To make great pulled pork all you have to do is use the right spices and take the time to slow roast the pork.
The best pulled pork is tender and juicy and loaded with enough interesting flavors that every time you pass it on the table you want to sneak a bite.
How to Make Pulled Pork
We start building flavors in the pork before it even goes in the oven by cutting a criss-cross pattern in the shoulder to help the spice rub penetrate.
We also bathe the shoulder in apple cider vinegar to give it a very subtle tang.
One secret in this recipe is setting aside some of the spice rub to add in after the pork has been shredded.
Adding a couple of tablespoons of the rub at the end ensures the pork is well seasoned and helps refresh the flavors after the long cooking time.
Another secret to pulled pork is to cook it low and slow, lots of recipes will tell you to roast it at 350ºF or higher – don’t do it.
Roasting a pork shoulder at higher temperatures works if you want to slice it thinly but it won’t help you make a batch of tender, juicy pulled pork that falls apart when it’s done.
One of the best things about pulled pork is its versatility.
We’ve used this pulled pork recipe for sandwiches, quesadillas, tacos, and by its lonesome with a bit of Old No. 44 BBQ Sauce.
- 5 lb pork shoulder
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp hot sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Start by combining the brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper along with the garlic, onion, ancho chili, and mustard powders into a rub. Set 2 tablespoons of the spice rub aside to use after the pork has been pulled.
- In a small bowl mix the apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. The apple cider vinegar adds a nice tang and helps the spice rub stick to the pork.
- Score the pork shoulder by cutting a criss-cross pattern across the top. This helps create all sorts of nooks and crannies for the spice rub to get into.
- Give the pork a good rub down, starting with the apple cider vinegar mixture, followed by the spice rub.
- Roast the pork in a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil for 6 to 8 hours at 225ºF. The pork is done when it starts pulling away from the bone and a fork can easily pull it apart.
- Pull the pork into bite-sized clumps using a pair of tongs and a fork. Once the pork has been pulled, add in the remaining spice rub and thoroughly mix it with the shredded pork.