The tasty scent of pulled pork wafts from the Crock-Pot or chafing dish at a family celebration or special event. Prepared early in the day, the pork slowly cooks into luscious shredded meat, ready to pile on a bun and enjoy.
Whether cooking for the family or a crowd, it's important to calculate how much pulled pork per person before you begin to cook. When preparing pulled pork, the portion size per person may vary depending on whether you're serving children, teens, adults or athletes.
Pulled Pork Per Person
Serving sizes and portion sizes are two different things when planning a meal. The recommended healthy serving size for pork or meats is 3 ounces for an adult, which is approximately the size of a deck of playing cards. A realistic portion may range from 2 ounces of pulled pork for a child to at least 6 to 8 ounces for teens or athletes. Adult portions are usually between 4 and 6 ounces each.
Sliders, Standard Buns and Big Buns
Pulled pork is often served on a hamburger bun or similarly sized roll. Slider-sized buns are suitable for children or as a tasty treat for adults. At 2 1/2 inches in diameter, a slider holds 2 to 3 ounces of pulled pork.
A standard-sized bun at 4 inches round can hold about 4 ounces of pulled pork, while a large bun may be 5 inches or larger in diameter and hold as much meat as you can pile on it. Plan on at least 1 ounce of pulled pork for every inch in diameter of the bun or roll.
Crock-Pot Pulled Pork
Slow cooked into melt-in-your-mouth perfection, pulled pork is a quick prep followed by eight hours or more in a Crock-Pot set on low. Your recipe may incorporate sliced onions, minced garlic, brown sugar, honey, chili powder, cumin, mustard, pepper, beef broth, vinegar and your favorite barbecue sauce. Alternatively, combine salt, pepper, onion, garlic and barbecue sauce for an even easier prep.
Place a 4- to 6-pound pork butt, roast or sirloin in the Crock-Pot and add your sauce mixture. Cover and cook on low for at least eight hours. Dip out about half of the liquid and set it aside. Shred the pork with two forks and combine it with the liquid still in the Crock-Pot. Serve the pulled pork hot on buns or rolls with the reserved sauce.
Pulled Pork in the Oven
Select a pork butt or roast with or without the bone. Avoid using pork sirloin because it is not fatty enough to stay moist through the long roasting process. Rub with a combination of spices that may include brown sugar, chili powder, garlic, mustard, onion, paprika and other spices. Cover the pork and place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and slow roast the pork for 50 to 60 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees, and the meat is falling apart. Alternatively, heat the oven to 450 degrees and cook for one hour and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Pour 1 cup of apple juice or other liquid over the pork. Add additional spices if desired. Cover and roast for two to two and a half hours or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.
Shred the meat. Add your favorite bottled or homemade barbecue sauce to moisten the pulled pork.
Pulled Pork on the Grill
You can also cook a 7-pound pork butt or roast on the grill. Rub the pork with spices. Put a few handfuls of hickory chips in water to soak. Light the briquettes and allow them to burn down to a glow. Carefully move the briquettes to the sides and place a heat-proof pan in the center of the barbecue grill. Fill the pan with water, apple juice, beer or other liquid. Add the wet hickory chips on top of the briquettes.
Place the pork on the grill, fat side up. Cover and maintain the grill at 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep adding briquettes and soaked hickory chips until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 205 degrees, approximately seven to nine hours. Remove it from the grill and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove excess fat and shred the meat. Add barbecue sauce to taste.
Pulled Pork for a Crowd
When preparing pulled pork for a crowd, you'll need to factor in the raw to cooked ratio when planning the meal. In general, plan on shrinkage of 1/4 to 1/3 from the raw to cooked meat.
A pulled pork recipe for 75 people should begin with 25 to 30 pounds of raw pork butt or roast. Once cooked, this will result in approximately 75 4-ounce servings of pulled pork. In general, plan on 2 tablespoons of sauce per serving. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so 150 tablespoons divided by 16 equals 9.375 cups of sauce. Always round the amounts up to ensure there's enough pulled pork and sauce for the entire group.
- Colorado State University Extension: Portion Size vs. Serving Size: What’s the Difference?
- University of Tennessee Extension: Slow Cooker Memphis-Style Pulled Pork
- Dinner Tonight - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Food Network: Oven-Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- The Spruce Eats: Oven Pulled Pork Barbecue
- Kingsford: How to: Pulled Pork
- The BBQ World of Mr. Dodd: How Much Do I Cook for a Crowd?