Aug 26, 2016

Oven Braised Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
While you can always go with your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, this recipe comes together with things you can probably (I make no promises!) find in your cabinets.

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While you can always go with your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, this braised pulled pork recipe comes together with things you can probably (I make no promises!) find in your cabinets.

My brother and I have successfully smoked pork butts in the “Big Green Egg” at home in New Jersey, but unfortunately I don’t have a smoker in my tiny California apartment, so this recipe is an easier at-home variety. The liquid smoke will help to replicate that smoked flavor and smell. Serve the pork by itself of inside sandwiches, on top of fries or any other ways you can come up with.

Oven Braised Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce

pulled pork dry rub

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Pork shoulder – This cut can be referred to as the pork shoulder, picnic shoulder or picnic ham. It’s a similar cut to the pork butt which is higher up on the leg. Because these cuts gets a lot of work, they are very muscle-heavy cuts, making them ideal for braising. These two cuts can both be used in this recipe. Slowly cooking the meat at a low temperature helps to break down the tough meat, resulting in tender, succulent pork. 
  • Spices – Rather than using a store bought BBQ rub I opt to mix my own using brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder and cayenne.
  • Liquid smoke – Liquid smoke is used to imitate the flavor created by smoking foods. A little goes a long way. I typically use the Hickory variety,
braised pulled pork

Why You Should Braise Your Meat

Braising is the method of cooking meat at a low temperature for a long period of time in a tightly sealed container like a Dutch oven. It’s a forgiving method of cooking. Slowly cooking the meat allows for tough, lean (and often cheaper) cuts of meat to break down and become tender and juicy. I love a good braise because you really can’t mess it up. With this “hands-off” method, the meat is first seared to lock in the juices. It’s then added to a tightly covered oven-safe pot. Cook it for a long time at a low temperature, so you don’t run the risk of overcooking as you would using other methods.

Tips for Making Pulled Pork

  • Some advice on calculating how much pulled pork you need: I always like having leftover pulled pork to make into other recipes, but sometimes I don’t want to have enough left over so that I will be eating pork for every meal for the next two weeks.
  • When buying pork for pulled pork first know that you are going to end up with roughly half of the weight in the finished meat due to “shrinkage”. The fat will render or you will discard some of the fatty pieces. If you start with six pounds of meat like I have here, you will end up with a little over three pounds of finished meat.
  • I would recommend calculating about three people per pound of the cooked meat for average eaters.

Instructions for Making Pulled Pork in a Slow Cooker

This recipe can easily be made in a slow cooker! I recommend searing the pork as directed and cooking on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.

pulled pork closeup

How to Make Oven Braised Pulled Pork

For the pork:

  1. Heat oven, Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Trim pork. Trim any excess fat off the pork butt and cut it into large hand-sized chunks.
  3. Mix spices. In a small bowl whisk together the salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, mustard and cayenne. Toss the pork in the seasoning.
  4. Sear pork. Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Add the onion to the pan then add the vegetable stock to the pan.
  5. Braise the pork. Add the liquid smoke (if using). Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat then cover and put the move the Dutch oven to the oven. Cook the pork until it is fork tender, about 3 hours.
  6. Shred pork. Once the pork is cooked remove it from the pot to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat and add it to a large mixing bowl. Discard any large pieces of fat. Set aside the braising liquid. Add some of the liquid back to the pulled pork if it needs more moisture.

For the BBQ sauce:

  1. Add ingredients to saucepan. Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, and spices to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Simmer the sauce. Whisk to combine then bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes.
  3. Use or store. The BBQ sauce can be kept for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To serve:

  1. Assemble and serve. Serve the hot pulled pork topped with BBQ sauce. Serve alone or on sandwich rolls topped with coleslaw.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Oven Braised Pulled Pork with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Print Pin
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Serves 9

Ingredients:

For the pork:

  • 1 (6 pound) boneless pork shoulder or butt
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)

For the BBQ sauce:

  • cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions:

For the pork:

  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF (170ºC). Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Trim any excess fat off the pork butt and cut it into large hand-sized chunks. In a small bowl whisk together the salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, mustard and cayenne. Toss the pork in the seasoning.
  • Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Sear the pork on all sides, working in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Add the onion to the pan then add the vegetable stock to the pan.
  • Add the liquid smoke (if using). Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat then cover and put the move the Dutch oven to the oven. Cook the pork until it is fork tender, about 3 hours.
  • Once the pork is cooked remove it from the pot to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat and add it to a large mixing bowl. Discard any large pieces of fat. Set aside the braising liquid. Add some of the liquid back to the pulled pork if it needs more moisture.

For the BBQ sauce:

  • Add the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, and spices to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk to combine then bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • The BBQ sauce can be kept for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To serve:

  • Serve the hot pulled pork topped with BBQ sauce. Serve alone or on sandwich rolls topped with coleslaw.

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