Pulled Pork Sandwich

Skip the jarred BBQ sauce! This pulled pork comes together easily and the homemade marinade makes the difference. Slowly cooked pork shoulder becomes fall-off-the-bone tender.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8


For the sauce:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • Salt

For the pork:

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds pork butt shoulder roast
  • Hamburger buns


1 Purée sauce ingredients in blender: Purée all of the sauce ingredients (everything except the bay leaf, the pork and the buns) in a blender until smooth.

If you have extra time, marinate the pork in the sauce overnight or for several hours before cooking.

2 Simmer pork: Put sauce, bay leaf, and pork into a large pot and add 1 quart of water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, turning frequently, for 2 hours or until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork.

3 Shred the pork: Remove from heat and cool pork in the sauce. When cool enough to touch, remove the pork from the sauce and shred into small pieces. Set aside.

4 Reduce sauce, return pork to sauce: Put the sauce back on the stove and bring it to a low boil. Let the sauce boil down until it has been reduced by two thirds. Add the pork back to the sauce. Salt to taste.

5 Serve: Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve the pork hot over open-face hamburger buns.

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  • Margaret

    Do you think this can be made with boneless chicken?

  • Jarrett

    Thanks for having a non-slow cooker recipe of this, Elise.

  • Patricia Millar

    I have tried this recipe and it is delicious and would definitely make this one again


  • James

    I’ve always made pulled pork in a slow cooker with bottled BBQ sauce. But I’m living in France right now, so I’m without my slow cooker and my favorite BBQ sauce. I was wary about pretty much every element of what I was going to have to do to get my pulled pork fix here, but this recipe was just what I needed. Unbelievably tender pork, flavorful sauce, and an easy recipe. I also don’t have my food processor here (how do I get anything done??) so I just quartered the onion and smashed the garlic and let them simmer with everything. A+


  • Matt K

    Hands down the best pulled pork I’ve ever made. No need for any sauce on top, although some slaw goes nicely. I also did the entire process in a single pot, just shredded the pork right there as the sauce reduced. I’m making this for the third time tonight and thought it deserved a comment for as much as my family has enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!


  • Rose

    I’ve tried so many pulled pork recipes that end in “then add your favorite bbq sauce” – often, I end up having to do that anyway. Not so with this recipe – it was amazing! My husband loves pulled pork, and agreed that this is the first recipe I’ve tried that he wants me to make again. I was skeptical about cooking it in the sauce/water, because all the other recipes I’ve tried are done in a pan or crock pot without added water. I don’t know why it’s great, but it’s great. We make so many of your recipes, Elise, and here’s another winner. Thanks!


  • Gillian

    I have one question. It’s a bit hard to tell if the sauce has reduced enough. Can you continue to simmer the pork in the sauce if it is a bit too saucy? Thanks

    • Elise Bauer

      Better to remove the pork and reduce the sauce. That way you don’t overcook the pork, assuming the pork is cooked to your satisfaction.

  • Sherry Copeland

    Oh Heavens, this is fantastic! I made it exactly as written, except I put it in the crock pot, so I reduced the water to 1 cup. I am now reducing the sauce and I hope that the pork makes it to supper. (I keep “sampling”). I cooked it on high for most of the day, and put it back to low for the last hour. I didn’t start until 10AM and took it out at 4PM.


  • ellie

    This is a great recipe. The only change I made was to slow cook it at 190 degrees Celsius for 3 hours. If you want a proper pulled pork…this is your recipe. Thanks Elise.


  • Bruce

    Me and my gal loved this recipe, turned out soooo great.. Tips to pass on (if we may be so bold!) – you gotta taste throughout the cooking process & definitely before finishing for the right salt balance. Also, make sure your spices etc. are fresh and if you don’t like a soggy bun (like my gal) then go for a crispier, firmer bread (maybe toasted ciabatta etc).One more thing, I couldn’t source chipotlé peppers locally but thought that a Tsp of the new ‘Chipotlé Tabasco Sauce’ worked just fine… This recipe is a winner, THANK YOU!!


  • Jenny

    This was quite good! The sauce was quite good and tasted like a homemade BBQ sauce. I’ll be making this again.


  • Scott

    Just amazing…We ended up cooking ours a bit longer until we were satisfied with the texture and made the requisite “few minor changes” based on what we had on hand, but it is, hands down, my new favorite method of cooking pulled pork!


  • Amy

    Memorial Day would not have been complete without this indulgent recipe! I followed recipe ingredients but did change up the chipotle powder for the chipotle in adobo sauce…using ALL of the sauce from the can and the fresh green jalapeños! It was absolutely fantastic. I added original cole slaw on the side for those wanting to add it to the top and that made it fun and a ‘real’ pulled pork sandwich as my cousins said!!! I had to make many copies of the recipe as the guests left!!! This will be a main staple for parties as I had everything but the pork on hand…THANK YOU for sharing this recipe!


  • barricas

    Excellent recipe, easy to follow and it tastes great.
    I tweaked the recipe a bit and made the whole thing in a crock pot for 12 hours
    I’ve been a long time admirer of pulled pork but this was the first time I’ve made it. Rave reviews all ’round.
    best regards from spain


  • Brenda Moore

    What an easy and delicious recipe. I put it on a jalapeno cheese roll and added some coleslaw!! Can u say YUM!!!!


  • Phoo-d

    I made this last night and it was fantastic! Definitely the best pulled pork recipe I have come across with excellent results for minimal effort. Thank you for sharing the recipe!


  • Adrienne

    This is a fantastic recipe! Much quicker than in a slow cooker and just as delicious (if not more so). My family loved it!


  • brad

    I’ve made this recipe 20 times it’s amazing. I’ve never had a complaint.


  • Barbara

    I hail from SC and crave pulled pork so I’m making this recipe for the holidays. Has anyone tried doubling it? I have a 6-lb pork shoulder in the fridge and seems like with enough time and a big enough pot, I should be OK.

    BTW, I made the sauce last night in preparation for a day of cooking later this week. AWESOME! I’m having a hard time not going at it with a spoon.


  • Barry in England

    Excellent recipe, easy to follow and it tastes great.

    I’ve been a long time admirer of pulled pork but this was the first time I’ve made it. Rave reviews all ’round.

    Unfortunately it’s set the bar rather high for my other BBQ food.


  • Meryl

    Tried this for the first time for a family barbecue on July 4th…. as the biggest compliment ever – my sister-in-law who doesn’t eat pork even had some and thought this was delicious! Will be cooking this again and again!


  • laura

    This has become one of my family’s all-time favorites. Thank you for sharing it.


  • Jennifer

    I can’t believe that I actually made a pulled pork sandwich.. and it actually tasted AMAZING! :o) Thank you soo much!


  • Dalilah

    So good! I’ve had pulled pork a couple of times and i always disliked it before. Your pictures looked so yummy that I decided to give it a try. I abolutely loved it! Will definitely make it again, and with the spring coming, I will be making it for get togethers and all. Thankx for the recipe!:-)


  • Kathy

    Hubby gave this recipe a huge thumbs up, it will go in my keeper recipe box to make again. I served sliced onions and the rest of the can of pickled jalapenos with the sandwiches, it was a good compliment with the pork.


  • Terri

    Awesome recipe. I HAD to find another after losing my own and this one is very good. I slap on a thick cloth napkin and spread the meat on a chiabatta roll, sliced and lightly toasted, add some cole slaw, a cold beer and YUMMY….no room for dessert on this one….thank you


  • Brian

    Fantastic! I’ve tweaked the recipe a little bit for my own taste.. minor :) I’ve made this recipe 5 times already and have even compared it to a lot of BBQ restaurants pulled pork. Theirs doesn’t compare…all bland. This recipe rocks!! I even gave it to a friend in NC and it’s even a hit there. Keep up the good work..pops had some good taste :)


  • Wanda

    Gave this a try and the family totally loved it. I agree with your comment Elise about checking that our spices are fresh. There is a tendency for them to lose their flavor and bite after a while.

    I will try it in the slow cooker next time. Thanks to all those who leave extra tips such as adding some coleslaw.


  • Leisureguy

    Okay, I made it today and just had some. GREAT. My only change: one fresh jalapeño (with its seeds) instead of pickled jalapeño. Also, it took 3 hours of simmering to get the pork shoulder tender.

    Fantastic recipe.


  • Bruce

    Hi Elise: I”m actually preparing this recipe right now, although i doubled it for a large football playoff crowd coming over later. Question: if I want to crisp the meat a bit, should I pop it under the broiler for a few minutes after I shred it, and then return it to a platter with the sauce? Always love your recipes and use them more than any other food blogger’s. BF

    That would work. Just like with carnitas. ~Elise

  • Sarah

    I cooked a 1 lb. pork tenderloin in a Cuisinart pressure cooker for 45 minutes on high with the natural pressure release. So it cooked another 15 minutes while the pressure released for one hour total cooking time. It turned out perfectly tender.

  • Kitty

    Mine is in the oven now. No one specified what temperature to put the oven and for how long to cook. My oven is set to 285 degrees and my pork butt is 8lb. Im hoping it will cook in 6 hours as I have guests coming tonight. I would love anyone’s input on cooking temperature and time, thanks.

  • Jac

    I replaced the pickled jalepano with hot green chiles, paprika with smoked paprika, white vinegar with cider vinegar and chipotle chili powder with normal chili powder. The result was amazing! Such an easy recipe! Will definitely make it again! Thx!

    • James M.

      I substituted the jalapeño for pickled cherry peppers, as that’s what I had in the refrigerator. We’ll see!

  • lilian

    Hi, love to try out this recipe. If i were to do this in a pressure cooker, how long would it take? About 1 hr? I saw a recipe online that used a pressure cooker and it took about 80 mins for a 3lb pork butt. I thought a pressure cooker might cut down on the cooking time.

    Great question. No idea on the answer. Perhaps someone else reading this has cooked it in a pressure cooker and can offer a suggestion for the time needed? ~Elise

  • Mags

    My partner and I had this at the weekend (neither of us had heard of pulled pork nor have we cooked meat this way before!) The meat was so tender; beautiful. One thing, not being sweet tooths, I reduced the amount of sugar by about half, and still found it too sweet. I also reduced the vinegar as per other suggestions here. Will definitely make this again (more chilli, less sugar!)
    now to find an easy chicken recipe!

  • jud

    Made a half recipe (had a pound and a half hunk of pork shoulder in the fridge) yesterday. Didn’t have pickled jalepenos, but did have an open can of chipotle chiles. Substituted a chipotle chile and about a tsp adobo for the jalepeno and chipotle powder. Also added a couple drops liquid smoke to get that authentic bbq flavor. Just right. Cooked it in our crockpot set on low for 6 hrs, then removed liquid and reduced it in a sauce pan. The pork was great! A local sandwich shop makes a killer bbq’d pork sandwich – my gold standard for decades. Your recipe is as good. Thanks for giving us another easy, tasty comfort meal that calls for ingredients we usually have in our pantry and fridge.

  • Wendi

    Okay, so I love Elise and my crock pot. It cooked this fabulous recipe all day and then I got to eat it. Oh yeah, and I crisped it under the broiler after shredding it. So amazing. Thank you Elise!!!

    Oh, and a kid tip: before shredding it all, lift out the inner non-spicy bits and set some aside for the kiddos that can’t hack the spice.

  • Patrick Kennedy

    Being a Vermonter, I substituted 1/4 cup maple syrup for the brown sugar.


  • alicia

    Before the sauce had a chance to reduce I was a little worried since it tasted a little vinegarie. So was my boyfriend when he tasted it. He wanted to add other things to it, but I reminded him that it didn’t reduce yet and that the recipe was from you and how everything I tried from your blog has been a hit with us. So we left it alone. As it reduced it started to taste better and better. At the end it was just so delicious! We love the sweetness and the kick it has in the end! yum!

  • Barbara B

    I just finished this and am getting ready to pull the pork apart, however, the pork tastes really bland! Help! What can I do to spice this up?

    Make sure your spices aren’t old (I’ve seen paprika go completely flat) and add more salt. ~Elise

  • Christine

    Elise, this is smelling delicious and I can’t wait to try it. The only thing I would say is to put a little more of a range on the cooking time. I’ve been cooking mine since 3 p.m. and it’s not close to 8 and it’s just beginning to be tender. I’ve tried a bit here and there and it’s delicious and worth the wait, but it does make dinner pretty late. I figured it would be at least 3, but I must have a pretty tough pork shoulder.

  • Talley

    I used this recipe on a camping trip over an open fire recently and it came out great. I pureed all of the sauce ingredients before leaving and froze them to help them make the trip and make it easier on ourselves once we got there. Turns out it’s a great recipe to make over an open fire. Thanks elise.

  • Tori

    Hi Elise —

    I used this recipe as a basis for pulled BBQ chicken, which I made in my slow cooker. Here’s what I did:

    Doubled the sauce recipe, but use only 1 C of vinegar.

    I used ~2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast and 4 bone-in chicken thighs (I removed the skin).

    I coated the chicken in the sauce in the slow cooker, and I didn’t add any water. I cooked it on low heat for 5 hours, removed the chicken and shredded it. I boiled the sauce to reduce it, then added it back in the slow cooker with the chicken for an additional hour.

    My family thought it was the best — I like mine a bit spicier, but that was fixed with some hot sauce just on my sandwich. :-)

    Thanks for such a great recipe — I had no idea I could successfully make my own BBQ sauce!

    There was a bunch left over, and I plan on making BBQ chicken pizza with it tomorrow, and probably freezing some of it.

  • Eddie

    I changed a few things and my friends said it was the tastiest pulled pork they have ever had.

    I used only a 1/4 cup vinegar and used 1/2 cup apple juice.

    I replaced the jalapeno with hot green chili which is a staple here in new mexico. Also add some honey to it and used honey dijon mustard instead of regular dijon.

    Oh and I brined the meat for 24 hours in brown sugar and salt before I stuck in the crock pot with the sauce mix for another 24 hours talk about falling apart and moist. Oh my god it’s so good! Try it, unbelievable!

  • Kathy

    I just made this and tweaked it a bit – gave credit to you on my blog. Thanks so much!

  • Annalisa

    I made this again yesterday. I used the crock pot this time. I left out the mustard, reduced the water to 2 cups and the vinegar to 1/2 cup, didnt use the jalapeno cuz we didn’t have any. I browned it on high heat in a cast iron pan first, but next time I will use the grill to get good smokey flavor and char. It cooked about 12 hours and I chopped it finely, reduced the strained sauce to 1/2 and added 1 cup of sweet BBQ sauce.. mixed in a cup of it with the meat and serve the remaining sauce with the buns (bolillos again), and coleslaw I made (a KFC clone recipe). AWESOME!

  • Lana

    We made this today and loved it! Like someone else mentioned, we also doubled the recipe, used apple cider vinegar (it’s what we had on hand) and pickled banana peppers. Yum! And hello – what a cheap meal. Take that economy!

  • Jennifer

    I’m not sure what happened to mine. I followed the instructions exactly (I think) and my pork was not tender at all. I’ve had pulled pork a million times before, and I know what the texture should be like. Mine was definitely not right. I simmered it for about two and a half hours. Maybe I should try roasting it instead (as opposed to simmering)? I was so bummed. Despite my tough pork, I will say that the sauce was really tasty.

    Sometimes you just have to cook the meat longer to get the tenderness. Sometimes individual cuts are just tougher than others. ~Elise

  • beezwax

    This was a great recipe. I did it in the crockpot and then finished it up on the stove. I’ll probably just do it on the stove next time.(Lazy me doesn’t want to have to wash an extra dish! =) It was great in the crock though. I didn’t use jalapeno, I’m a wimp, but I did substitute chipotle in adobe and it was great! It was spicy but nothing I couldn’t handle with a tall glass of milk.

    Thanks! Yum!

  • WestCoast Connie

    I did this in the pressure cooker this morning. I marinated Pork Butt with a sweet and spicy dry rub, then browned it, covered it with a homemade coffee hickory BBQ sauce, used cumin instead of dijon, then cooked it for 1hr in the Pressure cooker! Unbelievably good! Reserved sauce, cooked down to serve on the side. Yum- E!

  • Rebecca

    Very good, made for this Christmas, made in the slow cooker all day on Low. One difference that i think worked really well: instead of adding one quart of water, I added 2 cups of apple juice and two cups of water.

  • annalisa

    DKM, you are WAY harsh!

    Elise, I made this on Sunday. We loved it, I’ve never had pulled pork and this was a good starter recipe. I’ll prolly make some adjustments next time to suit my own taste, like less mustard, I’m not a huge fan.. and I’ll go out and get the pickeled jalepenos, I think that sounds good. We used bolillos for the buns and toasted them in the oven with butter MMM! Just one question, I didnt know what to serve with it! Any suggestions? Keep up the great work, you’re awesome!

  • grao

    Made this last night–used 2 tablespoons of fiery Indian chile powder in place of the 2 teaspoons of chipotle chile powder; used one whole jalapeno (with seeds) instead of the pickled; and added one teaspoon of molasses. It was fantastic–absolutely wonderful. My wife is from South Carolina and is very, very picky about these things, but she enjoyed it immensely. We washed it down with copious amounts of Abita restoration ale.

  • Michael

    Excellent recipe. Like others here, I tweaked the recipe a bit and made the whole thing in a crock pot for 12 hours. The house smelled like an old fashioned BBQ stand. Delicious!

  • Linda

    Another wonderful recipe, Elise! I just made this for dinner, and on a scale of 1 to 5, my 14 year old daughter gave it a 10! It was terrific. I have never had pulled pork, only have had a similar dish with beef being shredded. I followed your directions, the only exception being I only had a jalapeno pepper so I seeded it and threw it in the food processor with the other ingredients, and I cooked the pork for 3 hours instead of 2 hours. It just wasn’t ready. May be due to the fact that I have an electric smooth-top range. Thank you, as always, for sharing! This is definitely a keeper.


  • kaiva

    I really want to make this recipe- but how would I double it and do it in a slow cooker? I am not that great of a chef to figure it out on my own. Thanks.

    Note from Elise: Well, I’m not a chef either, mostly I learn through trial and error, which is what I recommend to you. We don’t have a slow cooker, so I wouldn’t know what to tell you.

  • dettie

    I just made this today and it turned out to be sooo good. I did not have jalapenos, so i just used hot sauce. I also added a little bit of honey into the sauce. I know some people will not like the strong vinegary flavor to this dish, but to me, this is the best ever pulled pork recipe I have ever come across, bar none.

  • Ron

    Sounds good. what about salt? Does adding some salt overpower the sauce? I have not tried this yet but was wondering if salt was necessary, it would seem like it would be so the pork would not come out so bland. Can anyone answer this question would greatly appreciate it.

    Note from Elise: Even when is not called out as an ingredient, you should salt to taste. In this case, I’ve added it to the list.

  • Susan

    Elise, I made this dish tonight according to your recipe. I cooked the meat and the sauce together in a slow cooker for 8 hours. Then, I reduced the sauce on the stove and added the shredded meat. I didn’t crust the meat in the oven because I was baking beans in it. Outstanding! I don’t think I missed a thing. Thank you for this recipe. It is a real winner.

  • Ricarda

    This recipe is to die for. Absolutely delicious! Elise, thank your father for me :)

    I also saved the leftover/extra sauce and used it on white rice. Yummy to my tummy.

  • Krystal

    Hey Elise- We have just completed an office potluck and I brought this as my contribution, and got rave reviews all around. I doubled this recipe and I ran out of White vinegar so used so I did subsitute Apple Cider vinegar, as well I had no dijon so I use regular mustard. I think next time I may just try it in the crockpot (to save me from all that shredding.)
    Thanks for all your wonderful recipes- great job!!!

  • ann

    I made this last night and it was delicious! It was the first time in a long while that my husband went back for thirds (!). And we have plenty of leftovers, too!

    It was a bit spicier than we’re used to, but not too much. It would have been perfect if I’d added some cole slaw on the side.

  • Marjorie

    These “sandwiches” are great. I love having them with coleslaw (slightly sweet) on top of the meat (not on the side) it really compliments the tang of the vinegar. Try it some time, you won’t ever go back!

  • MEL

    I enjoyed the taste of this I made it for my husband for work he loved the taste oan said it was easy to but together.thank=you

  • Brian

    This recipe adapts perfectly to the crockpot. just throw it all in for 6-8 hours. Remove the meat from the sauce, shred it onto a baking sheet and stick it in the oven to get the crust. Directions for that step can be found in Elises “Carnitas” recipe. Reduce the sauce on the stove, then add the crispy meat back to the sauce, and serve. Perfect every time!

  • steve

    Made this last night. I couldn’t find the Chipotle chile powder anywhere, so I just used regular chile powder. I made it for my family, and we all agreed it was the best pulled pork we’ve ever had. It was so tender and juicy, with a slight zing to it. At first I thought 3lbs was going to leave us with left overs…not a chance. Great recipe.

  • Leslie

    My NC BBQ recipe is very similar to yours (and my mom’s is almost exactly the same). The only difference is that I smoke my pork butt and then I shred it. I marinate it in my sauce in the oven on warm for a couple of hours before I serve it.

  • Tim

    How would you adapt to crock pot? Put the pork and the sauce into the crock and cook on low for 6 hours? any suggestions?

  • pfirsch

    It’s too bad the vinegar was too much for you. In Eastern NC, where I’m from, that’s what barbecue is all about–there is no “sauce”–and the bread doesn’t actually get soggy, if it’s done right.

    Note from Elise: The vinegar is perfect for me, but perhaps not for another commenter. We love it this way, sort of like a sloppy joe, but with shredded pork.

  • Rose

    You are right, this is the best! Wonderful flavor. Thanks! I used a chipotle pepper and sauce instead of the powder and it was excellent. I just wrote a post on my blog about it. Yum!

  • Eric

    This was my first attempt at a meal I’ve loved forever. I have to say, your recipe has been laminated and hung in my kitchen. Though, I admit I wing the sauce a bit depending on what’s in my kitchen and my mood, I usually use fresh jalapenos and I don’t measure anything. It’s more fun that way. But this is so yummy, even my girlfriend will eat it! Thanks!

  • Mike Brandt

    Made this twice in 2 days LOL as my wife doesn’t like the sweetness in sauces. Replaced pickled pepper with 1 1/2 jalapenas, Mexican Chile pepper, and 1 tbls of brown sugar. At the end, 1/4 cup Tony Roma barbecue sauce. Yummy

  • Tom Hammer

    I made this recipe for the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago and it turned out terrificly. Elise, hats off to your dad. I replaced the jalapeño and chipotle chile powder with two chopped, canned chipotles and a couple of tablespoons of the adobo sauce they came packed in. It was mighty delicious and well received. But, if it was missing something, it was the “crust” offered by Tammy’s method which I cannot wait to try out!

  • Tammy

    Sounds good, but my favorite method is to make the sauce seperately, throw a spice rub on the pork butt (paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, and brown sugar with whatever additions you prefer), throw the shoulder in a slow oven for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours (depending on size) till the meat shreds with no effort, then toss the sauce (my preference is a carolina mustard-vinager BBQ sauce with pork butt) with the shredded meat and serve on buns (with extra sauce on the side, of course).

    The main benefit of doing it this way is the meat develops an irresistable crust on the outside so when you shred it, each bite gets a bit of the crusty goodness…. Heaven.
    Plus, your house will smell like roast pork…. mmmmm.

  • Heidi

    This was good, but if I make it again, I would cut back on the vinegar, since it was a bit overpowering. Use maybe half the amount of vinegar and increase the ketchup.

  • Elisa

    Yum! This was a great recipe! Thank you.