Sometimes I wonder if I married my dad. Actually, I’ve wondered that a lot over the years!
The love that my dad and Kyle have for pork is eerily similar. Like, creepy similar.
Sure, 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 mean, really, if there were only hot dogs, biscuits and sausage gravy, and sausage pasta left on this earth to eat, they would both be happy for the rest of their lives.
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!
How to Make Pulled Pork in the Oven
Many pulled pork recipes you find out there are for the crockpot. The crockpot is a great option for making pulled pork when you have all day to allow the pork to cook. But I’m not always that prepared.
To make this pulled pork in the oven, you’ll need about 2 hours to brine the pork and 4 ½ hours for the pork to cook. On a weekend, that’s totally doable to make this on a whim!
So, the first step for making this bbq pulled pork recipe in the oven is to make a brine. A brine is a water, sugar, salt mixture that the pork will soak in before you cook it. The brine helps to flavor and tenderize the meat.
Once you make the brine in a large container, you’ll set the pork in it, pop the container in the fridge, and allow the pork to soak for 2 hours.
When the pork is finished brining, you’ll rub the pork with a smoky mustard mixture and then sprinkle a dry rub all over it. The rub recipe is below but you could most certainly use my bbq spice rub recipe in place of that one if you’d like to mix things up!
Then you’ll tightly wrap the pork up in some foil on top of a wire rack set in a large sheet pan and roast the pork for 4 ½ hours. And let me warn you!
The boneless pork shoulder slowly cooking away for hours in your oven will leave your house smelling like a smokehouse, just without all of the smoke. It’s DIVINE and will make you so so hungry!!
Which BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork?
Technically, you could use any type of barbecue sauce for pulled pork. Buuuuut! You know me, right? Homemade all the way!
Before serving, I made a simple homemade sweet and tangy bbq sauce for pulled pork (it’s like love in a jar and the bbq sauce recipe is below) and topped a few fresh buns with the pork and my favorite coleslaw recipe. On its own, the pork is spicy but the bbq sauce mellows the spice and adds the perfect sweet-tangy flavor blend to the pulled pork sandwiches.
If you want to take your pulled pork in a different direction, my bourbon peach bbq sauce would be incredible in place of a regular bbq sauce here!
What to Serve with Pulled Pork
On the side of our pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches, we served up some oven baked fries and roasted broccoli. YUM!!
Those oven fries and a sheet pan full of roasted broccoli are 2 of my all-time favorite side dishes. However, if it’s the middle of the summer and you’re making this bbq pulled pork recipe, maybe you want some cold side dishes.
Well then, I’m going to suggest some Mexican street corn salad, this bacon ranch potato salad, and this broccoli slaw salad. They’re all SUPER delicious, minimally cooked recipes that are sure to make everyone happy!
If it’s this easy to make the men in your life happy as it is in mine, you need this recipe! It’s the best pulled pork recipe I’ve tried yet! But let’s also be real here: you don’t need to be a man to love pulled pork!!
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
- ½ 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 1 ½ hours. Transfer the pork to serving dish, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
pulled pork adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January 2010 | bbq sauce adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via Pink Parsley
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