Oven Pulled Pork, made with a zesty BBQ rub and dark beer, is cooked at a low temperature in the oven for hours to reach tender perfection. This slow-cooking process allows the spices from the rub and the beer to meld and infuse the meat, creating the best oven-pulled pork you’ve ever had!

Oven pulled pork sandwich on a white plate. 

My favorite thing about this easy pulled pork recipe lies is its simplicity. It requires minimal preparation – a simple dry rub and a slow roast in the oven, and before you know it, you’ve got a great meal for any family gathering or potluck gathering. Despite its ease, the flavors are deep and complex.

The slow cooking process tenderizes the meat, and the rub’s smoky-sweet flavor gives it a traditional barbecue taste. Give this Oven Pulled Pork recipe a try – your kitchen will smell amazing, your family will love it, and you’ll have some great leftovers for multiple meals.

Try our Easy Ribs or Slow Roasted Pork with Caramelized Onions and Chipotle for more delicious pork recipes. 

What is pulled pork

Pulled pork is just a slow-cooked tender pork roast, usually from the shoulder of the pig. Most folks believe pulled pork originated in the American South because of the inexpensive nature of the dish and because pork has always been prevalent in the South.

Best cut of meat for pulled pork

When it comes to pulled pork, the Boston butt, or boneless pork shoulder, reigns supreme. This cut has just the right balance of fat and connective tissues, which breaks down during slow cooking. As the meat roasts, these elements infuse the pork with intense flavor and juiciness characteristic of pulled pork.

A bone-in pork shoulder is even better, as the bone and fat provide even more flavor. However, you’ll need to purchase a larger roast to account for the weight of the bone. 

​You can also use a fresh ham, which is from the actual butt end of the pig rather than the shoulder. These can be a little more difficult to find, but they are worth the search. 

Ingredients and tools needed

Scroll down for the full ingredient amounts and instructions on the printable recipe card.

This easy recipe makes enough to serve 8-10 people or to have plenty of leftovers!

Raw pork butt on a wooden board.
  • Pork butt – this is a shoulder cut that you should be able to find at any grocery store.
  • Abita Amber beer or other dark beer – the alcohol cooks off, and the flavor is superb.
  • Dark brown sugar – light brown sugar is fine, too, if that’s all you have.
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Chipotle chili powder
  • Smoked paprika – be sure you have smoked and not just regular, as there’s a big difference in flavor.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Ground mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper – here’s my favorite pepper grinder!
  • Kosher salt
  • Roasting pan with rack – this one is perfect.
  • Meat thermometer – you’ll use this so many times.
  • Meat claws – the easiest way to shred or pull the pork.

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Substitutions and variations

You have plenty of options for substitutions with this recipe. You can change the entire flavor profile by using a different dry rub. Some suggestions:

  • Substitute Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, or apple cider vinegar for the beer.
  • Change the dry rub – make it Asian-flavored or Latin-flavored, depending on the sides and theme of your meal.
  • Cook the meat in the slow cooker
  • Cook the meat in a smoker or charcoal grill.
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How much pulled pork per person

When serving pulled pork, a good rule of thumb is to allow about 1/3 to 1/2 pound of meat per person. You can find actual formulas all over the Internet, but here’s the simple way I figure it, and this method has never failed me. With any party, I will always err on the side of too much rather than not enough. 

For this oven pulled pork, I consider the number of people I’m serving. Then I’ll buy lbs. of meat, roughly a little more than half that number. So, for example, if I’m serving ten people, I’ll look for a pork roast that’s about 7 lbs. If it’s a bone-in roast, then I’ll add another pound. 

Pulled pork temperature

You can definitely eyeball it and use a fork to determine whether your pork is ready to be pulled, estimating the cooking time based on the weight. But for perfect pulled pork, it’s best to use a thermometer that you can set for the correct temperature and remove the meat from the oven once that temperature is reached. 

There’s a bit of science involved, and once you understand the science, you’ll also understand the importance of using a thermometer. In a nutshell, pork butt has a lot of connective tissue, including collagen. The collagen converts to gelatin as it cooks, which turns an otherwise tough cut of meat into a tender delicacy.

The conversion happens best when an internal temperature of 200°-212° is reached. And remember that meat will continue cooking once removed from the oven. If you go beyond 212°, the muscle fibers will start to dry out, and your pulled pork won’t be as good. 

Here’s how we do it: Set the thermometer to 195°. When the alarm sounds, check the meat with a fork. It’s ready to come out of the oven if it pulls away easily. If there’s resistance, leave it for just a few degrees, not exceeding 200°, and remove it. 

The importance of resting  

Any cooked meat, whether roasted, grilled, smoked, or fried, should rest a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices absorb back into the meat, giving you a more tender, juicy meat. For this oven-pulled pork recipe, we suggest allowing the meat to rest for 15-30 minutes before pulling it apart.

You can rest meat even longer using a setup similar to barbecue Pitmasters. Note: It’s important not to leave the meat on your counter too long. If the meat falls into the 140° range, it could spoil quickly as this is the perfect temperature for rapid bacteria growth. 

How to make pulled pork

Besides the fantastic flavor, the best part about this recipe is how easy it is. Set it and forget it. You can make the rub days or weeks in advance and use it on chicken or salmon.

Tip: For faster cooking time and more crispy edges, cut the pork butt into 2 or 3 smaller pieces.

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°. The pork needs to cook on low heat for several hours.
  2. Place the meat fat side up (if there’s a fat cap) on a rack in a large roasting pan and pour beer over the pork. 
  3. Pat the dry rub all over the damp meat, including the top and sides.
  4. Cover the roast with aluminum foil or a lid if your pan has one. Remove the cover or foil after about 4 hours or when the temperature reaches 170°.
  5. Check every couple of hours to ensure the pan’s bottom is not getting dry. Add more beer or water as needed. 
  6. Cook until internal temperature registers 195°, 5-6 hours. You can test with a fork; when the roast pulls apart easily, remove it from the oven. But you’ll get the best results if you use a meat thermometer
  7. Remove meat from the pan and shred, using two forks or meat claws. Pour some (or all) of the cooking liquid from the pan over the shredded meat. You want the meat to be moist but not swimming in liquid. 

Traditional Southern BBQ:

You can serve as is with barbecue sauce on the side or make traditional Southern barbecue: mix sauce with the meat and put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes to blend the flavors.

Pulled pork sandwich

This recipe makes the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches! Pilee some meat on a hamburger bun, add homemade BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and pickles, and you’re all set. For even more flavor, toast the bun in a skillet with butter. And to make it even better, serve your pulled pork sandwich on these homemade burger buns — delicious!

Pulled pork sandwich with slaw and pickles.

Other uses for pulled pork

Some of our favorite ways to use this shredded pork are nachos, pork tacos, BBQ Pork Pizza, pork chili, pork sliders, or BBQ Pork Stromboli. Just get creative!

A pan of roasted oven pulled pork.

What to serve with pulled pork

Oven Pulled Pork is a stand-alone star, but it’s also a team player that pairs well with a variety of sides. Our Pineapple Jalapeno Coleslaw offers a sweet and spicy crunch that perfectly complements the tender, rich pork. Southern Baked Beans, Spicy Creamed Corn, Oven-Roasted French Fries, and potato salad are classic companions.

One of our favorite sides for pulled pork is this delicious smoked corn on the cob—it’s buttery, smoky, and flavorful and kids love it!

For a refreshing contrast, consider our Pear Salad. And, of course, don’t forget to have plenty of our Homemade BBQ Sauce on hand for those who like a little extra tang with their pork.

To end the meal on a sweet note, Strawberry Pizza, 4th of July Cupcakes, Blackberry Cobbler, and Cherry Cream Cheese Pie are all delicious options that pair well with pork and are great for a crowd.

FAQs

Can you make pulled pork with pork chops?

I would say no. Pork chops are leaner, and you need the fat content of the shoulder meat. So with pork chops, the finished product is more likely to be tough and stringy than tender and juicy. 

Can you overcook pulled pork?

Yep. See the section above on Pulled Pork Temperature.

How to reheat pulled pork?

Pulled pork can be reheated in a microwave or oven.

How to store pulled pork?

The USDA says pulled pork can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Can you freeze pulled pork?

Yes, pulled pork freezes well. Just be sure to let it cool completely before placing it in a freezer-safe bag or container.

What temp for pulled pork?

A slow and low-approach is best for pulled pork. Aim for an oven temperature of 300°F and an internal meat temperature of 195°F.

How long should pulled pork rest before pulling?

Allow the pork to rest for 15-30 minutes before pulling it apart. This rest period lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat, making it even more tender and juicy.

How do I know when pulled pork is done?

When the thermometer reads 195°, and the meat gives easily when pulled with a fork, it’s ready!

Can you make this pulled pork in the slow cooker?

Sure, you can use a slow cooker for this pulled pork recipe. Note: I find it lacks the edgy crispiness you’ll get with low and slow oven roasting, and you’ll end up with wetter meat. But it’s still good!

Pulled pork in a clear dish.

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5 from 2 votes

Oven Pulled Pork

Oven Pulled Pork, made with a zesty BBQ rub and dark beer, is cooked at a low temperature in the oven for hours to reach tender perfection.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Save This Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 6.5 lbs. pork butt roast
  • 2 bottles Abita Amber beer or other dark beer

Rub

  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • Place the meat fat side up (if there’s a fat cap) on a rack in a large roasting pan and pour beer over the pork.
  • In a small bowl, mix the rub ingredients with a fork until well blended. Pat the dry rub all over the damp meat, including the top and sides.
  • Cover the roast with aluminum foil or a lid if your pan has one. Remove the cover or foil after about 4 hours or when the temperature reaches 170°.
  • Check every couple of hours to ensure the pan’s bottom is not getting dry. Add more beer or water as needed.
  • Cook until internal temperature registers 195°, 5-6 hours. You can test with a fork; when the roast pulls apart easily, remove it from the oven. But you’ll get the best results if you use a meat thermometer.
  • Remove meat from oven and rest for 15-30 minutes. Using two forks or meat claws, pull the pork into pieces. Pour a little of the liquid from the pan over the shredded meat and stir well. You want the meat to be moist but not swimming in liquid.

Notes

A Southern tradition: Mix the barbecue sauce in with the pulled meat and then put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 8servings, Calories: 530kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 69g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 221mg, Sodium: 575mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g
Course: Pork
Cuisine: American
Calories: 530
Keyword: barbecue pork, oven pulled pork, pulled pork
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This post is part of my favorite Southern Foods at Home collection.

UPDATE NOTES: This post was originally published April 2, 2012, and on May 26, 2023, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

Lucy standing behind a counter with a cheese board and glass of wine.

About the author

Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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