Five fragrant spices and a honey hoisin sauce give this pulled pork a ton of flavor in every bite. And oh hey, it takes just a little over an hour in the pressure cooker, too!
The distinct flavor of this dish comes from Chinese five-spice powder, a classic blend that usually includes star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, fennel seeds, cloves, and cassia (a culinary relative of cinnamon).The exact mix and ratio of spices can vary from mix to mix—the one I like is from Oaktown Spice Shop.
This recipe converts Elise’s fantastic recipe for Slow Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork to the pressure cooker. I only had to make a few changes to make sure it would come out with the same great flavor in my Instant Pot, but in a lot less time.
First, sauté the ginger and garlic to help fully infuse their flavors in the finished dish. Cooking also helps mellow these pungent spices.
I also added a little extra water to the total cooking liquid, which is needed in order for the pot to build up enough steam to pressurize. Don’t worry that the sauce might be too thin—we’ll simmer the sauce after cooking the pork to help thicken it up.
This Chinese pulled pork serves a crowd and makes a great entrée for a party buffet table. It’s also a versatile staple for all sorts of weeknight meals. Pile it onto hamburger buns (mini buns for sliders, or regular-sized for sandwiches), spoon it over rice or greens, stuff it into tacos and burritos, or even use it to make traditional Chinese pork steamed buns.
Pressure Cooker Chinese Pulled Pork Recipe
For stovetop pressure cookers: Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic and ginger. Pressure cook for 50 minutes at high pressure. When it’s time to reduce the cooking liquid, simmer the cooking liquid over medium heat.
For larger pressure cookers: This recipe is made for a 6-quart pressure cooker. If you are using a larger, 8-quart pressure cooker, increase the amount of water from 1/3 cup to 1 cup. When the pork has finished cooking, you will need to reduce the sauce for an additional 10 minutes or so.
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Chinese Five-Spice Powder
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into large chunks (3- to 4-inch pieces)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I like avocado oil)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-inch (1-ounce) piece ginger, minced
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly
- Hamburger or slider buns
1 Season the pork: Sprinkle the spice blend evenly over the pork chunks, making sure to coat them on all sides.
2 Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, and sherry.
3 Cook the garlic and ginger in the pressure cooker: Select the “Sauté” setting and heat the oil in your electric pressure cooker. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté until the garlic is fragrant but not yet beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
4 Pressure cook the pork: Use a pair of tongs to add the seasoned pieces of pork into the pressure cooker, arranging them in a single layer. Pour the cooking sauce over top.
Secure the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure that the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Cancel the “Sauté” program on the pressure cooker, then select the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” setting. Set the cooking time to 55 minutes at high pressure. (The pressure cooker will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure and then the actual cooking time will begin.)
5 Release the pressure: You can either perform a quick pressure release by immediately moving the vent from “Sealing” to “Venting” (be careful of the steam), or you can let the pot depressurize naturally, which takes about 20 minutes.
6 Separate the pork and cooking liquid. Use tongs to transfer the pork to a large platter or sheet pan. Use heatproof mitts to lift the inner pot out of the pressure cooker, pour the cooking liquid into a fat separator, then pour the liquid back into the pot.
(If you don’t have a fat separator, let the cooking liquid stand for about 10 minutes until the fat floats to the top, then use a to skim as much fat as possible from the surface.)
7 Reduce the cooking liquid: Return the pot to the pressure cooker, select the “Sauté” program, and let the cooking liquid come to a rapid simmer. Continue simmering for 10 minutes to reduce the cooking liquid.
8 While the liquid is reducing, use a pair of forks to shred the pork.
9 Toss the shredded pork with the reduced liquid: Return the pork to the pot with the reduced cooking liquid and toss to coat the pork evenly. If the pork seems a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved fat.
10 Serve: Serve the pulled pork with scallions sprinkled over top.