The Fridge Item That Makes the Best-Ever Pulled Pork Sandwich

If you're looking for the best way to cook extremely tender, smoky-meets-tangy pulled pork this cookout season, you've come to the right place. As many recipes and blogs that have come before us have preached, the best way to make incredible pulled pork is to cook it low and slow in your slow cooker, where the meat can sit and really get to know the flavors.

Related: 10 Ways Leftover Pulled Pork Makes Dinner More Awesome in Every Bite

But one of the easiest and tastiest ways to add flavor to pulled pork comes from something that you already reach for quite often in the summer. Need a hint? At a summer cookout, you probably crack one open to enjoy alongside your plate of pulled pork and all the fixings. But when you cook your pulled pork with Dr Pepper, it tenderizes the meat while flavoring it deliciously.

Related: 14 Dr Pepper Flavors, Ranked

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Why You Should Make Pulled Pork with Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper's carbonation and complex flavor notes of fruit and warm spices makes it a surprising meat elevator. The canned soda has a pH of 2.9, while lemon has a pH of 2. What does that mean, exactly? It means that Dr Pepper contains enough acidity to break down the tough proteins in a typical cut of pork used to make pulled pork, which helps tenderize the meat and retain moisture. As the pulled pork slowly cooks in a bath of Dr Pepper, the sugars in the soda facilitate caramelization. The end result is pork that's packed with flavor and is fall-apart tender.

Related: Best Slow Cooker Pulled-Pork Sandwiches Recipe

How to Make a Pulled Pork Sandwich with Dr Pepper

There are many recipes for Dr Pepper pulled pork online, but the one from MacKenzie Smith—the chef, cookbook author and food blogger behind Grilled Cheese Social—is a favorite. She starts by rubbing the pork with a mixture of kosher salt, garlic powder and cumin, then browns it in a skillet. The browning is optional, but adds tons of flavor to the finished product. She adds a sliced onion, a few cloves of garlic, some brown sugar and some chipotle paste (another optional, but recommended, ingredient), then pours in a can of Dr Pepper. Let it slow cook for six hours on high and you're done! Pile the super tender meat high on a bun and get ready to dig into the best pulled pork sandwich known to man.

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