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Just 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep make this Mississippi pulled pork crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside! Serve the pork shoulder roast on a sandwich, in tacos, over a salad, or paired with all of your favorite Southern sides. It’s an easy dinner recipe that the whole family will love!

Close up side shot of a plate of roasted pork shoulder

Easy Pulled Pork Recipe

This easy pulled pork recipe was inspired by the classic Mississippi Pot Roast, which includes a packet of Ranch seasoning mix (among other pantry staples). I paired the Ranch seasoning with a packet of Italian salad dressing mix (another ingredient that I always have stocked in my kitchen), and this flavorful pork shoulder roast was born! I know it sounds like an odd combination, but just trust me on this one…

Mississippi Pork Shoulder Roast

Whether you prepare the pulled pork in the oven or in the Crock Pot, it’s an easy and affordable dinner that’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 zesty seasoning, the crispy exterior, and the fall-apart succulent pork. Add bbq sauce for the perfect finishing touch!

Overhead shot of a plate of pulled pork with bbq 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.

Can I use a boneless pork shoulder?

Yes! Using a bone-in pork butt (or pork shoulder) adds even more flavor to your meat; however, you can certainly use a boneless pork butt instead. In general, a boneless pork shoulder 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.

Drizzling vinegar on pork shoulder roast

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for the pulled pork. As always, specific measurements and complete step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Bone-in (or boneless) pork shoulder: also called “Boston butt” or “pork butt,” this inexpensive cut of pork has a lot of marbled fat, which keeps the meat juicy and tender during the long cooking process.
  • Olive oil: adds flavor and helps the outside of the pork turn brown and crispy.
  • Red wine vinegar: an acidic component that’s comparable to the pepperoncini juice you’ll find in a traditional Mississippi pot roast. The acidic vinegar balances the richness of the meat and gives the dish a more complex flavor. Apple cider vinegar works as a great substitute.
  • One packet of dry ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix and one packet of Italian salad dressing mix: a convenient blend of herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices, and even a bit of sugar that come together to create a perfect dry rub for the pulled pork. The sugars in the spice blend also caramelize on the outside of the roast, helping it brown in the oven.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: additional seasoning for the meat.
  • Barbecue sauce: for serving with the shredded pork.
Sprinkling dry rub seasoning blend on pork butt

How to Make Pulled Pork in Oven

With just five minutes of prep, this pork shoulder will be ready to slowly roast in your oven for an easy recipe that the whole family will love! If it’s more convenient, you can also prepare the pork shoulder roast in the Crock Pot (those instructions are included in the recipe notes below).

  1. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, place on a wire rack in a roasting pan, and drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Line the bottom of the roasting pan with aluminum foil, if desired, for easier cleanup.
  2. Rub the dry seasoning from the ranch and Italian packets onto the pork.
  3. Roast the pork shoulder, uncovered, at 425°F for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 325°F and continue cooking for about 4 more hours. The high heat helps to get the exterior of the pork nice and crispy (similar to searing it in a skillet first), while the lower, slower roasting allows the tough fibers to break down and create tender, juicy pulled pork on the inside.
  4. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat. It should be so tender that it just falls apart!
  5. Drizzle the meat with bbq sauce, if desired, and serve with all of your favorite Southern sides!
Side shot of pulled pork bbq on a dinner table with sides

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.

How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?

The 4 ½-lb. bone-in pork shoulder showed here yielded about 21 ounces of cooked meat. Assuming about ⅓-lb. of cooked meat per person, this size pork shoulder will feed about 4 adults. If you’re serving a larger crowd, buy a larger pork shoulder or use a boneless pork shoulder for more meat.

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, on pulled pork nachos, on top of bbq flatbread pizzas, as pulled pork sliders, or as pulled pork tacos!

On the side, try pairing the pulled pork with:

Overhead shot of hands eating a plate of pulled pork

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 pulled pork in the Crock Pot, place the cooked meat (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.

What to Do with Leftover Pulled Pork

This versatile shredded pork can be used as leftovers in a variety of ways! Here are some good options:

  • Piled on top of a bed of lettuce for a salad;
  • Stuffed in sandwich buns for sandwiches;
  • Stuffed inside of burritos;
  • Tucked into taco shells, corn tortillas, or soft flour tortillas for pulled pork tacos;
  • Toasted inside cheesy pulled pork quesadillas;
  • Sitting in a bowl on top of fluffy white rice with cheese, lettuce, jalapenos, onions, and any of your other favorite toppings;
  • Baked in enchiladas;
  • Topping a giant tray of pulled pork nachos.
Side shot of a plate of shredded pork shoulder roast with bbq sauce and a side of cornbread

Recipe Variations

  • Crock Pot Pulled Pork: I prefer the oven, which yields a nice crispy exterior; however, the slow cooker gives you really tender and juicy meat as well. Place the pork in a Crock Pot and prepare as directed in the recipe. Cover with a lid and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours or on HIGH for 6-7 hours.
  • 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.
  • Instead of a regular barbecue sauce, try topping your pulled pork with this delicious Alabama White BBQ Sauce.
  • Add brown sugar to the seasoning on the outside of the meat for a sweeter pulled pork. The sugar will also help the exterior caramelize. Paprika is also a nice addition for some color and extra flavor.
  • Give it some spice! Make spicy pulled pork by adding some cayenne pepper to the dry rub, and serve the pork with crushed red pepper flakes, sliced jalapeños, or hot sauce.
Overhead shot of a plate of Mississippi pulled pork in oven

Tips for the Best Pulled Pork Recipe

  • If you don’t have a roasting pan with a rack, you can cook the pork shoulder in a large Dutch oven (without the lid).
  • Since the cooking time can vary significantly depending on the size of your pork shoulder and whether it’s boneless or bone-in, I recommend using a meat thermometer to know when your pork is ready to come out of the oven. The pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 205°F, since this is the point at which is will “fall off” of the bone and become incredibly tender. Don’t stress about the exact timing too much, though — it’s hard to “overcook” a pork shoulder, since it just gets more and more tender as it roasts.
  • How many minutes per pound do you cook a pork shoulder roast? If you are using a pork shoulder that’s larger than 4-5 lbs., I recommend increasing the cooking time by 45 minutes per pound. Again, the meat thermometer is the best way to know when your pork is done.
  • You do not need to cover the pork shoulder in the oven. You want the exterior to get nice and charred and crispy!
  • 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.
Close up side shot of the best pulled pork

More Pulled Pork Recipes to Try

Square featured close up image of a tray of mississippi pulled pork with cornbread and coleslaw

Mississippi Roasted Pork Shoulder

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 4 hours 20 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total: 4 hours 55 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 402.6 kcal
Just 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep make this Mississippi Roasted Pork Shoulder crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (4-5 lb.) bone-in pork shoulder (or “pork butt”) (or see notes to substitute with boneless pork shoulder)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet dry ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet Italian salad dressing mix
  • Barbecue sauce, for serving
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Pat pork dry with paper towels. Place pork on a wire rack in a large roasting pan (line the roasting pan with foil for easy cleanup, if desired).
  • Drizzle pork with olive oil and vinegar; rub to coat evenly. Sprinkle dry seasoning packets all over the meat, rubbing the seasoning into the pork.
  • Roast the pork, uncovered, in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F and continue to cook for about 4 more hours (or until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 205°F).
  • Remove pork from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let stand until cool enough to handle (about 20-30 minutes). Use two forks to shred the meat. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Drizzle with barbecue sauce and serve!

Notes

  • Crock Pot Pulled Pork: I prefer the oven, which yields a nice crispy exterior; however, the slow cooker gives you really tender and juicy meat as well. Place the pork in a Crock Pot and prepare as directed in the recipe. Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours or on HIGH for 6-7 hours.
  • 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.
  • Instead of a regular barbecue sauce, try topping your pulled pork with this delicious Alabama White BBQ Sauce.
  • Give it some spice! Make spicy pulled pork by adding some cayenne to the dry rub, and serve the pork with crushed red pepper flakes, sliced jalapeños, or hot sauce.
  • Since the cooking time can vary significantly depending on the size of your pork shoulder and whether it’s boneless or bone-in, I recommend using a meat thermometer to know when your pork is ready to come out of the oven. The pork is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 205°F, since this is the point at which is will “fall off” of the bone and become incredibly tender. Don’t stress about the exact timing too much, though — it’s hard to “overcook” a pork shoulder, since it just gets more and more tender as it roasts.
  • How many minutes per pound do you cook a pork shoulder roast? If you are using a pork shoulder that’s larger than 4-5 lbs., I recommend increasing the cooking time by 45 minutes per pound. Again, the meat thermometer is the best way to know when your pork is done.
  • You do not need to cover the pork shoulder in the oven. You want the exterior to get nice and charred and crispy!
  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 5.3oz cooked porkCalories: 402.6kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 37.7gFat: 23.6gSaturated Fat: 7.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11.7gCholesterol: 133.9mgSodium: 691.6mgPotassium: 514.7mgSugar: 2g
Keyword: crock pot pulled pork, pork shoulder roast, Pulled Pork, pulled pork in oven, roasted pork shoulder, roasted pork shoulder recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in November, 2019. The photos were updated in June, 2022.

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. 5 stars
    I was looking for something different for a pork butt and found this recipe. I had everything in the cabinet. OMG this is delicious and my husband loved it so I had to subscribe to your page. This will be another nights main dish when it’s too hot to smoke a butt. So easy and taste great. I did add a little smoked paprika and will add more next time.

  2. 5 stars
    I used a boneless pork butt and it took a little more than 4 hours to cook. However might have been a problem with the oven or the user LOL. The meat was pretty delicious and worth the wait! I served it with skillet cornbread on the side. Also, I took it out at 195 degrees and let it rest til the internal temp reached 205 which wasn’t indicated but figured it applied here. I wasn’t sure what the seasoning packets would yield as far taste but it worked! Next time will add cayenne.