This 3-ingredient pulled pork instant pot recipe is the perfect no-fuss easy pulled pork for any occasion or meal!
Hello, friends! Today I thought I’d share this easy 3-ingredient pulled pork recipe I’ve been making in my instant pot for years! Many recipes require you to cut up your pork butt or pork shoulder, but I’m not about that. I’m lazy, and I want to throw it in there and be done with it, which is basically what I do. Today, I’ll share with you how I do that as well as the pros and cons of this method, so let’s do it!
Why would you want this basic pulled pork recipe? Obviously, you could toss it with barbecue sauce and make an epic salad or sandwich. You could also make my Pulled Pork Salad, which is normally made in the crockpot before adding to the greens, but you could make it in half the time by using the Instant Pot.
Or you could use it for just about any recipe calling for pulled pork because it has a mild flavor of just salt, onion, and garlic. Easy peasy! So let’s talk about how to make it!
How to Make 3- Ingredient Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot
Start with good quality 4-5lb pork shoulder or pork butt. I get all my meat, including my pork shoulder, from Butcher Box. If you’ve been around HH for a while, you know that Butcher Box is my go-to for high-quality meat and seafood I can trust. But, if you’re new here, read my full review of Butcher Box here.
Boness or Bone-In?
Butcher Box sells boneless, but you can use a bone-in. The trick is you can only do a max of about 5lbs in a 6QT instant pot, so you’ll get less meat than if you did a boneless cut.
Now the real question, to cut into chunks or not?
When researching whether I should even write this post (aren’t there a million and one pulled pork instant pot recipes, does the world really need one more?) I found that 99% of food bloggers recommend cutting the pork into chunks. If you cut your pork into chunks, you’ll shave more than an hour of the cooking time and likely end up with more evenly cooked tender meat.
That being said, I don’t cut mine. I just throw the whole thing in there and hope for the best, and it works out every single time. (PS I do this with my super popular Instant Pot Pork Carnitas as well! ) Why? I don’t know.
- Stubborn only child.
- Lack of appropriate knives to easily slice through the meat.
- I don’t want to fuss with it.
Also, many people will buy fresh meat, cut it into chunks, and then freeze it. When you do this, you can cook it directly from frozen in the chunks. Unfortunately, you can’t do that when you order your meat because it comes frozen. It’s not good food safety practices to thaw and freeze again without cooking, so this isn’t an option for me. So, this blog post is about the lazy way of throwing the whole thing in the Instant Pot after you’ve stuffed it with a whole head of garlic.
(Unfortunately, you can not cook a pork shoulder from frozen in one chunk though. It’s a food safety issue, it likely would take 4-6 hours to cook all the way and instant pots aren’t really designed to run that long. Read my full Instant Pot Review here!)
Add vegetable broth and sliced onions, and that’s it! Okay so technically that’s FOUR ingredients, BUT, if you use water that doesn’t count so that’s three. If you want to submit a report to the Your Content Is Terrible Hotline (@iambaker on Instagram) then please do! It’s logical.
Close the instant pot, set to sealing, cook for 90 minutes to two hours, and then let it naturally release. Not the quickest recipe time in the world, but half the time of a slow cooker.
When it’s done, I like to shred the pork on a large cutting board and then broil it for just a few minutes on a sheet pan to crisp it up a bit. However, the broiling step is entirely optional. Some people would rather their meat not have any crisp and instead be super soft and tender. Up to you!
Personally, I like just a little crisp!
How to Freeze Pulled Pork
If you want to freeze cooked pulled pork, skip the broiling step. Freeze your meat and your broth in separate containers. Label the containers 1 of 2 and 2 of 2 to help you remember! Make sure you leave 50% empty for the broth since liquids double in the freezer.
When you are ready to cook it, let it defrost under refrigeration. Then you can broil (if desired) and mix with the broth to rehydrate it a bit (since the freezer dehydrates meat.) Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
3-Ingredient Pulled Pork Instant Pot Recipe
- 4 lb pork shoulder or pork butt
- 1 garlic head
- 1 white onion
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- Cut 12-15 slits in the pork shoulder or pork butt and shove a garlic clove down in each slit.
- Place pork shoulder/butt in a 6QT instant pot and pour 2 cups of vegetable broth or water over it.
- Slice one white onion and spread over the top and around the pork shoulder/butt sides.
- Place the lid on the instant pot and set it to sealing. Pressure cook for 90 minutes (for 4lbs or less) and allow the pressure to release naturally.*
- Once the pressure releases (valve has dropped), remove the lid and place pork on a large cutting board to shred with two forks. The outsides of the pork should shred easily and fall away easily. The inside may be a little more challenging to shred but shouldn't require a knife.**
- Optional: Preheat the oven to broil. Spread the shredded pork over a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes until slightly crispy.
- Freeze pork (do not broil) and broth separately.
- Leave 50% volume empty since the broth will expand when frozen.
- Defrost under refrigeration, then broil (if desired), and combine with broth.
**If it does, you may want to return it to the instant pot and pressure cook an additional 30 minutes with a quick release.