Roll out the pink butcher paper (aka BBQ red carpet), it's time for pulled pork sandwiches. And things will be getting a little messy.
Pulled pork sandwiches are so versatile and are pretty much the perfect party food. Cheap, easy to make in large quantities and so satisfying. They can be customized with a variety of sauces and toppings depending on your preferences or the theme of your party.
When it comes to pulled pork sandwiches, less is definitely more. Succulent slow-cooked pulled pork combined with a tangy BBQ sauce and some bright, fresh slaw is the perfect simple combination. And all three are so easy to make at home.
According to this excellent article in Southern Living, the term "pulled pork" seems to have originated in West Tennessee in the 1970s and spread briskly across the south, especially in South Carolina where they "pull" it straight off the bone but simply call it "barbeque." Since the 1990s, it's become a staple of southern cuisine, and can be found on restaurant menus all over.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Leftover pulled pork - Smoked is my favorite. But however you cooked it, it will be great. You don't even have to make it yourself. You can purchase pulled pork by the pound at your favorite BBQ restaurant or at the grocery store.
- BBQ sauce - Skip the bottle and make your own homemade sweet & tangy sauce.
- Bun, roll or bread - My favorite is a fresh brioche bun, but ciabatta rolls are also great and hold up well without getting soggy. Quality white bread can also be used. Just avoid breads or rolls that are hard or too crusty, as they compete with the tender texture of the pulled pork. Hawaiian rolls are great for making sliders.
- Slaw - Bright and fresh. Definitely make your own.
Condiments & Toppings
Aside from BBQ sauce and slaw, a few options are:
- Pickled red onions
- Pickles - Not essential, but bread & butter pickles served on the side go super well and are a great crunchy contrast.
- Onion rings - Thick cut or onion strings, both are fun and tasty on top or on the side.
- Fried shallots - The deep flavor of shallots makes everything more sophisticated.
- Grilled pineapple - Sweet and tart flavors pair wonderfully with the pork and sauce.
- Cheese - Some people like cheese. Go with cheddar, jack or mozzarella that gets nice and melty. Personally, I'll leave the cheese for making a different type of sandwich like the brisket grilled cheese.
Making the Pulled Pork
There are so many ways to make pulled pork, and they all make for great sandwiches. From the smoker (the most flavorful way) to a slow cooker (easiest) or even in the oven. They are all a time investment, but mostly hands-off.
With whichever cooking method you choose, you start with a pork butt or pork shoulder, season it and cook it to 203° F internal temperature, which makes for the perfect texture for pulled pork.
Get all the details and recipes for how to make pulled pork using each of the three methods.
Assembling the Sandwiches
- Heat the pulled pork and combine with BBQ sauce.
- Toast the buns with a little butter on the sliced surface.
- Place about 5 ounces of pulled pork on each bun.
- Top with your favorite toppings (see suggestions).
- Drizzle with a little extra BBQ sauce.
- Enjoy with amazing sides!
Sauce Tip: Don't over-sauce it. The amount of sauce you add to the pulled pork depends on how juicy your pulled pork is to begin with. People can always add more on top of their sandwich. Remember starting with smoked pulled pork means it has a lot of flavor and doesn't need much sauce (if any).
Make It a Pulled Pork Party!
Make the pulled pork, keep it warm in a Crockpot and put out all the sides for everyone to make their own sandwiches and fill their plates with delicious sides.
Want a smaller version? Make 'em sliders with Hawaiian buns, which are perfect for parties. You can slice the entire sheet pan of buns, toast and assemble all at once rather than individually for quick and easy production.
- Creamy Coleslaw
- BBQ Baked Beans
- Potato Salad
- BBQ Sauce - Serve extra barbecue sauce on the side in a fun squeeze bottle.
- Onion Rings
- Potato Chips or Fries
Frequently Asked Questions
About 5 ounces of pulled pork is just about perfect for a sandwich.
Start by mixing in about ¼ cup of BBQ sauce per pound of pulled pork, and add more as needed.
More Pulled Pork Recipes to Try
- Pulled Pork Ragu
- Crispy Carnitas Tacos
- Pulled Pork Chili
- Pulled Pork Nachos
- Pulled Pork Pizza
- See all the Leftover Pulled Pork Recipes
Pulled Pork Sandwich Recipe
- Pickles bread and butter or sweet pickle relish
- Pickled red onions
- Onion rings
- Grilled pineapple
- Heat the pulled pork in a skillet or in a slow cooker and combine with the desired amount of BBQ sauce, starting with ⅓ cup.
- Toast the buns with a little butter or oil on the cut side.
- Assemble the sandwiches by spooning on about 5 ounces of pulled pork on each, drizzling on some BBQ sauce and adding your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Recipe makes 4 sandwiches with 5 ounces of pork each and can easily be scaled up or down.
- The pulled pork can be crisped up in a skillet or you can gently heat it in a pot or Crockpot before adding the sauce.