Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork

Instant PotPressure CookerPulled Pork

Chinese Pulled Pork in the pressure cooker! This is a sweet and spicy twist on pulled pork, perfect for piling on buns, adding to tacos, or making traditional Chinese steamed buns.

Photography Credit: Coco Morante

Five fragrant spices and a honey hoisin sauce give this pulled pork a ton of flavor in every bite. And oh hey, it takes just a little over an hour in the pressure cooker, too!

The distinct flavor of this dish comes from Chinese five-spice powder, a classic blend that usually includes star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cloves, and cassia (a culinary relative of cinnamon).The exact mix and ratio of spices can vary from mix to mix—the one I like is from Oaktown Spice Shop.

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled PorkThis recipe converts Elise’s fantastic recipe for Slow Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork to the pressure cooker. I only had to make a few changes to make sure it would come out with the same great flavor in my Instant Pot, but in a lot less time.

First, sauté the ginger and garlic to help fully infuse their flavors in the finished dish. Cooking also helps mellow these pungent spices.

I also added a little extra water to the total cooking liquid, which is needed in order for the pot to build up enough steam to pressurize. Don’t worry that the sauce might be too thin—we’ll simmer the sauce after cooking the pork to help thicken it up.

This Chinese pulled pork serves a crowd and makes a great entrée for a party buffet table. It’s also a versatile staple for all sorts of weeknight meals. Pile it onto hamburger buns (mini buns for sliders, or regular-sized for sandwiches), spoon it over rice or greens, stuff it into tacos and burritos, or even use it to make traditional Chinese pork steamed buns.

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For stovetop pressure cookers: Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic and ginger. Pressure cook for 50 minutes at high pressure. When it's time to reduce the cooking liquid, simmer the cooking liquid over medium heat.

For larger pressure cookers: This recipe is made for a 6-quart pressure cooker. If you are using a larger, 8-quart pressure cooker, increase the amount of water from 1/3 cup to 1 cup. When the pork has finished cooking, you will need to reduce the sauce for an additional 10 minutes or so.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Chinese Five-Spice Powder
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large chunks (3- to 4-inch pieces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I like avocado oil)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-inch (1-ounce) piece ginger, minced

To serve:

  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • Hamburger or slider buns

Special equipment:

Method

1 Season the pork: Sprinkle the spice blend evenly over the pork chunks, making sure to coat them on all sides.

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork

2 Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, and sherry.

3 Cook the garlic and ginger in the pressure cooker: Select the “Sauté” setting and heat the oil in your electric pressure cooker. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté until the garlic is fragrant but not yet beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Chinese Pulled Pork In Pressure Cooker Cook the Onions and Garlic

4 Pressure cook the pork: Use a pair of tongs to add the seasoned pieces of pork into the pressure cooker, arranging them in a single layer. Pour the cooking sauce over top.

Secure the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure that the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Cancel the “Sauté” program on the pressure cooker, then select the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” setting. Set the cooking time to 55 minutes at high pressure. (The pressure cooker will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure and then the actual cooking time will begin.)

Chinese Pulled Pork in Electric Pressure Cooker Pork in Pressure Cooker Pot Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork - cooking

5 Release the pressure: You can either perform a quick pressure release by immediately moving the vent from “Sealing” to “Venting” (be careful of the steam), or you can let the pot depressurize naturally, which takes about 20 minutes.

6 Separate the pork and cooking liquid. Use tongs to transfer the pork to a large platter or sheet pan. Use heatproof mitts to lift the inner pot out of the pressure cooker, pour the cooking liquid into a fat separator, then pour the liquid back into the pot.

(If you don't have a fat separator, let the cooking liquid stand for about 10 minutes until the fat floats to the top, then use a to skim as much fat as possible from the surface.)

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork - resting on platter

 

7 Reduce the cooking liquid: Return the pot to the pressure cooker, select the “Sauté” program, and let the cooking liquid come to a rapid simmer. Continue simmering for 10 minutes to reduce the cooking liquid.

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork Reduce the Sauce

8 While the liquid is reducing, use a pair of forks to shred the pork.

Chinese Pulled Pork in Pressure Cooker Shred the Pork

9 Toss the shredded pork with the reduced liquid: Return the pork to the pot with the reduced cooking liquid and toss to coat the pork evenly. If the pork seems a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved fat.

Chinese Pulled Pork in Electric Pressure Cooker Mix the Pork and Sauce

10 Serve: Serve the pulled pork with scallions sprinkled over top.

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Coco Morante

Author of The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

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6 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Foodiewife

    Wow, wow, wow! This was so delicious! I loved the Chinese 5-Spice Powder. The pulled pork turned out so tender. I made homemade Chinese Steamed Buns and an Asian Slaw and these were devoured by my family. This is the third recipe of yours I’ve made and it’s so good! By the way, I did buy your book and I love it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Gayle

    I made this last Sunday for an easy dinner. While the pork came out very tender and there was plenty of flavorful sauce, we found that the Chinese five spice powder gave the dish a “sweeter” taste…almost along the lines of a dessert, in our opinion, and followed the recipe to a T. I think it’s because of the cinnamon and clove that’s in the McCormick Five Spice powder we got at the store. We’ve never used this spice blend before and were eager to try it. If I were to make it again, I’d probably cut back on the Five spice powder. My son and his fiancé, on the other hand, loved it and finished it up. Always love trying Coco’s recipes and will continue to do so!

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Gayle! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. Chinese Pulled Pork is definitely on the sweeter side, which is intentional. If you’d like a less-sweet version, I’d recommend cutting back on the hoisin and the honey as well. Enjoy!

      • Gayle

        Thanks for your input, Emma! I will certainly use your suggestions as we loved pulled pork!

  3. Renee

    How long would you cook the pulled pork if you don’t have a pressure cooker?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Renee! If you have a slow cooker, use this recipe: Slow Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork. If you don’t have either, prepare the recipe in a heavy dutch oven or stock pot with a lid and then cook it in a 300F oven for 2 to 3 hours. Check it every so often — it’s done when the meat starts to fall apart easily with a fork. Enjoy!

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled PorkPressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork