The quintessential pulled pork sandwich recipe is, without a doubt, an original American South food creation. It is excellent for picnics and parties as smoke barbecued or cooked in a slow cooker. Either way, the result is almost the same for both cooking methods—tender fall-off-the-bone meat with an aromatic infused barbecue flavor that is deliciously fatty, mouth-watering, and sumptuous.
How to Make Pulled Pork Sandwich Cooked in Slow Cooker
1. Prepare the pork by rubbing it with your choice of dry barbecue rub or a mix of your select spices.
2. Cook the pork meat in a slow cooker that contains your special flavor-infused cooking broth.
3. Allow cooking in the slow cooker for 8-9 hours until the meat becomes super tender.
4. Shred the pork with your hands using barbecue gloves, or you can use two forks instead.
5. Cook for another 10 minutes in the cooker.
6. Add barbecue sauce to the shredded pork, then place on top of the bottom bun. Slather with special slaw on the top of the meat, then cover with the other half of the bun to complete the sandwich. Enjoy!
Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe
Utensils You Will Need:
• BBQ Gloves - They are food-grade gloves made out of synthetic rubber called nitrile. They are much thicker than latex or vinyl and are FDA tested for durability.
• Meat Shredding Claws- specialized kitchen tool for meat pulling
• Paring and chopping Knives
• Large Cutting Board
• Large and medium-sized bowls
• 4 lbs. pork shoulder, also known as pork butt
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. brown sugar
• 1 tsp. mustard powder
• 1 tsp cayenne powder or more depending on your preference
• 1 tbsp ground pepper
• 2 tsp. liquid smoke
• 3 tsp. tomato paste
• 1 tsp. paprika
• 1 tsp. onion powder
• Brioche buns or Ciabatta bread (or any sweet fluffy bread will do)
Sandwich add ons:
• BBQ sauce
Cooking Pulled Pork in Slow Cooker
Preparation Time 30 minutes
Cooking time 8-9 hours
Step 1: Seasoning the Pork Shoulder
Clean the Meat
Lay the whole pork shoulder on the cutting board and use the paring knife to clean the meat. Remove any remaining bones and other small pieces of excess fat. You will want to keep most of the fat as much as possible, as it adds flavor and texture to your pulled pork. You can leave on the big pork shoulder bone called the scapula, as you can easily remove it later when the meat is done and has become very tender.
Seasoning the Meat with Homemade Classic Dry Rub
Prepare and dry mix all the following ingredients in a bowl:
2 tbsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. cayenne powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper
Rub the pork with your homemade classic dry rub. Thoroughly massage the dry mixture all over the meat, or you can opt to use a commercially- made dry rub from your local supermarket. Remember to rub the mix evenly into the folded areas underneath the pork. Then, after thoroughly coating the meat, let it rest for about 20 minutes as you prepare the cooking broth.
Step 2: Cooking the Meat in Cooking Broth
Making the Broth:
Use another bowl to mix all of the following:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tsp. Tomato paste
2 tsp. Liquid smoke
A dash of chili powder (optional)
Coca-cola (optional for sweetness)
Cooking the Meat in the Slow Cooker
Load the pork shoulder into the cooker. Pour the broth all over the pork and let the meat cook partially covered in liquid ( about 1/4 way covered). You don't have to submerge the whole thing as it will produce its own juices later.
Slow Cook the Pork for 8-9 hours on low.
Poke the meat with a fork to check for tenderness. Remove from the pot as soon as it becomes easy to pull apart.
Step 3: Making the Slaw
Chopped cabbage (any color will do)
Apple cider vinegar
Ground black pepper
Put chopped cabbage into a salad bowl and add the following: red onion (thinly sliced), 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar. 1/2 tsp table salt, 2 tbsp. sugar, and 2-3 pinches of ground black pepper. Toss and mix ingredients and keep in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Step 4: Shredding the Meat
After 8-9 hours, check if the meat is already super tender. When done, remove meat from the cooker and set it on a large holding pan and let it rest for 30 minutes. Separate the large bone from the very tender meat using your hands. Next, shred the meat using shredding claws or two forks with a pulling motion separating the meat. Or, you can wear black BBQ gloves to pull the meat apart with your fingers.
Step 5: Recook Shredded Pork
Put back the shredded pork into the slow cooker for another 10 minutes. Add some cooking broth into the pot to further infuse flavor into the pulled pork. After recooking, remove shredded meat from the cooker, drain it, then set it back to the holding pan.
Step 6: Make the Sandwich
Slice the bread in half with the bread knife and cut it burger-style. Place a handful of shredded pulled pork on top of the bottom bun and add more BBQ sauce as desired. Top off with any of your prepared toppings (coleslaw, caramelized onions, pickles, or others). Close off the sandwich with the top bun and enjoy!
Topping Ideas for a Pulled Pork Sandwich
Here are other topping ideas that you can add to your juicy, tasty, and tender pulled pork. The fresh taste and crunch by the toppings add zest as it also cuts the oil from the pork to balance out the taste and texture of your sandwich.
Hot Vinegar Sauce
When cooking pork, expect it to lose half of its weight when it is done. We used 4 pounds of raw meat in this recipe and ended with 2 lbs. of cooked tender meat. So, that's roughly 1/3 lbs of cooked pork per Serving.
Below are a few approximations of serving per person of pulled pork:
Number of Persons Weight in (lbs.) of Cooked Pork Raw Pork Needed
1 1/3 lbs. 2/3lbs.
2 2/3 lbs. 1 1/3 lbs.
5 1 2/3 lbs. 3 1/3 lbs.
10 3 2/3 lbs. 6 2/3 lbs.
Tips for the Best Pulled Pork
1. Use fresh and quality pork shoulder to get the best results when making pulled pork. It provides just the right fat-to-meat ratio that yields moist, soft, tasty, and tender pulled pork.
2. Balance out the BBQ sauce that you use on your sandwich. The shredded meat is already packed with flavor, and sometimes it just needs a little sauce to top it off. The right amount of BBQ sauce creates that wonderful aroma and taste only pulled pork sandwich can give.
3. Try not to pulverize the meat when shredding them. Mushy pork is no fun to eat. Leave on strands for texture.
4. Allow your meat to rest in between stages of cooking so that the juices are continuously locked in. Juicy pulled pork tastes much better than dry meat.
How to Store Leftover Pulled Pork
Ensure that the pork has cooled down completely before freezing them. Next, assuming that your pork has been shredded already, you may vacuum seal them before putting them in the freezer. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, just put them in a zip lock bag and squeeze out air as much as you can. Remember to portion them 1 pack per adult as you may not be needing them all at once. We recommend 50 oz. per bag.
Estimated Values only
Pulled Pork in Slow Cooker
Amount per Serving - % of Daily value
Calories 338 cal from fat content 90%
Fat 10 grams 15%
Cholesterol 92 g 31%
Saturated fat 3 g 19%
Potassium 747 mg 21%
Sodium 1921 mg 84%
Carbohydrates 31 g 10%
Fiber 1 g 4%
Protein 27 g 54%
Sugar 24 g 27%
Vitamin C 2.6 mg 3%
Vitamin A 1040 IU 21%
Calcium 55 mg 6%
Iron 2.8 mg 16%
Daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Is there anything else you can make with pulled pork besides sandwiches?
Yes, there is. Pulled pork is also delicious with cornbread, beans, salads, and rice.
What is the best bread to use for pulled pork?
Brioche buns are highly recommended due to their soft fluffy texture and sweet taste. It renders a contrast to the spicy salty flavor of pulled pork. However, any bread will do.
How do I reheat pulled pork?
You can reheat it straight from the frozen bag by just dipping the still closed bag into boiling water. Do this for a few minutes until it defrosts and is reheated. Or you can remove it from the bag, put it in a pot and add some leftover broth or apple cider vinegar to it. Be careful not to over reheat it, or the pork will dry out. Add on more BBQ sauce as desired.