Want pulled pork in a hurry? With the pressure cooker, you can have tender, fall-apart pulled pork carnitas in just a little over an hour!
Elise's low-and-slow slow cooker Mexican pulled pork is fantastic, but when I forget to plan ahead or want it to be ready a little more quickly, I make this speedy version in my Instant Pot.
The Ingredients for Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Elise’s spice rub includes chili powder, salt, brown sugar, and a blend of herbs and spices – this mix is so good that I just left it as is. In fact, the only real change that I made was to add some liquid to the pot – you need some in order to properly cook food in a pressure cooker.
You can use fruit juice, broth, or even water, but I went with pineapple juice for its tangy sweetness. I think this complements the spices in the rub nicely!
Tip for the Best Pulled Pork
Whether you make this pressure cooker version or the slow cooker version, try to allow some time for the pork to come up to room temperature before you begin cooking. This helps the pork develop a better crust when you sear it, which means more browned flavor in the finished dish. An hour is ideal, but any amount of time you can give it will help.
How to Serve This Pulled Pork
Make tacos! After you're done pulling the pork into shreds, run it under the broiler to give them that signature carnitas crispiness. Then toss with the reduced cooking liquid and serve with all your favorite taco toppings.
I'd recommend all or some of the following:
- Sliced avocado
- Sliced radishes
- Thinly sliced red or green cabbage
- Thinly sliced romaine lettuce
- Diced red onions
- Chopped tomatoes
- Crumbled cotija cheese
- Chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges
Also, I recommend toasting your tortillas to give them a little char. You can do either over the open flame of a gas stove (use heat-proof tongs!) or in a dry skillet.
What to Do With Leftover Pulled Pork
One of the best parts of making pulled pork is that you tend to have a lot leftover. Here are some ideas for using up your leftover pulled pork:
- Pulled pork sandwiches — of course!
- Make chili — mix your leftover pork with broth, tomatoes, beans, and veggies for a thick stew
- Toss with pasta or spiralized zucchini noodles, or serve over cauliflower rice
- Use as a pizza topper
- Egg scramble — pulled pork is so good with scrambled eggs for breakfast! It’s also delicious in breakfast tacos, topped with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese
Storing and Freezing Pulled Pork
Pulled pork will keep for up to five days refrigerated or up to three months frozen. Freeze the pulled pork in batches in quart-sized freezer bags with as much air pressed out as possible to prevent freezer burn.
Watch This Instant Pot Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe
What’s the Best Cut of Meat for Instant Pot Pulled Pork?
We recommend using pork shoulder roast for this recipe, because it has just the right amount of fat marbeling to make the very best pulled pork. This should be straight forward, but things can get more confusing at the store, since there are several different cuts from the pig's shoulder section. The pork shoulder roast can also be labeled "Boston butt" or "pork butt".
You can also use regular pork shoulder (not roast) in this recipe, but it'll be slightly less flavorful, since it will be a lightly leaner cut.
What Are Carnitas?
Carnitas are a Mexican slow-cooked pork dish, originating from Michoacan. The pork is usually braised for hours, shredded, and then browned in its own fat until slightly crispy.
Our Instant Pot pulled pork recipe uses similar spices for carnitas. And if you want to make them, see our optional Steps 10 and 11 for crisping up your pulled pork to make carnitas.
Tips for Thawing and Reheating Leftover Pulled Pork
If your pork is frozen, move it to the refrigerator at least a day in advance to thaw.
The easiest way to reheat pulled pork is in the oven. Preheat your oven to 250°F. Put your pork in an ovenproof dish and toss with a bit of liquid or fat. Cover with foil and reheat until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
You can also reheat portions in a covered container in the microwave or in an oiled pan on the stove. The trick is to make sure you don't dry out the pork.
More Ways to Make Pulled Pork!
- Slow Cooker Cider Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork (or make it in the pressure cooker)
- Barbecue Pork Shoulder on a Gas Grill
Instant Pot Mexican Pulled Pork
For the spice rub:
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt (if using regular table salt, only use 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Scant pinch ground cloves
For the pulled pork:
3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 2 pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup pineapple juice, orange juice, or water
Optional toppings (pick a few or all of them!):
Thinly sliced red or green cabbage
Thinly sliced romaine lettuce
Diced red onions
Crumbled cotija cheese
Warm tortillas, corn or flour
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Season the pork:
In a small bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with half of the spice rub. Turn and rub the spice into the pork until the pieces are evenly coated.
Let the pork come to room temperature:
Leave the pork to absorb the rub and to take the chill off the meat, at least 15 minutes or up to an hour. (Room temperature pork will sear better!)
Sear the pork:
Select the “Sauté” program on your pressure cooker and add the oil to the pot. (If you are using a stove-top pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat.)
Use a pair of tongs to lower the pork into the pot so the side with the most fat is facing down. Sear for 5 minutes. Flip it over and sear it for 5 more minutes. Both sides should be browned.
Finish seasoning the pork:
Sprinkle the remaining spice rub over the pork, then pour the pineapple juice over the top.
Pressure cook the pork:
Place the lid on your pressure cooker. Make sure that the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “Manual” program on the pressure cooker and set the time to 1 hour and 15 minutes at high pressure. (For stove-top pressure cookers, cook for 60 minutes at high pressure.)
It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the cooking time will begin.
Release the pressure:
After the cooking time ends, let the pot sit and naturally release pressure for about 20 minutes. Then, vent the remaining steam. (For stove-top pressure cookers, perform a quick pressure release.)
Separate the pork and cooking liquid:
Use tongs to transfer the pork to a large baking dish or sheet pan, but be very gentle -- the pork will be VERY tender and will fall apart easily!
Then, use heat-proof 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. Reserve the fat.
(Alternatively, let the cooking liquid stand for about 10 minutes until the fat floats to the top, then use a shallow spoon to skim as much fat as possible from the surface.)
Reduce the cooking liquid:
Return the pot to the pressure cooker, select the “Sauté” program, and let the cooking liquid reduce for 10 minutes. (If you are using a stove-top pressure cooker, do the same thing over medium heat.)
Shred the pork:
While the liquid is reducing, use a pair of forks to shred the pork.
Broil the pulled pork until crispy (optional for carnitas):
To make crispy carnitas, place the pan of shredded pork 6 to 8 inches below the broiler and broil for 5 to 10 minutes until the tips and edges of the pork are browned and crispy.
It's fine to skip this step if you're making a recipe where you don't need the pork to be crispy.
Toss the shredded pork with the reduced liquid and serve:
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.
Serve it in tacos with the fixings listed above, or in burritos, rice bowls, or on a tostada salad.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 37g||48%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||64%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 9mg||46%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|