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Mar 16, 2020

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

This Instant Pot Carolina-style pulled pork is tender, smoky, and tangy.

This Instant Pot Carolina-style pulled pork is tender, smoky, and tangy.

One of my favorite comfort foods is succulent pulled pork. It's bathed in a sweet and vinegary sauce and it's so tender.

Traditional Carolina-style pulled pork takes several hours to make on a grill or smoker with indirect heat. It's made with Boston butt (pork shoulder), which is cooked low and slow until it is tender and juicy. Once it's fully cooked, you "pull" the pork, or shred it, and toss it with a sauce of vinegar, ketchup, and sugar, and pile in on a bun with coleslaw and pickles.

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Believe it or not, you can make this Carolina-style pulled pork in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker! Just don't tell anyone from North Carolina. While you might not get the burnt ends that you would in the barbecue, you will get the delicious smoky barbecue flavors and vinegary sauce that you crave.

In the pressure cooker, the pork gets all tender and juicy in just 45 minutes, plus another 15 minutes to release the pressure. To add a smoky flavor, you just add a little bit of liquid smoke.

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork sandwiches

Ingredients in this Carolina-Style Pulled Pork:

  • Brown sugar
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4-pound boneless pork butt roast
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Ketchup
  • Liquid smoke
You'll also need hamburger buns, dill pickle chips, and a creamy coleslaw. I used slider buns, but Hawaiian buns or full-sized hamburger buns will work too. 

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork sandwiches with coleslaw

Making this pulled pork using the pressure cooker function versus the slow cooker function in an Instant Pot. 

To use the pressure cooker function in an Instant Pot, you cook the meat for 45 minutes under high pressure. To cook the pork using the slow cooker function, you cook the meat for 9 to 10 hours on the high slow cook function.

If you are using a regular slow cooker, you could probably cook this pork on high for about 6 to 8 hours.

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork sandwiches with coleslaw on a plate

How to make Instant Pot Carolina-style pulled pork. 

First, rub the pork with a mixture of brown sugar, and spices. Next, place the pork into a mixture of vinegar, ketchup, and liquid smoke in the Instant Pot.

Cook the pork for 45 minute on high pressure and then let the steam release naturally.

Transfer the pork to a bowl and shred it with forks into bite-sized pieces. Next, skim the extra fat off of the remaining liquid. One of my favorite tools is this fat separator (affiliate link) to quickly get rid of extra fat.

Pulled pork shredded

Next, boil the remaining liquid in the Instant Pot to reduce it to about 2 cups. Add some more vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar.

Finally, add the sauce to the shredded pork and serve.

Pulled pork with sauce

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Instant Pot Carolina-style pulled pork.

This Instant Pot Carolina-style pulled pork recipe captures the smoky flavors of the pork and the vinegary sweet flavors of the sauce. Serve on hamburger buns with pickles and creamy coleslaw. 

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork Sandwiches with coleslaw and pickles

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork
Yield: 10 servings
This Instant Pot Carolina-style pulled pork is tender, smoky, and tangy.


  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 4-pound boneless pork butt, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 8 hamburger buns, creamy cole slaw, and dill pickle chips for serving


How to cook Instant Pot Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

  1. Mix the sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a small bowl. 
  2. Rub the mixture over the pork. 
  3. Mix 1/4 cup of the vinegar, the water, ketchup, and liquid smoke in the multi-cooker, and then add the pork. 
  4. Lock the lid and close the pressure valve. Using high pressure, cook the meat for 45 minutes. 
  5. Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. Quick release the rest of the pressure. Remove the lid. 
  6. Move the pork to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Remove any extra fat. 
  7. Pour the remaining liquid into a fat separator, or skim off any excess fat. 
  8. Using the sauté function, cook the liquid until it has reduced to about 2 cups. This should take about 20 minutes. 
  9. Add the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar plus some salt and pepper, a bit of sugar, and more vinegar to taste. 
  10. Stir the sauce into the pork. 
  11. Serve on hamburger buns with coleslaw and pickles. 
Fat (grams)
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pulled pork
Main course, Southern food
North Carolina

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Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe was adapted from Multicooker Perfection: Cook It Fast or Cook It Slow - You Decide (affiliate link).

Would you like to comment?

  1. I have no problem with this kind of winter bbq even though I prefer the smoker. There are times when you crave, and it is just too cold, too windy, too rainy, or there just isn't enough time. Plus points for coming in at under an hour!

  2. That looks like perfection! Such lovely saucy tender pork!

  3. I love pulled pork, especially when serving a crowd.

  4. I've made stew in the Instant Pot but haven't cooked a whole pot roast yet. You've convinced me to give it a try, Karen! Lovely pork!

  5. That IP Pulled Pork so delicious, wish I could have one of those.


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