The best BBQ pulled pork sandwiches EVER. The pork is so tender and flavorful and can be made in the slow cooker or in the instant pot!

Barbecue pork sandwich on bread on white plate

With over 1500 recipes on my blog, I think I can easily say that over the past ten years I have made this barbecue pork sandwich recipe more than any other recipe.

This has been my backup recipe for family reunions, church feasts, entertaining company, basic weekday dinners, and feeding crowds of 200 or more.

With the slow cooker and pressure cooker directions, it's SO easy, and the tender and gravy pork is completely delicious.

It truly is the best barbecue pork recipe on the market. Perfect for sandwiches (or for salads or quesadillas!).

Grated BBQ pork sandwich with coleslaw on white plate

How to choose a roast pork

I almost always make this barbecue pork with pork sirloin roasts. Costco sells a pack of 4 that I keep on hand just for this recipe.

Shoulder or pork butt roasts also work great. For really tender pork, you want to choose a roast pork that has enough fat and dark, marbled meat.

I didn't have much luck making this BBQ pork with pork tenderloin (it is often too lean) or pork tenderloin.

slow cooker uncooked roast pork

Slow cooker or pressure cooker

This recipe is brilliantly easy in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. No matter which one you use, you add:

  • broth
  • roast pork (I cut the pork into large pieces)
  • liquid smoke (amazing for the flavor!)
  • salt and pepper

The slow cooker does its thing for about 8-9 hours (low) or 5-6 hours (high). For an electric pressure cooker, I cook the pork on high pressure for 55-60 minutes, then usually let the pressure release completely.

After cooking, the pork should be tender. If not, add extra cooking time until it does!

Slow cooker grated pork with barbecue sauce

Barbecue sauce matters

All you have to do is pour in as much barbecue sauce as your soul can handle.

The pork has an amazing flavor from cooking in liquid smoke and seasonings, but the barbecue sauce really is why we're all here. So use a barbecue sauce that you like. Like, the one that you had happily nibbled on on your own.

He must be this well. It is my favorite homemade barbecue sauce recipe.

When I don't have it on hand, our favorite store-bought brands are Sweet Baby Ray's and Kinders.

grated BBQ pork cooked with BBQ sauce

Serve this delicious BBQ pulled pork on buns. Purchased in store, home made, whatever makes you happy.

You can also throw coleslaw on it. I firmly believe this is a match made in heaven, but only a few remaining family members agree. The others (gasp) ditch the coleslaw and add a slice of cheddar cheese to their barbecue pork sandwich.

To each his own. Even though it pains me to say that.

All you really need to know is these are the best BBQ pulled pork sandwiches on the planet. They are so easy to prepare and the baked pork freezes beautifully, making it a great freezer or pre-cooked meal.

bite out of a BBQ pork sandwich

BBQ Pulled Pork FAQs

Can I leave out the liquid smoke?

I highly recommend using it as it adds incredible flavor depth. But you can leave it out if you really don't want to use it or don't have it. You might consider adding a pinch of smoked paprika or other smoked spices for a flavor boost.

Does it freeze well?

It is true! I cook the pork, mix it with barbecue sauce, let it cool a bit, then freeze it in gallon-sized freezer ziplock bags. To reheat, I thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the slow cooker for a few hours, in a skillet on the stovetop, or in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

Can I use this recipe for grated pork without the barbecue sauce?

Yes! It makes delicious pulled pork with or without barbecue sauce.

Can I double (or triple) this recipe?

This recipe doubles or triples very well. For a really big batch, you can cook the pork in an electric roaster - around 250 or 275 degrees for several hours, depending on how much pork is packed in it.

What to serve

French rolls
Fresh vegetables and / or green salad

One year ago: The best chicken enchiladas with red sauce
Two years ago: Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Three years ago: Shells stuffed with chicken and homemade broccoli Alfredo
Four years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Five years ago: Slow Cooker Lasagna Perfected
Six years ago: Artisanal crispy bread without kneading
Seven years ago: Pumpkin Cream Sandwiches
Eight years ago: Caramel Apple Cider Floats

Yield: 8 to 12 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 8 hours

Total time: 8 hours 15 minutes

Barbecue pork sandwich on bread on white plate


  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, pork butt or pork sirloin roast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (I use kosher coarse salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I use coarsely ground)
  • 2 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke
  • 2 to 3 cups of barbecue sauce (and more for serving)


  1. Cut the roast pork into large 4-inch pieces (optional, but helps cook a little faster and more evenly). Season the pork on all sides with S&P.
  2. Slow cooker instructions: add water or broth and liquid smoke to the slow cooker. Add the pork. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours, until pork is tender.
  3. Pressure cooker instructions: Reduce the water / broth to 1 cup. Add the water or broth, pork and liquid smoke to an electric pressure cooker. Attach the lid, set the valve to seal, and cook on high pressure for 55-60 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes (or completely). Quickly release any remaining pressure.
  4. Remove the pork from the slow cooker or pressure cooker and discard most of the remaining liquid (I leave about 1/4 cup or so). Shred the pork using a few forks - it should easily fall apart. Return meat to slow cooker or pressure cooker. Add barbecue sauce and heat (or keep warm for several hours).
  5. Serve on buns with additional barbecue sauce.


Adding time: if you are near the end of the cooking time for the slow cooker or pressure cooker and the pork is not tender enough, just add more time until it crumbles.

Pork with bone: you can also use bone-in roast pork for this recipe. The cooking time should be about the same. Discard the bones before shredding them.

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Recipe source: slightly adapted from my lovely friend, Sarah M.
Recipe originally published in August 2010; updated October 2020 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

Barbecue chicken sandwich on a white plate

Posted on October 28, 2020 by Mel