Instant Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

January 25, 2023
4 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

A pressure cooker makes quick work of this super moist and flavorful pulled pork. In the oven, a pulled pork such as this one can take well over four hours to become tender and shreddable, but it takes only one hour when pressure-cooked in an Instant Pot or other multicooker.

When developing this recipe, I knew I wanted it to be simple and easy to execute. The pressure cooker eliminates the need for babysitting the pork through its relatively short cooking process and I wanted the preparation to be equally quick and straightforward. Recipes for pulled pork range from incredibly basic to those with long ingredient lists full of various herbs and spices. For this version I decided to go the simplest route. This recipe employs only a few spices and pantry staples that you probably already have in your kitchen.

This pulled pork is best served on a soft, lightly toasted bun with sweet pickles and a generous spoonful of barbecue sauce—a bit of coleslaw wouldn’t go amiss either. I’ve included a recipe for a shortcut barbecue sauce that is sweet, tangy, and the perfect compliment to the juicy pork. You could also simply use your favorite store-bought brand.

The best thing about this pulled pork? It makes great leftovers. This recipe makes up to eight servings, meaning you can serve it at a small gathering or enjoy several lunches or dinners of pulled pork sandwiches throughout the week.
Zola Gregory

What You'll Need
  • Pork
  • 3 pounds to 4 pounds boneless Boston Butt or pork shoulder cut into four large pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced 1-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 lightly-toasted hamburger buns, for serving
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • Pickles
  • 6 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 English or large slicing cucumber, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
  1. Start the pork.Combine the brown sugar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper in a small bowl. Pat the pork pieces dry and press the spice mixture onto each piece, taking care to coat all the sides. Place the pork and remaining spice mixture into a gallon-size plastic bag, or place on a wide flat baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn the multicooker on and select the sauté function. Select normal heat and drizzle in the oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork and sear in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan, until all sides of the pork are nicely browned, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a plate.
  2. Add in the onion slices and a splash of water and cook until the onions begin to soften and brown, stirring often and scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes. If at any point the bottom of the pan begins to get too dark, add a few tablespoons of water to prevent burning. Add the pork back to the pot along with any leftover spice mixture, apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of water. Place the lid on and cook on high pressure for 1 hour, then naturally release for 15 to 20 minutes. Manually quick release any remaining pressure before opening the lid. Transfer the pork to a bowl and shred using two forks. Pour a few ladlefuls of the cooking juices over the pork to moisten it. Adjust salt to taste.
  3. Make the barbecue sauce. Combine the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, salt, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cayenne, and cumin in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil then remove from the heat. Chill until ready to use. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  4. Make the pickles. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, and turmeric with 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pack the cucumber, onion, and jalapeño slices tightly into 1 quart-sized or 2 pint-sized wide-mouth jars. Pour the hot brine over the cucumber so that they are just fully submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week before serving.
  5. Assemble the sandwiches. Serve with lightly toasted hamburger buns, pickles, and barbecue sauce. Store meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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