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Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

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Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

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Slow-roasted until the meat is succulent and fork-tender, this pulled pork barbecue is an easy crowd pleaser.

Rubbed with barbecue spices and slow-roasted until the meat is fork-tender, this pulled pork is a family favorite. It’s simple to prepare and takes just minutes to get in the oven; the hardest part of the recipe is trying not to eat all of the pork as you’re pulling it apart. The sauce is a hybrid of a sweet BBQ sauce and Carolina-style vinegar-based sauce; it gets its dark color and smoky flavor from the pan juices.

What You’ll Need For The Pulled Pork

ingredients for the pulled pork

Pork butt (which is also sometimes called Boston butt) is misleadingly named; it does not come from the rear end of the pig. Rather, it comes from the thicker, well-marbled upper shoulder. It is not to be confused with a picnic roast, which comes from the lower end of the shoulder and is a bit leaner.

What You’ll Need For The Tangy Barbecue Sauce

barbecue sauce ingredients

How To Make Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

To begin, preheat the oven to 300°F and set an oven rack in the lower-middle position.
Pat the pork dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, dry mustard, brown sugar, and pepper in a small bowl.

pulled pork spice rub ingredients in bowl

Mix until evenly combined.

mixed spice rub

Place the pork in a roasting pan. Rub the spice blend all over the pork, turning to coat evenly (don’t leave any of the spice blend in the bottom of the pan; keep turning the meat until it all adheres). Roast for 6 to 6-1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 195°F.
pork shoulder ready to roast

While the pork roasts, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper in a saucepan over medium heat.

sauce ingredients in saucepan

Simmer gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about ten minutes.

simmering barbecue sauce

Remove from the heat and let sit until the pork is done.
thickened barbecue sauce

When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and set it on a cutting board or platter; tent with aluminum foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.

roasted pork shoulder

Pour off and discard the fat from the roasting pan (remember the handles are hot). Add 3/4 cup water to the roasting pan and set it over a single burner on medium heat; scrape with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by about half. (The liquid will be very dark; that’s okay.)

deglazing the roasting pan

Pour into the saucepan with the barbecue sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
finished barbecue sauce with deglazing liquid mixed in

While the pork is still warm, use two forks to pull the meat away from the bone into large shreds. Remove and discard any large pieces of fat or sinew.

shredding pork shoulder

Put the shredded pork in a large bowl or dish and pour about two-thirds of the barbecue sauce over it. Toss so that the pork is evenly coated with the sauce. Taste and add more sauce, little by little, if desired.

adding the barbecue sauce to the pulled pork

To serve, spoon the pulled pork onto the bottom half of each bun. Pass the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.

My starting point for this recipe was Tyler Florence’s Pulled Pork Barbecue recipe on Food Network. I used my own spice rub and barbecue sauce, but the cooking method is identical to the original recipe.

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Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Slow-roasted until the meat is succulent and fork-tender, this pulled pork barbecue is an easy crowd pleaser.

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours 15 Minutes
Total Time: 6 Hours 35 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Pork

  • One 5- to 6-pound bone-in pork butt (sometimes called Boston butt; see note)
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Tangy Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¾ cup water, for deglazing the roasting pan

For Serving

  • 12 hamburger buns (lightly toasted and buttered, if desired)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and set an oven rack in the lower-middle position.
  2. Pat the pork dry with paper towels.
  3. Mix the salt, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, dry mustard, brown sugar, and pepper in a small bowl. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Rub the spice blend all over the pork, turning to coat evenly (don't leave any of the spice blend in the bottom of the pan; keep turning the meat until it all adheres).
  4. Roast, uncovered, for 6 to 6½ hours, or until the meat is fork-tender and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork registers 195°F.
  5. While the pork roasts, make the barbecue sauce. Combine the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about ten minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit until the pork is done.
  6. When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and set it on a cutting board or platter; tent with aluminum foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  7. Pour off and discard the fat from the roasting pan (remember the handles are hot). Add ¾ cup water to the roasting pan and set it over a single burner on medium heat; scrape with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by about half. (The liquid will be very dark; that's okay.) Pour into the saucepan with the barbecue sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  8. While the pork is still warm, use two forks to pull the meat away from the bone into large shreds. Remove and discard any large pieces of fat or sinew. Put the shredded pork in a large bowl or dish and pour about two-thirds of the barbecue sauce over it. Toss so that the pork is evenly coated with the sauce. Taste and add more sauce, little by little, if desired.
  9. To serve, spoon the pulled pork onto the bottom half of each bun. Pass the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.
  10. Note: Pork butt (which is also sometimes called Boston butt) is misleadingly named; it does not come from the rear end of the pig. Rather, it comes from the thicker, well-marbled upper shoulder. It is not to be confused with a picnic roast, which comes from the lower end of the shoulder and is a bit leaner. If you can only find a boneless butt, that's okay.
  11. Make-Ahead Instructions: The pork can be made entirely ahead of time and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat just a few servings of pulled pork, toss the pork in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a bit more sauce if the pork seems dry, and cover the dish with a plate or lid. Microwave the pork for one to two minutes, or until hot. To reheat a larger quantity, place the pork in a baking dish and add a bit more sauce if the pork seems dry. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in a 250°F-oven for about 30 minutes, or until hot.
  12. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Place the pulled pork in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (12 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 sandwich
  • Calories: 485
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 45 g
  • Sugar: 23 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Sodium: 691 mg
  • Cholesterol: 89 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Hi!! What are your suggestions cooking this in a crockpot? Could I combine all the ingredient and slow cook for 6-8 hours?

    • — Megan on November 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Megan, It will work but you won’t get the nice bark on the outside.

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have a 3 lb boneless Boston butt. What changes should I make?

    • — Cynthia on November 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Cynthia, You can cut the ingredients in half. In terms of baking time, I’d guesstimate it will need about 4 hours but to be sure, use a thermometer and insert it the thickest part of the pork. When it registers 195°F, you’re good to go. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen. I tried this recipe for the first time tonight. I have a tried-and-true pulled pork recipe that I have always used, but I thought your recipe sounded amazing, and mine does NOT start with a dry rub … so, I gave it a go. I follow your recipes quite precisely and I have to say, it turned out beautifully! I used a 6.5 lb New York shoulder, slow roasted for 6.5 hours and it was a perfect cook! The bark was lovely (my usual recipe cooks in the slow cooker, so there was not the same kind of delicious bark). The sauce was nice and tangy. This will be my new go-to Pulled Pork recipe. BTW, I recently purchased your Weeknight Weekend cookbook and I am spending WAY too much time browsing and tagging the recipes I will try! Thanks for your exceptional writing/recipes!

    • — Lori J Jankowski on November 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad it turned out well, Lori! And glad you’re enjoying the cookbook. 😊

      • — Jenn on November 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • I love this recipe! My grocery store had only a 7 1/2 pound pork butt. How would you recommend adjusting the cooking time? Thanks in advance!

    • — Alice on November 4, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Alice, I would guesstimate you’ll need to cook it for about 7 hours, but to be sure use a thermometer and insert it the thickest part of the pork. When it registers 195°F, it’s done. BTW, if you find that it’s getting too browned during that extra time in the oven, feel free to cover it loosely with foil. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen!

    I’ve made this recipe several times and it is delicious! I was looking at another recipe and it recommended scoring the fat cap with a sharp knife prior to seasoning, presumably to let the spice mixture penetrate the meat more deeply. Have you ever tried that, or do you have thoughts on whether it would be effective?

    • — Tess on October 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! I haven’t tried what you mentioned, but I think it’s a good idea and worth giving a whirl. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have a 7 lb BONELESS pork shoulder. Would this work as well – any changes needed?

    Thanks Jenn for ALL your perfect recipes.

    Tannis

    • — Tannis on August 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Tannis, I haven’t used a boneless cut, but I think it will work. The timing may be slightly different — to remove any guesswork, I’d use a thermometer and insert it the thickest part of the pork. When it registers 195°F, you’re good to go. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have a 10 pound pork loin, will that work as well?

    • — Vicki on July 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Vicki, I wouldn’t recommend pork loin for this — sorry!

      • — Jenn on July 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen- I cooked this yesterday to serve this weekend, and it is delicious! Thanks for the great recipe. But, I have a question. I bought a 9 lb bone in pork butt and prior to cooking I trimmed off about 1 lb of fat, so an 8 lb pork butt went in the oven. I slow roasted for about 7.5 hours and it turned out great. However, by the time I got rid of the bone and the fat, there was only about 2.5 lbs of pulled pork. (I did also pour a good bit of rendered fat/grease out of the pan when done.) I was shocked I only got 2.5 lbs of pulled pork.
    Is that an unusual ratio of start to finished product? Maybe I did something wrong? Would appreciate your thoughts! Thanks again for the great recipes!!

    • — Dan on July 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Dan, I’ve actually never weighed the amount of meat left after cooking pork on the bone. I suspect the bone contributes a lot to the weight and if you trimmed a fair amount of fat, that would reduce the volume you were left with. All in all, what you’re describing doesn’t sound very far off (and I don’t think you did anything wrong).

      • — Jenn on July 8, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you, Jenn! I will definitely cook again. Love your recipes and your cookbooks!

        • — Dan on July 10, 2022
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! The smallest size Boston Butt I could find was 7.5lbs. How long would you estimate that to cook for at 300 degrees? 8-8.5 hours?

    • — Scott J on June 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Scott, I’d estimate you’ll need to cook it for about 7 hours, but to be certain, I’d use a thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the pork. When it registers 195°F, it’s done. And if you find that it’s getting too brown during that extra time in the oven, feel free to cover it loosely with foil. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I cannot find spicy brown mustard where I live. What type of mustard would be a suitable substitute? Thanks

    • — Rilla on June 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rilla, Dijon (or really any other mustard) would be fine here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Skipped the barbecue sauce and used the meat for tacos with some salsa. Yum!

    • — Janet on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • I always follow these recipes to the letter, because they are usually perfect. Even though 4 tsp didn’t sound like much I found it too salty. I will reduce the amount the next time.

    • — Tracy Girl on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I smoked the shoulder for 2 hours on my grill and then finished it in the oven. It was spectacular! the seasonings are great and don’t overwhelm the pork. I skipped the barbeque sauce and used a mustard vinegar sauce that was perfect with it. Will definitely make it again!

    • — Dave on June 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Could you add liquid smoke to make it have that more smoky taste? Thank you!

    • — Theresa on May 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • I’ve never used liquid smoke, but I think you could get away with using a little of it. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 25, 2022
      • Reply
  • The meat was delish, but I can’t believe the amount of cider vinegar called for in the sauce recipe is correct. It was so tart I couldn’t even taste test it without crying.

    • — Peggy Thoreson on May 23, 2022
    • Reply

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