Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

published Dec 18, 2022
Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Recipe

Super-easy and delicious way to make tender shredded or sliced pork shoulder in the Instant Pot.

Serves8 to 12

Makesabout 8 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook1 hour 20 minutes

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Credit: Kelli Foster

Pork shoulder is one of my favorite cuts of pork because it always cooks up juicy and tender and can go in a myriad of directions depending on how it’s flavored. The downside of inexpensive pork shoulder is that it needs a fairly long cooking time to turn meltingly tender. To cut down on the cooking time significantly, all you have to do is introduce it to the Instant Pot. 

Rub a fragrant spice rub over a pork shoulder roast; throw it into the Instant Pot with some sautéed onions, garlic, and water or broth; and let it pressure cook until it’s almost falling apart. This is a super-simple, basic way to cook pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, but feel free to riff on the spices and seasonings, as it’s quite a forgiving recipe that always yields great results.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Why Should You Cook Pork Shoulder in the Instant Pot?

The pressure-cooker setting on an Instant Pot cooks a tougher cut like pork shoulder meltingly tender in a fraction of the time it needs to cook on the stove or in the oven. Instead of a few hours, you can just let it go for an hour of hands-off cooking time. 

The Ingredients You Need for Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

  • Aromatics. Chopped onion and garlic form the base of the flavor for the cooking liquid.
  • Spices. Cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon blend together into a fragrant mixture that infuses into the pork as it cooks.
  • Pork shoulder. You can use a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder roast here; it’s sometimes called a pork butt or Boston butt.
Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Going to Make Instant Pot Pork Shoulder, a Few Tips

  1. Cut the pork first. Cut the pork into a few pieces so that there’s more surface area for the spices to infuse their flavor into. This also helps the pork cook faster than if it stayed in one big piece. If you have a roast with a bone, just cut around it or ask the butcher to do it for you.
  2. Sauté the aromatics. Sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes first before adding the pork.
  3. Let it rest before slicing. If you want to slice and not shred the pork, let it cool a bit first so that it doesn’t fall apart as you cut it.
  4. Flavor it two different ways. The cooking liquid is really delicious and can be added to the shredded pork to keep it moist and to season it more, but you can use your favorite tomato-based barbecue sauce instead for a more traditional pulled pork. 

How to Serve Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

You can serve slices of the pork shoulder as is, tucked into soft rolls for juicy sliders, or on top of salads or grain bowls. Shredded pork is great on nachos, in lettuce wraps, or stuffed into quesadillas. The pork freezes very well, so it’s worth making the full batch and stashing some away for future meals. Divide the pork into smaller portions first rather than freezing the whole thing together if you think you won’t eat all the leftovers up at once.

Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Recipe

Super-easy and delicious way to make tender shredded or sliced pork shoulder in the Instant Pot.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes

Makes about 8 cups

Serves 8 to 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon

    chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive or vegetable oil

  • 1

    (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt

  • 1 cup

    low-sodium chicken broth or water

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups

    tomato-based barbecue sauce (optional, if making pulled BBQ pork)

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and 4 garlic cloves. Place 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to combine.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil in a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker on the highest Sauté function until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, remove any twine or netting from 1 (4 1/2 to 5-pound) pork shoulder. Cut into 4 pieces (if your pork shoulder has a bone, do your best to cut around it) and pat dry with paper towels. Coat all over with the spice mixture.

  3. Add 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water to the pressure cooker. Arrange the pork (and bone if you have one) evenly on top of the onion mixture. Turn the pressure cooker off. Lock the lid in place and make sure the valve is set to seal. Set to cook under HIGH pressure for 60 minutes. It will take about 12 minutes to come up to pressure.

  4. When the cook time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure. Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board and discard the bone. At this point you can let the pork cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting across the grain to serve slices, or make pulled pork.

  5. To make pulled pork, pour the cooking liquid in the pressure cooker through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium heatproof bowl; return the contents of the strainer to the pressure cooker. Use a spoon to skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid.

  6. Shred the pork into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks, discarding any large pieces of fat. Return the pork to the pressure cooker. Add either the cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time or 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce and toss until evenly combined and moistened. Taste and season with more kosher salt or barbecue sauce as needed.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or over medium heat on the stovetop.