.
But don’t get confused because pork shoulder can be labeled as pork butt or Boston Butt. It’s usually sold as a slab of meat with a fat cap. This adds flavor!
Pork shoulder is a great cut for the Instant Pot, as it cooks nicely under pressure and it tenderizes as it cooks.
How do you shred pork?
It’s super easy when meat is nice and tender! Basically, you just tear the meat apart into shreds.
By hand – You can shred cooked pork with your hands by simply placing the meat on a cleaning cutting board or plate and using your hands to pull the meat apart into shredded pieces. Just make sure it’s not too hot to touch.
Two forks – Using two forks is just as easy as using our hands, but cleaner! Place the meat on a cutting board and stab two forks into the center of the pieces and yank it apart.
Hand mixer – Maybe you’ve got a lot of pork to shred and need to make up some time. Using a hand mixer is quick and easy. Place the meat in a deep bowl and use a hand mixer to break the meat apart.
Why use an Instant Pot?
Traditionally, to make shredded pork, you would cook the pork shoulder for hours in an oven or slow cooker (like this delicious slow cooker BBQ pulled pork).
But in the Instant Pot, the pork cooks in about an hour, so you don’t have to wait for the weekend to have this amazing meal!
To me, cooking with the Instant Pot means cooking is almost effortless! You prep the ingredients, place them in the Instant Pot, set the timer, and it’s hands-off from there!
And just look at the variety of things you can make in an Instant Pot:
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- Instant Pot Broccoli
- Instant Pot Bean Soup
- Instant Pot Hot Chocolate
Do I have to make a homemade rub?
No, if you have a preferred dry rub that you love, you can use that instead of making your own.
Can I make it in a slow cooker?
Making pork shoulder in a slow cooker is easy. It’s not so fast as the Instant Pot, but if you don’t have an Instant Pot, then a slow cooker is a good way to make it.
Follow the directions in the recipe box below, but instead of placing the ingredients in an Instant Pot, just place it in your slow cooker.
Then cover and cook until the meat is extra tender. You can set the slow cooker on high for 5 to 6 hours or set it on low for 8 to 10 hours depending on how much time you have to cook.
Test the internal temperature of the meat and ensure it is at 165°F (174 °C), then shred and serve.
What to serve with pulled pork?
Other great recipes
- I’ve got a lot of terrific salads on the site that is perfect to pair alongside this pulled pork. And if you want something a bit spicier, check out this Mojo Smoked Pork.
- I also pride myself on this Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese because of the hidden veggies my kid doesn’t know are in there. 😉 And for a real treat, try this Smoked Macaroni and Cheese!
- These Air Fryer Garlic Fries are a family favorite, and you can make them in batches and keep them warm in the oven until they’re ready to serve.
- And if you need something a little healthier, these Air Fryer Carrot Fries are a big hit at my house. So are these Instant Pot Carrots!
I hope you love this Instant Pot Pork Shoulder as much as we do! If you make it, please comment below and let us know what you think!
Instant Pot Pork Shoulder
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3-4 pounds pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup chicken stock or beer
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups barbeque sauce divided
- Stir together all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Cut the pork into 2" cubes and rub with the spice rub all over.
- Turn on the Saute-High function. Add a tablespoon of olive and add half of the pork.
- Sear for 2 minutes on each side. Then remove to a place.
- Add another tablespoon of oil and repeat with the rest of the meat. Add the meat to the plate.
- Add the stock or beer and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to help release any flavorful bits stuck to the bottom.
- Add the vinegar and pork. Push the pork into the liquid and then cover the meat with 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce. Don't stir!
- Put on the lid and set it to High Pressure for 45 minutes. Let it natural release for 15 minutes and then release the remaining pressure by moving the valce to the venting position.
- Place the meat on a cutting board and shred it.
- Place the meat in a bowl and add the remaining cup of BBQ sauce and 1 cup of the liquid in the pot.
- Serve! Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.