Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a delicious barbecue meal, and there are plenty of ways to cook it. The traditional way is to brine it overnight, then smoke it for 8 hours or so. With a crock pot, it cooks for 8 to 10 hours. An Instant Pot can get the job done in less than 3 hours. In my one-butt kitchen, the Instant Pot is my best option.

When I first got my Instant Pot, I tried recipes from several food blogs and cookbooks.  I made pulled pork 4 or 5 times, varying the spice rub a bit each time.  I finally came up with this combination.  I’ve tried using either brown sugar or honey.  Both of them turned out great.

When I have time, I make my own barbeque sauce (recipe to follow), but any barbeque sauce will do. I usually reserve of a bit of the liquid to put back into the pulled pork, especially if I intend to freeze any of it.

When I make this in my one-butt kitchen in my motorhome, I buy the pork at a grocery store and make a single batch. When I make it at home, I buy a 14- to 15-pound pork shoulder butt at Costco and make three batches, freezing 2- to 6-person meals in food storage containers.

I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for so long that I sometimes forget that some people like their pulled pork on a bun. If you are feeding some wheat lovers, add buns to your grocery list.

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 150 minutes

Specialized Kitchen Utensils

  • Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker)
  • Sharp knife (or a dull one you can hone with a knife sharpener.  Honestly, it’s much easier to cut that hunk of meat with a really sharp blade.)

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4-to 5-pound pork shoulder butt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (or 1/4 cup honey if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp avocado or olive oil (or more, as needed)
  • 14.5 oz can chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (homemade or store bought), divided
  • buns, regular or gluten-free (optional)

Directions

Cut the pork across the grain into 1- to 2-inch thick slices. Discard any big chunks of fat.

Combine brown sugar and dry spices. (If you prefer honey instead of brown sugar, add the honey with the other liquids.) Press the dry rub into all sides of the pork. Slicing the pork not only speeds up the cooking process, but it also provides more surface area for the dry rub to flavor the meat.

Press the SAUTE button and add oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, put the pork in the Instant Pot and brown it on each side. Don’t crowd the pan; brown the pork in three or four batches as necessary, removing the finished pieces to make room for the next batch. Add more oil as needed between batches. When all of the pork is browned, return the pork and the juices to the pan.

Combine chicken broth, vinegar and liquid smoke (and honey if you choose that instead of brown sugar), then pour over pork.  Securely lock the lid, making sure the steam release valve is in the sealing position.  Set the Instant Pot to cook on high for 100 minutes (or 20 minutes per pound).

Leave the steam release valve closed for 15 to 30 minutes, allowing the pressure to drop on its own.  Using tongs, remove the pork from the Instant Pot.  Shred the pork into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks or your hands (once it cools off a bit). If you use your hands it’s easier to identify the fat to throw away.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup reserved liquid back into the pulled pork, according to taste. Mix in barbecue sauce according to taste.  I used about 1/2 cup barbecue sauce in the pork, and served the rest on the side.

Pulled pork at the picnic
Our extended family enjoyed pulled pork at a gathering in Crested Butte, Colorado.

2 Comments

  1. Sounds wonderful, Mary!

  2. Marylin Warner

    Yum, Mary! We’ll try it.
    You’ve probably already heard of this, but I just discovered McCormick’s “Himalayan Pink Salt with Black Pepper and Garlic.” We love it.
    When I make the pulled pork, I’ll use it in place of regular salt and pepper and let you know how we like it.

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