Perfect Instant Pot Pulled Pork Shoulder

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We’ve got the science to perfectly tender, shreddable pork, and it just might stir up some credibility from our pitmaster friends.

Our perfect instant pot pulled pork shoulder is the fastest and easiest method to make mouthwatering pork. We’ve got the science to perfectly tender, shreddable pork, and it just might stir up some credibility from our pitmaster friends. First, we portion out the shoulder in two inch cuts and sear them on all sides. Then we throw in a cup of orange juice and chicken broth and program the pressure cooker on high for a certain amount of time. After that, we let the pressure release for at least 20 minutes, and bingo! The pork is always properly cooked and never tough.

Pressure Cooking Pitch Perfect

Dig into this easy instant pot pulled pork any night of the week.

Because pork shoulder is so incredibly tough, cooking it isn’t very easy either. I’ve seen recipes suggesting a slow cook for at least eight hours, and some going beyond that into the next day. For this reason alone, every pork eater should own an instant pot. Yes, we love all the chicken recipes and steel cut oats that come out perfect every time time. And you can steam eggs in it too. But, oh my, if you’ve battled a pork shoulder and looked high and low for a guaranteed recipe, an instant pot is the solution.

The science behind a pressure cooker is difficult to explain, but not that hard to visualize once you really see it in action upon first use. The high pressure created inside the sealed pot makes the boiling point of liquid increase. To that end, a moist cooking environment quickly becomes the perfect conditional zone for incredibly tough cuts of meat, like our pork shoulder. 

Why Do Certain Cuts Take So Long

Tender and flavorful pulled pork is a great food to have on hand for extra protein!

Here’s the deal. The most used parts of an animal’s body contain the most connective tissue, (specifically the neck and shoulder). That connective tissue must literally break down and melt away into the meat to make it even palatable. You know what I’m talking about if pulled pork is a favorite, right? If that doesn’t happen correctly, prepare your choppers for the chew of your life. Incidentally, when cooking pork shoulder (or beef stew, for that matter), first time cooks often believe they have overcooked the meat. On the contrary, most often the meat didn’t cook long enough.

Time Formula For Instant Pot Pulled Pork Shoulder

This versatile pulled pork can be serve on a bun, in a taco, on, a salad, or on its own!

Let’s get to the meat of the matter, shall we? For every pound of meat, give it fifteen minutes. Then add another fifteen minutes to that equation. Then add twenty minutes to depressurize. For example, let’s say I have a 2.75 pound cut of pork shoulder. First, I’ll round up to 3 pounds in my head to simplify. Then I’ll multiply 3 by 15 to get 45 minutes. Don’t program the IP just yet, though. Then add another 15 minutes for good measure. Program the Instant Pot on High pressure for 60 minutes. After the timer beeps, let that set for at least another 20 minutes. Total time is 80 minutes, nearly an hour and a half. It sounds complicated, but it’s not.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Multiply weight in pounds by 15. 
  • Add another 15 minutes to that calculation. Just because it works.
  • Do not open the IP for at least 20 minutes. 

If you have the odd weight of anything under an extra half pound, such as 3.35 pounds, just shift your calculation a little by adding an extra ten minutes after the initial 45. 

Add some of the cooking liquid in whilst shredding the meat. If you like crispy pork, you can most definitely fry it up after the initial cook. Enjoy your pork as a slider, in tacos, ramen, or on top of a salad. 

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Instant Pot Perfect Pulled Pork Shoulder

This perfect, pull-apart, tender pork can be served in a number of tasty ways!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Yield 14 People
Serving Size 0.25 cup
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  • Cut shoulder into two inch slabs, pieces. If you bought a pre-seasoned pork, skip the seasoning. But if it’s au naturel, then use your favorite rub or salt and pepper combo.
  • In Instant Pot, sear (use the Saute setting) the pieces on all sides for 2-3 minutes each. You may have to do this in batches. Do not forego this step, as it is crucial to seal in the juices. After the pork has seared, add the juice and broth and scrape with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon any stuck on bits. This is also key to ensure nothing burns on the bottom. If you get an error message, you will have to clean the bottom again and start over.
  • Set timer for 60 minutes. Wait an additional 20, release the pressure, open the Instant Pot. Drain most of the juices, saving a quarter-half cup to mix in with the pork once you’ve pulled it. Take two forks and shred the pork.

Notes

Do not skip the cutting or searing process. If you put in a huge chunk of meat, the insides will be rare while the outside won’t be tender at all. To that end, meat that isn’t also seared won’t tenderize. Granted, because the meat cooks in liquid you won’t notice any texture from the browning, like a good crust. However, the cook provided is exceptional and well worth it.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 227mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 21IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 2
Keywords Budget-Friendly, Diabetic-Friendly, High Protein

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Ready to take on more Instant Pot success? Try this Coq au Vin. It’s a time and energy saver!

Interested in going the low and slow route? This Slow Cooker Pork Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw is a great method.

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Alison Borel

Alison Borel came into the culinary world by owning and operating three family restaurants with her husband in San Diego. During that time, she tested, wrote, and taught all the recipes used by her team. She also led cooking classes for small groups. Familiar with vegan and vegetarian cuisine from working in an organic cafe and camp, her preference lies in a plant-based whole foods diet. Alison knows eating for longevity and nutrition not only tastes good, but feels good too.

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