INSTANT POT: Barbecue Beef Sandwiches with Coleslaw and Spicy Pickles


My friend Helen came over last week for an Instant Pot (IP) demonstration and to share a quick lunch we would make together. Well, actually I prepped; SHE cooked! Helen thought she wanted an Instant Pot–or similar–but needed to see it up close and personal before she made a final decision.  While she enjoyed the Cream of Pea Soup with Scallions, Mint, and Sharp Cheddar we made, she was interested in meat main dishes–thinking she’d like to skip using the stove once in a while. It’s a wonderful idea, especially come summer, but not something I’ve done a lot of.  I tested chicken recipes for America’s Test Chicken last year (see their new book!) and the rest of my electric pressure cooking has been vegetarian or oh-so-close. Just working my way through the process, I’d guess, but it was definitely time to branch out. By the way, she went home and ordered her IP! YAY!

What is an Instant Pot  (IP) anyway? More info at bottom of post.

IP Butternut and Yellow Squash Soup

The more I thought about it, the more I read, and finally decided I’d try a pot roast that I’d then slice very thinly or chop and toss back in the pot with barbecue sauce for some scrumptious sandwiches or sliders.  My typical barbecue beef is made with brisket, which while perfect for the job, takes forever and is a bit high-priced. Lots of recipes for chuck roast I checked out were for the quintessential New England-type beef dinner with potatoes, onions, and carrots, and while I do love that meal (mine has a lot of horseradish and garlic), something else was needed for Memorial Day week. Why not barbecue?

8 Things You May Not Know About Memorial Day 

Turned out it easy as pie and maybe better. (Why do people say that? Pie isn’t easy.) 50 minutes pressure-cooking time, no heat in the kitchen, and the whole shebang–including the pot– can go to the picnic if need be. In fact, it could be made a day ahead, cooled and refrigerated, and then heated in the IP on SAUTÉ whenever and wherever it’s needed. Perfect for potlucks, going to grandma’s, or even camping if you’ve got a spot with electric.


Coleslaw just makes a barbecue sandwich, so I include one of my favorite recipes. Need barbecue sauce? I’ve got you covered there, too. Of course you can buy either of those at your grocery, but if you have time, try my versions–or your own– and see if you aren’t happier with the results.

Need a few things to round out the menu?

STARTERS:  Grilled Cheese Peppers

DRINKS: Arnold Palmers. Icy cold local craft beer–something fairly light.  If you want wine, I like an inexpensive California Zinfandel or a Syrah–nothing bigger.

DESSERT:  Vanilla Frozen Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries Don’t forget cones for the kids.

So this one’s for Helen! Let me know what you’re making in your new pot. In fact, you might skip the bbq joint and try this over the holiday weekend:


6-8 sandwiches or 10-12 Sliders

Need more? This will work fine with a larger roast — say 4 pounds. Increase water and wine to 1 1/4 cups each, chop a large onion rather than a medium one, and increase and barbecue sauce to 2 cups plus extra for serving.

If you like a chewier sandwich, slice the beef. Love a more tender version? Chop the pot roast into 1/2″ – 1″ pieces.

Read directions through carefully before beginning as several of the ingredients are not added until after the beef has pressure cooked.  If you haven’t any barbecue sauce, there’s plenty of time to make some while the beef pressure cooks. I include my favorite sauce recipe below, as well as one of my coleslaw recipes. Use what’s easiest for you.

  • 2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon each: kosher salt, dried rosemary, and dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-3 pound beef chuck roast, trimmed of extra fat, and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 cup each:  water and red wine (can sub beef broth for wine)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce or more to taste (mine, yours, or purchased) plus extra for serving
  • Sturdy Whole Wheat rolls, sliced–for serving
  • Coleslaw–for serving (recipe below if needed)–for serving
  • Spicy pickles (I like Famous Dave’s.)–for serving
  1. Select SAUTÉ on the IP and adjust to NORMAL.  Let the pot become quite hot and add the oil, stirring it around to evenly coat the bottom of the pot.  Meanwhile, stir together the salt, rosemary, thyme and black pepper and rub the mixture into both sides of the roast.  Place the meat in the pot and brown well on one side for 2-3 minutes; flip and brown the other side.  Press CANCEL.  Slowly add the water and wine. Place the lid on the pot, making sure it’s firmly shut (hear a chime) and close the pressure release valve.
  2. Select MANUAL (pressure cook on high) and adjust time to 50 minutes. When complete, use a quick release to depressurize. (I use a wooden spoon to turn the pressure release valve in either direction to open it.) Press CANCEL.
  3. Open lid on pot, remove the roast to a cutting board, and let rest 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice or chop the meat, trimming away gristle and fat as you go.
  4. Pour out the broth the meat has cooked in into a large measuring cup or bowl and measure about 1 1/2 cups back into the IP.  Select SAUTÉ on the IP, adjust to normal, and let the pot become hot again. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until soft, stirring regularly, adding garlic during the last minute. (If mixture becomes dry while cooking, add a little more of the broth.) Return the meat to the pot, stir well, and then pour in the barbecue sauce as well a another 1/2 cup or so of broth.  Heat through, stirring regularly.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more broth or sauce as desired.
  5. Serve hot on sliced rolls topped with a good spoonful of coleslaw and a few spicy pickles. Low carb-ers can layer the meat on a bed of slaw and top it with the pickles. Pass extra sauce at the table.

COOK’S NOTES:  If you need to take this somewhere, take it in or with your IP and reheat, if necessary, on Sauté (low), stirring until hot. Press CANCEL and it will keep warm until you turn it off.

SLOW COOKER?? Best guess– I haven’t tried this in the slow cooker, though like you, I’ve cooked a few pot roasts that way. I think it might work well, though my thought is you’d need to cook it a little longer than usual, perhaps 7-8 hours on low? You might then try cooking the onions and garlic in the slow cooker on high while the beef rests and is shredded. You could next add the beef back into the pot, stir in the barbecue sauce, and let it cook on high for 30 minutes or so until everything was quite hot.

{Printable Recipe for Barbecue Beef Only}


This is a tad sweet and medium-spicy sauce that can be adjusted for heat and sweetness. Do try at least a drop or two of Tabasco, even if you want a mild sauce.

2 cups each ketchup and chili sauce
1/4 cup each lemon juice and red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons each yellow mustard, Worcestershire, A-1 Sauce
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4-5 Shakes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons celery seed

Whisk together all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil, stirring, over medium flame. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings again.  Store leftovers in a tightly sealed jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. I do keep mine for much longer, but checking with STILLTASTY.COM indicates 2 weeks. (This recipe is a riff on a great bbq sauce from the wonderful, but out-of-date Colorado cookbook BYTES–Colorado’s Family Friendly Cookbook. Sometimes there’s a used copy available; check used book sites or amazon.)

{Printable Recipe for Barbecue Sauce}


4-6 servings

Everyone has their own idea about coleslaw. How sweet. How hot. How not. If you’re not sure, begin with smaller amounts of vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, etc., and add until your slaw fits your tastes. The biggest thing is to even out the vinegar and sugar.  I like slaw in many ways; this is one of them and, you’ll see, isn’t the least bit gloppy.

  • 1 1/4 pounds cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
  • 1/2 medium tart apple, unpeeled, grated
  • 2 teaspoons red onion, finely minced or grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper–or more/less to taste
  • Pinch crushed red pepper–or more/less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (not white wine vinegar)–or more/less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar– or more/less to taste
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Using your clean hands, toss together the cabbage, apple, onion, and carrot. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and fresh ground pepper; toss again. Sprinkle on the white vinegar; toss again. Sprinkle on sugar; toss again. Stir in the mayonnaise. Continue to toss, perhaps with salad tongs or two large spoons. Taste and adjust seasonings, including vinegar and sugar. Serve immediately or chill, well-covered, for several hours or overnight, and serve cold.

{Printable Recipe for Apple Coleslaw}

If you like this, you might like my…

Barbecue Chicken Caesar Salad with Toasted Pecans


I have several IP recipes on the blog and most of them contain some extra information about electric pressure cooking.  You can just type Instant Pot into the search box to find them; they are, at this point, mostly soups. More to come.

Basic info in your operating manual and then read on here:



Thanks for reading! I especially welcome my new followers and look forward to seeing you around the blog.  Your comments are welcome.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and cook something new,


6 thoughts on “INSTANT POT: Barbecue Beef Sandwiches with Coleslaw and Spicy Pickles

  1. Thanks for this recipe, I’ll try it soon. I did try a beef roast with potatoes and carrots last week. Recipe called for 2 to 4 lb. roast and cook for 45-50 minutes. My eye of the round roast was only 2 lb. so decided to cook only for 40 minutes. I then did the quick release on the pressure and added the vegetables for an additional 10 minutes as per the recipe. Although the flavor was good the meat and vegetables were too done. My question is about the quick release. I let it release all the steam before opening it so I think that everything in the pot continues to cook some while that is happening and maybe that’s why the meal was overdone. Should I adjust my cooking time to allow for that? Or am I not doing the quick release properly? Pork Posole might be my next experiment. I like your idea of using my Instant Pot once a week so I get familiar with it.

  2. Helen: Glad you’re trying things out! As I said, I’m no expert with IP meat dishes. Beef roast with potatoes and carrots sounds great, but I think the problem could have been with your cut of meat. I’m somewhat unsure about attempting to cook an eye of round roast anything but pretty rare and sliced thinly. The time it takes for the quick release–and it sounds like you did it correctly– might have added a bit to the doneness of the vegetables, but not to the meat; I don’t think so. I do know Melissa Clark says vegetables are easily overdone in the IP. My own chuck roast was about 2.5 pounds and was just done (not falling apart) at 50 minutes with quick release. I haven’t tried my posole in the IP, but because chili is an IP favorite, I think posole might work similarly well. Let me know how it comes out. Here’s to more trial and success 🙂

  3. Last night I made Pork Posole in the Instant Pot. The overall taste was good. I may make it again (in cooler weather) with some minor adjustments. Cooking in my Instant Pot would be so much easier, and less frustrating, if the directions were more specific. The recipe says to saute the pork but neglects to tell you about how long the pot takes to heat up. Yes, after 2 to 3 minutes the dial said “hot”. After adding all the ingredients I was to select the “Manual” setting and adjust the pressure to “high”. I didn’t see any button to press adjust pressure.. The + and – signs only seemed to regulate the time. Next was set the time for 10 minutes. Recipe didn’t say that it would take 15 minutes to get up to pressure before beginning to cook. Also doesn’t say that it takes several minutes (17 in this case) for the pressure to come down before opening. Perhaps when I get more familiar with how the Instant Pot works, I will plan for those extra minutes when preparing a meal. I also won’t stand around watching the pot to see what it’s going to do next! Each time I use it I learn something new so if I persevere and not get discouraged, the Instant Pot may become a valuable tool in my kitchen.

  4. Posole sounds luscious and I’m going to try it! I totally understand your frustration with IP recipes; they can leave out a lot. The assumption is that you have a basic understanding of the operation, timing, etc., before you begin with a new recipe because otherwise each recipe would be quite long. Just as each of us intuitively understands how long a skillet with butter takes to heat on our own stoves before we pour in the eggs for an omelet, the IP recipe writers assume we similarly know that about our IPs and also that we “get” the pressuring up and depressurizing system after a time or two. Some recipes definitely give a better idea of how long it takes (“time in closed pot”), but others skip that as you might decide to cook something for a longer or shorter time; they don’t know. As a longtime recipe writer, I often hesitate to give a time for how long to cook something as it depends on so many factors: how hot your stove/oven is, how heavy your pot, the size to which you’ve chopped ingredients, age of ingredients, and so on. My husband says the soup I make in 30 minutes takes him way over an hour and that’s the story about how different is the connection between each human and his/her cooking, equipment, and appliances.

    I think one of the other things about recipes is they’re meant for a variety of pots from different manufacturers and thus must be really basic so that we’re able to adapt them to IP, CrockPot, etc.

    As i told you earlier, I firmly believe one of the true beauties of the IP is that when you put the food in and press the button to pressure cook (I think mine–an earlier basic model– has only one level of pressure cooking, which is high and is set by pushing MANUAL and adjusting time), you are free to pour a glass of wine and sit on the deck with the paper. It’s gonna do what it’s gonna do and keep warm at the end. Of course maybe that takes watching the process a few times to understand. In the meantime, we scratch our heads because it’s all so different than stovetop cooking. (Picture me clenching my teeth!!!)

    My first attempts with my IP were in the morning without the shadow of “dinner at 6” looming. Maybe that should be on the instructions!

    We may need to be like Winston Churchill and nevah, nevah, nevah give up! Keep cookin’ 🙂

  5. Pingback: Chili-Cheddar Biscuit Pizza | More Time at the Table

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