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Pulled Pork

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 5 hrs 50 min
  • Calories: 556
homemade pulled pork recipe shredded on a plate with two forks

Cooked low and slow, there’s nothing quite like truly great pulled pork, and this pulled pork recipe is the very best we’ve ever made! Plus, this recipe works in the oven, slow-cooker, or Instant Pot!

Here It Is at Last! Our Very Best Pulled Pork Recipe

OK friends. We’ve made carnitas, we’ve made about a million pork tenderloins, we’ve done chops and pork stir-fries and just about everything pork you can think of. And today, we’re sharing our very best pulled pork recipe! Succulent, juicy, and bursting with flavor, pulled pork is a lot easier to make than you might expect. Simply seasoned and classic, this pulled pork recipe is super adaptable, too! It can be made in a Dutch oven, slow-cooker or even an Instant Pot—we’ve included instructions for all three methods below, so take your pick!

ingredients for pulled pork recipe. Pork shoulder, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and spice on a plate.

What Is the Best Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork?

The simple answer is that the very best pork for pulled pork is boneless pork shoulder. Here’s where it gets complicated. Pork shoulder is a term that can be a little more vague than you may realize, because it refers to a “primal cut” of pork, meaning a large piece of the pig that is cut off during butchering and then typically broken down into smaller, “sub-primal” cuts, each with a different name (though all coming from the shoulder). All of which is to say that, while you do want meat from the pork shoulder, the best piece of the shoulder meat for making pulled pork is the “pork butt”. We know— it’s called butt, but it’s a cut of meat that comes from the pig’s shoulder. It’s confusing. But it is what it is, and now you know! So the TL;DR is that to make the best ever pulled pork you want to ask your butcher for pork butt, which is a cut of pork that comes from the shoulder of a pig. FYI, sometimes pork butt is labeled “Boston butt” or even “pork shoulder roast”. Now you’re ready to head to the butcher, and start making some pulled pork!

pork shoulder cut into 4 pieces in a dutch oven pot with spices, chicken stock, and vinegar.
cooked pork shoulder cut into 4 pieces in a dutch oven pot with spices, chicken stock, and vinegar.

Let’s Talk About Pulled Pork Seasoning

We’ve kept things classic and basic here. Once you’ve gotten yourself a gorgeous piece of pork, all marbled and ready to slow-cook until it’s just falling apart and so juicy, all you need to do is add a few carefully selected seasonings to draw out the best that hunk of meat has to offer. Here’s what you’ll use to season that pork butt:

  • Brown sugar

  • Mustard powder

  • Garlic powder

  • Onion powder

  • Chili powder

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • Cayenne pepper

pork shoulder made with spices, chicken stock, and vinegar. shredded on a cutting board with two forks.

How To Make Pulled Pork from Scratch

This is one darn easy pulled pork recipe, so you don’t need to brace yourself for anything tricky here. All you’ll need is a bit of time—even if you’re making Instant Pot pulled pork, you’ll need at least 90 minutes—and a good appetite. Let’s make some pulled pork! Whether you’re making the pulled pork in a Crock-Pot, Instant Pot, or regular old Dutch oven, you’ll start out the same way:

  1. Combine stock and cider vinegar in your vessel of choice. The cider vinegar will help to break down the pork and ensure that it’s really, really tender.

  2. Put the pork butt pieces into the Dutch oven, slow-cooker or Instant Pot. Speaking of pieces, we’re asking you to cut the pork butt into quarters (or you can very nicely ask your butcher to do it for you). Why? We think it cooks better that way, especially in a slow-cooker or Instant Pot. You’ll get more crispy edges—thanks, surface area!—and it’s just one of those little things that makes our recipe the very best pulled pork recipe ever. In our (oh-so-humble) opinion, at least.

  3. Time for the seasonings! Rub that pulled pork with a whole mess of slightly smoky, spicy, sharp and sweet spices.

  4. Cover and cook! Depending on what vessel you’re using—and if you really want to know, cooking pulled pork in the oven is our preference—your cook time will vary. In the oven, it’ll take about four hours. In an Instant Pot, pulled pork will take a little over an hour. In a Crock-Pot, it’ll take 8-10 hours on low, or 4-6 hours on high.

  5. Now, watch for doneness! The official pulled pork done temp is 205°F, and you’ll know that it’s done when the pulled pork is fork-tender, meaning just a hint of pressure from the tines of a fork causes it to absolutely fall apart.

  6. Serve! Get some really good-quality buns—you’ve worked hard on that pork, so make sure your buns are worthy—and then you get to pick! You can douse the pulled pork with either barbeque sauce or teriyaki sauce, depending on your mood, and squish all that goodness between the buns. Just like with the buns, buy really good BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce—you don’t want to ruin all your work right at the end. Your pulled pork deserves the best!

Pulled pork made with spices, chicken stock, and vinegar shredded on a serving plate with 2 forks.

What to Serve With Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a favorite food for both of us, and so as far as we’re concerned it pretty much goes with everything. That said, you can round out your pulled pork meal into a total feast with some really classic pulled pork side dishes. Try serving it with some (or all) of the following:

shredded pork shoulder cooked with spices, chicken stock, and vinegar. Shredded and mixed with bbq sauce on a plate.

Leftover Pulled Pork Recipes

What is this “leftover pulled pork” you speak of? Kidding kidding (kind of). This makes a lot of meat and if you’re not completely starving and / or feeding a crowd, you’ll likely have leftovers! And that’s a beautiful thing. There are so many things you can do with leftover pulled pork, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Tools You’ll Need:

homemade pulled pork sandwich with bbq sauce

Finding Out How Easy It Is to Make Pulled Pork Is Kind of a Mixed Blessing, Right?

On one hand, with a pulled pork recipe like this, you could basically make it once a week. On the other hand, if you make pulled pork once a week, well...let’s just say that has other implications. However often you make this—our lips are sealed as to how often we cook this—we want to hear all about it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Pulled Pork

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 5 hrs 50 min
  • Calories: 556

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 4-5 lbs Boneless pork shoulder/butt, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Mustard powder
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder (omit if you are making teriyaki pulled pork)
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Finely cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 bottle Bbq or teriyaki sauce
  • Rolls or hamburger buns for serving

Method

To cook pork in the oven:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, add the chicken stock and vinegar. Add in the pork pieces. Sprinkle the pork with the brown sugar, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder (if using,) salt, pepper and cayenne. Cover the pot with lid and cook in the oven for 3 hours. Remove lid and cook for an additional 1-2 hours, until pork is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork. Serve with bbq or teriyaki sauce on rolls or hamburger buns.

To cook pork in an Instant Pot:

Add the chicken stock and vinegar to the base of the Instant pot. Add in the pork pieces. Sprinkle the pork with the brown sugar, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder (if using,) salt, pepper and cayenne. Cover the pot with lid and lock it in place. Make sure the vent is in the sealed position. Push the manual/high or pressure cook/high button. Cook on high for 60 minutes. When timer beeps, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, about 15 minutes longer. If you are short on time, you can carefully manually release the pressure using a towel and gentle nudges to the venting valve. Serve with bbq or teriyaki sauce on rolls or hamburger buns.

To cook pork in a slow cooker:

Add the chicken stock and vinegar to the base of your slow cooker. Add in the pork pieces. Sprinkle the pork with the brown sugar, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder (if using), salt, pepper and cayenne. Cover with lid. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours, until pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork. Serve with bbq or teriyaki sauce on rolls or hamburger buns.