Instant Pot Braised Pork Belly, Shanghai-Style (红烧肉)

Updated on February 14, 2021 by Julia

Being from Shanghai, red-braised pork belly (hong shao rou) was always something we ordered at a restaurant, especially if it was a celebration. Many regions have their own braised pork belly specialities, such as this Taiwanese braised pork rice bowl.

I always shied away from making this dish because I assumed something so rich and delicious would take hours to make. This is called red-braised pork belly for a reason– the dish always came out in a clay pot glistening and a dark red from the soy sauces. When I finally learned the recipe, I realized there were only a couple of key ingredients. These ingredients are even more important when you’re cooking this recipe in an Instant Pot.

Use a pressure cooker for quick weekday dinners

Typically, any braised pork belly recipe will require at 20 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour of simmering. Some might think it’s impossible to recreate such a classical dish in an Instant Pot, well, this recipe proves them wrong.

With a pressure cooker, we’re going to halve the time. We’ll be doing some initial sautéing in the Instant Pot to create a delicious caramelization. Then, we’ll add the liquids to provide the deep, rich flavor.

Ingredients for braised pork belly

  • Pork belly
  • Ginger
  • Brown sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Shaoxing wine ( you can sub with dry sherry)
  • Light and dark soy sauce
  • Star anise
  • Bay leaves
  • Optional: Eggs and tofu

If you don’t have star anise and bay leaves, you can sub with five spice powder.

Top tips for fragrant Shanghai-style pork belly

  • It’s important to blanch your pork belly in boiling water first. This helps to reduce the fat content and tenderizes the meat.
  • Allow the sugar and oil to caramelize to create a thick sauce for the meat
  • Add eggs and dry bean curd for extra bite before you start cooking in the pressure cooker.
instant pot braised pork belly

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5 from 13 votes

Instant Pot Braised Pork Belly, Shanghai-Style

An easy and quick Instant Pot recipe for a traditional Shanghai-style braised pork belly
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Author Julia


  • Pressure cooker


  • 1 lb pork belly with skin on
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 cloves star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water


  • Slice your pork belly into 1×1 inch squares
  • Blanch in boiling water with ginger for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  • Set Instant Pot to Sauté. Caramelize brown sugar with vegetable oil until it starts to bubble.
  • Add the pork until it is completely coated. Scrap at the sugar/oil mixture if it begins to stick to the bottom.
  • Add Shaoxing wine, light and dark soy sauce. Stir for 1 minute.
  • Add water and spices (star anise and bay leaves). If you want to add tofu or boiled and peeled eggs, add now.
  • Cook on High Pressure for 15 minutes
  • Allow pressure to natural release and let it sit on Sauté mode to allow the extra liquid to evaporate. There should be a thick sauce, but not too much that it's soup-y.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.
  1. Amy says:

    5 stars
    What a fantastic recipe. Really reminds me of home and when my mother used to make a very similar dish. I don’t have a pressure cooker or instant pot but every time I see how quick meals are being prepared, I feel like I need one!

    1. Julia says:

      Thank you! It really does remind me of Shanghai, these dishes are hard to find here in the US unless we go to one of those banquet-style restaurants!

  2. Amy Liu Dong says:

    5 stars
    Wow! Another Asian cuisine, that looks so delicious and yummy. The texture and the juiciness of the pork make it so enticing and very tempting. Thanks for sharing this with us, can’t wait to make this at home.

  3. Uma Srinivas says:

    I love the star anise spice and I will add it to my rice recipes. Never knew this could be added to the meat recipes too…
    Instant pot makes wonders nowadays 🙂

  4. Erin says:

    Wait, what?! 15 minutes? That is crazy. I made pork belly once and I don’t even know how many hours that took. ? I definitely need to try your pressure cooker method!

    1. Julia says:

      Haha the first time we made crispy roasted pork belly, it took us an entire afternoon. The kitchen was so hot from having the oven running for an hour, definitely not fun!

  5. Alex says:

    I found some Shaoxing wine in the cupboard the other day and was wondering what to do with it. Now I know! I can’t wait to give this fantastic looking recipe a go.

    1. Julia says:

      Shaoxing wine is amazing for any types of meats! It helps to add another depth of flavor 🙂 I always add a small swish any time I cook pork or beef.

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