Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe : Good Things Take Time!

cutting board with pulled pork sandwiches

Corner Cutting Board - Teak Wood | Dalstrong ©

Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe

  1. Rub the pork with your spice mix and let it rest.
  2. Place the pork in a slow cooker with your homemade cooking broth. 
  3. Cook for about 8-10 hours on LOW, or until the meat is tender.
  4. When tender, remove from the slow cooker and let it rest for half an hour.
  5. Shred the pork using Dalstrong shredding claws or two forks.
  6. Take the pork back to the cooker and give it another 10-minutes.
  7. Toss with barbecue sauce and serve with slaw between two warm buns!

 

Content Table

  1. Tools You’ll Need
  2. Ingredients You’ll Need
  3. Servings And Portion Size
  4. Recipe For Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
  5. Alternative Recipe: Instant Pot Pulled Pork
  6. Topping Ideas For A Pulled Pork Sandwich
  7. Tips For The Best Pulled Pork
  8. Pulled Pork Sándwich Nutrition Facts
  9. How Can You Store Pulled Pork?
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

    Pulled pork offers a combination of sweetness, tastiness, juiciness, and -if you follow this classic recipe with coleslaw- crunchiness. And, it may not be quick, but it’s really easy! Especially if you’re cooking on a slow cooker or crockpot, pulled pork is almost impossible to mess up.

    This easy pulled pork recipe is supposed to be cooked low and slow. I wouldn’t dare advertise it as a last-minute solution, as I did with my frittata; but it’s so worth it! Why not try this pulled pork recipe as a ‘make-ahead’ sort of thing, for example, the day before you’re having friends over? 

    Without further ado, let’s grab our aprons and learn the secrets to the perfect pulled pork sandwich recipe!

    1. Tools You’ll Need

    meat claws shredding pulled pork

    Meat Shredding Claws | Dalstrong ©

    Meat shredder

    Even though shredding meat doesn’t require any special talent or technique; let us not ignore the difference that well-shredded pork will make in your sandwich. There are several tools you can use here; the easiest, effective one is a pair of forks from your kitchen. Forks can perfectly play the part of a meat-shredder. Other people use a potato masher.

    However, if you’re serious about your barbecue game, consider getting yourself a pair of meat shredding claws. These tools are specially created for this purpose, and the work will be so much faster, easier and cleaner. 

    And since you’re already invested; get the best ones: Dalstrong meat shredding claws are the ideal machinery behind a pulled pork recipe (or salads, or shredded chicken quesadillas, etc). 

    Made of premium stainless steel with a non-slip handle, these claws are meant for the real grill master who won’t settle for less. You can also use them at other stages of the cooking process like grabbing, moving or turning the pork over.

    Proper knives

    When preparing a pulled pork sandwich, even before shredding the meat, you will need a high-quality knife for chopping your onions, garlic, peppers, or any other ingredient you decide to include in your pulled pork recipe.

    Dalstrong Phantom Series 4" Paring Knife is a premium kitchen tool forged from a single piece of Japanese steel, designed to be light, maneuverable and effective when chopping, peeling and cutting vegetables, fruits or herbs.

    Do you want to add slaw as a topping for your sandwich? We strongly recommend you use a chef’s knife for the task. Try the 8" Gladiator Series Chef's Knife, your culinary warhorse with perfect weight and balance that allows for the thickest cuts, but with delicacy and precision at the same time. 

    Opening the buns may also require the assistance of a good bread knife, like the Dalstrong Bread Knife 8" from the Frost Fire Series: Lightweight, razor-sharp and just the right size for a bread bun.

    A cutting board

    Your workspace for cutting and preparing the ingredients; as well as to prepare the pork before and after the slow cooker. This Dalstrong Teak Wood Cutting Board is also robust and wide enough for your mise-en-place, opening and filling the sandwiches at the final stage.

    A bowl

    Where you’ll be mixing the spices and ingredients for your bbq sauce, dry rub and cooking broth.

    2. Ingredients You’ll Need

    paring knife with pulled pork ingredients

    Paring Knife 4" | Quantum 1 Series | Dalstrong ©

    3-4 Pound pork shoulder (also known as Boston Butt or pork butt)

    3/4 c. Ketchup

    3 tsp. Tomato paste

    1/4 c. Apple cider vinegar (apple juice works too)

    1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce

    2 tsp. Liquid smoke

    2 tsp. Brown sugar

    1 tsp. Mustard powder

    1 tsp. Garlic powder

    1 tsp. Paprika

    1 tsp. Onion powder

    1 tsp. Cayenne powder

    Brioche Buns (as many as you need)

    Salt and Pepper

    BBQ sauce and coleslaw as classic, but optional toppings



    About the meat: for pulled pork, the cut of meat you want is pork shoulder or pork butt, also known as Boston butt. Using the right cut is essential for recipes that require pulling / shredding. Pork butt contains just the right amount of fat to result in a tender, tasty pulled pork.

    About the rub: Don’t underestimate the power of a good dry BBQ rub. It should enhance the taste of the meat instead of overshadowing it. The foundations of any pork spice rub include smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and garlic.

    About the cooking broth: The liquid you put in the slow cooker will have a great influence on the flavor of the pork, so don’t take it lightly. Apple cider vinegar is a key element here. Some people use chicken broth or chicken stock. However, try not to pour too much liquid either, since the meat will release its own juices and requires its own space.

    3. Servings And Portion Size

    pulled pork recipe sandwich

    Some experts recommend calculating around 1/3 pound per person. This is not a perfect formula but it’s a good start. However, keep in mind that once the pork is cooked, it will weigh half as much as it did when it was raw (because moisture will evaporate). 

    So, for example, if you buy 4 pounds of pork butt, you’ll end up with 2 pounds of pulled pork, which is enough for approximately 5-6 people.

    You should also consider the whole menu, if there are hearty side dishes or other food to be served; then maybe the pulled pork serving can be smaller. Are the buns too big and require a lot of filling? All this can modify how much pulled pork is ideal for each one of your guests.

    In my opinion, it’s better to have leftovers than to be short on food. By the way, next-day pulled pork is delicious!

    4. Recipe For Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

    pulled pork sandwich

    Prep Time

    30 mins

    Cooking Time

    8 hr


    Prepare the meat

    Rub the pork shoulder or pork butt with your spice mix and set aside. This mix can be as simple as salt and pepper; but if you want to do it right, you will buy or make a tasty dry rub mix.

    A classic bbq dry rub is very easy to make and includes some or all of this: brown sugar, paprika (regular, smoked paprika or both), mustard powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne powder and onion powder. 

    If you want to go even further, rub it and let it rest in the refrigerator for several hours, or even overnight (cover with plastic wrap for enhancing the flavors).

    Prepare your cooking broth

    Use a bowl to mix apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and liquid smoke (optional: chili powder, ketchup, cumin, onion). You can also skip this and use chicken broth.

    Take it slow...

    Place your seasoned pork butt at the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour your broth on top and let it drop to the sides of the pork and to the bottom (wiggle the pork if necessary to let the liquid through).

    You should let it roast until the pork is truly tender, which means around 8-10 hours on LOW. Your meat thermometer should reach at least 200 degrees for perfect pulled pork.

    Shredding the meat

    Move the pork to a cutting board and let it sit for around half an hour before pulling. Then grab your Dalstrong shredding claws or two forks: it’s shredding time! Pull in opposite directions to get thin strips of meat, and in the process, discard any remaining bones or fat.

    Get the juices flowing

    After shredding, add some of the cooking broth from the slow cooker to the meat; or even better, put the pork back into the cooker and give it another 10-minutes so it really absorbs the last drop of flavor. Then add BBQ sauce and toss.

    Buns and coleslaw

    Serve your pulled pork between two buns (for extra texture, you can previously toast your buns with butter). The ultra-classic topping for a pulled pork sandwich is coleslaw, but you can get as creative as you want!

    5. Alternative Recipe: Instant Pot Pulled Pork 

    instant pot pulled pork

    The slow cooker is probably the best method for a pulled pork recipe; but instant pot pork has its own advantages: the cooking time reduces significantly (as with the dutch oven) and the flavor is still intense; and you can use it to keep the meat warm while guests help themselves to some delicious pulled pork directly from the instant pot. 

    All ingredients and tools are the same as the slow cooker pulled pork recipe shown above; although for the instant pot recipe, some people use pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder or pork butt, but that’s entirely up to you.

    Cooking instructions:

    1. Cut the pork loin or pork butt into 4 pieces, trying to simulate the same size and shape. Remove any excess fat.
    2. Season the pork with your BBQ rub. For best results, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.
    3. Heat oil in your instant pot and sear the pork (brown all four sides of each piece).
    4. After searing, you will need to deglaze your instant pot (deglazing means removing any remaining brown bits from the bottom of the pot). Otherwise, your instant pot can show a “BURN” message.
    5. Pour your homemade broth or chicken broth into the instant pot and arrange the pieces evenly at the bottom.
    6. Seal the lid and cook for about 45 minutes on high pressure. Then let the instant pot release some of the pressure for about 15 minutes (the pork continues to roast in this time).
    7. Let it sit for around half an hour and continue to the shredding part. Toss with your barbecue sauce or broth.
    8. Serve on warm buns!

    6. Topping Ideas For A Pulled Pork Sandwich

    dalstrong bbq tongs picking up pulled pork in pan

    Premium Grill Kit - 4 Piece - Tongs, Spatula, Fork, Silicone Basting Brush

      What to put inside your buns to accompany your super tender and tasty pulled pork? A few ideas:

      • Classic slaw: hey, there’s a reason why it’s a classic. The crunchy texture and freshness of the slaw are the perfect elements you didn’t know were missing from your recipe.
      • Fresh or caramelized onions (caramelized onions are my favorite). Or go all the way with onion rings. 
      • Homemade pickles or pickled jalapeños, if you want it hot and spicy.
      • Melted cheese.
      • Horseradish Sauce (horseradish + sour cream or greek yogurt) 
      • Gravy, because cajun always works.
      • Sun-dried tomatoes.
      • Hot pepper vinegar sauce
      • Adobo sauce

      7. Tips For The Best Pulled Pork

      paring knife on table with pulled pork ingredients

      Paring Knife 3.5" | Frost Fire Series | Dalstrong ©

      1. Start by using high-quality pork shoulder or pork butt, if possible boneless pork shoulder roast.
      2. Watch out for the perfect shredding point. It should be tender enough to pull apart but not so loose that there’s no texture or structure left.
      3. Make sure you use a good rub, a good broth (homemade barbecue broth or chicken broth) and a good barbecue sauce. Seasoning is everything.
      4. At the same time, try not to overdo it with the BBQ sauce. You don’t want to overshadow the flavor of the meat.
      5. Resting time before pulling is essential. It gives the juices some time to set in the meat before you move everything around.
      6. Plan ahead! The best tip for pulled pork is to be patient and give it enough time. Maybe you can roast and shred the meat one day before you’re planning to eat.

      8. How To Store Leftover Pulled Pork

      shredded pulled pork

      • The pork should cool completely before freezing / storing.
      • Keep all the cooking liquid / broth as possible. The moisture will make it easier to reheat the leftovers.
      • Use an air-tight container or a plastic freezer bag to store the pork.
      • You can eat the pork out of the fridge in the next two days (or even more, but watch out for the integrity of the meat before eating).
      • You can also freeze your pulled pork. In this case, you get a window of three months to consume. 

      To reheat the pork, you can use the oven (arguably the best way) or even put everything back into the slow cooker. The main inconvenience that you may encounter is that you end up with a pork that’s too dry, here are a few recommendations to prevent this from happening:

      • Preheat and heat at a low temperature (250 degrees Fahrenheit). A high temperature increases your chances of drying out the pork.
      • Add extra liquid to the pork prior to reheating. This can be leftover broth, chicken broth or apple cider vinegar.
      • When warm, mix it well and add a bit of BBQ sauce. This can turn into multiple dinner recipes and is perfect on hamburger buns!

      9. Pulled Pork Sándwich Nutrition Facts

      bbq pulled pork on a plate

      These are approximate nutritional values for 1 serving (= 1 sándwich). Of course, the quantities will always vary depending on how you prepare your own pulled pork recipe.


      Calories

      Between 500 and 600

      Carbohydrates

      80g 

      Protein

      30-35g

      Total Fat

      20-25g

      Dietary fiber

      2g

      Cholesterol

      Somewhere between 75g and 100g

      Sodium

      1200mg-1600mg


      10. Frequently Asked Questions

      pulled pork tacos

        Is pulled pork healthy?

        Pork is a great source of lean, high-quality protein; but the answer to whether or not it’s healthy for you usually depends on how you cook it and serve it. The addition of barbecue sauce or fatty toppings, as well as the amount you serve, will make it more or less healthy in each case. It's also absolutely delicious!

        What goes well with pulled pork besides bread?

        Wondering how to use your leftover pulled pork? You don’t necessarily have to serve it inside bread. Use it as a main dish served with rice, cornbread, french fries, beans, carnitas or salads.

        What is the best bread for pulled pork sandwiches?

        Brioche buns are recommended for a pulled pork sandwich because they have a neutral flavor and because they are able to hold a good amount of filling.

        What is the best meat for pulled pork?

        Pork shoulder is the preferred cut for recipes that require pulling. Pork shoulder is divided into two cuts: Boston butt or pork butt; and picnic roast.

        What is the secret to pulled pork?

        Every chef is going to tell you a different “secret” to the best pulled pork recipe. The two factors that you should pay more attention to when cooking are: using high-quality meat (and the right cut!) and roast or slow cook it at the right temperature for the right amount of time. 

        Is it better to use a slow cooker or a dutch oven?

        Each one has its own advantages. The slow cooker recipe guarantees the “low and slow” cooking style that pulled pork needs. Also, it takes care of the job perfectly for many hours while you go on with your day. A dutch oven recipe requires a bit more attention; but you will get delicious burnt edges and it will be ready a lot faster.

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        Written by Eva Contreras
        Food & travel writer based in Buenos Aires. Superpowers include relentless curiosity and high tolerance to spicy foods.