Dutch Oven Pulled Pork

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Dutch Oven Pulled Pork is an easy way to make fork-tender BBQ in half the time of a smoker. This simple recipe turns a boneless pork shoulder into juicy and tender meat that's perfect by itself, or delicious when drizzled with your favorite barbecue sauce!

barbecue sandwich on a cast iron plate.
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Why You'll Love It

  • no need for a smoker, slow cooker or fancy equipment
  • easy recipe creates fork tender pork BBQ!
  • simple method doesn't require searing, cutting or trimming
  • great recipe for pork sandwiches, barbecue plates, taco meat and more!
  • perfect meal for Game Day, picnics, tailgates, cookouts and potlucks!

What is Pulled Pork?

BBQ Pulled pork is cooked for long periods of time at a low temperature until the meat pulls easily with two forks. This method is the preferred way to serve barbecue in the south where the process of pulling pork began years ago!

There are many ways to prepare barbecue, such as smoking it in a wood pellet smoker, baking it in a dutch oven, or using the sous vide method.

But, this is absolutely the best pulled pork recipe if you don't have a smoker. The dutch oven method produces juicy meat that pulls apart with a fork and melts in your mouth. It's as delicious as any you'll find in a southern BBQ restaurant!

If this is your first time making barbecue, don't fret. Baking a pork shoulder in a dutch oven couldn't be easier. All you need is a 6 quart dutch oven, a nice Boston butt, and a really good BBQ rub. If you've got those three things, you're ready to make some magic!

a fork holding up pork over a roast.

What Cut of Pork is Best?

The most popular type of meat to use for pulled pork is a Boston Butt (or pork shoulder). You'll need about a 4 to 5 pound pork shoulder roast for this recipe.

Pork butt has the right amount of fat content to make sure the meat is tender when cooked. Be sure to use the low and slow cooking process to allow the meat time to tenderize.

Since there's a lot of fat in this cut of meat, it yields about 3 pounds of finished product, which serves around 8 people if plating the barbecue, or 12 folks if making sandwiches. Use a large dutch oven that holds at least 6 quarts and has a tight fitting lid.

pork roast while rub is being added.

Dry Rub Recipe for Pork

Before you can cook the meat, you'll need to slather it with a really good dry rub. My homemade recipe uses seasonings you probably have in your spice cabinet or can find easily in a grocery store.

This Dry Rub recipe is both sweet and spicy...with a secret ingredient! It contains instant coffee granules which add an earthy flavor and also act as a tenderizer.

barbecue dry rub in a bowl with a spoon.

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside until time to rub the meat. See recipe card for quantities.

  • brown sugar - provides sweetness which is essential when cooking pork
  • black pepper - adds a nice kick
  • onion powder - gives meat an onion flavor without the tears
  • garlic powder - balances out the onion powder
  • dry mustard - gives the rub a nice bite
  • chili powder - adds a little heat without being overpowering
  • smoked paprika - provides the smoky flavor of authentic barbecue
  • instant granulated coffee - the secret ingredient that tenderizes the meat and provides an earthy flavor
adding dry rub to pork roast.

Why Use a Dutch Oven?

There are many ways to prepare barbecue. You'll find strong opinions about the types of meat and the best sauce to use on every corner.

Smoking a pork butt with wood pellets for 8 hours is the preferred method, but many folks don't own a Traeger smoker. (ad)

Baking pulled pork in a dutch oven is a great alternative to smoking meat and has so much flavor from the dry rub mixture. A cast iron dutch oven retains heat and braises barbecue to perfection in half the time of a smoker!

This recipe is for Carolina BBQ in honor of the state where I was born and raised. I've been making barbecue in a dutch oven for years and it turns out perfectly every time!

How to Cook Pulled Pork in a Dutch Oven

Make this EASY pulled pork recipe in just 4 steps:

  1. Slather dry rub on both sides of the Boston butt with your hands. Work it in generously until meat is covered.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and place the roast in a large dutch oven.
  3. Add one cup of water (or beer) and 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke (or worcestershire sauce) to the bottom of the dutch oven.
  4. Place lid on the pot and bake for 4 hours at 300 degrees. Check a few times to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot. If not, add extra water.
pork roast before going into dutch oven.

How to Pull Pork

After the roast comes out of the oven, let it rest on top of the stove top for about 30 minutes. Place pork roast on a sheet pan or cutting board to start the pulling process.

pork roast after it has cooked for 4 hours.

Take two forks or a set of tongs and pull the meat away from the fat side. It's okay to leave a little fat in the mix, but it's best to remove as much as you can. There's plenty of fat in the meat without adding extra.

pork being pulled with two forks on a sheet pan.

Continue pulling until meat is completely shredded. You can also use BBQ Claws if you wish, but they're not necessary. Be sure to shred the burnt ends (or bark) with the rest of the barbecue! The bark is considered to be a delicacy since it has an intense smoky flavor.

Drizzle some of the remaining liquids left in the dutch oven onto the meat. At this point, you can serve it as is, or use a large butcher knife to chop it into smaller bites.

pulled pork barbecue sandwich.

What BBQ Sauce is Best?

Some southerners wouldn't mess up this delicious meat with sauce, but others wouldn't eat a bite without it!

In North Carolina, there's a great debate about which type of barbecue sauce to use. Eastern Carolina likes a vinegar based sauce, while Western Carolina prefers a sweet tomato based version.

I'm a Western Carolina sweet tomato-sauce kind of girl. I could make my own, but by the time I get the barbecue out of the oven, I'm ready to eat. Besides, there are so many great barbecue sauces out there, sometimes I'm good with using one straight from the bottle.

Favorite Bottled Sauces

pulled pork on a fork in a dutch oven.

What to Serve with Pulled Pork

Down south, there are two main ways to serve barbecue...

barbecue sandwich with pickles and coleslaw.

Pulled pork is also delicious on a taco or a tostada! It makes a great topping for nachos and salads too. I love it in a rice bowl with beans and cheese, or as a base for hearty chili.

If you're planning a cookout or tailgate party for game day, here are some great sides to serve with BBQ pulled pork...

pulled pork BBQ plate.
Pulled Pork Plate

Storage and Freezing

It's easy to store barbecue after it's been cooked. Just place it in an airtight container and keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, microwave in 30 second intervals until warm throughout.

Barbecue also freezes well when vacuum packed. If you don't have a vacuum sealer, wrap leftovers in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before microwaving to the proper temperature for serving.

Recipe FAQS

What liquid do you use to cook dutch oven pulled pork?

If you use dry rub, all you need is a little bit of water or beer added to the dutch oven before baking. Some folks like to also rub the meat with mustard or bbq sauce before adding a rub, but it's totally optional.

Do you season pulled pork after pulling?

I like to drizzle the juice left in the pot over the Boston Butt to keep it moist. Others like to sprinkle extra dry rub on the meat. It's fun to experiment with your own special techniques.

What is the secret to tender pulled pork?

When cooking a Boston Butt, the secret to making it tender is to rub it with a good bbq dry rub and cook it low and slow. When using a dutch oven, 300 degrees for 4 hours works like a charm.

More BBQ Recipes

It doesn't get any better than this! If you're a BBQ lover, check out my other delicious barbecue recipes...

 

Recipe Card

dutch oven pulled pork sandwich with slaw and bbq sauce dripping onto plate.

Dutch Oven Pulled Pork

Dutch Oven Pulled Pork is an easy way to make fork-tender BBQ in half the time of a smoker. This simple recipe turns a boneless pork shoulder into juicy and tender meat using the low and slow method.
4.56 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 430kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

DRY RUB

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated instant coffee

PORK ROAST

  • 4 to 5 pound Boston Butt (pork shoulder roast)
  • 1 cup water, beer or beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Mix all dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Using your hands, generously coat pork roast with dry BBQ spice rub. Work well into the meat.
  • Place pork in a large dutch oven.  Add water and liquid smoke.
  • Cover dutch oven with lid.
  • Roast pork at 300 degrees for 4 hours, checking through the roasting process to ensure there is still enough liquid to prevent scorching. If not, add more water.
  • Remove pork roast from oven and let rest for 30 minutes on the stovetop with lid closed. 
  • Transfer roast to a cutting board and pull meat with two forks, separating it from the fat. Dispose of fat.
  • Cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve with your favorite BBQ sauce as a sandwich or a plate.

Notes

  • Ingredients in dry rub yield about 1 cup. If your pork roast is bigger, you'll need to make extra rub. 
  • If you have extra time, slather dry rub on the pork and wrap well. Place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking. While it's optional, this process adds extra flavor to the meat. 
  • When serving as a sandwich, add barbecue, sauce, then coleslaw on a brioche bun. Top with pickles if desired.
  • If serving as a plate, add pulled pork with any sides you wish, such as Calico Baked Beans and Southern Cornbread. 
  • View the Google Web Story for Dutch Oven Pulled Pork!

Nutrition

Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 230mg | Potassium: 1076mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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21 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious, so moist and flavorful from the oven. Even my picky eaters ate it. We didn’t opt for the bbq sauce and ate it as it was because it was so yummy. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Oh, that makes me so happy! I love hearing when things work out! Thanks for taking the time to write and let me know. 🙂

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