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Dutch Oven Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork is a glorious combination of sweet, caramelized, and peppery flavors. Cooked low and slow, the meat is fork-tender and falls apart with ease when ready. Served as is or covered in BBQ sauce, topped with purple onions, jalapenos, and cabbage on a bun for the perfect bite.
🥤 Why do people use Dr. Pepper for Pulled Pork?
Soda acts as a tenderizer for otherwise tough meat. The combination of acidic soda mixed with a low and slow method of cooking the meat, is what brings rich flavor and juicy, tender texture to each bite. If you’re not a fan of Dr. Pepper, you can use any other dark soda such as Pepsi, Coke, or even Moxie (hello Mainers!).
Can you taste the soda flavor in the pulled pork?
It’s very faint. If you would like the soda to be more prominent, try making a BBQ sauce from scratch and mixing some of the soda in. That will really enhance the flavors.
🛍️ Ingredients for Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
Pork – Pork Butt (which is actually the shoulder) can be found at nearly all grocers. You can use boneless or bone in. Bone in meat is said to be more flavorful and tender, but boneless ensures all you’re paying for is the meat you will consume. Look for one that is vibrantly pink with a lot of marbling.
Onion & Garlic – a white onion and pressed garlic cloves are used to infuse flavor during the cooking process as well as help to loosen all the bits on the bottom of the pan during sauting and deglazing.
Seasonings – We’re keeping it pretty simple by using brown sugar, salt, paprika, cinnamon, and black pepper. These spices will be used to season the meat and add a BBQ flavor to the liquid and fat that renders during braising.
Dr. Pepper – Just one 16.9 ounce bottle or 2 cans of Dr. Pepper are used to deglaze and braise the pork butt, keeping it tender and moist while cooking.
BBQ Sauce – Use your favorite BBQ sauce or make your own! Drizzle it on the sandwich or mix it in with the pork in a large bowl once shredded.
🥩What cut of pork is best for pulled pork?
You’re looking for a pork shoulder, though it is often labeled as a Boston Butt, Boston Roast, or Picnic Roast in the grocery store. When in doubt, simply ask the workers behind the meat counter and tell them you’re looking to make pulled pork.
How much pork will I need?
Plan for 1/3 pound (151 grams) per person. Be sure to take into account the weight of the bone when purchasing your roast. Most Boston Butts are sold between 6 to 8 pounds, whereas the full shoulder is closer to 16 pounds.
👩🍳 How to make Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
Step 1: Start by mixing the seasonings together in a bowl and pat the roast dry on all sides with a paper towel.
Step 2: To a Dutch oven, add a few Tablespoons of avocado oil to the bottom. Over high heat, sear the roast on all sides. About 5 minutes on each side provides a nice deep char and loosens some of the fat. Remove from the Dutch oven and set aside.
Step 3: Add the chopped onions to the Dutch oven and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the Dr. Pepper to the Dutch oven to deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen the flavor bits.
Step 4: Add the pork back to the Dutch oven with the minced garlic. Cover and bake at 300F in the center of the oven for 4 hours. Baste or carefully flip the roast in the oven to cover with the liquid.
Step 5: Bake until the roast has reached an internal temperature of 195-205F. This is the temperature at which the collagen will be melting and the meat should be fork tender.
Step 6: Shred the roast using a pair of forks. If you cannot, it’s not done! Add the shredded meat, sautéed onions, and 2 cups of the liquid gold to a large bowl. Add about 1 cup of BBQ sauce to the bowl and mix. Serve on buns as pulled pork sandwiches or with a sides of mashed potatoes and green beans for a full meal.
⏱️ How long to cook Pulled Pork
You’ll want to cook the pulled pork low and slow, at about 300F for 1 hour per pound. Start checking the meat after 4 hours, every hour. Keep the cover on the Dutch Oven so the steam doesn’t escape and make the meat dry and tough. You’ll know the pork is done when you can touch it with a fork and it falls apart gently and easily. If you think you need a knife or need to really dig in to shred it, it’s not done. It needs to cook long enough to allow the collagen and fat tissue to breakdown.
🍽️ How to store leftover pulled pork
Transfer leftovers to an air tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. You can also transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the night before in the refrigerator and add to a skillet the next day with extra BBQ sauce to awaken the flavors.
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Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
- 5 quart dutch oven
- 4 pound pork shoulder Boston Butt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil for high heat searing
- 1 yellow onion medium diced
- 16.9 ounces Dr. Pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- Pat the roast dry on all sides with a paper towel. In a bowl combine the brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and black pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the roast. Allow to rest about 5-10 minutes so the rub adheres well to the meat.
- To a Dutch oven, add avocado oil to the bottom. Over medium-high heat, sear the roast on all sides, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the Dutch oven and set aside.
- Add the chopped onions to the Dutch oven and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the Dr. Pepper to the Dutch oven to deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen the flavor bits.
- Add the pork back to the Dutch oven with the minced garlic. Cover and bake at 300F in the center of the oven for 4 hours. Baste or carefully flip the roast in the oven to cover with the liquid after about 2 hours.
- Bake until the roast has reached an internal temperature of 195-205F. This is the temperature at which the collagen will be melting and the meat should be fork tender.
- Shred the roast using a pair of forks. If you cannot, it's not done! Add the shredded meat, sautéed onions, and 2 cups of the broth to a large bowl. Add about 1 cup of BBQ sauce to the bowl and mix. Serve as desired.