Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

One of the most delicious, yet easiest, recipes I’ve come across lately is this phenomenal pulled pork with a tangy barbecue sauce. I promise you will love it!

It begins with a bone-in pork butt (which isn’t really the butt, it’s the well-marbled shoulder) that gets coated in bbq spices and slow-roasted. I would not recommend using the slow-cooker. You really want the exterior to crisp up…you’ll know what I mean when you start nibbling on it and can’t stop!!! Leave it alone in a low-heat oven for 6 hours or so. That’s it, gang!

Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce
Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce
Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

While the pork is roasting, you make the bbq sauce which is a cross between a sweet BBQ sauce and a Carolina-style vinegar-based sauce. The sauce gets darker and more smoky by adding in the deglazed pan juices.

Once the pork is cooked to fall-off-the-bone tenderness, simple shred it, add the bbq sauce and start serving!

There are so many ways to serve it: fill up some brioche buns for the most amazing sandwiches, throw it on the top of a pizza, inside quesadillas or scramble it up with some eggs. All of these preparations will be so delicious!

Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

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Pulled Pork with Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Makes: 12 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours & 20 minutes


For the Pork:

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

For the Tangy Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard or coarse-grain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup water, for deglazing the roasting pan

For Serving:

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


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

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).

Roast, uncovered, 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.

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.

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. 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.) Pour into the saucepan with the barbecue sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

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.

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

Chef’s Notes: 

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.

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.

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.

Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef


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