Instant Pot pulled pork is so easy to make and much quicker than traditional versions. The pork features a coffee rub along with a blend of smoky spices, and forms its own savory BBQ sauce as it cooks.
One cooking area in which I struggle is correctly assuming how long something will take to thaw when going from the freezer to the fridge. Despite my freezer/fridge temperatures being normal, I'm always convinced stuff will defrost way quicker than it actually does.
You'd think by now I'd have gotten it together, but no.
Nevertheless, the Boston butt pork roast I had been planning to throw in the crock pot on a Sunday to make my slow cooker pulled pork was too frosty to proceed. Given the facts that my Monday morning wasn't shaping up to be ideal for slow cooking and that Boston butt requires some time to become nice and shreddable, helloooooo Instant Pot.
This coffee rubbed pulled pork came out just as I could have hoped for, all in a time frame that didn't require me to start cooking dinner directly after breakfast.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- It goes without saying: the Instant Pot seriously speeds up the cook time. Just 35 minutes of pressure cook time produces tender, shreddable pork.
- There are less dishes to wash. You can sear the pork, saute onions and garlic, pressure cook, and thicken the sauce all in the same cooking vessel.
- The flavor! Coffee mixes with smoky dried seasonings beautifully to not only form a spice rub, but help flavor a quick and dirty homemade BBQ sauce made from the cooking liquid.
- Boston butt: Also known as pork butt, this comes from the shoulder region, contrary to popular belief. It features nice fat marbling and breaks down into tender, tender pork shreds.
- Coffee spice rub: Using finely ground coffee (ground espresso powder is fine, too) ensures it won't be gritty or crunchy, rather it blends right in with the brown sugar, kosher salt, and other smoky spices.
- Quick and dirty BBQ sauce: This doubles as the cooking liquid. Water or chicken broth is my go-to as it has a milder flavor, but beef broth works if you have a carton open. This joins with apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce for a smoky, spicy, tangy BBQ sauce.
- Stir together all spice blend ingredients in a small bowl. Trim off any excess fat cap and discard. Cut the roast into large chunks about two-and-a-half inches wide, discarding the bone if there is one. Rub the coffee rub onto all sides of the pork to coat it well.
- Heat half the olive oil in the Instant Pot and sear the meat for 2-3 minutes per side, or until a brown crust forms. Remove it to a plate for now, then add the rest of the olive oil and saute the diced onion, then the garlic. Deglaze the pan with some broth, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Add the browned pork back to the Instant Pot. Close and lock the lid, then cook for 35 minutes on the Manual high pressure setting.
- Let the pressure release naturally to let the meat rest and become even more tender, then remove the cooked coffee rubbed pork chunks to a cutting board.
- Shred the pork into small pieces using two forks, then cover to keep it warm. Sometimes I'll use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to quickly shred cooked meats, but this coffee rubbed pulled pork is so tender, it was a breeze with just the forks.
- While not a required step, you can skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, then turn the IP back on to "Saute" to thicken the cooking liquid into a delicious BBQ sauce to top this Instant Pot pulled pork. To help speed things along I usually will whisk in about one tablespoon of flour until smooth.
And there you go. Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, drizzle it over top of the pork and serve it how you like it. We love this pulled pork on sandwiches and salads, as well as in tacos. The sky's the limit really!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Slightly more work = more flavor: While cutting the Boston butt into smaller chunks is more work, doing so creates more surface area for the coffee rub to adhere and turn nice and brown from searing, leading to more flavor. Plus it cooks quicker. I think it's a worthy tradeoff.
- Don't Skip the Deglaze: Deglazing the pan after sautéing the onions and garlic is an important step. You'll want to scrape up all of the burnt bits from the bottom of the pan before pressure cooking. This will help prevent a "burn" error message from displaying on the Instant Pot from contents becoming too hot at the bottom of the pot.
- Thickening the Sauce: You can use your favorite sauce-thickening technique for the last recipe step. If you'd like to use cornstarch rather than flour, keep in mind you'll want to whisk it with cool water in a small bowl, and then drizzle the mixture back into the Instant Pot while stirring. This will prevent the cornstarch from clumping up.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Coffee Rubbed Instant Pot Pulled Pork
Coffee Spice Rub:
- 2 Tablespoons finely ground coffee
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)
- 2 ½ - 3 lbs boneless Boston butt pork roast cut into 2 ½-inch cubes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 small onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced/pressed
- 1 cup water or reduced-sodium chicken broth
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Stir together all coffee spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.
- Cube the Boston butt and trim and discard excess fat, such as any thick fat cap, if you desire. Add the meat to a mixing bowl, then scatter the spice mix over top, rubbing it into all sides of the meat until it's all covered.
- Press the "Saute" button on the Instant Pot with the lid off and allow it to heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Once oil is heated, add meat to the Instant Pot and brown for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove browned meat to a plate and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the Instant Pot, and then the diced onion. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring up occasionally, and then add the minced or pressed garlic. Saute for another 1-2 minutes.
- Pour a small amount of the water or broth into the Instant Pot to deglaze it, scraping up any stuck on bits before proceeding. You don't have to be precise with the amount - about one-quarter to one-third of a cup is fine. Deglazing is important to prevent a "burn" message from displaying during pressure cooking.
- Once deglazed, press the "Keep Warm/Cancel" button to shut off the Saute function. Add the remaining amount of water or broth, apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce and whisk well to combine until fairly smooth.
- Add the Boston butt chunks to the Instant Pot.
- Close and lock lid, making sure that the pressure release valve is set to "sealing".
- Press the "Manual" button (or "Pressure Cook" in newer IP models). Using the up or down button, adjust the cooking time to 35 minutes.
- The Instant Pot will take a bit of time (anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, in my experience) to come up to pressure, during which you may hear a slight hissing noise. During this time the display will read "On". Once pressure is reached, "35" will display and count down as the minutes go by as it's cooking.
- Once the cook time is over, let the pressure release naturally. This takes around 20-25 minutes, and allows the meat time to rest. Once the float valve goes down, carefully remove the lid.
- Remove the Boston butt from the Instant Pot and place on a cutting board or plate. It should shred easily with two forks.
- Skim away some of the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. To thicken the cooking liquid into a BBQ sauce once the meat is removed, press the "Saute" button. Stir/whisk in about 1 Tablespoon of flour if you like to help thicken the sauce quicker, whisking well to ensure no clumps remain. Continue cooking until sauce is to your liking, then toss with the pulled pork for serving.
- Inactive Time: The inactive time consists of 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and 20 minutes for natural pressure release, though this time may vary slightly for you.
- Sauce Thickening: In place of flour, you can also use cornstarch to thicken the BBQ sauce. If doing so, whisk it smoothly in a small bowl with cool water, then drizzle the cornstarch slurry into the sauce and heat.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer