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Tender, juicy, savory and sweet — this Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork is an easy lunch or dinner option that you can make in the Crock Pot or in a Dutch oven. Served on sandwich buns with a side of coleslaw, this is the best pulled pork recipe that you’ll ever sink your teeth into!

Close up side shot of dr pepper barbecue pulled pork in a bowl

Dr Pepper BBQ Pulled Pork

Dutch oven or Crock Pot Dr. Pepper pulled pork is an easy and affordable dinner, so it’s ideal for busy days when you don’t have the time or attention to tend to a more high-maintenance smoker or grill. With just a few minutes of prep, you can have a big batch of tender, juicy meat to use in tacos, sandwiches, wraps or salads all week long. You’ll love the taste of the sweet and zesty bbq rub, the crispy seared pork, and the richly flavored Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce!

The Best Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork

The best cut of meat for pulled pork is called a “pork butt” or a “Boston butt.” Some grocery stores often label this as a “pork shoulder.” Boston butt comes from high on the hog, above the shoulder blade. It has a lot of juicy, marbled fat, which lends itself well to juicy, slow-cooked meat.

Horizontal shot of a tray full of homemade bbq rub for ribs and chicken

Can I use a boneless pork butt?

Yes! Using a bone-in pork butt adds even more flavor to your meat; however, you can certainly use a boneless pork butt instead. In general, a boneless pork butt will require slightly less cooking time than a bone-in piece of meat, so keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly.

Can I use pork tenderloin for pulled pork?

Yes, you can — but it’s not ideal. Pork tenderloin is a very lean cut of meat, which does best when cooked quickly at a higher temperature (like this grilled pork tenderloin with bbq rub). It doesn’t lend itself as well to the low-and-slow cooking process, and instead has a tendency to become dry or tough when it’s cooked for too long.

That said, if you’re looking for a leaner cut of meat for pulled pork, then slow cooker pork tenderloin just might be your answer! It will have a different taste and texture than the pork shoulder (since it’s a different cut with less fat), but if you cook it in the Crock Pot for about 8 hours on LOW, it should stay fairly moist.

Dr. Pepper pulled pork recipe served on a sandwich bun on a white plate

Ingredients

This is an overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need to make Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork in the oven or in the slow cooker. As always, the exact measurements and the specific instructions are included in the recipe at the bottom of the post.

  • Pork Butt: also called “Boston butt” or “pork shoulder,” this inexpensive cut has a lot of marbled fat, which keeps the meat juicy and tender during the long cooking process.
  • Barbecue Rub: we use this simple homemade dry rub, which is slightly sweet and zesty, but not too spicy. You can substitute with your favorite store-bought rub.
  • Vegetable Oil: used for browning the meat.
  • Onions and Garlic: these add great flavor to the meat, breaking down and becoming so tender and sweet during the long cooking process that you can shred them right along with the meat and sauce at the end.
  • Dr. Pepper: tenderizes and flavors the meat.
  • Barbecue Sauce: we love Stubbs sauce, but you can substitute with your favorite homemade or store-bought brand.
ingredients for dr pepper pulled pork

The Best Soda for Pulled Pork

This recipe calls for Dr. Pepper soda, which acts as a tenderizer for the meat and adds so much flavor during the low and slow cooking process. Any similar soda that you enjoy will work well — Coca Cola and root beer are also great options and can be substituted in equal quantities.

Can you use Diet Dr. Pepper for pulled pork?

While a regular soda will provide the best flavor for the meat, you can substitute with Diet Dr. Pepper if you like the taste of the beverage and you’re watching your sugar intake.

How to Make Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

I prefer the Dutch oven method for cooking this pulled pork, but the Crock Pot instructions are also included below. A slow cooker is a great tool for busy days when you’ll be gone and need an easy, hands-off meal!

  1. Pat pork dry and season liberally with barbecue dry rub.
  2. Brown the pork in hot oil over medium heat. Remove to a plate.
  3. Sauté onions and garlic in the drippings.
  4. Stir in salt, Dr. Pepper and barbecue sauce.
  5. Return pork to the pot and cover tightly with a lid.
  6. Roast in a 325°F oven for about 4-5 hours, basting with the cooking liquid every hour (if possible). The pork is done when it’s falling off the bone and incredibly tender. The meat should reach an internal temperature of about 205°F.
  7. Shred the pork with two forks, discarding any fatty pieces.
  8. Return the meat to the juices. Serve with extra barbecue sauce, if desired.
Process shot showing how to make dr pepper pulled pork

The Best Way to Shred Pulled Pork

Before shredding, allow the pork to cool enough so that you can easily touch it without burning your hands. When you have such a big piece of meat, it can be very juicy and messy, so I like to put the pork on a rimmed baking sheet. This helps to prevent the juices from spilling all over the counter. Since the meat is so tender, it should basically just fall apart when you shred it with two forks.

Overhead shot of a bowl of dr. pepper bbq pulled pork in a bowl

Crock Pot Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

Place the onion and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pat pork dry with paper towels; season liberally with barbecue rub on all sides. Nestle the pork shoulder in the slow cooker on top of the onions (fat-side up). Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt, Dr. Pepper and barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours, until the pork is fall-apart tender.

What to Serve with Pulled Pork

This versatile meat can be served in a variety of ways! We prefer pulled pork sandwiches with a drizzle of barbecue sauce, but you can also serve the pork on top of a salad, in a wrap, stuffed into baked potatoes with barbecue sauce and cheese, as pulled pork sliders, or as pulled pork tacos or carnitas.

On the side, try pairing the Dr. Pepper bbq pulled pork with:

Front shot of dr pepper pulled pork sandwiches on a white plate

Storage

Leftover pulled pork will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To keep the pork longer, you can freeze the cooked meat in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

If you want to reheat your cooked pulled pork in the Crock Pot, place the cooked pork (and all of the reserved juices) in the slow cooker on the “WARM” setting for 2-4 hours. This is a great option if you need to prep a meal in advance! You can also reheat cooked meat in a saucepan or Dutch oven on the stovetop over low heat, or smaller portions in the microwave.

Horizontal shot of Crock Pot Dr Pepper Pulled Pork in a blue bowl

Recipe Variations

  • Use a boneless pork shoulder or pork roast in lieu of the bone-in pork butt. The boneless roasts tend to cook slightly faster, so adjust your cooking time accordingly.
  • Use root beer or Coca Cola instead of the Dr. Pepper. Cherry Dr. Pepper would also be tasty. Diet sodas should work, too.
  • Instead of a regular barbecue sauce, try topping your pulled pork with this delicious Alabama White BBQ Sauce.
  • Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork: add some cayenne to the dry rub, and serve the pork with crushed red pepper flakes, sliced jalapeños, or hot sauce.
Horizontal shot of dr pepper pulled pork sandwich on a plate

Tips for the Best Dr Pepper Pulled Pork Recipe

  • Searing the pork before adding it to the liquid and other ingredients helps to brown the surface and enhance the flavor. A hot pan creates a golden, caramelized crust through a process called the Maillard reaction, and will also lock in the meat’s juices.
  • The cast iron Dutch oven is always my preference over the Crock Pot, if you have a choice between the two. With the Dutch oven, you can sear the meat on the stovetop and move the entire pot to the oven for braising later. The tight-fitting lid traps moisture in the pot, and the cast iron distributes the indirect heat from the oven more evenly than the heating element in a slow cooker does. Finally, it’s easier to control the oven temperature and time when using a Dutch oven than it is to control the temperature of your Crock Pot.
  • If you’re using the Crock Pot, you may need to adjust the cooking time, depending on how hot your slow cooker runs (and how big your pork is). The pork will be fall-apart tender when it reaches an internal temperature of 205°F.
  • If your pulled pork is tough, it’s probably because you haven’t cooked it long enough. The collagen in the meat is what keeps it tough, so you need to allow plenty of time for those fibers to break down. Just extend the cooking time and make sure that there’s enough liquid to keep the pork moist as it simmers.
  • Cooking for a Smaller Family? This meat freezes really well! I like to package leftovers in individual containers, label them, and stash them in the freezer for later meals. The pulled pork is delicious served on sandwich rolls, but it also works well on salads, tacos, stuffed in baked potatoes, in quesadillas, or on pizza! Get creative and enjoy the leftovers in a variety of ways.
Front shot of the best dr pepper pulled pork recipe served in a blue bowl

More Pulled Pork Recipes to Try

Close up side shot of dr pepper barbecue pulled pork in a bowl

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total: 5 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 507 kcal
Tender, juicy, savory and sweet — this Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork is an easy lunch or dinner option that you can make in the Crock Pot or in a Dutch oven!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (6-7 lb.) bone-in pork butt (or “Boston butt” or “pork shoulder”)
  • ¼ cup homemade barbecue rub (or store-bought brand of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ cups Dr. Pepper soda
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving
  • Optional, for serving: sandwich rolls; coleslaw

Instructions

Dutch Oven Method:

  • Pat pork dry with paper towels; season liberally with barbecue rub on all sides.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the pork on all sides, taking care not to get the oil too hot. Remove the meat to a platter.
  • Add onions and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender (about 10-15 minutes). Stir in 1 ½ teaspoons salt, Dr. Pepper and barbecue sauce. Nestle the pork shoulder in the pot (fat-side up). Cover the pot.
  • Roast the pork shoulder in a 325°F oven for about 4-5 hours, basting with cooking liquid every hour or so (if possible). The pork is done when the meat is falling off the bone (an internal temperature of about 205°F).
  • Transfer the pork to a large cutting board or rimmed sheet pan. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks (discarding fatty pieces), and return to the pot with the juices. Serve on rolls with additional barbecue sauce and coleslaw, if desired.

Crock Pot Method:

  • Place the onion and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  • Pat pork dry with paper towels; season liberally with barbecue rub on all sides. Nestle the pork shoulder in the slow cooker on top of the onions (fat-side up). Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt, Dr. Pepper and barbecue sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours, or on HIGH for 5-6 hours, until the pork is fall-apart tender.
  • Transfer the pork to a large cutting board or rimmed baking sheet. When it's cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks (discarding fatty pieces), and return to the pot with the juices. Serve on rolls with additional barbecue sauce and coleslaw, if desired.

Notes

  • Searing the pork before adding it to the liquid and other ingredients helps to brown the surface and enhance the flavor. A hot pan can create a golden, caramelized crust through a process called the Maillard reaction, and will also lock in the meat’s juices.
  • The cast iron Dutch oven is always my preference over the Crock Pot, if you have a choice between the two. With the Dutch oven, you can sear the meat on the stovetop and move the entire pot to the oven for braising later. The tight-fitting lid traps moisture in the pot, and the cast iron distributes the indirect heat from the oven more evenly than the heating element in a slow cooker does. Finally, it’s easier to control the oven temperature and time when using a Dutch oven than it is to control the temperature of your Crock Pot.
  • If you’re using the Crock Pot, you may need to adjust the cooking time, depending on how hot your slow cooker runs (and how big your pork is). The pork will be fall-apart tender when it reaches an internal temperature of 205°F.
  • If your pulled pork is tough, it’s probably because you haven’t cooked it long enough. The collagen in the meat is what keeps it tough, so you need to allow plenty of time for those fibers to break down. Just extend the cooking time and make sure that there’s enough liquid to keep the pork moist as it simmers.
  • Cooking for a Smaller Family? This meat freezes really well! I like to package leftovers in individual containers, label them, and stash them in the freezer for later meals. The pulled pork is delicious served on sandwich rolls, but it also works well on salads, tacos, stuffed in baked potatoes, in quesadillas, or on pizza! Get creative and enjoy the leftovers in a variety of ways.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the meat and sauceCalories: 507kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 65gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 532mgPotassium: 1251mgFiber: 2gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 275IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 114mgIron: 5mg
Keyword: best pulled pork recipe, crock pot dr pepper pulled pork, dr pepper pulled pork
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

    1. Thank you, Susan! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to come back here and leave me a note!