Honey Balsamic BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}

These flavorful honey balsamic BBQ pork sandwiches are so easy thanks to the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker! And wow, that BBQ sauce gets a huge boost thanks to a few pantry staples!

Bite taken out of honey balsamic BBQ pork sandwich on white plate.

BBQ pork sandwiches are an oft-recurring meal around here. I’ll never be able to take them off the rotation because a) hello, kid pleasing meal and b) they are so easy! 

This recipe has been my go-to BBQ pulled pork recipe for years. It’s an oldie (been livin’ here on the site for almost a decade), but man, it proves that it really doesn’t take a whole lot of ingredients or special tricks to transform a pork roast into a super tender, smoky-flavored, saucy sandwich situation.

Closeup of honey balsamic bbq pork sandwich on white tray.

Because we eat BBQ pork often…either on sandwiches or salads or burritos or whatever…I’m thrilled to have another variation on the almighty BBQ pork. I’ll never turn my back on that classic first-love recipe, but this honey balsamic recipe is crazy good and perfect if you are looking to put a little pizazz into your BBQ pork sandwiches. 

Here’s What Makes The Recipe So Easy

You literally don’t have to overthink anything. The pork is seasoned with a little salt + pepper + garlic powder action and then thrown in the Instant Pot (oh yeah!) or slow cooker – both of which you can set and forget. While the pork cooks* everyday BBQ sauce gets amped up by the addition of a few pantry staples (honey + balsamic + Worcestershire), and lemme tell you, BBQ sauce never tasted so good. 

*the BBQ sauce can easily be made days (or even a week) ahead of time – just reheat before tossing with the pork! 

The most important part is choosing the right cut of pork (I recommend a pork shoulder or pork sirloin roast) and making sure you are using a BBQ sauce and balsamic vinegar that you already love. Life lesson #243: no amount of additional ingredients are going to change the flavor of a sauce you hate the taste of. 

Here are my preferences: I either use this favorite homemade BBQ sauce or Sweet Baby Ray’s (my go-to store brand). And for balsamic vinegar, I almost always use the Kirkland brand from Costco or the Bari Bari brand (that I order online). 

 Honey balsamic BBQ pork sandwich on whole beat bun with coleslaw.

Let’s Talk Buns

In the pictures of this post, you may recognize these fluffy whole wheat French bread rolls. They are fabulous with this honey balsamic BBQ pork (or any pulled pork recipe), and I always double or triple the recipe so I can keep some baked rolls in the freezer.

But hey, storebought buns work JUST FINE. If you like your BBQ pork extra sauce, just get a bun that is sturdy enough to soak up that saucy sauciness. 

Also, I happen to love topping my BBQ pork sandwich with coleslaw. Do you?? The contrasting flavors and textures speaks to my heart. Spoiler alert: only 3/7 of my family agree with me. We are a house divided.

If you are a coleslaw + BBQ pork fan, here is my favorite creamy coleslaw recipe. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that sometimes I just toss shredded cabbage and carrots in a bowl and sprinkle in vinegar, oil, a pinch of sugar and some salt + pepper for a non-creamy but ultra-yummo coleslaw fix. 

One Year Ago: Cheesy Funeral Potatoes {Au Gratin Potatoes}
Two Years Ago: Delicious Whole Grain Hulk Muffins {Naturally Green!}
Three Years Ago: My Favorite Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
Four Years Ago: Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Swirl Bundt Cake
Five Years Ago: Homemade Flatbread {Greek Pocketless Pitas with a Simple Tutorial}

Honey Balsamic BBQ Pork Sandwiches {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Honey Balsamic BBQ Pork Sandwiches {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}

Ingredients

Pork:

  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork sirloin roast or pork shoulder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I use coarsely ground)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 to 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

BBQ Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (my favorite homemade version here)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Season the pork roast evenly with salt, pepper and garlic powder (about a teaspoon of each).
  2. Instant Pot Directions: cut the roast in half and place in the Instant Pot. Pour in the liquid smoke and broth. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure for 60 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before quick releasing the rest of the pressure.
  3. Slow Cooker Directions: place the seasoned pork roast in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker and pour in the liquid smoke and 2 cups broth. Cook on low for 8-9 hours.
  4. For the BBQ sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring often, until simmering. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. The sauce can be made a week in advance and refrigerated. If refrigerated, heat before tossing with the pork.
  5. Shred the pork (I suggest draining some of the excess cooking liquid) and toss with the BBQ sauce. Serve on buns (shredded cabbage/coleslaw optional but delish). The pork (once tossed with the sauce) can be kept warm in the slow cooker or Instant Pot for several hours before serving.

Notes

Choosing a BBQ sauce and balsamic vinegar that you like the taste of is key here. I either use my favorite homemade BBQ sauce or Sweet Baby Ray's brand, and my go-to balsamic vinegar is at Costco.

Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (originally from an eCookbook I had for sale a couple years ago; it is no longer for sale)