Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

PrimalThanks to everyone’s new best friend, the Instant Pot, this BBQ pulled pork is on the table in two hours, with very little work from you. The BBQ sauce just might be the BBQ sauce you’ve always been searching for. It’s tangy, spicy, slightly sweet, and takes about 5 minutes to make. It’s easy to imagine brushing this sauce over brisket and grilled chicken, not just pulled pork.

The recipe for the BBQ sauce starts with blackstrap molasses for its depth of flavor and thick, syrupy consistency. Only a tablespoon, so the flavor of molasses doesn’t overwhelm the sauce, but you still get a nice dose of magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese. This BBQ sauce is yet another delicious way to work blackstrap molasses into your diet.

The BBQ sauce is drizzled over the pork when it comes out of the Instant Pot. By now, you’ve probably heard about the Instant Pot, a pressure cooker that cooks in a fraction of the usual time. It’s an especially handy appliance for meat lovers, making it easy to turn a large cut of meat into a flavorful meal. This delicious recipe is a perfect example of what the Instant Pot can do, turning BBQ pulled pork into a simple hands-off meal.

Time in the Kitchen: 20 minutes, plus 90 minutes in the Instant Pot

Servings: 6


BBQ Sauce

  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 pieces (1.4 kg to 1.8 kg)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (5 ml)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (2.5 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (2.5 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided (10 ml to 1.2 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphured blackstrap molasses (15 ml)
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey (15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chili paste) (15 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (5 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos (5 ml)


instant pot

In a small bowl mix together coriander, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons/10 ml salt.

Rub spice mix on pork. (If possible, let the meat sit out 30 minutes, so the meat comes to room temperature)

Press the “sauté” button on the Instant Pot. Add a drizzle of oil. Add the pieces of pork, browning on 2 sides before adding ¾ cup (180 ml) water to deglaze the bottom of the pot.

Cover and lock the lid. Press the “Keep warm/cancel” button, then press the “manual” button and set the pot to cook for 90 minutes under high pressure. Make sure the valve is in the “sealed” position. When 90 minutes has passed, let the pressure come down naturally.

While the pork cooks, whisk together the blackstrap molasses, garlic, honey, gochujang, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos and remaining ¼ teaspoon (1.2 ml) salt. Set aside.

Remove the pork from the liquid in the pot. When the pork is cool enough to handle, shred with a knife or fork.

Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork and mix it in well. If you want to warm the pork back up, either put it back in the Instant Pot for a few minutes (with all liquid removed), or spread the meat out under the broiler for a few minutes (careful, so it doesn’t burn).

Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool, crisp cucumbers and cilantro are tasty garnishes.


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17 thoughts on “Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork”

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  1. Pork shoulder is one of the best deals in protein. I’ll have to give this one a go now that soup season is nearing its end.

    1. Jack, soup season is year around for me. I love soup and often have it for a late breakfast or a light dinner.

  2. Good recipe, and a good primer for cooking either pork or beef in an Instant Pot. I know a person who bought the multi-function Instant Pot and was so intimidated by it that she has yet to use it. Also, if you have people in your family who don’t particularly like BBQ sauce (like me), just put the sauce in a small pitcher or bowl and serve it separately.

  3. Yay! A good BBQ sauce!
    I love my Instant Pot, now that I am used to the operating instructions (and don’t have to keep looking to be sure I’m doing everything right).
    Mark, I’ve had a couple people tell me that food is not as nutritious cooked under pressure, whether it’s in Instant Pot or a stovetop pressure cooker. Have you come across anything related to this idea? I suppose it’s the same “to microwave or not to microwave?” question. Or is it? I can’t find anything reliable on this, only rumor and opinion.

    1. I think pressure cooked food is one of the healthiest ways to cook vegetables (and other foods) since it retains nutrients rather than leaching them into the water that you’re boiling them in or steaming the living daylights out of them–it’s faster and more efficient. It’s definitely not in the microwave category of weirdness when cooking food, though I’m no expert on the matter!

  4. hi mark

    this looks delicious

    what about using slow cooker


    totally unrelated

    i read somewhere that you questioned what mouth feel is. maybe be you were joking but here’s my brooklyn(before it was popular) 2 cents.

    that’s the wonderful sensation of all the flavors coming together because of the fat in the dish.

    probably not explaining it well. but just finish a cauliflower soup with a some avocado oil and wow, all the flavors meld.

    thanks for all the info


    1. Slow Cooker will take 8-10 hours, or more. The whole point of the Instant Pot is that it does everything a slow cooker can do, but also has the Pressure Cook option, which can do the cooking in a fraction of the time.

  5. I feel like I am the last person in the world (at least the health blogging world!) without an Instant Pot! I still have bad memories of my mom using an old school pressure cooker in the 1970’s. I know I’m going to break down and buy one soon, but for now I will probably do this in the crock pot. I’ve had great success making pulled pork in the crockpot. And this BBQ sauce sounds amazing. Think I have everything except the red chili paste!

  6. The only place I’ve been able to find the chili paste is online. Where I live, ketchup is considered a spicy condiment and Italian-American food is “exotic”. Our one (1) Asian market has no Korean products.
    We do, however, have chipotles in adobo sauce at the hippy grocery store, which can be pasted and combined with a little tomato paste for a great smokey substitute. I’ve also found that the BBQ sauce recipe in the primal blueprint sauce and condiment book is fantastic.

  7. Fun! A new BBQ sauce to try. And our pork share should be coming in soon, which means there will be much pulled pork in my future!

  8. I’m a little suspicious of the second photo being from this recipe, looks like it was cooked in a smoker with all the crispy looking black skin mixed in. The first photo shows what it looks like more accurately. If I’m wrong…my apologies.

    I’ve done pork in the IP and it definitely is the fast way to do it, but can’t compare it to 12 hours on the grill or smoker at 225 degrees 🙂

  9. That BBQ sauce sounds delish! I don’t have an Instant Pot, but I can do this low and slow in my oven. I know what I’m making tomorrow…

  10. This sauce recipe as written has 31g of sugar (11 from molasses, 16 from honey, and 4 from gochujang). How is this any healthier than store-bought BBQ sauce? That’s the same amount of sugar as Sweet Baby Ray’s.

    1. personally, i’m not that strict in my diet, but even assuming all of the sauce is used, at ~5g of sugar / serving, that would even fall well within a suggested guideline of < 20g carbs for a ketogenic diet, no? and healthfulness comes from the (non-processed) nature of the ingredients, right?

  11. This is exactly how I like my pork and barbecue sauce there makes it all so much better. Since I do not have an instant pot i’m trying is either in a pressure cooker or over.. Anyone out there whose tried it before? If yes how did it go?

  12. Can anyone recommend a decent gochujang paste? The only one I can find near me has corn syrup as its top ingredient and has wheat in it.I will use it this time but hoping someone can suggest a better one. Many thanks

  13. Wonderful recipe ! I have always seen and tried the traditional barbecue or slow oven cooked version but instant pot sounds delicious and convenient. Just wondering for how long a instant pot pulled pork can be stored in the fridge ?