Pork Shoulder Showdown: Instant Pot vs Dutch Oven vs Slow Cooker
You'd have to work pretty hard to find a bad way to cook a pork shoulder. I mean, you shouldn't go trying to steam it whole or zap it in the microwave and expect it to turn out super deliciously, but otherwise—game on. If I have a whole weekend day, I'll fire up the smoker and spend hours fussing, mopping and replenishing the wood chips, but sometimes it's nice to kick back with an icy beverage, catch up on Billions, and all of a sudden hear the timer go off. Boop! The shoulder is done, and I barely had to do jack about it.
For the past decade or so, I've relied on my stalwart slow cooker to deliver me a succulent, slumped-down pork shoulder that I can set, forget, and come back to effortlessly shred a few hours later. But now that my Instant Pot has basically usurped its counter space, I figured I owed it to myself to make sure that was the right decision. And did I need a special gadget at all to make the braised porcine magic happen?
Only one way to find out. I went into the Extra Crispy test kitchen, pulled out an Instant Pot, a slow cooker, and a Dutch oven, placed an equally-sized, bone-in pork shoulder in each, cracked a tallboy of Bud and a box of chicken stock over top, dashed in some Worcestershire sauce and a halved onion, and put them to work—the Dutch oven in a moderately hot oven and the slow cooker on high for four hours, and three hours into the process, I flipped on the Instant Pot at high pressure to play catch-up.
The results were wildly different—and pretty surprising. Watch the video to see which pork shoulder method reigned supreme.