Dutch Oven Pulled Pork is tender, juicy and delicious! Infusing flavour with a dry rub the pork is cooked for 3 hours before being smothered in BBQ sauce and grilled. This Dutch oven pulled pork recipe can be use for almost anything and everything!
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Versatile: you are unlimited in what you want to use the pulled pork for. Some options are a pulled pork sandwich, as a burger filling, slider ingredient, pizza topping, tacos, nachos, pizza topping or salad filler. Pulled pork sliders anyone? 🥰
- Set and forget: I know, I know we usually use this term for slow cooker recipes. However, the reality is that after we have prepped the pork and put it into the oven, we literally have 3 hours hands off whilst it cooks. No peeking or checking needed. Make sure the temperature is right and let it cook! This is an easy pulled pork recipe.
- Suits many occasions: be it a BBQ, picnic, family gathering, street party, game day or special occasion this delicious dish is adaptable for almost any occasion (this easy pulled pork can be fancied up or be on the street food level 😉👌). Make a big batch and feed a crowd.
- Age group friendly: everyone from little kids to adults will love this recipe! Yes, there is lots of flavour, but not in a too decadent or refined for the taste palate kind of way.
- Freezer friendly: the shredded pork meat will freeze very well. Simply allow it to cool then portion into zip lock bags or an air tight container for night's when you don't have time to start from scratch.
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. They are easy to get your hands on simple ingredients. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements, the full recipe as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Pork shoulder: you will be able to purchase this from most grocery stores or local butcher. You will also be able to purchase bone in or boneless pork shoulder. The pork that you see in the photo above is a boneless version.
- Mustard powder: soft and subtle, you won't taste a 'mustard flavour' in the pork, more so it contributes to the overall 'BBQ taste' of the meat.
- Garlic powder: I always like to mention that if you have an open bottle of this in the spice cupboard, it has a tendency to dry out. So either grab a new bottle or double check yours before starting to save a mid rub trip to the shops!
- Onion powder: same as the above. It can dry out if not used very often.
- Paprika: an excellent ingredient for dry rubs that adds a little sweetness without having to use a sugar in the rub.
- Cayenne pepper (optional): is known for being a 'hot' spice, however, we use a very small amount and its purpose is to add to the BBQ flavour overall so you won't notice too much heat.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: a small amount of each is used to season the pork, we add this to the dry rub ingredients.
- Liquids: Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and water: combine to be the liquids in the base of the Dutch Oven. They are also repurposed in the pulled pork when the shredded meat is added back to the bowl and stirred with BBQ sauce to combine.
- BBQ sauce: it wouldn't be BBQ pulled pork without barbecue sauce would it 😂! Well it sort of would be due to the BBQ flavour of the rub...but you know what I am saying! This is used in the grilling process as well as being added to the pulled pork meat for additional moisture and flavour. You can use your favorite bbq sauce, be it spicy or smoky or sweet bbq sauce.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by making the dry rub and combining the liquids for the base of the Dutch Oven. You will find a mini whisk handy for the rub and a teaspoon handy to stir the liquids together.
- Gather the dry rub ingredients (Photo 1)
- Whisk to combine (Photo 2)
- Gather the liquids (Photo 3)
- Stir to combine (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
Start by making the dry rub, by whisking together the dry ingredients. Then set it aside once combined then stir together the liquids that the pork will cook in. You can also use this time to preheat the oven as these initial steps won't take too long.
Place the pork shoulder on a chopping board and pat dry with paper towel. Then flip it to the topside down. Pour half of the rub onto the pork and massage it into with your fingers and palm of your hand.
Flip the pork over to the top side and then pour the remaining rub on top and massage in, as well as covering the sides and edges of the shoulder piece.
- Massage the dry rub into the pork (Photo 5)
- Flip and do the other side (Photo 6)
- Pour cooking liquid into Dutch Oven (Photo 7)
- Cook in the oven with the lid on for 3 hours (Photo 8)
Next pour the combined liquids into the base of the Dutch Oven. Gently pickup the seasoned pork (by the sides) and place it into the centre of the Dutch Oven.
Then put the lid on and transfer the dish to the preheated oven, middle or lower shelf.
Let the pork cook for 3 hours, without opening the oven door during this time. Keep an eye in the timer if you have an auto shut off oven to ensure that it has a long enough cook time.
Once the cooking time is up, you can open the over door, allow the waft of heat to be let out then use oven mits to grab the handles of the Dutch Oven and remove it from the oven.
Place it on a heatproof surface and let it rest for 4 to 5 minutes.
Next use a flat utensil and or tongs to lift the cooked pork shoulder up and out of the oven. Place it directly onto a silicon lined baking mat.
Then take a pastry brush and generously coat the cooked pork with BBQ sauce. Change the oven setting to grill at a temperature of 200°C 392°F6.
Place the BBQ sauce smothered pork into the oven on the highest shelf and allow it to grill for 10 minutes.
Then remove and baste again in the sauce before re grilling for a further 10 minute period of time.
Once the 2nd grill time is up, use the oven mits to remove the baking tray from the oven and place it on a heat proof surface.
- Baste in BBQ sauce, grill 10 mins x 2 (Photo 9)
- Transfer to a chopping board (Photo 10)
- Pull the pork apart using a fork in each hand (Photo 11)
- Transfer to Dutch oven, pour in BBQ sauce (Photo 12)
🍖 Dutch Oven BBQ Pulled Pork
The technique to use for shredding the pork is to 'pull' it apart and you will find a fork in each hand the easiest way to do this.
Transfer the grilled pork shoulder to a chopping board then use the above technique to pull it. You might want to make some initial cuts to the shoulder with a sharp knife to begin to break it down.
You will however, find it extremely easy to cut and pull as it has been cooked for so long. The juicy meat will shed with ease 👌.
Now you have the option to add a little bit more flavour (why not she says 😂). Place the pulled pork back into the Dutch Oven with the cooked liquids still at the base of the bowl.
- Stir to combine the BBQ sauce (Photo 13)
Then pour in 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce and use a wooden spoon to stir and combine. Once done you are ready to served the pulled pork in which ever fashion makes your taste buds water the most...a burger perhaps or you might be more of a pulled pork taco person 😉👌.
There is so much flavor in the tender meat that you will find it will go down a treat in which ever manner you choose to serve it.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
There is no limit here to your serving options, so you can let your imagination run wild!
Burgers, nachos, tacos, sandwiches, pizza, grilled cheese, salads and hot dog buns are all ways that you can fill, top or stuff the meat into.
You can use additional BBQ sauce for burgers, sliders or toasties, but the either the Herbed Yogurt Sauce or Garlic Yogurt Sauce will also work well if you wanting to diversify from the overall BBQ flavour of the recipe.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Let the meat fully cool before transferring into a sealed airtight container. It can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or placed into the freezer for 3 months.
How to Freeze
You can freeze the raw shoulder and then remove and defrost prior to cooking. If doing this, you won't be able to freeze leftovers however.
Or you can cook the pork, shred, allow to cool, then place in sealed zip lock bags laid flat in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat
Keep the pulled pork warm in the Dutch Oven on an element on the stove with a low heat. Or reheat leftovers in the microwave covered in cling wrap.
They will only take 2 to 3 minutes to reheat (and are great for pork sandwiches!).
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can use pork butt in place of pork shoulder.
- You can omit the use of the cayenne pepper if you are concerned about the pork being 'too hot' or 'too spicy'.
- Or you can increase this to 1 tablespoon if you want a little more heat or spice in dish.
- If you want brown sugar in the spice rub you can add 2 tablespoons of this, keeping the remaining combination the same.
- You can use this dry rub for other proteins like beef or lamb.
- You can cook this in the slow cooker instead, if doing so increase the cook time for 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- It is a good idea to spray the insides of the Dutch Oven with cooking spray (olive oil) as this will help reduce browning/blackening as the pork or liquids splash up the insides.
- Most ovens won't have a 3 hour timer. So you will have to walk back occasionally to the oven and make sure the dial has time so that it doesn't switch itself off only to your unawareness! 😭
- If when grilling the top of the pork starts to blacken, reduce the grill time down to 2 x 5 minute intervals as opposed to 2 x 10 minute intervals.
- You can remove the fatty layer on top of the pork if you wish to before shredding the meat. This will easily lift off.
- The reason why I recommend using a wooden spoon to stir the BBQ sauce in is because it won't scratch the cast iron surface of the Dutch oven. Where as a soup spoon or other metal spoon will.
- If you want to juice up leftovers, a drizzle or 2 of Worcestershire sauce will help you to achieve that.
- Lime wedges and coriander (cilantro) will help bring Mexican flavours to the dish if you are considering the taco or nacho serving suggestion.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best liquid to cook pulled pork in?
The combination of Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and water is excellent to cook the pulled pork in. It ensures that the pork doesn't stick to the base of the Dutch Oven, keeps the pork moist and allows for a steamy wet cooking environment. Then we add barbecue sauce to the cooked pulled pork.
What is the secret to moist pulled pork?
Cooking the pork for a long period of time (known as low and slow) is the secret to getting tender, juicy, moist pulled pork. The stirring in of BBQ sauce also helps to keep the pork soft and melt in your mouth like.
Do you pull pulled pork when it is hot or cold?
You need to pull the pork when it is still hot as it is tender and fresh.
Allowing the pork to cool before pulling it will not be successful as the meat will harden as it cools and be too firm to be gently pulled apart.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
Variety is not only the spice of life, it is essential to nailing the most important meal of the day. Dinner of course! Here are some more recipes that offer variety in flavour and textures as well as an array of cook times:
- Meatball Bolognese
- Greek Lamb Shanks
- Beef Pesto Pasta
- Lamb Osso Bucco
- Pesto Rigatoni
- Spaghetti Al Pesto
- Spaghetti Alla Bolognese
- Beef Osso Bucco
- Pork Mince Noodles
- Tagliatelle Pesto
Its time to get our Dutch Oven on my friend. You can also find all of my dinner recipes in the one spot.
Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
- 1 Glass jug for the dry rub
- 1 Mini whisk to combine the dry rub
- 1 Dutch Oven doesn't have to be a large Dutch oven, does need to fit the portion of pork you purchase
- 1 olive oil spray Note 1
- 2 Oven Mits
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 Knife
- 2 Forks to pull the pork
- 1 Baking tray with rack
- 1 Silicon Baking Mat
- 1 Wooden spoon to stir in the BBQ sauce
- 2 tablespoons mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup/60 ml apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup/60 ml Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup/60 ml water
- 2kg/4-5 pounds pork shoulder Note 1
- ½ cup/125ml barbecue sauce for the grilling process
- 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce to be mixed into the pull pork (optional)
- Preheat the oven: preheat the oven to 180°C / 350-375°F / Gas Mark 4-5.
- Dry rub: add the mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and cracked black pepper to a small glass jug and whisk to combine.
- Liquids: add the Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and water to a mixing jug and use a teaspoon to stir to combine.
- Pork: remove pork from fridge, take out of packaging, cut off any binding string and pat dry with paper towel.
- Season: place the pork onto a chopping board, top side facing down. Pour half of the dry rub over the top and massage the rub all over the side of pork. Flip to the top side and repeat, also covering the sides and edges of the pork with the rub.
- Dutch oven: spray base and sides of Dutch Oven with olive oil spray. Pour combined liquids into the base of the bowl. Gently pick up the seasoned pork and place it into the Dutch Oven. Put the lid on top and place on the middle shelf in the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours.
- Cooked pork: when the 3 hours are up, use oven mits to remove the pork from the oven. Place onto a heatproof surface. Remove the lid and let the pork rest for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Grill/broil: change the oven setting to grill at 200°C 392°F6.
- Baste and grill: lift the cooked pork up and out of the Dutch Oven (Don't discard liquids in Dutch Oven or rinse at this stage). Place in the centre of a silicon lined baking mat. Use a pastry brush to liberally baste the cooked pork with the BBQ sauce. Place into the oven and grill for 10 minutes. Remove and repeat the basting process followed by a further 10 minute grill period.
- Pull: use oven mits to remove the grilled pork from the oven. Use 2 pairs of tongs to transfer to a chopping board. Initially use a knife to cut the pork, then use a fork in each hand to pull (shred) the pork into pieces.
- Barbecue sauce: add the pulled pork back to the Dutch Oven, pour in 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce and use a wooden spoon to stir and combine.
- Serve: use for burger fillings, in hot dog buns, as sandwich fillings, as a pizza topping, for slides, salad, nachos or tacos.
- Note 1 - Olive oil: The olive oil spray will help to reduce browning/blackening of the inside of the Dutch Oven. However, the liquids that we use are enough to ensure that the pork will not stick to the inner base of the Dutch Oven.
- Note 2 - Pork shoulder: this can be boneless or have a bone in it. If yours has a bone in it, when getting ready to pull the pork, the 1st thing you should do is remove this bone. It will slip out really easily. You can use a knife to help.