Sometimes I wonder if I married my dad.  The love that my dad and Kyle have for pork is eerily similar.  There are other similarities as well that make me stop in my tracks when they appear, almost as if I’m having a flashback to my childhood, but none quite like this one.  I suppose some would say that marrying someone like my dad has some kind of Freudian subconscious meaning but I like to think that I have good taste.  (Stop laughing, Mom.)  Granted, pizza night would be a lot simpler without any arguments but where would my life be without pulled pork?

Oh pulled pork, how we love thee!  We actually very rarely make it since pork shoulders are so huge for just the two of us (and really, why make it with any other cut of the pig?) so I waited patiently for weeks for my parents to come visit again before I made this recipe.  And it was certainly worth the wait.  Brined then baked on a tightly wrapped sheet pan in the oven while slathered with a mustard-liquid smoke-spice mixture, the boneless pork shoulder slowly cooks away for hours, leaving the house smelling like a smokehouse.  And that’s not a bad thing, of course.  Before serving, we mixed the shredded spicy pork with a simple homemade sweet and tangy barbeque sauce (love in a jar) and topped a few fresh buns with the pork and some slaw. On its own, the pork is spicy but the bbq sauce mellows the spice and adds the perfect sweet-tangy flavor blend to the meal.  If it’s this easy to make the men in your life happy as it is in mine, you need this recipe!

Pulled Pork with Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time: 7 hours

Yield: 6-8 servings


  • ° ¼ ½ ¾
  • For the pork:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tsp table salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp plus 2 tsp liquid smoke, divided
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 5 pounds), cut in half horizontally through the center
  • ¼ cup yellow or brown mustard
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • For the bbq sauce:
  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 ½ tsp hot sauce
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the pork: Dissolve 1 cup salt, ½ cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons liquid smoke in 4 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge pork in brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small prep bowl, stir together the mustard and remaining 2 tsp liquid smoke; set aside. In a second small prep bowl, mix the black pepper, paprika, remaining 2 tbsp sugar, remaining 2 tsp salt, and cayenne together; set aside. During the last 15 minutes that the pork is brining, adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325° F.
  3. Remove pork from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Rub the mustard mixture over entire surface of each piece of pork. Sprinkle entire surface of each piece with all of the spice mixture, gently pressing the spice mixture into the mustard with your fingers. Place pork on wire rack set inside foil-lined rimmed 12×18-inch baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment paper over pork, then cover with a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil (heavy duty foil will cover the sheet in one large, neat sheet), sealing the edges to prevent moisture from escaping. Roast the pork for 3 hours.
  4. Remove pork from oven; remove and discard foil and parchment. Carefully pour off liquid in bottom of baking sheet into a heat-proof bowl or fat can, discard. Return the pork to oven and cook, uncovered, until well browned, tender, and internal temperature registers 200° F on instant-read thermometer, about 1 to 1½ hours. Transfer the pork to serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
  5. To make the sauce: While the pork rests, whisk the first six ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. To serve: Pull the pork into shredded bite-size pieces with two forks. Toss with 1 cup of the sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve the pork hot, passing remaining sauce separately. Transfer any remaining sauce to a resealable container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.


sources: pulled pork adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January 2010 | bbq sauce adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via Pink Parsley

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  • June 7, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    BBQ pulled pork is easily a favorite around here!

  • June 7, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    I enjoyed reading this. Pulled pork is one of my favorite things to eat! I have been making the recipe from The Pioneer Woman, but can’t wait to try yours now. I love that yours has a sauce! I will definitely report back after I make it.. It is 5 am here now and I want this now. ha ha ha. Thanks!

  • Luisa
    June 7, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    Hi Tara,

    Love the look of this, but not sure about availability of liquid smoke here in England! Will have to do some research.

    B-t-w, don’t worry that your husband reminds you of your Dad, mine does too. Apparently, it is a common psychological trait that daughters very often subconsciuosly look for similarities to their Fathers in a partner, and I think men look for traits from their Mothers.

  • June 7, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    Well you’ve heard me express my love for all things smoked & cured in the pork department – a good pulled pork w/slaw (key, IMO) ranks pretty high on the list, too. This looks great!

  • Mom
    June 7, 2012 at 1:13 PM


  • June 7, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    These would make my husband very, very happy!

  • June 9, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Pulled pork sandwich pictures have a way of making me hungry. And as a bonus I get to use the liquid smoke that´s just sitting in my kitchen. It looks so good and I have all the ingredients! I´m making it this weekend!

  • diana walsh
    June 20, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Would this work in a slow cooker?

    • June 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Diana: I don’t think it would. There is no liquid used to cook the pork in the oven, which you really would need in the slow cooker.

  • Michelle
    August 21, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    How many people does this recipe serve? I want to make this for a barbeque

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