When I tell you that these Instant Pot Bourbon BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders saved me during the holiday season last year, I really do mean it!
Last year, on December 17th 2017, I lost my very dear Mother. She was only 10 days into her 61st year on this earth before she was called home. Life just hasn’t been the same since losing my mom, and it all happened so suddenly and so unexpectedly. The loss of my mom shook me to my core, and honestly it has been difficult to get through.
I’ve actually had this recipe typed up for a long time, and I’d planned to share it on the one year anniversary of the day she left us, however I just haven’t been able to… It’s hard to believe we are now in 2019 and she left us at the end of 2017. I keep saying “last year”, not realizing how much time continues to pass and go forward. I’d planned to share this recipe before Christmas of 2018, because it’s what got me through that first holiday season, however it really is a perfect recipe year round. Whether you’re celebrating a holiday, hosting a game day party, or it’s just a regular Tuesday afternoon. It’s always the right time for these sliders!
2017 was a year of great change with our family, and ending the year with the loss of my mother was almost more than I could take. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Everything was a blur for me. Looking back, it’s still quite a blur. In the midst of planning a funeral, we somehow still managed to Christmas shop and wrap gifts for our family. We had family and friends help us during that time, I hadn’t cooked at all up until Christmas dinner, and I had no idea what to make. It somehow slipped my mind to shop for a special dinner, so I threw something together with what I had on hand. This was how these sliders were created. I made them again when we had family and close friends over for New Year’s Eve, and again in early February for Dev’s 9th birthday aka our “big game” football party. We’ve made them probably half a dozen more times, and they’ve quickly become a family favorite.
They’ve become my new go-to recipe for entertaining, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making them again this year for Christmas (I did). Probably again for New Year’s as well (I did).
When I think about it, it’s quite fitting that in a way these pulled pork sliders honor my mom. about 8 years ago she had spent Christmas with us and brought a slow cooker over with a pulled pork recipe she had made. It was shortly after I started really getting into cooking and I didn’t have a slow cooker yet. We loved her pulled pork and she wrote down the recipe for me, and surprised me by telling me that it wasn’t her slow cooker she’d made it in. The slow cooker she brought over was mine, it was my Christmas gift! I loved that slow cooker and have used it in many of the recipes I’ve created and shared in this space.
Before she passed she was so excited about her instant pot. She started using it for everything and loved how quickly she could make dinners, especially because she had a busy work schedule and long commute hours. She would rave about it and asked me to start making some recipes for it that she could use. She always enjoyed fun cooking gadgets, especially ones that allowed her to set it and forget it while it cooked. I wish she’d have been able to try this recipe too. This one’s for you, Mom. You are sorely missed.
Helpful tools for this recipe:
McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Seasoning
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- 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3-4 lb pork butt
- 4 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon seasoning
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dry basil
- 1 tablespoon dry marjoram
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup bourbon whiskey
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- ½ tablespoon Himalayan sea salt
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 32 Hawaiian Rolls
- 14 thin slices pepper jack cheese
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons creamy horseradish sauce
- 2 cups thinly chopped cabbage
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry basil
- Begin by setting the Instant Pot to saute.
- Add 1½ tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of the pot, then add the onion and saute until soft and translucent.
- As you're sauteeing the onions, cut the pork into large chunks and add to a bowl. Add all of the seasonings for the pork rub to the bowl, and combine until the pork chunks are well coated with the seasonings.
- Remove the sauteed onions from the pot, placing in a bowl to set aside. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot, then add the pork chunks once the oil is warmed. This will sear that seasoning into the pork before cooking in the instant pot.
- Once all of the edges of meat are browned, add the onion back in as well as the garlic. Stir well.
- Now add your favorite barbecue sauce (I chose one my mother in law brought back from Missouri, it's slightly thinner than most you find in the stores and it has a deep, rich taste). Add the bourbon, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, your favorite hot sauce (like Frank's or Crystal's), sea salt, pepper, brown mustard, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper.
- Stir well so the liquid is well combined, then put the lid on, lock into place and close the valve.
- Power off, then push manual and set it to cook for 45 minutes on high.
- You can allow it to slow release, or you can opt for quick release. Either one is fine.
- Once you open the instant pot up, stir it all up again.
- Add everything to a large pot and let it simmer on the stove for another 10 minutes or so until the liquid reduces substantially and thickens. As it's on the stove you can shred the pork with two forks fairly easily.
- Once the liquid is thickened and the pork is shredded, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Grab your Hawaiian Rolls and cut them in half (like a bun) while they're all connected.
- Slather the bottom half of the rolls with your favorite mayonnaise, and the top with a thin layer of horseradish (trust me).
- Combine the pork with cabbage and then spread across the bun bottoms. Spread a thin layer of pepper jack cheese on the top, then carefully lay the bun tops back on the sliders.
- Warm up your butter in the microwave in a small bowl for about 15-20 seconds, until melted, then mix in the garlic salt, paprika and basil. Carefully brush the seasoned melted butter on top of the sliders, then bake in the preheated oven for about 12-14 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. The tops of the buns will be golden brown with a nice toastiness to them.
- Once cooled, use a long, sharp serrated knife to cut the sliders and place on a platter to serve!
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Sonia Daugherty says
I am going to try to make this sliders for the super bowl party.. one question, can I make the pork in the morning, about 30 minutes the party starts warm it up in the stove, sched it and do the last steps to prepare the sliders. What do you suggest?
Hi Sonia, YES! You absolutely can! In fact, I’ve made half before and just stored the pulled pork for a day or two and made the rest when we had a busy season. It tasted great and it’s almost like spaghetti where it’s even better later. Have a great party!