Start to Finish: 4 to 6 1/2 hours
Difficulty Level: Beginner
The secret to making melt-in-your-mouth tender pulled pork is to start with a good pork shoulder roast and to cook it at a low, steady temperature for hours to break down the connective tissues and collagen. Once the meat is falling-apart tender, shred it -- or pull it -- and combine it with your favorite sauce to make an unmistakably flavorful, Southern-inspired meal that screams summer no matter what the current season may be. This pulled pork recipe is adapted from food blog The Kitchn's recipe, while the homemade barbecue sauce is inspired by Food & Wine.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/8 cup kosher salt
- 3 to 4 pound boneless Boston butt or pork shoulder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups beer or chicken broth
- Barbecue sauce
Homemade Barbecue Sauce (Optional)
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make a dry rub by combining the sugar, chipotle, paprika, cayenne, cumin, celery seed, mustard and salt in a small bowl.
Sear the meat by heating a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat it until it shimmers. Place the pork in the pan and sear it for two to four minutes before flipping it and searing it on every side.
Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups of beer or chicken broth oven the pork. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Add the lid to the Dutch oven and transfer it to the oven. Let the pork cook for four to six hours, or until the meat is tender. The Kitchn recommends checking the pork for tenderness and doneness every half hour after it's been in the oven for two hours.
Monitor the internal temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Although the exact internal temperature needed for optimal tenderness and easy shredding varies among individual animals, the barbecuing specialists behind the website Amazing Ribs recommend shooting for an internal temperature ranging from 195 to 203 F.
Make the barbecue sauce while the pork is cooking, if you are making a homemade sauce. Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
Cook the sauce for approximately 15 minutes, or until it's thickened. Set it aside.
Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board. Allow it to cool before shredding it with two forks and placing it in a large bowl.
Pour the barbecue sauce over the pork, stirring it to coat all of the shredded meat.
For an even easier way to cook pulled pork, add it, along with the barbecue sauce, to your slow cooker and cook it on high for approximately six hours.
This flavorful dish can be served several ways. Make it the star of your plate by serving it along with steamed corn on the cob or some homemade grits. Toast a kaiser roll and add the barbecued pulled pork, along with a tangy and refreshing coleslaw. Pile it into a tortilla to make a pulled pork wrap, or top your favorite pizza with it for a barbecue twist.
By using a different sauce, you can instantly transform this dish. Instead of a molasses-based barbecue sauce, try making a vinegary North Carolina barbecue sauce, which can be used to mix with the pork and to dress coleslaw. To make it, combine 5 cups of distilled white vinegar with 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of salt, 3 tablespoons of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes and 3 tablespoons of hot sauce in a large saucepan. Simmer the mixture with 1 cup water, stirring the sauce until the sugar and salt dissolve.