The extraction of organic pollutants from solid environmental matrices has traditionally been done using non-instrumental approaches, e.g. Soxhlet extraction. Recent developments have seen the possibility of extraction using instrumental techniques, namely, supercritical fluid extraction, microwave-assisted extraction and pressurised fluid extraction. This review considers the applications of instrumental techniques for the extraction of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and pesticides from soils/sediments. Then, in order to assist the analyst to select the most appropriate technique (traditional versus instrumental techniques), a comparison of their analytical figures of merit is considered.