19 Pulled Pork Recipes That Go Beyond Sandwiches

But don't worry—we've got the ultimate pulled pork sandwich recipe, too.

July  2, 2021
Photo by Mark Weinberg. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.

Pulled pork is a staple at summer cookouts, game day parties, and hole-in-the-wall barbecue joints. It’s a year-round crowd-pleaser that’s a comfort food in the winter and an essential part of summer holiday celebrations, too. There are a few different ways to cook pulled pork, but our favorite (and the three most common!) methods are in an Instant Pot, slow-cooker, or Dutch oven. As the pork butt or shoulder cooks low and slow, the meat becomes fork-tender and super shreddable. After several hours, it will pull apart into thin strands of juicy meat. Toss with your favorite barbecue sauce and pile it high atop a potato bun.

If you have leftovers, make pulled pork pizza, enchiladas, egg rolls, burritos, or tacos. After all, pulled pork tastes better after it has had time to really marinate in barbecue sauce for a day or two. Ahead, we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to make use of leftover pulled pork before diving in to our best pulled pork recipes.

Leftover Pulled Pork Ideas

Make a Pizza

Barbecue pizza hits all the marks. Start with your favorite recipe or store-bought pizza dough and top it off with a smoked mozzarella or Gouda cheese (the smoky flavor works extremely well with barbecue), leftover pulled pork, fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro, and something cool and crunchy, like sliced red onions. If the shredded pork isn’t already tossed with barbecue sauce, use your favorite BBQ sauce in place of the usual marinara.

Top a Rice Bowl

If you are looking for a quick and easy protein-packed meal, top precooked grains (think white or brown rice, farro, or quinoa) with leftover pulled pork, plus a variety of colorful veggies like shredded carrots, pickled red onions, thinly shaved cucumbers, and corn kernels.

Fill a Taco or Burrito

Have leftover pulled pork? Pile it into a taco or wrap it up in a tortilla with lettuce, beans, sour cream, cotija cheese, and a sprinkle of lime juice. It’s a delicious way to feed yourself, family, or friends while eliminating food waste.

Stuff a Quesadilla

A quesadilla can easily be enjoyed anytime of day. Breakfast and brunch are fair game, as are lunch and dinner when you want an easy, breezy bite. Layer leftover pulled pork with a sharp, slightly spicy cheese like Pepper Jack, sliced red onions, and chile peppers if you’re craving something with a kick.

Our Best Pulled Pork Recipes

1. Pulled Pork

When you are looking for a classic pulled pork recipe, look no further than this version, which is cooked in a Dutch oven. Boneless, skinless pork butt is dressed up with brown sugar, ground coriander, smoked paprika, and cider vinegar for a smoky, sloppy bite.

2. Pulled Pork Sandwiches

If you have leftover pulled pork that was slow-roasted in an oven, toss it with our homemade three-ingredient barbecue sauce and place a generous portion of the meat atop pillowy potato buns (the only bun worthy of pulled pork, in our opinion). Take the biggest bite you can, followed by a sip of a cold draft beer or hard cider, and embrace the good life.

3. Crispy Pulled Pork Shoulder

The secret to extra-crispy pulled pork is seasoning it with salt and pepper and letting it sit out at room temperature for about an hour. This method will dry the skin out (we promise it’s a good thing!), allowing for the exterior of the meat to get a beautiful sear when it’s cooked in a roasting pan in the oven.

4. Homemade Red Wine Barbecue Sauce

Traditional? No. Delicious? Yes. This barbecue sauce is made from a sweet combination of full-bodied red wine, molasses, honey, applesauce, and red wine vinegar, plus a genius blend of spices.

5. Garlic-Studded Pork Shoulder With Anchovies & Calabrian Chiles

This pulled pork recipe is not for the faint of heart, thanks to its salty-spicy combination of anchovies and Calabrian chiles. Food52 Resdient Sohla El-Wally recommends making this a day or two in advance, letting it sit in its braise to absorb all the wonderful flavors, and then serving it on a bun, over mashed potatoes, or with thick slices of toast.

6. Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos

Aside from a deep Dutch oven and a hot oven, our favorite method of cooking pulled pork is in a slow-cooker for a few hours. Recipe developer (and Food52 co-founder!) Merrill Stubbs agrees, and has a take that certainly doesn’t skimp on flavor. Open your pantry and grab cumin and coriander seeds, dried oregano, two kinds of chili powder, and two kinds of chile peppers—you’ll need it all.

7. Instant Pot (or Not) Soy-Ginger Pork With Noodles & Greens

Pulled pork in under an hour? It’s not only possible, but it’s completely doable with this all-star recipe. Instead of barbecue sauce, the meat gets tossed with a savory combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, red chile paste, and fresh ginger.

8. Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Nachos

There are a few things that make these nachos spectacularly over-the-top good. We’re talking leftover pulled pork, a homemade Memphis-style barbecue sauce, shredded romaine lettuce, shredded mozzarella, two kinds of onions (red and green), and a cheese sauce made from heavy cream and Kraft American singles (oh yeah, the good stuff).

9. Slow-Cooker Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos

Lighter and brighter are the two words to describe this pulled pork recipe sans barbecue sauce. Serve it with a citrus cabbage slaw that uses store-bought, precut coleslaw mix.

10. Banana Bread Sandwiches With Pulled Pork

Don’t question it, just do it. That means using slices of banana bread as the “bun” for these sweeter-than-ever pulled pork sandwiches. Take a bite and thank us later.

11. Slow-Cooker Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue

“This recipe gives you fork-tender pulled pork barbecue with just 10 minutes of effort,” say our editors. Plus, it only calls for six ingredients including the pork shoulder, so there’s really no reason to not make it for your next meal (even if that meal is breakfast).

12. Chinese Pulled Pork Sandwiches With Kale & Apple Slaw

Making pulled pork doesn’t automatically mean you have to serve it with a sticky sweet barbecue sauce. This recipe is proof of that. The meat is cooked with dried shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, mirin, and toasted sesame oil; once it’s fork-tender and fully cooked, serve it on buns with a hearty winter slaw.

13. Pulled Pork Sandwich With Vinegar Slaw

Good barbecue usually requires a good rub. Our trick here is seasoning the meat with a generous blend of salt and brown sugar and letting it “marinate” for 24 hours uncovered. This ensures that the meat is not only flavorful, but also gets properly crispy when it cooks low and slow.

14. Smoked Pork Salad

Unless you’re hosting a large party, you can pretty much guarantee that there will always be leftover pulled pork simply because most recipes make such a large amount. If you’re sitting on day-old pork, use it as the main protein for this basic romaine and carrot salad that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

15. Pig Pulled Over

When you’re making dinner for a big group (and we mean BIG), this should be your go-to, crowd-friendly pulled pork recipe. Keep things simple with a store-bought barbecue sauce or make your own and add a generous dose of mango juice for just the right amount of sweetness.

16. Peach, Bacon & Bourbon BBQ Sauce

We’re hard-pressed to call any one recipe perfect...frankly, we love them all. But this barbecue sauce recipe for pulled pork is practically perfect, thanks to its well-balanced proportions of salty, sweet, and spicy ingredients.

17. Cheesy BBQ Pulled Pork Bombs

We want to start every meal with these pulled pork bites, which fall somewhere in between a slider and a dinner roll. Keep things simple by using leftover pulled pork, store-bought biscuit dough, and super sharp cheddar cheese.

18. Riz a Jej (Lebanese Chicken & Rice)

“Flavorful, seasoned rice, topped with juicy chicken and studded with nuts—it is, for me, the purest definition of comfort food,” says recipe developer Edouard Massih. Instead of chicken, use pork shoulder, which will become just as fork-tender and completely satisfying.

19. Super (Bowl) Chicken & Black Bean Nachos

Even if it’s not game day, these nachos are sure to score a touchdown. Use leftover pulled pork instead of shredded chicken for an appetizer that everyone will call MVP.

What's your favorite way to use leftover pulled pork? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Former Food52 Staff Editor


[email protected] November 16, 2021
Pulled pork pasta sauce is great.
Kelly V. November 16, 2021
Oh yum! Love that idea.