Asian Pulled Pork? YES! It’s EASY. It’s DELICIOUS! Make it in the Ninja Foodi and shave off hours of time!
Making a great pork butt for pulled pork takes FOREVER… usually. Low and Slow is the mantra of the BBQ world and I’m not knocking that! There really isn’t anything like a low-and-slow-smoked pork butt, but… this recipe for Asian Pulled Pork will knock your socks off. It’s that good!
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As the previous owner of a BBQ restaurant, I’ve probably made over a thousand pork butts in my lifetime, and if anyone suggested that I use a pressure cooker to make one, I would have said, “No Way!”
There isn’t anything that comes close to a pork butt that is cooked on a wood-fired smoker for 10-12 hours. There is something magical that happens during that long cook time that is impossible to replicate, BUT we don’t have to replicate! Let’s be different! Let’s make Asian Pulled Pork!
What Cut of Pork Will I Need to Make Asian Pulled Pork?
You will need a pork shoulder, pork butt, or a picnic shoulder. In most grocery stores, you can’t get an entire pork shoulder and even if you could, it won’t fit in the Ninja Foodi. I usually look for the pork butt which isn’t the butt at all. The pork “butt” is cut from part of the shoulder and usually has less bone than a picnic shoulder.
The picnic shoulder is cut from lower down on the shoulder of the hog and often has a bigger bone and the skin intact. While this isn’t a problem, I do prefer the pork butt for it’s marbling and more uniform shape.
Pork butts (shoulder) are easier to cut into smaller pieces even if they have the bone in. If you are making traditional BBQ, I recommend getting bone-in because nothing beats that flavor added by the bone.
When making Asian Pulled Pork or any other pulled pork in the Ninja Foodi or pressure cooker, bone-out can be easier to deal with.
Typically a bone-out pork butt is about 6-8 pounds. I like to cut that into 3 sections and cook it 3 different ways for variety. You can cut it and freeze it for later or triple this recipe and make it all at once! If you cut the whole pork butt into 3 chunks, the cooking time will be the same. If you keep it whole, you will need to increase the cooking time to about 2-2 1/2 hours.
If you want to read more about cuts of pork for pulled pork, check out this article by The Spruce Eats: The Right Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork.
Can I use Pork Loin to make Pulled Pork?
No. It won’t work out well and I don’t advise trying it. You have to have marbled piece of pork to get the flavor and tenderness that makes this recipe so delicious.
If you have to use a leaner cut of pork, then I would skip the pressure cooking all together and do it this way: put all the ingredients into the Ninja Foodi (except the pickled veggies), but decrease the liquid to 1 cup instead of three and decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon. That means to add in the garlic, ginger, orange juice, salt, red pepper flakes, honey, and pork to the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi. Then set the Ninja Foodi to the slow cook function on high for 4 hours.
Can I use Frozen Pork Butt?
Yep! I did just that the first two times I tested this recipe and it worked out great. In fact, the time was the same too! So throw that frozen (2 1/2 lb) pork butt right into the Ninja Foodi, add the water, vinegar, and seasonings and set the time for 90 minutes!
If your pork butt is more than 2 1/2 pounds, you will need to adjust the cooking time. I would start with 2 hours, but it could take longer depending on the size.
Let’s get to Making Asian Pulled Pork!
The first thing you want to do is get the pork butt cooking since this takes about 90 minutes. In the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi, combine 3 cups of water with 1 cup of rice wine vinegar, 1/2 Tablespoon of sea salt, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup sugar. You can skip the red pepper flakes if you want, but they really add a nice flavor.
Add in the 2 1/2 pounds of pork shoulder (butt). You want the pork shoulder to be at least 3/4 of the way covered with liquid. If you need to increase the water to achieve this, go ahead. It will not affect the outcome.
Put on the pressure lid and set the pressure to high and the time for 90 minutes. Turn the black valve on the Ninja Foodi to seal and hit start. When the time is up, immediate release the pressure. Don’t scream at me quite yet, let me explain why it is OKAY to immediate release the pressure.
There are many times when you will want to do a natural release for meats, but it is not necessary in this recipe. At the end of 90 minutes, the pork shoulder will be nearly covered with liquid so it will not lose moisture when doing an immediate release. Trust me, turn the valve, it will be fine. If you are interested in more specifics about pressure cooking, take a look at this article I wrote: Pressure Cooking 101.
If you can’t bring yourself to do an immediate release, it will not hurt anything if you go with a natural release.
While the pork is cooking, make up your pickled vegetables. Of course this is optional and the Asian Pulled Pork will be delicious if you skip this step, but the added crunch and flavor of the pickled vegetables really enhances the flavor! Give them a try!
Cut up the vegetables you want to use. I chose thinly sliced ginger, red onion, red sweet pepper, and matchstick carrots. If you love spice, you can use red chili peppers! You can watch how I cut up the vegetables in the video for Asian Pulled Pork on YouTube or below the written recipe.
Heat 1/2 cup of water and add 1 tsp sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add rice wine vinegar. Pack jar with vegetables and pour liquid into jar. If you need to add more liquid to cover the vegetables, use equal parts of water and vinegar. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to use.
You can also make the pickled vegetables spicy by adding red pepper flakes.
You can make as little or as much of the pickled vegetables as you want and they last a long time in the fridge. The longer they sit, the more flavor they absorb. I have found that 1 hour is the minimum amount of time you want them to pickle.
When the pork has finished cooking, strain the meat from the liquid and remove any large pieces of fat. Shred the pork and return to the inner pot. Be sure to reserve at least 1/2 cup of the liquid.
You don’t have to throw away the liquid. Let it cool and freeze it for future Asian dishes that call for chicken or beef stock.
Add in 1/2 cup of the liquid to the inner pot with the pork along with grated ginger, minced garlic, honey, red pepper paste (see recipe below if you want to make it yourself), orange juice & 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. If you can’t find red pepper paste and don’t want to make it, you can use 1 tsp red pepper flakes instead.
Sear/Sauté on medium heat until flavors have combined, this will only take a few minutes. If you are not serving right away, you can either leave the keep warm function on or use the slow cooker function on high or low.
Serve on a bun with pickled vegetables. Enjoy!
How to Make Your Own Red Chili Pepper Paste
Pressure cook 1.5 lbs of fresh red chili peppers with 2 cups of water and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow to natural release for 10 minutes, then manually release the rest of the pressure.
Allow to cool for about 30 minutes and puree in a blender until smooth.
Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 Tbsp of Xanath gum to thicken.
You can keep the red pepper paste in the fridge for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 3-6 months. I love having this on hand to make various recipes, like this one for Asian Sticky Wings!
Asian Pulled Pork in the Ninja Foodi
Asian Pulled Pork
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes divided
- 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
- 2 1/2 lbs pork shoulder boneless
- 1/4 cup red peppers diced
- 1 tsp ginger grated (about 1 inch of ginger)
- 1 tsp garlic minced (about 3 cloves)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp Red Chili Pepper Paste see post for recipe or you can buy Gourmet Garden
- 1/4 cup orange juice 1 medium orange squeezed
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 inch ginger sliced thin
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 carrot cut into matchsticks
- 1 red pepper thinly sliced
- Combine water, rice vinegar, sugar, 1 tsp red pepper flakes & 1/2 Tbsp of sea salt in the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi. Place in pork shoulder. Put the pressure lid on and turn the black valve to seal. Set the time for 90 minutes. When the time is up, immediately release the remaining pressure.
- Strain liquid from the pork, reserve 1/2 cup of liquid. Remove any large pieces of fat from the pork and shred. Put the pork back into the inner pot.
- Add the 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of honey, 1 Tablespoon of Red Chili Pepper Paste, and 1/4 cup fresh sqeezed orange juice.
- Turn the Ninja Foodi on sear/saute and allow to simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Serve on a roll or steamed bun topped with pickled veggies. Enjoy!
- Heat water and add sugar to dissolve. Add rice vinegar and stir. Pack the vegetables in a jar with a lid. Pour liquid over thinly sliced vegetables. Make sure all vegetables are covered with the liquid. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts at this time creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.