Ultimate Pulled Pork Sandwiches are perfect for anyone who is on Team Simple for their party food. You can make almost all of the elements in advance!
There are few things more tasty than a perfect pulled pork sandwich. We make these all of the time because they are just so good. If you ask me, this is the ultimate party food because everyone loves it, you can make 90% of the elements for the sandwich ahead of time, and it’s an easy dish to feed a crowd. I know that turkey and ham might be all the rage this time of year, but I’m on Team SIMPLE when it comes to party food. This would be awesome to serve to friends and family before a holiday party, after caroling, or in the middle of your Hallmark Movie Marathon. It’s warm, comforting, and always a hit.
If you are having a party, you can plan on making these and then you can assign everyone else sides. With a little potato salad, some kind of sparkly drink, and some baked beans on the side, you are going to have a meal fit for a king (and a crowd!).
I’m a big fan of making the meat kind of plain (delicious, but plain) so that people can add the condiments that they like. I also love homemade refrigerator pickles on this sandwich; they just have a different taste then normal store-bought pickles. The acidic vinegar and a little bit of crunch goes perfectly with a sweet homemade barbecue sauce. You are going to love these sandwiches!
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For the slow cooker pulled pork
- 4-5 pounds of bone-in meat (see post for more details on cuts) or 3-4 pounds boneless
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
For the barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ of a small onion, finely chopped (about ⅓ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup honey
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional if your BBQ sauce a little spicy)
- One recipe refrigerator pickles
- Whole wheat buns
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Pepperjack or Swiss cheese slices, optional
For the Pulled Pork
- In a small bowl, combine all of the spices. Rub the spices all over the meat. Add the meat to the slow cooker. Slow cook on LOW until the meat is very tender and falling apart, 8-12 hours.
- Before you are ready to serve, remove the meat from the slow cooker and set it in a bowl or a rimmed baking sheet (it’s juicy, so using just a plate sometimes makes a mess). Then pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a clear container (like a big mason jar or a large glass measuring cup).
- Shred the meat using two forks. Remove anything you don’t want to eat (bones, fat, gristle), and return the shredded meat to the slow cooker.
- Use a spoon to remove most of the fat from the liquid you have in the glass container (the fat will be floating on the top by the time you have shredded the meat). Add enough liquid back to the slow cooker so that the meat looks moist and there’s a little on the bottom of the slow cooker (this might be all of the liquid and it might just be part – you aren’t going to ruin it, just play it by ear). Taste the meat and add enough salt so that it tastes a little salty. You don’t want it to be too salty, but you want to taste the salt, if that makes sense. Salt is going to heighten the flavor in the meat that already exists, so don’t under salt. Stir well and add a little more liquid if needed. Serve hot.
- I like to keep the reserved liquid if I have any left to use when reheating the meat later.
- Extra meat can be used in all kinds of recipe or stored in the freezer for later use.
For the Barbecue Sauce
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Take care not to burn the onions and garlic and stir often. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- The onion and garlic will still be about the size you cut them into. If you don’t mind a chunky BBQ sauce, then you are ready to use your homemade sauce. If you like it smoother (which I prefer), let the BBQ sauce cool for 10-15 minutes, carefully place it in a blender jar and process until smooth.
- The barbecue sauce can be used right away or refrigerated until you need it. This will last about 2 weeks in the fridge.
To make the Sandwiches
- Toast or grill your buns if you like. Add barbecue sauce to the inside of both buns. Add warm pulled pork and top with sliced red onion, optional cheese, and pickles. Serve right away.
You can make all of this ahead of time! Just prepare and shred the meat and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you are ready to serve, just heat in on the stove or in your slow cooker until it is heated through.