8 Pulled Pork Recipes You'll Want On Repeat

barbecue pulled pork on bun
barbecue pulled pork on bun - Petar Marshall/Tasting Table

When it comes to barbecue, ribs seem to get all the glory, and the technical challenge of smoked brisket commands a lot of respect, but pulled pork may actually be the most versatile. Slow-cooked and shredded pork shoulder or pork butt may not have the deep, smoky flavor of other barbecued meats, but it's still rich and delicious, and just as good stuffed and topping other dishes as is it on a tray of homemade barbecue. Part of what makes it so versatile is that it's a great carrier of flavors; that fatty pork taste is just begging for everything sweet, tangy, spicy, and bright to balance it out, and while pulled pork is plenty enjoyable on its own, it can blend into dishes without totally dominating them. It's the workhorse of the barbecue world, and we need plenty of recipes to celebrate that.

Another thing that makes these recipes interesting is that pork is a unifier that crosses cultures. The American styles of smoked or slow-cooked pulled pork are just some of the many ways you can transform a slab of tough meat into something tender and succulent. That's why we're here to deliver you eight different ways to cook one of the most useful meats in the world. From easy weeknight meals to vibrant showstoppers, pulled pork can do it all.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

Easy Pulled Pork

pulled pork sandwich
pulled pork sandwich - Petar Marshall/Tasting Table

Easy can sometimes be a synonym for bland or boring when it comes to food, but never with pulled pork. A slow cooker turns pork butt or pork shoulder into one of the simplest meals in the world, and still manages to pack it full of flavor. Your favorite bottled barbecue sauce gets a little punch-up with more brown sugar, tangy apple cider vinegar, mustard, and spices, before being mixed with a fatty hunk of pork. And that's it: dinner time. Four hours on the high setting or eight on low give you the flexibility to start it cooking any time of the day and be ready for shredding right when you want to sit down.

Recipe: Easy Pulled Pork

Apple Cider Smoked Pulled Pork

smoked pulled pork
smoked pulled pork - Petar Marshall/Tasting Table

And now we have the other side of pulled pork: Not the set-it-and-forget-it easy dinner, but the impossibly tender and flavorful smoked barbecue side dish. Yes, this is going to take more work, but man is it worth it. The apple cider flavoring comes in two forms, sweet cider itself and vinegar, mixed into a spray that gets applied to the pork as it cooks in order to flavor the meat and keep it juicy during the long process. All told this pulled pork takes nine hours until it's ready to shred, but we promise it will disappear off diners' plates much, much faster.

Recipe: Apple Cider Smoked Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Al Pastor

Al pastor pork and pineapple
Al pastor pork and pineapple - Christina Musgrave/Tasting Table

It's hard to resist the allure of sweet and smoky al pastor in a taco or burrito, but the classic cooking method, on a spit, isn't going to be easy for most home cooks. Instead, this recipe combines the flavors of pastor with the simple preparation of slow cooker pulled pork for a tasty fusion recipe that's the best of both worlds. The Mexican spices, chipotle powder, cumin, and Mexican oregano, bring an earthy element to the pork, while canned chipotles in adobo add not just spice, but a smoky note that you would otherwise lose without the live fire cooking. Wrap it all up in some corn tortillas, and any concerns that you're missing out on authentic al pastor without a spit will be gone.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Al Pastor

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Hawaiian pulled pork sandwich
Hawaiian pulled pork sandwich - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

If there's one place where you should really pay attention to pulled pork it's Hawaii, where roasted pigs are a longstanding tradition. While classic Hawaiian pork is cooked underground, this Dutch oven method mimics those cooking conditions with the use of banana leaves, which wrap around the pork to help it steam while infusing it with the leaves' mild flavor. Liquid smoke, soy sauce, and pineapple juice make for a sweet and salty umami combo for an extra-flavorful result. That means all you need are Hawaiian rolls and some crunchy slaw to finish the perfect pulled pork sandwich.

Recipe: Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Carnitas

carnitas - Hayley MacLean/Tasting Table

You probably didn't think of carnitas when looking up pulled pork recipes, but this Mexican favorite shows just how wide-ranging the concept actually is. The key to great carnitas is fat, something the pork shoulder it's made with has in abundance, and a slow cooker will help draw all that out to create a rich juice for topping the shredded meat. The real secret here, as in traditional carnitas, is orange (both the juice and the rind), which infuses the dish with a little brightness and helps balance out what can otherwise be an overly savory recipe.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Carnitas

Pulled Pork Lettuce Cups

pulled pork lettuce cups
pulled pork lettuce cups - Tasting Table

On the surface this may seem like a pretty standard oven-cooked pulled pork recipe — not to say that's a bad thing — but the magic with this recipe comes in its construction. Instead of the usual pairing with a soft roll or tortilla, it calls for lettuce cups to add a textural crunch and freshness to pulled pork that makes for a welcome change of pace. Topping with tomato, avocado, and tortilla chip crumbles takes this all one step further, and basically turns the dish into a refreshing pulled pork salad. The addition of coleslaw dressing at the end makes every bite a total package of meaty, fresh, crunchy, and creamy.

Recipe: Pulled Pork Lettuce Cups

Pork Chili Verde

pork chili verde
pork chili verde - Kristen Carli/Tasting Table

Pulled pork has a lot of great sauce pairings, but there is something about green chili sauce that just hits different. Herbal, mildly spicy, tangy, and fresh, it's the perfect counterpoint to a rich, slow-cooked meat. Sharp tomatillos, spicy jalapeños, and earthy poblanos all get roasted and blended into a chili verde sauce that would be delicious on its own. But things get really special by slow-cooking the pork directly in the sauce, which deepens the flavor of everything and turns the dish into a hearty pork stew. You can eat it with tortillas or stuff it in enchiladas, but you'll probably just want to spoon it directly into your mouth.

Recipe: Pork Chili Verde

Taco Al Pastor-Style Pork Chili

pastor style chili
pastor style chili - Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Pulled pork can be made into sandwiches, salads, or tacos, but what about soup? Whatever kind of recipe you go for, you'll be slow-cooking that pork in a tasty bath of stock and spices. Making soup is a great way to prevent all that from going to waste. This recipe maintains some classic chili flavors like dried guajillos, and adds some great pork pairings like pineapple and earthy annatto. Thickened with masa harina and fleshed out with pinto beans for a filling one-pot meal, this is the southwestern mash-up that you never realized you needed.

Recipe: Taco Al Pastor-Style Pork Chili

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