Instant Pot Pulled Pork (Paleo, Low FODMAP)
Transport yourself to warm, summertime barbecues, even in the middle of winter, by taking just one bite of this Instant Pot Pulled Pork slathered with homemade barbecue sauce. Sweet, savoury and a little bit sinful: this BBQ pulled pork may turn out to be one of the best things you ever put in your mouth. I’m serious! Fall-apart tender and full of flavour, the Instant Pot makes this delectable Southern barbecue dish enjoyable year-round! And it’s Paleo (without the bun) and low FODMAP to boot!
Adapting Instant Pot Pulled Pork for Paleo/Low FODMAP
I don’t think it’s any secret that I love using my Instant Pot, but there are two recipes in particular that made me fall in love with it: this Instant Pot Pork Chop One Pot Meal recipe by Frugal Housefrau that I later adapted for Paleo, Whole30 and low FODMAP; and this Easy Pulled Pork Recipe for Instant Pot by Slick Housewives. I tried making pulled pork in the Instant Pot in a wide variety of ways but could not come up with a better way of doing it. I could, however, adapt the original recipe for Paleo and low FODMAP and also create an original homemade barbecue sauce recipe to go with it that’s also Paleo and low FODMAP.
Cincinnati Pulled Pork
My adoration for pulled pork started long before the Instant Pot came to be. It started when I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, which lies across a river from Kentucky and is heavily influenced by Southern US culture. It is sometimes even referred to as “The Gateway to the South.”
In the 1800’s, hogs were a major source of income for farmers and meat processors in the area, so much so that Cincinnati came to be known as “Porkopolis” and led the country’s overall meat packing industry. While it no longer leads the country in meat packing, the historical influence of how the city came to thrive still lives in its public art and food.
I only lived in Cincinnati for 2 years and have not been back in over a decade, but it’s one of my most favourite places I’ve ever lived and one of the most underrated cities in the US. Food, arts and culture are at the forefront of city life – the way they should be. Anyways, I was introduced to pulled pork at Cincinnati restaurants and food events and just fell in love with it. I’ve ordered pulled pork in restaurants in other cities over the years, and nothing has compared to what I tasted in Cincinnati – until this pulled pork recipe.
The equipment I use to make this Instant Pot Pulled Pork include:
- Instant Pot 6-qt (I use this one)
- Paper towel
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Small bowl
- Whisk or fork
- Large plate
- Plastic spoon for scraping
- Slotted spoon for scooping
- Serving platter or large bowl
- 2 forks for pulling pork apart
Instant Pot Pulled Pork: Ingredients & Tips for Success
This recipe doesn’t require many ingredients as most of its flavour comes from the barbecue sauce; however, there are a few things to note:
I typically use a 3 lb cut of pork shoulder with this recipe, but a larger cut (up to 4 lbs) should also work. I buy my pork shoulder in bulk from Costco as it’s the cheapest and a great cut of meat.
Dry Rub Ingredients
Instead of brown sugar as the original recipe calls for, I use maple sugar, which is derived from pure maple syrup and Paleo and low FODMAP. If you aren’t concerned with FODMAPs, you can also use the same amount of coconut sugar, which has a similar taste to brown sugar and is another Paleo sweetener option.
Instead of garlic and onion powder, I use dried chives to add some garlicy-oniony flavour. Dried chives actually add a ton of great flavour to meats. I have started using them regularly in my recipes as a substitute for garlic and/or onion powder.
Ancho Chili Powder
I use ancho chili powder as it has a sweeter flavour than regular chili powder; but then again, regular chili powder works for this recipe, too, if you don’t have ancho chili powder on hand.
Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon & Cayenne
I use kosher salt and ground black pepper to enhance the flavours and cinnamon and cayenne to add some sweetness and heat. When I first saw the original recipe call for cinnamon, I thought it might be too sweet for meat, but it adds so much great flavour to the pork.
Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
To add more garlicy flavour and seal the seasonings and juices in the meat, I sear the seasoned meat in garlic-infused olive oil, which I would buy by the gallon if it were only available that way.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
The original recipe calls for Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, which I love but can no longer tolerate. Therefore, I wrote this recipe for homemade barbecue sauce specifically for this pulled pork recipe. It is sweet and tangy and complements the pork so well. You can potentially use bottled Paleo/low FODMAP barbecue sauces instead (about 28-32 oz should do it), but I haven’t tested it this recipe with bottled barbecue sauce (other than Sweet Baby Ray’s, ages ago) and cannot predict that you will not get a burn error (dun, dun DUN!) as some barbecue sauces are thicker/starchier than others. If the sauce you end up using is particularly thick, you can always add more water to the pot to try to prevent the dreaded burn error (dun, dun DUN!).
Serving Options: Paleo & Low FODMAP
As I eat gluten-free grains now and then, I eat my pulled pork on a gluten-free bun like the one pictured below; however, if you want a straight-up Paleo and low FODMAP option, I suggest serving it on buns made with slices of russet potatoes and having pulled pork sliders, which could be a fun appetizer or dinner option. Serving it on a baked potato is another option. Or, you could make a pulled pork lettuce wrap and use green leaf or butter lettuce like a tortilla. If you’re not concerned with FODMAPs, I’ve heard that pulled pork is pretty yummy on a baked sweet potato.
- 3-4 lbs pork shoulder
- 2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil
Pulled Pork Dry Rub:
- 2 tbsp maple sugar (coconut sugar also works if not low FODMAP)
- 1 tbsp dried chives
- 2 tsp ancho chili powder (regular chili powder works, too!)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- A full batch of my homemade barbecue sauce recipe**
- 1 cup cold water
- Start by making a full batch of my homemade barbecue sauce recipe, or make it a day in advance to achieve even better flavour.
- While the barbecue sauce is simmering, dry pork shoulder with paper towels and chop into 6 equal(ish) pieces.
- In a small bowl, add pulled pork dry rub ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Cover each piece of the pulled pork on all sides. I typically just dip each piece into the rub, or you can apply the rub to the pork with your hands.
- Once the barbecue sauce is done simmering, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Hit the "Saute" button on the Instant Pot and add the garlic-infused olive oil. Once the display reads "Hot," using tongs, add half of the pork pieces and sear each side for 1 minute. Remove seared pork to a plate and repeat for the remaining pieces of pork.
- Once all of the pork pieces are seared and removed from the pot, hit "Cancel" on the Instant Pot and slowly pour 1 cup of cold water to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot clean with a plastic spoon.
- Once the barbecue sauce has cooled for 10-15 minutes, add half of the sauce to the Instant Pot and stir to combine with the water. Add all of the pork back into the pot and cover with sauce on all sides. Scrape any pork juices left on the plate into the pot using a spatula (leave no flavour behind!).
- Close the lid, set pressure release valve to sealing, hit the "Meat" button, and set timer for 60 minutes.
- Once the cooking cycle has completed, hit "Cancel" on the Instant Pot and quick release pressure. Open lid, and using a slotted spoon, carefully remove pork to a platter or bowl. Using two forks, pull pork apart. Add the remaining barbecue sauce (as much as you'd like - you may not need all of it) to the pork and stir to coat. Serve on a gluten-free bun (not for Paleo), potato bun, baked potato or sweet potato (not for low FODMAP), or another starch of your choosing.
*Cooking time does not reflect the time required to make the homemade barbecue sauce.
**You could potentially make this with a store-bought Paleo/low FODMAP barbecue sauce (32 oz), but I have not tested this with one myself, so I cannot guarantee that you will not get a burn error as some barbecue sauces are thicker/starchier than others. If your sauce is particularly thick, you can always add more water to the pot to try to prevent burn errors.
Adapted from Slick Housewives
Did you make this recipe? Post it to social and tag it @GoodNomsHoney and #GoodNomsHoney - I'd love to see your masterpiece!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2025Total Fat: 147gSaturated Fat: 54gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 80gCholesterol: 612mgSodium: 1109mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 159g