The Ultimate Guide to Pulled Pork Sandwiches: A Delicious Classic

Pulled pork sandwiches are a beloved staple in American cuisine, known for their tender, flavorful meat and mouthwatering toppings.

Whether you’re planning a backyard barbecue or looking for a comforting meal, this guide will provide everything you need to know about making the perfect pulled pork sandwich.

The History of Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled pork sandwiches have their roots in Southern barbecue traditions. This dish is particularly popular in states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, each with its unique twist on the recipe.

The core concept remains the same: slow-cooked pork, shredded and served on a bun, often with a variety of toppings and sauces.

Choosing the Right Cut of Pork

The first step in making an excellent pulled pork sandwich is selecting the right cut of meat. The most commonly used cut is the pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt.

This cut is ideal because it has the perfect balance of fat and muscle, which makes the meat incredibly tender and flavorful when slow-cooked.

Ingredients for Pulled Pork

For the Pork

  • 4-5 pounds of pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of chicken broth or apple cider
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder

Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce (store-bought or homemade)

For the Sandwich

  • Hamburger buns or brioche buns
  • Coleslaw (optional but highly recommended)
  • Pickles (optional)
  • Extra barbecue sauce for serving

Step-by-Step Recipe for Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Step 1: Prepare the Pork

  1. Rub the Pork: In a small bowl, combine all the dry rub ingredients. Rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder, ensuring it’s evenly coated. Let it sit for at least one hour or overnight in the refrigerator for maximum flavor.

Step 2: Cook the Pork

  1. Slow Cooker Method:
    • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the pork shoulder on all sides until browned.
    • Place the sliced onion and minced garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the seared pork shoulder on top.
    • Pour the chicken broth or apple cider around the pork.
    • Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours until the pork is tender and easily shreds with a fork.
  2. Oven Method:
    • Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
    • Follow the same searing and preparation steps as the slow cooker method.
    • Place the pork in a roasting pan with the onions, garlic, and broth or cider.
    • Cover with foil and cook for 6-8 hours, basting occasionally, until the pork is tender.

Step 3: Shred the Pork

  1. Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker or oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  2. Using two forks, shred the pork into bite-sized pieces. Discard any excess fat.

Step 4: Mix with Barbecue Sauce

  1. Place the shredded pork in a large bowl.
  2. Pour in the barbecue sauce and mix well to coat the pork evenly.

Step 5: Assemble the Sandwiches

  1. Toast the hamburger buns or brioche buns for extra texture.
  2. Pile a generous amount of pulled pork onto the bottom half of each bun.
  3. Top with coleslaw, pickles, and extra barbecue sauce if desired.
  4. Place the top half of the bun on the sandwich.

Serving Suggestions

Pulled pork sandwiches are versatile and can be paired with a variety of side dishes. Here are some popular options:

  • Coleslaw: A classic choice that adds a refreshing crunch.
  • Potato Salad: A creamy, satisfying side.
  • Baked Beans: Adds a sweet and savory element to the meal.
  • Cornbread: A Southern staple that pairs perfectly with pulled pork.
  • French Fries: Always a favorite, especially when seasoned well.

Tips for the Best Pulled Pork Sandwich

  1. Low and Slow: The key to tender pulled pork is cooking it slowly at a low temperature. This allows the meat to break down and become incredibly tender.
  2. Flavorful Rub: Don’t skip the dry rub. It infuses the pork with deep flavors that are essential for a tasty sandwich.
  3. Rest Before Shredding: Allow the pork to rest before shredding to retain its juices and enhance the flavor.
  4. Sauce It Up: Mixing the shredded pork with barbecue sauce ensures every bite is flavorful and moist.


Pulled pork sandwiches are a delightful dish that brings together the best of slow-cooked pork and savory barbecue flavors. By following this guide, you can create a delicious pulled pork sandwich that’s sure to impress family and friends.

Whether for a casual dinner or a special gathering, this classic American dish is always a hit. Enjoy your pulled pork sandwiches with your favorite sides and savor the rich, smoky flavors that make this dish a perennial favorite.

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