This easy Pulled Pork recipe is made with pork shoulder (or butt), pantry spices and coke to tenderize the meat and add sweetness to the seasonings. The result if perfect, tender and juicy pork cooked in the oven, slow cooker or instant pot! 

Serve pulled pork in a sandwich, with nachos, tamales, tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.

A pile of pulled pork on a white plate.

Whether you’re planning food for a party, BBQ, or a simple weeknight dinner, this pulled pork recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Serve it with BBQ sauce and your favorites side dishes, or serve it in sandwiches, tacos, nachos and more. If you’re cooking for a larger gathering or party see my tips in the post for how to calculate how much pulled pork you’ll need per person.

How to make Pulled Pork:

  • Trim fat: To make pulled pork you will want to buy a pork shoulder (sometimes called pork butt or Boston butt) roast. I prefer boneless, but you could buy bone-in. Trim pork of excess fat and cut it into 4 pieces. Combine spices in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. (This can be done the night before).
Four cut pieces of raw pork roast, seasoned, on a tray.
  • Sear (optional): Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and sear for a few seconds on all sides.
  • For Oven Pulled Pork: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Pour coke around the pork in the Dutch oven pot. Cover pot with lid and cook for 3 hours. Remove lid and cook for an additional 1-2 hours, until pork is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork.
Cooked pulled pork in a dutch oven pot, before and after it has been shredded.
  • For Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: Place pork in slow cooker and pour coke around it. Cover and cook on LOW (recommended) 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours, until pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork.
Cooked pulled pork in a slow cooker before and after it has been shredded.
  • For Instant Pot Pulled Pork: Place pork in instant pot and pour coke around it. Cook on Manual/High pressure for 70 minutes. When timer beeps, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, about 15 minutes longer.
Instant pot pulled pork cooked in the pot, then shredded.
  • Shred meat and add BBQ sauce, if desired.

How much pulled pork per person?

If you’re wanting to estimate how much pulled pork you should make for a party or event you should keep these two general rules in mind:

  1. One pound of pulled pork will feed approximately 3 people (about 5 ounces per serving).
  2. Cooked pulled pork will loose about half of its weight as it cooks (so a 5 pound raw pork roast will cook down to 2.5 pounds of meat).

So, follow this simple calculation to figure out how much pork you’ll need per person:

  • # of guests multiplied by .33 (⅓ pounds of meat per serving) = amount of cooked pulled pork you will need. 
  • Times that number by 2, since the meat will cook down 50%.

For example, if you want enough pulled pork to feed 50 guests.

50 X .33 = 16.5 lbs cooked pulled pork needed

16.5 X 2 = 33 pounds raw pork butt needed

Other factors to keep in mind when calculating how much meat you’ll need include:

  • Ages of those eating (young children wont eat as much)
  • How the pork is being served. If served as the main dish with lighter sides, you’ll need more than if it’s served in sandwiches or tacos, or if there are other heartier sides to go with it.
Cooked pork on a cutting board with two forks shredding the meat.

Storing and Freezing Instructions:

To Store: put leftover pulled pork in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

To freeze: Pulled pork can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Reheating Pulled Pork:

To reheat in the Oven (preferred): Preheat oven to 250°F. Add the pork and leftover juices to an oven safe container (add water, apple juice or broth to the meat if it’s too dry). Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through to 165°F.

To reheat in the Slow cooker: Add the pork and leftover juices to slow cooker (add additional liquid if needed–apple juice, broth or water– to keep is moist). Turn to warm setting or LOW and cook until warmed through to 165°F.

To reheat in the Microwave: Add the pork and leftover juices to a microwave safe bowl (add additional liquid if needed–apple juice, broth or water– to keep is moist). Place a damp paper towel over the meat and heat in one minute increments until warmed through to 165°F.

Pulled pork sandwich served in a bun with bbq sauce, on a plate.

How to serve it:

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Recipe

A pile of pulled pork on a white plate.
Prep 20 mins
Cook 5 hrs
Total 5 hrs 20 mins
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Ingredients
 
 

  • 4 lb pork shoulder , or butt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (optional if searing)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 ounces coke (not diet)
  • bbq sauce for coating meat optional

Instructions
 

  • Trim pork of excess fat and cut into 4 pieces.
  • Combine spices in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. (This can be done the night before).
  • Sear (optional): Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and sear for a few seconds on all sides.
  • Oven Method: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Pour coke around the pork in the Dutch oven pot. Cover pot with lid and cook for 3 hours. Remove lid and cook for an additional 1-2 hours, until pork is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork. Remove from oven and shred meat. Toss in barbecue sauce, if desired.
  • Slow Cooker Method: Place pork in slow cooker and pour coke around it. Cover and cook on LOW (recommended) 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours, until pork is tender and shreds easily with a fork.
  • Instant Pot Method: Place pork in instant pot and pour coke around it. Cook on Manual/High pressure for 70 minutes. When timer beeps, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, about 15 minutes longer. Remove lid and shred the meat.

Notes

Coke: The coke adds sweetness and tenderizes the meat (Diet soda wont produce as great of results). Root beer would make a good substitute. If you don’t want to use soda you can substitute another acid, like ½ cup apple cider vinegar mixed with one cup of apple juice.
Store leftover pulled pork in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Find reheating instructions above in the post. 
Serving size: This recipe will yield about 2 pounds of cooked pulled pork; enough to serve about 6 people (5 oz per serving). See the post above for my tips for calculating how much pulled pork you’ll need for a larger group. 

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 36gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 554mgPotassium: 667mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 406IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 3mg

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RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

Originally published May, 22nd, 2020. Republished May 16th 2021.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. Going to fix this recipe this week end. Thinking about using my smoker. If I do how long do you think it will take and will 1 coke be enough.

  2. Just finished making this! Not quite exactly like the recipe, I didn’t have chili powder and since we aren’t crazy about spicy, I subbed smoked paprika. I just mixed in some maple bourbon barbecue sauce and looking forward to digging in. My “taste test” was very enjoyable. Any leftovers, I’ll probably try with some mac and cheese tomorrow.

  3. 5 stars
    Easy! Tasty! So moist! I made it in the crockpot. It makes a lot so we have had had it on buns with slaw, in tacos with homemade shells and slaw and tonite on baked taters with cheese. Later this week it’s going on pizza. Thanks for the great recipes!

  4. Where is the slaw recipe you talked about? I can’t seem to find it. I plan to make this tomorrow. If you could let me know as soon as possible, it would be appreciated. Thank you.

  5. Hi, I have two questions. First, can I sear the meat the night before so I can start the slow cooker first thing in the morning? Second, for 7 – 7.5 lbs pork do I need more than one bottle of coke or will enough moisture exude from the meat?

    1. Hi Beth! It’s not safe to sear the meat the night before. It’s an optional step though so you can skip it if you’re pressed for time. The one can of coke will be enough!
      Let us know what you think of the recipe.

  6. Delicious and easy pulled pork. I cooked it with 12 oz. of Coke and with some honey BBQ sauce poured on top of the pork before cooking it in my Instant Pot (70 min. + 15 min. to vent) in addition to the dry rub spices as listed in the recipe. I added more Honey BBQ sauce after shredding the meat but left some “dry” as my husband doesn’t care for saucy meet. Can’t wait to make it again!

  7. 5 stars
    This recipe was pretty good. The seasoning was awesome. I was skeptic about the cola but it made the pork not dry up. This was awesome and very simple. Thank you for the share. Happy cooking 😃

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve made pulled pork using a different recipe that uses just a dry rub, no cooking liquid. This recipe came out so much better – the meat was moist and the meat shredded easily. I ended up adding a lot of barbecue sauce (half of a small bottle) to give the pulled pork even more flavor and moistness. My only comment is that you should retain the juices to reheat the pulled pork as noted above the re pie instructions. I three out all the cooking liquid, then realized I should have kept it!

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