This Instant Pot sweet balsamic pork roast is delicious and flavorful, with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce making the best glaze. Plus it cooks in under one hour!
We have gotten into a bit of a recipe rut lately. We have so many recipes at our disposal (over 350 on my blog!), but because I eat a bariatric diet with almost no carbs, our options are pretty limited. It's always 4 ounces of a protein and 4 ounces of a vegetable.
We made up a recipe binder months and months ago with our favorite bariatric-friendly recipes listed out in dividers by type of meat, and that does help because either Joe or I can page through our favorites and pick something that we haven't had in a while.
Even the recipes in the binder were feeling a little stale, so Joe was searching around on the internet and found something that inspired him to make a balsamic vinegar gravy, which he put on top of a pork roast.
We love pork, and I love this recipe. I can't say what it is about the pork that always comes out so well, but the combination of the balsamic glaze and the flavor of the pork are just out of this world.
When Joe makes this, I happily eat it for several days and scrimp on foods at other meals to make up the calories. It's worth the sacrifice.
Balsamic vinegar is naturally sweet, and adding a little brown sugar to it makes it really come alive. The sweetness is balanced out by soy sauce and the pork roast is smothered in rich, brown sauce. You can't go wrong with this tender Instant Pot pork roast!
What you'll need to make an Instant Pot pork roast
This recipe requires very few special tools. Of course, you will need an Instant Pot or another electronic pressure cooker. I prefer a 6-quart model or bigger.
I also use a garlic press to prepare this recipe. If you have a super sharp knife and good knife skills, you could finely mince the garlic. You will want the pieces to be as small as possible.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil - This is to brown the pork.
- 2-3 pound pork roast - This recipe works best for a pork shoulder or pork butt because they will give you a more moist, almost stringy texture. You could also use a pork loin or tenderloin, but the cooking instructions are very different.
- Salt & pepper
For the sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed with a garlic press
- ¼ cup brown sugar - You can substitute this with an equal amount of Splenda or Stevia with very little loss of flavor.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar - Get the very best balsamic vinegar that you can afford as this is the base for the entire sauce.
- ¼ cup water - If you decide to add the cornstarch to the sauce after cooking, you'll need 2 tablespoons extra.
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
What is a pork butt?
It's not what you think. The pork butt is a cut of meat from the front of the pig, in the shoulder area. It's called a butt because butchers three hundred years ago packaged the meat in barrels that were called butts.
Pork shoulders and butts are nice cuts of meat, but they need to be cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time in order to become tender and juicy.
The Instant Pot speeds up the process of cooking of cooking pork shoulder significantly, as you can go from start to finish in about an hour and have a fork-tender roast.
Why cook pork shoulder in the Instant Pot?
There are three main reasons you should use your Instant Pot to cook pork roasts:
- The sauté function allows you to achieve a beautiful sear on the outside of the roast with minimal effort and without dirtying a second pan. Also, the Instant Pot comes with a trivet that allows you to prop the meat up above the cooking liquid, preserving the caramelization that you seared on and preventing a burn warning.
- The lid locks onto the IP, allowing you to walk away from the whole thing and come back an hour later to a safely and perfectly prepared roast.
- The Instant Pot allows you to enjoy a slow-braised, fork-tender pork roast in a fraction of the time it would have taken to cook one in the oven.
How long should you cook a pork roast in the Instant Pot?
When you cook a pork shoulder or pork butt in the oven, it takes approximately 40 minutes per pound of meat.
The Instant Pot allows you to cook the same piece of meat in about 15 minutes per pound. In other words, if you are cooking a 2-pound shoulder, you should set the IP for 30 minutes. If it's closer to 3 pounds, set the timer for 45 minutes.
Remember that pressurizing takes some time, so when you set the timer for 30 minutes, the roast will actually cook for closer to 40-45 minutes as the pressurization takes 10 to 15 minutes just on its own.
You also have to release the pressure. I like to do a natural release for 10 minutes and then vent the rest. Venting is not the same as quick release.
After all of the pressure has dissipated, you can open the lid and remove the meat from the pot.
You never want to quick release the pressure right after the cook time when cooking meat because the rapid change in temperature will cause the meat to seize and become tough.
When you're finished, a 3-pound pork shoulder or butt will take about 70 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot (10-15 to pressurize, 45 to cook, and 15 to depressurize), but that's still way better than the 120 minutes the same roast would have taken in the oven. Plus, the Instant Pot roast will be more tender and juicy from being pressure cooked in a moist pot!
How to make sweet balsamic pork roast in the Instant Pot
- Mix garlic, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, water, cornstarch*, soy sauce, and rosemary in a small bowl.
- Heat the Instant Pot to sauté. When the display reads HOT, pour in the oil. Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, approximately 4 minutes per side.
- Turn off the sauté mode, remove the pork, and add the water to the Instant Pot. Use the water to help you scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. If you don't do this, you will get a burn warning.
- Add the sauce to the Instant Pot and then place the pork in on top of the trivet. Program Instant Pot to the high pressure or meat setting and cook for 15 minutes per pound. Keep an eye on the Instant Pot during the cooking time as some cooks have had their IP alarm for burning. If this happens, carefully release the pressure, add another ½ cup of water, replace the lid, and repressurize to finish cooking. When the timer beeps, turn it off and let the pressure naturally release before removing the lid.
- Slice the pork and serve topped with lots of sauce.
How to prevent a burn warning when cooking this Instant Pot pork roast recipe
*Some commenters have suggested that adding the cornstarch and water before cooking is what causes some people's Instant Pots to give a burn warning.
There are 2 things you can do to prevent this.
First, you could just add additional liquid during cooking, between ½ and ¾ cup.
Second, you can add the cornstarch and water after cooking. Simply remove the pork from the IP and set it to sauté. Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water to make a slurry, and pour that into the juices left behind in the pot. Heat on sauté until the sauce boils, about 5-7 minutes. This will thicken the sauce while preventing the burn warning during the initial cooking.
What should I serve with sweet balsamic pork roast?
I personally like to serve this pork roast with slow cooker mashed potatoes, and spoon the gravy over top of the potatoes.
You should check out some other Instant Pot recipes while you're here:
- The best ever Instant Pot pot roast
- Instant Pot sloppy joes
- Instant Pot chicken tacos
- Coconut Chicken Curry in the Instant Pot