Instant Pot Korean Pulled Pork
This Instant Pot Korean Pulled Pork brings pulled pork as you know it to a whole new level—and in just over an hour!
Table of Contents
A next-level Instant Pot pulled pork recipe that’s as quick as it’s easy!
I’m just going to get to the point: the flavors in these pulled pork sandwiches are downright luscious. You get a bit of everything—sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. Korean cuisine has recently become one of my favorites and I can’t get enough of it, so I wanted to create something inspired by it. This recipe isn’t authentic Korean cuisine at all, let me be clear about that now. This is just an easy and approachable way to enjoy those coveted flavors at home until you can get your ass to the nearest and dearest Korean restaurant or H Mart food court.
Here’s the list of finger-lickin’ ingredients.
I’m a huge fan of going into Asian markets, and if you live near one, I encourage you to get your ingredients there. However, if you don’t live near one, most of these ingredients should be accessible at your local grocer in the “International” aisle.
For the pork + dry rub.
- Boneless pork butt/shoulder
- Five Spice seasoning (optional)
- Sea salt
- Cracked black pepper
For the Korean-inspired sauce.
- Low-sodium soy sauce
- Ketchup—this sounds blasphemous, but ketchup has a Southeast Asian connection!
- Hoisin—Note that not all hoisin sauces are created equal. Kikkoman and KA-ME are two of my personal faves.
- Mirin—which can be substituted with rice vinegar if need be.
- Sesame oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Gojuchang—a delicious Korean chile paste. If you can’t find this, go ahead and use Sriracha or Sambal Oelek.
For that tangy slaw.
- Lime juice
- Light brown sugar
- Sea salt
- Sesame seeds
How to make pulled pork in an Instant Pot.
Backyard smoke pit pulled pork purists might be skeptical about a lightning-fast cooking method for a pork shoulder, but I’m promising you that this recipe yields melt-in-your-mouth pork, and in just over an hour. Here’s how to do it:
- Whip the sauce together. Stir all of the sauce ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until well blended and set it aside.
- Prepare your pork. Cut the pork into three pieces—as equal in size as you can—and massage the dry rub evenly over each piece.
- Give it a good sear! You want to sear all sides of each of these cuts of pork for a nice rich crust. Once all of your pork has been seared on all sides, set them aside.
- Add your liquid. Transfer a cup of the sauce to the Instant Pot, then water, then pop your pieces of pork back into the pot.
- Pressure cook. Secure the lid on your Instant Pot and cook on HIGH manual pressure for one hour. When done, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
- Make the slaw. While the pork cooks, you can make the slaw. Mix the lime juice, brown sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl, then toss the cucumbers and slaw into the liquid. This will give the veggies a nice quick pickle in time for the pork to be ready.
- Time to shred! Remove the pork cuts from the Instant Pot and set them onto a cutting board. Drain most of the liquid from inside of the Instant Pot, leaving just about a cup of it in there. Using two forks, shred the pulled pork. It should shred apart effortlessly.
- Get saucy. Transfer the pulled pork back into the Instant Pot and drizzle the rest of the Korean-inspired sauce over it, mixing to coat. Top the pulled pork with sesame seeds and sliced scallions, and serve with fresh brioche buns or lettuce wraps!
How much pulled pork per person?
Whether you’re entertaining or not, it’s good to know how much pulled pork you’ll need per person so that you have enough, or so that you don’t end up with too much. The BBQ pros out there suggest 1/3 lb per person—but keep in mind that they mean 1/3 lbs cooked. Cooked pulled pork will only weigh half of the raw pork shoulder because a lot of the moisture will evaporate during the cooking process. So, if you buy a pork shoulder that weighs 4-5 lbs like the one I’ve used here, you’ll end up with about 2-2.5 lbs of cooked pulled pork, which will feed 6-8 people, give or take. An easier way to remember all of this: 1 lb of pulled pork is typically enough to feed 3 people.
What cut of meat should I use for pulled pork?
There are two ideal cuts you’re looking for when planning for pulled pork: pork shoulder or pork butt, sometimes called Boston butt, which amazingly doesn’t come from the rear ;) Both cuts come from the shoulder of the pig. The butt is found above the shoulder blades, and the pork shoulder meat stretches down to the pig’s front hooves. The pork butt has more marbling and fat, which offers up more flavor, so that’s what’s I typically go for—and that’s what I’ve used in this recipe. It’s also worth noting that I’ve left the fat cap on the pork as it increases moisture and flavor during the cooking process.
Bone-in or bone-out?
When you’re smoking your pork or cooking it in the slow cooker, this is entirely up to you. But for this recipe, you’ll want boneless so that you can get even cuts to fit in your Instant Pot.
What to do with leftover pulled pork.
Leftover pulled pork is great, because it reheats well and doesn’t lose its moisture so you can enjoy a tender pulled pork sandwich for a few days! Pulled pork is also great in lettuce wraps, tacos, or omelettes. You could also get super creative and indulgent and throw some into a mac and cheese.
- Refrigerating leftovers: Store the leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezing leftovers: You can freeze this stuff! Store it in an airtight freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months. When you want to serve it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
Equipment you’ll need:
- Instant Pot
- Mixing Bowls
- Sharp knife
- Cutting Board
- Forks for shredding pulled pork, or Meat claws
- Microplane, which will best grate your garlic and ginger
- Juice reamer
- Y-Peeler, for perfect julienne carrots
- Vegetable peeler
- Mandoline, for very thinly sliced cucumbers
Recipe tips + tricks.
- Leave the fat cap on the pork for extra moisture and flavor while it cooks. When done cooking, you can easily remove those layers of fat before shredding the pork.
- If you don’t have or can’t find mirin, you can use rice vinegar instead.
- Gojuchang is the preferred heat in this dish, mostly for its deep flavor, but if you have to substitute it, Sriracha or Sambal Oelek will work.
- If you want more heat, add more Gojuchang than what’s called for here.
More delicious pork recipe you’ll love:
- Sweet and Smokey Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Tangy Apple Slaw
- Pork Schnitzel with Quick Pickled Onions and Apples
- Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Pear and Ginger Sauce
Hope you enjoy!
If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme.
Instant Pot Korean Pulled Pork
For the pork.
- 4-5 lb boneless pork butt/shoulder, preferably with the fat cap
- 1 TBSP Five Spice seasoning (optional)
- 1 TBSP sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
For the Korean-inspired sauce.
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin You can use rice vinegar if you don't have mirin
- 2 TBSP sesame oil
- 1 TBSP grated ginger
- 2 tsp Gojuchang (or more if you want it spicy) You can use Sriracha or Sambal Oelek if you can't find Gojuchang
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic, grated to a paste or minced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
For the slaw.
- 4 small cucumbers, thinly sliced (preferably on a mandolin) If you can't find the small cucumbers, use 1 large
- 3 large carrots, cut julienne-style (preferably with a Y-peeler)
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 TBSP light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Sesame seeds
- Fresh brioche buns or bibb lettuce for lettuce wraps
- In a large mixing bowl, stir all of the sauce ingredients together until well blended; set aside.
- Place the pork onto a cutting board and carefully cut the pork into three even pieces. Massage the dry rub over each piece.
- Set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode. Drizzle the oil into the pot to warm it, then carefully place one of the pieces of pork into the pot. Sear it on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the pork and place it on a clean surface; repeat this with the other two pieces of pork. By searing the pork cuts, you'll get a nice rich crust which brings more flavor and crispy bits of pork similar to the "bark" you'd get from smoked pork.
- Transfer 1 cup of the Korean-inspired sauce to the Instant Pot plus 1/2 cup of water, and return your pieces of pork to the pot. They'll be snug, but that's okay.
- Secure the lid on your Instant Pot, set the valve to 'Sealing', and cook on HIGH manual pressure for one hour. When done, let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. Don't do a manual quick release, or the pork will seize up and lose tenderness. Once the 15 minutes are up, then it's safe to manually release the rest of the pressure.
- While the pork cooks, make the slaw. Mix the lime juice, brown sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl, then toss the cucumbers and slaw into the liquid and let them sit. This will give the veggies a nice quick pickle. Before topping the pork, you can toss some sesame seeds in with the veggies.
- Carefully remove the pork cuts from the Instant Pot and place them onto a cutting board. Drain all but 1 cup of the liquid from the inside of the Instant Pot. Using two forks or meat claws, shred the pulled pork—the pork should be incredibly tender and shredding it should be effortless.
- Transfer the pulled pork back into the Instant Pot and drizzle the rest of the Korean-inspired sauce over it; toss to coat. Garnish the pulled pork with sesame seeds and sliced scallions, and serve with fresh brioche buns or crisp bibb lettuce for lettuce wraps.