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Cooking a pork shoulder is often a lengthy process that involves low and slow cooking. Not so with an Instant Pot! About an hour is all you need for the most tender and juicy pressure-cooked pork. Sounds amazing, right? Read on for all you need to know about how to cook pork shoulder in an Instant Pot!
How Long Should You Cook Pork Shoulder in the Instant Pot?
While many online recipes will have you put the entire pork shoulder into the Instant Pot whole, we found that this results in pork that is unevenly cooked. It also takes a really long time to cook it!
Our solution to cooking the perfect pork shoulder in the Instant Pot is this: Cut it into 4 equal pieces first! If it’s a bone-in pork, do your best to evenly cut the meat around the bone.
Cooking Pork Shoulder From Fresh in the Instant Pot
After it’s quartered, cook a 3-4 pound fresh pork shoulder (also known as Boston Butt) in the Instant Pot for 45 minutes with at least a 10 minute natural release of the pressure.
Cooking Pork Shoulder From Frozen in the Instant Pot
If the pork shoulder was quartered before freezing*, the frozen version will cook in the same amount of time as the fresh version. Because it takes longer to come to pressure, it doesn’t need additional cooking time even though it’s frozen.
So, you will cook a frozen, quartered 3-4 pound pork shoulder in the Instant Pot for 45 minutes with at least a 10 minute natural release of the pressure.
*It’s impossible to saw a frozen pork shoulder into four pieces, so do this before freezing!
Testing the Internal Temperature
We can assure you we are NOT just guessing about these cooking time recommendations. While writing our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we methodically tested recipes by taking the internal temperature with our trusted meat thermometer (pic below) at different points during the cooking time.
If you don’t have one of these digital meat thermometers, be sure to snag one. It’s one of our top kitchen tools, because it prevents undercooking or overcooking all kinds of dishes.
Free Cooking Times Chart for Instant Pot
In an effort to save you from overcooking or undercooking future Instant Pot meals, we wanted to equip you with this free Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart to go along with your meat thermometer. Download it, print it, snuggle it, and thank us later.
How Long Do I Cook a Pork Shoulder in the Slow Cooker?
We are so glad you asked! Take a look at and download our free slow cooker cooking times chart below.
Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Recipes You Might Like
Now that you know exactly how to cook a pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, it’s time to get cooking. Here are some of our favorite, well-tested recipes.
Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork – This recipe has it all. It’s super easy, budget-friendly, makes a large batch, and freezes beautifully.
Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas – Seasoned, marinaded pork roast gets cooked in the Instant Pot and then broiled until crispy in this easy, freezer-friendly, and delicious recipe for a crowd.
Cuban Paninis – This Cuban Panini recipe has the perfect balance of complex flavor, texture, and gooey goodness. Trust us when we say, this interesting combo of panini ingredients results in one amazing hot sandwich.
Instant Pot Green Chile Pork Enchiladas – These low-carb enchiladas are the perfect way to use up any extra shredded pork you may have on hand. They are sure to be loaded with tons of flavor!
Where Do You Get Your Pork Shoulder From?
We are HUGE fans of Butcherbox and have been getting our pork (and beef, seafood, and chicken) from them for years now. In fact, Rachel wrote a comprehensive honest review about this meat subscription service.
We love that all their meat is healthy and sourced responsibly. It’s so convenient to have it delivered to our doorsteps whenever we choose!
Bonus Tips for Cooking Frozen Food in the Instant Pot
Tip 1: Freeze your Instant Pot meals in a circular form.
While many are accustomed to freezing meals in a nice flat square-shaped freezer bag, this shape won’t work when trying to cook a freezer meal in the Instant Pot. It simply won’t fit. Our preferred method is to freeze the meal in a zip-top freezer bag and place the meal in a bowl (or something that is a round shape). After it’s frozen, snatch the bowl back and leave the meal in the freezer. Then when you want to make your meal, it’ll plop right into that Instant Pot!
Tip 2: If possible, don’t stack your meat when freezing meals in the Instant Pot.
We have learned this the hard way. Because the Instant Pot cooks so fast, if meat (especially chicken breast) is stacked, it’s really hard for it all to cook evenly. The outside gets done and the inside remains pink as a pig. (Is that a phrase? It is now.) If it’s impossible to not stack your meat, just be sure to check for doneness throughout. If it’s not done, move the meat around with some tongs and cook on high pressure for a few more minutes.
Tip 3: Large cuts of meat should be cut into small pieces before freezing.
We’re talking pork shoulders and beef roasts. In order for meat to cook evenly and to get really tender, it’s better if it’s not in one big chunk. We recommend quartering our pork shoulders and cutting our chuck roasts into 2 inch cubes. It’s some work on the front end but worth it. Chicken breasts and thighs seem to do fine as they are.
Tip 4: Saute the freezer meal in the Instant Pot for 5 minutes before cooking.
One trick that we have learned about cooking a freezer meal in the Instant Pot is to let the frozen meal simmer for about 5 minutes. Simply turn on the Sauté function, place the meal in the pot, and let it do its thing.
Tip 5: Allow extra time for coming to pressure and for cooking freezer meals in the Instant Pot.
We’ve found that freezer meals take almost twice as long to come to pressure than a thawed meal does. Make sure you allow for that time when prepping or you’ll have a hangry family. I wish there was a one size fits all pattern to freezer meal cooking times in the Instant Pot but there just isn’t.
One trend we see is that the longer it takes a meal to come to pressure, the less additional time you need to add to cook a frozen meal. It seems counterintuitive, I know. You’ll just have to trust us on this one. So for example, in our recipes for a large batch of soup, we don’t add any additional cooking time when cooking from frozen. On the flip side, we add 10+ minutes to a small chicken recipe.
Want More Instant Pot Freezer Meals?
Be sure to check out this post packed with 20+ Instant Pot Freezer Meals!