This Pulled Pork recipe is wonderfully tender, tangy, sweet and smoky with the perfect kick, smothered in the best homemade barbecue sauce – and so easy in the slow cooker, instant pot or oven!
This BBQ Pulled Pork is a set-it-and-forget-it recipe, ideal for large gatherings, prep-ahead meals, freezer meals or whenever you’re craving melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork with hardly any cleanup! This easy Pulled Pork recipe is made with pork shoulder (Boston pork butt), pantry spices and Cherry Coke to tenderize the meat and then cooked in the oven, slow cooker or instant pot. The resulting pork is fall apart tender, succulently juicy and begging to be bathed in sweet, tangy, spicy, smoky homemade barbecue sauce. Serve the spoon tender BBQ Pulled Pork in sandwiches, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, on pizza etc. with a side of potato salad and Italian pasta salad for a complete summer feast!
Pork recipes from slow roasted to quick skillet dinners are some of my favorites! Don’t miss kalua pork, lechon asado (Mojo marinated pork), pork carnitas, garlic butter pork tenderloin, grilled pork tenderloin, brown sugar pork chops, Pork Loin with Sweet and Spicy Apricot Sauce and the best pork chop marinade.
HOW TO MAKE PulLed Pork Recipe VIDEo
What readers are saying about this pulled pork recipe
“This is hands down the BEST pulled pork I ever had.” – Grace
“Many months after my first attempt at this recipe, it is the one that relatives, friends and colleagues keep asking for. Super delicious, and so effortless. THANK YOU. Hope you are well.” – Simona
“I love it!! I’ve cooked it so many times and everyone loves it. I love the taste and how easy it is to cook for a biggish group of people. I always use the leftovers on homemade pizza!” – Sara
“Fantastic Flavor!!! I’ve used this recipe 3 times now. It’s tough to try and top this pulled pork recipe, especially when using Kings Hawaiian rolls.” – Mr. Mojo Risin
“This pork is AWESOME! I used a four-pound roast (it’s what I had) …doubled the other ingredients and cooked on low for 8 hours. It was perfect! Thanks so much for another scrumptious recipe!!!! 5+ Stars!!!” Kara
“This recipe is awesome. Reading the ingredient list, I was quite skeptical, but the outcome was sooooo good. I had to prepare it two times in a week, to satisfy my friends’ requests. Pulled pork has always been a favourite, I’m so glad I can cook it on my own now. THANK YOU.” – Rachel
Why this Pulled Pork Recipe works
The recipe is easy and foolproof. The slow cooker has done it again, creating an easy, almost effortless meal that fills your home with the aroma of smoky backyard barbecue while you go about your business, not having to babysit the barbecue or worry about “what’s for dinner?” Because juicy, tender, fall-apart, homemade barbecue sauce-smothered Pulled Pork is for dinner. Just sear, cook, shred and smother! If the pork isn’t tender, you just cook longer until tender – guaranteed.
It’s dripping with flavorful. The pork is spice rubbed in the prefect blend of chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger, pepper and cayenne pepper then seared to reap the caramelizing benefits of the Maillard reaction. It’s then cooked in Cherry Coke, green chilies, brown sugar, orange zest and a splash of liquid smoke, for a tantalizing combination of sweet, tangy, bright and smoky. Once the pork is fall apart tender, you smother it with your favorite barbecue sauce for multi-dimensional flavorful pork that is so easy you can satisfy your cravings any day of the week.
It’s mouthwateringly juicy. The secret ingredient of Coke not only infuses the meat with caramel notes but is one of the most effective meat tenderizers! Additionally, after the pork is shredded, it’s left to braise for 20 an additional minute to further tenderize and soak up the flavorful juices.
The best homemade barbecue sauce makes the best BBQ Pulled Pork! We use this barbecue sauce regularly in our house to make BBQ ribs, BBQ brisket, BBQ brisket sandwiches, BBQ pulled chicken, BBQ grilled chicken, BBQ burgers, BBQ chicken pizza and of course the best BBQ Pulled Pork – because it’s SO GOOD! But you don’t have to take my word for it, between the aforementioned recipes, it has hundreds of 5 star reviews such as: “The sauce is so good that I’ll never buy a bottle of sauce again.” and “This is the best BBQ sauce ever!” -Katherine
Updated pulled pork recipe
This Pulled Pork recipe was originally posted my first year of blogging in 2014 and has gotten nothing but love! Years later, as I’ve grown as a cook, it’s time for a little update to make it even better!
This recipe ups the pork to a 4–6-pound Boston Pork Butt, increases the spices accordingly and sears the meat for extra flavor and tenderness before cooking low and slow. The new and improved recipe is everything you dream about in BBQ Pulled Pork! If you are a fan of the old recipe, however, I have kept that version in the notes of the recipe card.
WHAT’S THE BEST PORK FOR PULLED PORK?
Pulled Pork can be made with pork shoulder or pork (Boston) butt. Despite the names, both pork butt and pork shoulder both come from the shoulder of the pig. Pork shoulder comes from the shoulder area just above the forelegs and Boston butt comes from the area stacked vertically above that, around the shoulder blades.
If you have a choice between Boston pork butt and pork shoulder, always choose Boston Pork butt. It is named after the barrels (butts) pork used to be stored in around the time of the Revolutionary War. Pork butt is fattier and has more marbling throughout the meat so it emerges more flavorful and tender.
Whether you choose pork shoulder or Boston butt, look for a roast with a good amount of marbling, which will transform into succulent, richly flavored Pulled Pork.
FAT CAP ON OR OFF?
Boston Butts have a fat cap, a layer of hard white fat that sits on top of the meat, sometimes as much has an inch thick. I recommend trimming all of it except a very thin layer. The thin layer of remaining fat will create a self-basting effect as it breaks down and drips over the meat, resulting in extra juicy and extra flavorful pork, with little surface fat remaining after cooking.
Pulled pork rub
The Pulled Pork Rub is earthy, smoky, salty with a ginger, garlic zing. It manages to be flavorful but not overpowering, so you can still smother the Pulled Pork with barbecue sauce. You will need:
Braising the pork in a few inches of seasoned liquid helps to transform the tough pork shoulder into a tender, succulent, fall-apart masterpiece. The moist environment gently cooks the pork while the liquid continuously infuses the pork with moisture and flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:
homemade barbecue SAUCE
My homemade BBQ Sauce recipe is an intoxicating blend of sweet, tangy, spicy, smoky and ready in less than 20 minutes – 15 of those minutes are hands-off simmering! You can whip it up weeks in advance so it doesn’t require any extra time when making the Pulled Pork and I promise it is worthy every second of the 15 minutes!
The homemade barbecue sauce is made by simmering simple pantry staples of ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, seasonings and my secret ingredient of blackberry preserves to create the best barbecue sauce you ever tasted!
So, while it’s easier and more convenient to squeeze a bunch of store-bought barbecue sauce, I promise the homemade BBQ Sauce will make your BBQ Pulled Pork recipe 1000X better!
What reader’s are saying about the bbq sauce:
“Absolutely incredible!! My husband is a huge BBQ rib fan. He’s been to rib competitions always looking for the best BBQ sauce. He was blown away.” – Danielle
“…. The best I have ever had and I will be making my own (your recipe) from here on out. I was skeptical reading all the posts about how good it was and I now know why. Absolutely amazing…” – Terry
“The SAUCE, is absolutely the best, better than any homemade or out of a bottle we’ve ever had.” – Stephanie
“Best part is my BBQ/smoked meat snob boyfriend was obsessed with the BBQ sauce – so much so that he now requests I make it anytime we BBQ!” – Natalie
“The BBQ sauce is amazing, I could drink it, it tastes that good.” – Lacie
BARBECUE SAUCE INGREDIENTS
This homemade BBQ Sauce recipe comes together very quickly with just a handful of ingredients. You will need (measurements included in the full recipe below):
Recipe INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS
HOW TO MAKE bbq pulled pork
BBQ Pulled Pork is the epitome of a minimal prep and maximum flavor recipe! Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, it’s a simple season, sear and cook until fall-apart tender. While the pork is cooking, I whip up an easy batch of barbecue sauce. Here’s how:
- Step 1: Braising liquid. Combine the Coke, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, orange zest and green chilies in a lightly greased slow cooker; set aside. You want to prep these ingredients first so you can transfer the pork directly to the crockpot after searing.
- Step 2: Spice rub the pork. Whisk all the seasonings together in a small bowl. Lightly drizzle the pork with vegetable oil, then rub it on the top and sides of the pork, then coat all over with seasonings, pressing to adhere. Flip the pork over, drizzle oil over the top and finish rubbing in the spices.
- Step 3: Sear the pork. Wait until the vegetable oil is smoking hot before you add the pork. I find two forks the easiest to rotate the pork to sear it on all sides.
- Step 4: Cook the pork until fall apart tender. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or on LOW for 8 to 12 hours OR until the pork easily shreds with a fork. Make sure to check the pork at the early part of the cooking window and continue to cook if needed.
- Step 5: Shred and braise. You can either shred the pork directly in the crockpot or it’s a little easier to remove any excess fat by shredding it on a cutting board. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and allow to cook for 20 minutes on LOW to soak up the juices.
- Step 6: Add barbecue sauce. Add the pork to a colander over a large bowl and strain all but about ½ cup broth from the pork. Return the pork to the slow cooker/pot and stir in the desired amount of barbecue sauce. Serve on sandwiches, pizza, sandwiches, etc. See lots of ideas below!
CAN I MAKE pulled pork IN An instant pot?
Yes, Pulled Pork can be cooked in the pressure cooker but it is my least favorite method between braising in the oven, slow cooking and pressure cooking. Pork butt/shoulder should be cooked low and slow so the marbling throughout the meat has plenty of time to break down to create juicy, tender pork. Instead, pressure cooking sacrifices some of the rich flavor. It is also harder to gauge when it is done, so it can either be a little tough or too tender/borderline mushy.
In conclusion, you can use an instant pot if you’re short on time but lower your expectations. For the best Pulled Pork, use the slow cooker or oven. Still, I have included instant pot instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
pulled pork in the oven
Cooking Pulled Pork in the oven is my second favorite method behind the slow cooker. Cook the pork roast at 325 degrees for about 6 hours or until very tender. Full instructions in the recipe card.
pulled pork temperature
Pulled Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of about 205 degrees F for shreddable tender. This is far past the 145 degrees for safe consumption. The high internal temperature allows collagen to break down, making the meat melt-in-your-mouth juicy. This will take anywhere from 8-12 hours in a slow cooker. In old slow cookers, it may even take up to 16 hours. It will take about 6 hours in the oven and 80 minutes plus a slow release in the instant pot.
TIPS for the best pulled pork
Use smoked paprika in the spice rub and barbecue sauce. The difference between smoked paprika and normal paprika may seem nominal, but it has a big impact on the the overall flavor. Normal paprika uses crushed dried chilies, whereas smoked paprika uses chilies that are first smoked with oak, then dried and crushed. This adds a smoky, woody, outdoorsy flavor that elevates your BBQ Pulled Pork to next level.
For the best pork, sear first. This extra step is well worth it. It caramelizes the outside of the pork for a depth of flavor and increases its moisture capacity so its’s extra juicy. It also binds the seasonings to the pork. That being said, the original recipe did not sear the pork, and readers still found it delicious – so, your call!
Use a cast iron skillet. I recommend a large cast iron skillet because it gets piping hot and sears more evenly. When searing, the pork will naturally release from the pan once it’s properly seared. If it’s sticking to the bottom of the pan, it most likely needs more time.
Use a high smoking point oil. Use vegetable oil, avocado oil or sunflower oil to sear the pork– don’t substitute with olive oil. Olive oil has a lower smoking point and will not only smoke like crazy but can burn leaving behind a bitter taste and harmful chemicals.
Cook the pork until tender. If your pork isn’t crazy tender, then cook on! It just means the proteins needs more time to break down and tenderize. Even 30 more minutes can make the world of difference between “okay” and melt-in-your-mouth Pulled Pork. If it’s your first time making this recipe, plan on the full cooking window, but check the pork for doneness at the early part of the cooking window to be safe.
Don’t skip soaking the pork after shredding. Cooking the shredded pork on low for 20 minutes is crucial to allow the flavorful slow cooker juices to seep into every nook and cranny before adding the barbecue sauce.
Drain pork using a colander. I place my strainer on top of a large bowl to catch the braising liquid so the fat doesn’t go directly in my sink, then refrigerate the bowl and skim the fat later and ditch the rest of the juices in the sink sans fat.
Use homemade barbecue sauce! This is the number one tip for the best BBQ Pulled Pork!
Splatter screen. If you have a splatter screen, you might want to place it over the barbecue sauce in between stirring.
BBQ Pulled Pork Variations
The most important (and best!) part of making BBQ Pulled Pork is how adaptable the homemade barbecue sauce is. Like a sweet sauce? Add more sugar. Like a tangier sauce? Add more vinegar. Like a spicy BBQ Sauce? Add more chipotle. Here’s how:
- Make it sweeter: add more brown sugar. I suggest you simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, taste and add additional sugar at this time if desired (and not right off the bat); continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- Make it tangier: add additional apple cider vinegar at the end of simmering.
- Make it smokier: add additional liquid smoke, ½ teaspoon at a time.
- Make it spicier: add additional chipotle chili powder for smoky heat or cayenne pepper for penetrating heat.
- Make the seasonings your own. Like more garlic? Use more garlic. Like more mustard? Use more mustard. You can adjust all of the seasonings to suit your tastes and even add additional seasonings such as oregano or parsley.
- Make it thicker: simmer the sauce for upwards of 15 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency, however, it is already gorgeously thick after 15 minutes so I don’t think you’ll find this necessary.
- Make it gluten-free: double check your ingredients to ensure they are gluten free.
- Homemade Maple BBQ Sauce: substitute half of the brown sugar for pure maple syrup – not the breakfast imitation kind!
- Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce: substitute the brown sugar for honey.
WHAT SIDES DO I SERVE WITH pulled PORK?
BBQ Pulled Pork with a side of potato salad, pasta salad and fruit salad is the quintessential summer meal! Here are some more to choose from:
Potluck Favorites: Baked Mac and Cheese, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Crockpot Creamed Corn, Corn Casserole, Elote (Mexican Street Corn), Grilled Corn on the Cob and Corn Casserole
Pasta Salad: Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad, Italian Tortellini Salad, Greek Pasta Salad, BLT Pasta Salad, Cowboy Pasta Salad, Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad and Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
Salad: Broccoli Bacon Salad, Strawberry Avocado Broccoli Salad, Strawberry Salad, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Mexican Salad, Wedge Salad, and Corn Salad
Fruit: Watermelon Feta Salad, Creamy Grape Salad, Pina Colada Fruit Salad, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, or Tropical Fruit Salad
ways to serve leftover pulled pork
This Pulled Pork recipe is extremely versatile and can be served a number of ways – what’s your favorite? Here are just a few ideas:
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Stuff brioche buns with pulled pork, coleslaw and optional toppings such as fried onions, pickles, etc.
- Pulled Pork Pizza: Use my barbecue chicken pizza recipe as a guide. Top homemade or store-bought uncooked pizza dough with ⅓ cup barbecue sauce, followed with desired amount of Pulled Pork, 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese (low moisture), 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda and ¼ thinly sliced red onion. Bake at 475 degrees F for 12-15
- Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese: Stir leftover Pulled Pork into your favorite Stovetop Mac and Cheese or Baked Mac and Cheese.
- Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese: Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on each side of each slice of bread, then top half of the bread with cheese, then Pulled Pork and then another layer of cheese. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 sandwiches, cover, and grill until the bottom of the bread is toasted, about 5-7 minutes and the cheese starts to melt, checking often to see that the bread is cooking nicely and doesn’t burn. Flip and continue to cook, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and the bottom bread is toasted.
- Pulled Pork Hash: Use this recipe as a guide and swap in the Pulled Pork.
- Pulled Pork Baked Potatoes: Poke holes in washed, dried potatoes. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and lightly brush with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender and the skin is crispy. Slice open the potatoes, top with BBQ Pulled Pork and cheddar then place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with sour cream, green onions, etc.
- Pulled Pork Baked Tacos: Line stand-up taco shells in a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle some cheese on the bottom of each taco shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes (baking crisps up the shells and the cheese prevents the shell from becoming soggy). Add the BBQ Pulled Pork, top with more cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Top with your favorite toppings such as lettuce, pico de gallo, black bean corn salsa, avocado corn salsa, etc.
- Pulled Pork Nachos: Pile thick restaurant style tortilla chips with cheese and beans and bake until the cheese is melted or use homemade queso. Top with BBQ Pulled Pork and toppings such as jalapenos, pineapple salsa and guacamole.
- Pulled Pork Fries: Similar to pork nachos but with French Fries! Pile French fries with cheese and bake or smother in queso or store-bought nacho sauce. Top with BBQ Pulled Pork and toppings such as jalapenos and guacamole.
- Pulled Pork Taquitos: Combine 3 cups pork with 2 ounces softened cream cheese, ¼ cup sour cream and 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese. Add a heaping ¼ cup pork mixture to each flour tortilla and roll up tightly. Place filled tortillas seam side down on a baking sheet. Lightly brush each tortilla with olive oil and bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden or pan fry until crispy.
- Pulled Pork Burrito Bowls: Pile cilantro lime rice with shredded pork, black beans, corn, cabbage, chopped pineapple or pineapple salsa etc. and your favorite creamy topping such as sour cream/Greek yogurt or I highly recommend either Tomatillo Avocado Ranch or Cilantro Lime Dressing.
- Pulled Pork Quesadillas: Sandwich pork, cheese and optional black beans in between two flour tortillas and toast in a skillet to golden, cheesy perfection. Serve with pineapple salsa, mango salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo and/or avocada crema.
- Pulled Pork Burritos: Layer a burrito size tortilla with cilantro lime rice, black beans, pork, cheese, guacamole, pineapple salsa and lettuce.
Can I Prep BBQ PULLED Pork in Advance?
BBQ Pulled Pork is fabulous for making ahead or serving a crowd because most of the work is hands-off cooking. To make ahead, cook the pork completely all the way through adding the barbecue sauce. Transfer the pork to the refrigerator directly in the ceramic crockpot insert or Dutch oven. The next day, warm the pork in the crockpot on LOW for 1-2 hours or gently warm on the stove. Add a splash or additional barbecue sauce if it seems dry after it’s warmed through (it will release juices as it heats up).
How to Store BBQ pulled Pork
Store leftover Pulled Pork in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Reheat BBQ Pulled Pork
-To reheat in the microwave: Warm the pork in the microwave for 1 minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through.
-To reheat on the stove: Rewarm the pork gently over medium-low heat, adding a splash of water if the pork seems a little dry after warmed through.
-To reheat in the slow cooker: Reheat in the slow cooker for 1-2 hours on low.
How to Freeze PULLED Pork
Let the pork cool completely then transfer to a freezer safe container or portion it into smaller containers. Press freezer bag(s) flat and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Looking for more pulled pork recipes?
Slow Cooker Asian Caramel Pulled Pork: crazy tender smothered in the most addicting savory, sweet and spicy sauce infused with coconut milk, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, ginger and garlic. Serve with rice or make into tacos with pineapple cucumber slaw!
Carnitas (Crockpot): Juicy pork smothered in a dynamic fiesta spice rub then slow cooked with orange juice and lime juice all finished in the oven to create glorious caramelized crispy burnt ends.
Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork: A Café Rio Copycat that’s juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth with the perfect balance of saucy sweet heat.
Salsa Verde Honey Lime Pork (Crockpot): bright, tangy, zesty with just the right amount of kick all balanced by a hint of honey.
Kalua Pork: ridiculously juicy, tender, smoky and salty made by rubbing the pork with Hawaiian sea salt and spices, searing, drizzling with liquid smoke then letting the slow cooker, oven or instant pot do the rest of the work.
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FOR THE PORK
- 4-6 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt roast)
- 1 12 oz. can Cherry Coke (1 ½ cups)
- 2 4 oz. cans mild diced green chilies
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 TBS EACH garlic powder, chili powder, salt
- 2 tsps EACH onion powder, smoked paprika
- 1 tsp EACH pepper, ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- vegetable oil
- 2 cups homemade BBQ sauce (or store-bought), more or less as needed
FOR THE SANDWICHES
- 1 recipe homemade coleslaw
- 12 -15 hamburger size buns
FOR THE FRIED ONION RINGS (Optional)
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups buttermilk (see DIY in notes)*
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt and pepper
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- Lightly spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the Coke through the orange zest in the slow cooker; set aside.
- Whisk all the seasonings together in a small bowl (garlic powder through cayenne pepper). Lightly coat pork with vegetable oil, then rub seasonings all over the pork.
- Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Using tongs or 2 forks, sear pork on all sides until lightly browned. Place pork in prepared slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8-12 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours, UNTIL the pork is very tender. (Check pork at early end of cooking window and add more time as needed). Use this time to prep toppings such as coleslaw and onion strings.
- Remove pork to a cutting board and shred – don’t discard slow cooker juices. Return shredded pork to the slow cooker and cook for 20 minutes on LOW to soak up the juices.
- Strain all but about ½ cup broth from the pork. Stir in the desired amount of barbecue sauce until evenly coated, adding more or less as desired. Taste and add hot sauce/salt/pepper/brown sugar to taste.
- Prepare Coleslaw according to recipe directions. Don't make the coleslaw too sweet if your barbecue sauce is on the sweeter side. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, best if 1-2 hours after combining. If making ahead, keep dressing and vegetables separate and then combine a little before serving.
FRIED ONION STRINGS
- Whisk buttermilk and egg together. Add onions to a shallow baking dish and pour buttermilk/egg mixture over top. Press the onions down so they're submerged as much as possible. Let them soak at room temperature for 15 minutes up to an hour, stirring and pushing down occasionally. Cover and refrigerate if soaking longer.
- When ready to fry onions, fill a heavy duty fry pot (this is the exact one I use) or large Dutch oven with approximately 2 inches of oil. Heat to 375 degrees F.
- While heating, combine flour, panko, salt and pepper in a large bowl; set aside. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.
- Test the oil with a small pinch of panko; if it bubbles and fries, then it is hot enough. If it turns black right a way, it is too hot. Using tongs, transfer a handful of onions from the buttermilk to the flour/panko mixture. Toss to coat, pressing to adhere, shake off any excess flour, then carefully transfer to the hot oil. (The coating will be thin but will crisp up.)
- Fry onions until lightly golden brown (just 1-2 minutes), watch closely! – they will continue to darken after they're removed from the oil. Remove fried onions with a spider fry strainer or fine mesh sieve to paper towels. Repeat with the remaining onion slices.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Working in batches as needed, line top and bottom buns on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake until warmed and lightly crispy, about 5 minutes. Don’t over bake or they can become dry – we don’t want croutons!
- When ready to eat, pile toasted buns with pulled pork, coleslaw, fried onion rings and/or any desired toppings. Dig in!
- Cherry Coke: Use regular Cherry Coke, NOT diet! Dr. Pepper is the closest substitute for Cherry Coke. The Coke not only adds flavor (contains flavoring approximates of dark spices like cinnamon, clove, allspice, cardamom, pipal, nutmeg, citrus zest, etc.) and caramelized sugar but is also highly acidic which balances the flavor and most importantly, tenderizes the meat. Cola is such a great tenderizer because it typically has a pH of about 2.7—for comparison, lemon juice has a pH of 2—making it acidic enough to break down the tough proteins without dissolving your meat.
- Liquid smoke: If you aren’t familiar with liquid smoke, it really is liquid smoke! It is a very common ingredient and should be easy to find next to the barbecue sauces in your grocery store. You can use mesquite or hickory, but I prefer mesquite in this recipe.
- Pulled Pork in the Oven: Cover and cook the pork roast at 325 degrees for about 6 hours or until very tender.
- Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot: Cut the pork into large chunks if needed to fit into the instant pot. Cook on high pressure for 70-80 minutes (depending on size). Once time is up, let pressure release naturally for 25 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure and open.
- *DIY Buttermilk: Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar to a 3 cup+ measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 2 cups. Give it a stir then wait 10-15 minutes for it to curdle, then give it another stir before using. If you only have 1% milk, then add a splash of heavy cream before filling the rest of the measuring cup with milk.
- BBQ Pulled Pork: Cook the pulled pork all the way through adding the barbecue sauce. Transfer the pork to the refrigerator directly in the ceramic crockpot insert or Dutch oven. The next day, warm the pork in the crockpot on LOW for 1-2 hours or gently warm on the stove. Add a splash or additional barbecue sauce or water if it seems dry after it’s warmed through (it will release juices as it heats up).
- BBQ Sauce: Transfer the cooled barbecue sauce to an air-tight container. Store for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Coleslaw: Homemade coleslaw will last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge, but is at peak freshness within the first few hours of combining.
To make ahead further in advance, thinly slice the cabbage, shred the carrots, and slice the green onions. Store in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. The dressing can be whisked together and refrigerated up to 5 days in advance. Combine when ready to use.
- Onion Strings. You can slice the onions a day ahead of time and refrigerate in an airtight bag if you aren’t ready to fry right away. This will cut down on the onion prep significantly. For fried onions, let them cool COMPLETELY before transferring to an airtight container. Store onions at ROOM TEMPERATURE for up to three days.
HOW TO STORE
- Pulled pork: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The buns can be refrigerated or frozen to prolong their shelf life. The pork can be frozen for up to three months.
- Onion Strings: Let onions cool COMPLETELY before transferring to an airtight container. Store onions at ROOM TEMPERATURE for up to three days.
- Coleslaw: Homemade coleslaw will last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge, but is at peak freshness within the first few hours of combining. The cabbage will soften over time and the dressing will become runnier. The carrots and red cabbage will also alter the color of the dressing the longer it sits.
- To reheat in the microwave: Warm the pork in the microwave for 1 minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through.
- To reheat on the stove: Rewarm the pork gently over medium-low heat, adding a splash of water if the pork seems a little dry after warmed through.
- To reheat in the slow cooker: Reheat in the slow cooker for 1-2 hours on low.
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