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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich is an American Tradition

Best BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe - Chef Jean-Pierre Pulled pork is a staple of American barbecue, known for its tender, flavorful meat that melts in your mouth. What makes this BBQ pulled pork sandwich so irresistible is a symphony of flavors and textures, combining succulent pork with a tangy and sweet barbecue sauce, all nestled within a soft brioche bun.

With this BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich recipe that I want to share with you today, I will guide you through the process of making a pulled pork sandwich that will be the star of any gathering, from casual family dinners to a festive backyard barbecue’

Pro Tip: What is the secret to a great pulled pork?

Best BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe - Patience is the key The secret to an irresistible pulled pork is patience. Slow-cooking the pork shoulder at a low temperature ensures that the meat is flavorful and tender enough to be pulled apart with just a fork.

But what also makes this pulled pork sandwich extraordinary is the homemade barbecue sauce, with its balance of sweetness, tanginess, and a hint of smokiness, that complements the pork beautifully. All topped with a refreshing coleslaw, this sandwich offers a delightful contrast of textures that will have everyone asking for seconds.

Are you ready to embark on this culinary journey to create the ultimate pulled pork sandwich that will tantalize your taste buds and become a go-to recipe for any occasion? Well then, what are we waiting for?

Let’s get cooking!

Best BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe

An Irresistible BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe!

chef jean pierre 200x200 3Chef Jean-Pierre
This Perfect Pulled Pork Sandwich recipe will take you on a culinary journey filled with rich, smoky flavors and tender, succulent pork. Slow-cooked to perfection and paired with a homemade barbecue sauce, this sandwich is the ultimate comfort food.
Whether you're preparing it for a family gathering or a weekend treat, the time and effort are well worth the delicious results.
4.87 from 15 votes
Course Brunch, Lunch, Sandwich
Cuisine American
Servings 6 - 8 servings

Recipe Video

Recipe Ingredients

For the Pulled Pork:

  • 4 pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Olive Oil
  • 2 large Onions, sliced in the same direction of the grain
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Onion Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano or Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin

For the Barbecue Sauce:

  • 2 cups Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/3 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 1/4 cup Corn Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 dash of Hot Sauce
  • 1 dash Liquid Smoke, adjust to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons Bourbon (optional, adjust to taste)

For Serving the Sandwich:

  • Brioche Buns See the notes for links to those recipes
  • Vinegar-based Coleslaw or Creamy Coleslaw See the notes for links to those recipes
  • Reserved cooked Onions (optional)

Recipe Instructions

Preheat Oven to 275°F (135°C)

    Prepare the Pulled Pork:

    • In a bowl, combine brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, oregano or thyme, and cumin.
    • At medium heart, add the Garlic olive oil in your Dutch Oven and when hot add the sliced onions and sauté them until light golden brown.  
    • Trim excess fat from the pork shoulder if necessary.
    • Rub the spice mixture evenly all over the pork shoulder, giving it a good massage.
    • Place the pork shoulder on top of the onions, fat side up.
    • Cover the Dutch oven with a lid or aluminum foil, sealing it tightly.
    • Place the Dutch oven in the preheated oven and roast for approximately 5-6 hours, or until the pork is tender and can easily be pulled apart with a fork. Baste with some of the rendered juices every hour if you can.
    • After 5-6 hours, increase the oven temperature to 400°F (205°C) and remove the lid or foil. 
    • Continue roasting for an additional 30-60 minutes until the pork develops a beautiful crust.
    • Once done, remove the pork from the oven, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. During this time, you can prepare the barbecue sauce and coleslaw.

    Prepare the Barbecue Sauce:

    • In a mixing bowl, combine ketchup, honey, white vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
    • Add hot sauce, liquid smoke and mix well.  
    • Optionally, add Bourbon to the sauce for extra flavor. Start with 1-2 tablespoons, adjusting to taste.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings or heat level according to your preference.  Set the barbecue sauce aside for serving.

    Assembling the Pulled Pork Sandwich:

    • While the pork is resting, gently reheat the reserved cooked onions if desired.
    • Pull the tender pork apart using two forks to create shreds.
    • Place a generous portion of pulled pork on the bottom half of each Brioche Bun.
    • Drizzle a spoonful of barbecue sauce over the pork.
    • Optionally, add a layer of coleslaw for added texture and freshness.
    • If you like, top the sandwich with some of the reserved cooked Onions.
    • Place the top half of the Brioche Bun on the sandwich to complete it.
    • Serve your Perfect Pulled Pork Sandwiches immediately, accompanied by extra barbecue sauce for dipping and your favorite sides.
    • Enjoy this flavorful, mouthwatering pulled pork sandwich that's been slow-cooked to perfection and generously sauced to satisfy your barbecue cravings!


    Click here for a Vinegar-based Coleslaw Recipe
    Click here for a  Creamy Coleslaw Recipe


    Frequently Asked Questions About Pulled Pork Sandwiches


    1. What cut of pork is best for a pulled pork sandwich?

    For a pulled pork sandwich, a pork shoulder cut, also known as Boston butt, is ideal. It’s an affordable cut that’s rich in marbling, which makes it tender and flavorful when cooked slowly. The marbling allows the meat to stay moist during the long cooking process, leading to that classic fall-apart texture.


    2. What’s the best way to season a pork shoulder for pulled pork?

    A dry rub made from a mixture of brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt, cayenne, oregano or thyme, and cumin is recommended. You can adjust the quantities to suit your taste. Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder before cooking.


    3. Can I use pork loin instead of pork shoulder for pulled pork?

    Pork loin is a leaner cut of meat and doesn’t have the same amount of fat and connective tissue as pork shoulder, which means it can become dry if cooked for the long periods required for traditional pulled pork. While you can use it, the end result may not be as moist or tender. If you do use pork loin, consider brining it first to help retain moisture.


    4. How much pulled pork do I need per person?

    Generally, you’ll need about ⅓ to ½ pound of pork per person. If you’re serving a large crowd, it’s always better to have a little extra than to run short.


    5. Can I cook pulled pork without a slow cooker?

    Yes, you can make pulled pork in an oven using a Dutch oven or a lasagna pan covered with aluminum foil. The key is to cook it at a low temperature (around 275°F) for several hours until it’s tender enough to pull apart.


    6. How long does it take to cook pulled pork?

    Cooking time can vary based on the method and the size of the pork shoulder. In a slow cooker, it can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours on low heat. In an oven, as mentioned in the video, it may take around 6 hours at 275°F. The pork is done when it shreds easily with a fork.


    7. How do I know when the pulled pork is done?

    The pork is ready when it’s tender enough to fall apart easily when prodded with a fork. The internal temperature should reach around 195°F to 205°F, which is the ideal range for shredding.


    8. What’s the purpose of resting the pork shoulder after cooking?

    Resting the pork shoulder allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you cut into or shred the pork immediately after cooking, the juices will run out, resulting in drier meat. Resting for at least 20-30 minutes ensures the pork will be juicy and flavorful when you shred it.


    9. Can I overcook pulled pork?

    While it’s difficult to overcook due to the low cooking temperature, it’s still possible. Overcooked pork may become too mushy and lose its texture. It’s best to check the meat occasionally once it gets close to the expected finish time.


    10. How do I prevent my pulled pork from being dry?

    To keep pulled pork moist, cook the pork shoulder at a low temperature and ensure it’s properly sealed in the Dutch oven or covered with foil. Keeping the cooking environment moist and not overcooking the meat are key factors. Adding a little water to the bottom of the pan, as suggested in the video, helps maintain moisture. Also, after shredding, mix the pork with some of the cooking juices.


    11. Should I trim the fat off my pork shoulder?

    While some fat is necessary for flavor and moisture, too much can be overwhelming and greasy. Trim off any excess fat, leaving a thin layer to melt into the meat during cooking. Remember, not all fat is created equal, and the right amount can enhance the dish.


    12. Do I need to baste the pork during cooking?

    Basting is not strictly necessary, but it can add flavor and prevent the meat from drying out. You can baste the pork with its own juices or a mixture of flavors you prefer. Doing so in the last hour of cooking can create a nice crust on the pork.


    13. What’s the best way to shred pulled pork?

    The best way to shred pulled pork is to use two forks and pull the meat apart while it’s still warm. If the pork is properly cooked, it should shred easily without much effort.


    14. Can I make pulled pork ahead of time?

    Yes, pulled pork is a great make-ahead dish. You can cook it, shred it, and then refrigerate it for a few days or freeze it for longer storage. Reheat it gently with a bit of added moisture to keep it juicy.


    15. How do I make a homemade barbecue sauce for my pulled pork sandwich?

    A simple homemade barbecue sauce can be made by mixing ketchup, honey, white vinegar (balsamic or white wine vinegar), corn syrup, molasses, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, a bit of hot sauce, and liquid smoke for a smoky flavor. You can also add a splash of bourbon for an extra kick.


    16. Is it necessary to use liquid smoke in the barbecue sauce?

    Liquid smoke is optional but adds a smoky depth to the sauce that mimics the flavor of outdoor grilling. Use it sparingly, as it’s potent.


    17. What kind of bun is best for a pulled pork sandwich?

    A sturdy bun like a brioche is ideal for a pulled pork sandwich. It’s soft yet strong enough to hold up to the juicy pork and sauce without falling apart.


    18. Should I mix the pulled pork with barbecue sauce before serving?

    This is a matter of personal preference. Some people like to mix the pulled pork with sauce before serving to ensure every bite is flavorful, while others prefer to add the sauce on top or serve it on the side.


    19. What toppings go well on a pulled pork sandwich?

    Coleslaw is a classic topping for a pulled pork sandwich. It adds a crunchy texture and a tangy flavor that complements the rich, savory taste of the pork. Pickles, onions, and additional barbecue sauce are also popular choices.


    20. What are the best sides to serve with a pulled pork sandwich?

    Traditional sides include Creamy Coleslaw, baked beans, Macaroni and Cheese, and traditional French Fries. These sides complement the rich flavors of the pulled pork and add a variety of textures to the meal.

    For healthier side options, consider serving your pulled pork sandwiches with a side of roasted vegetables, a fresh Vinaigrette Green Salad, or a Vinegar-Based Coleslaw. You can also offer sweet potato fries baked in the oven with a light coating of olive oil and sea salt.


    21. Can I use a different type of vinegar in the barbecue sauce?

    Yes, you can use different types of vinegar such as apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or any other vinegar you prefer. Each type will impart a different flavor profile to the sauce.


    22. What can I do with leftover pulled pork?

    Leftover pulled pork is versatile and can be used in soups, burritos, nachos, salads, or even as a pizza topping. It’s a great way to get creative with subsequent meals.


    23. How do I store leftover pulled pork?

    Store leftover pulled pork in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 3 months. When reheating, add a little moisture to keep it from drying out.


    24. How do I reheat pulled pork without drying it out?

    Reheat pulled pork in the oven or slow cooker with some of the reserved cooking juices. This helps to keep the meat moist. Avoid using the microwave as it can dry out the meat.


    25. Can I make pulled pork on a grill?

    Yes, you can make pulled pork on a grill set up for indirect heat. The key is to maintain a low temperature and cook the pork shoulder covered, similar to an oven or smoker, until it’s tender enough to shred.


    26. How do I make a dry rub for pulled pork without brown sugar?

    If you prefer to make a sugar-free dry rub, you can combine spices such as paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, cumin, black pepper, salt, and a touch of cayenne for heat. This sugar-free rub will still provide a flavorful crust on the pork without the added sweetness.


    27. How can I add a smoky flavor to my pulled pork without a smoker or liquid smoke?

    If you’re cooking in an oven and want to add a smoky flavor without liquid smoke, you can use smoked spices like smoked paprika or chipotle powder in your rub. Another option is to roast or char some of the ingredients in your barbecue sauce, such as onions or tomatoes, to introduce a subtle smokiness.


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