Have you ever been left disappointed by a dry piece of pulled pork?
Maybe you left it a little too long in the oven or barbeque, or cooked it at too high a temperature. Whatever it may be, everyone wants their pulled pork to be moist and delicious!
If you’re tired of dry pork, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss four of the best ways you can keep your meat warm, moist and tender during and after the cooking process, so you can have the pulled pork of your dreams!
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What Makes Pulled Pork Dry?
Pulled pork can begin to get dry while cooking due to a number of reasons:
- The temperature you’re cooking the meat may be too high
- The meat has been cooking for too long
- Or… A deadly combination of the two!
Pulled pork gets dry under these conditions, as the moisture inside the pork reaches a point where it begins to evaporate.
This leaves you with a piece of pork that’s tough, dry, and hard to swallow, rather than the tender, moist pulled pork that everybody knows and loves.
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How to Keep Pulled Pork Warm and Moist Before Serving: 4 Best Ways
- Pack It Properly
The best way to pack your pulled pork once it has been cooked is completed in multiple steps.
- Remove your piece of pork from your oven or barbeque, carefully, as it will be hot.
- Place the pork down onto a sheet of foil large enough to fully enclose the meat once folded up.
Wrap the pork in the foil, creating a good tight seal along the edges to ensure no juice leaks out.
- Grab a plastic Ziploc bag and place the entire foil-wrapped piece of pork inside, sealing the bag afterwards.
- Leave the pork in a cooler or cold area until its temperature drops below 40ºF.
- Once it has cooled down enough, place the bag in the refrigerator with all of the moisture and juices safely inside.
- If you want to shred the meat first, wait until it has cooled down fully, so that it holds all the moisture of a larger chunk.
Place all of the smaller pieces in the center of some foil and carefully wrap them into a tight burrito shape.
Follow all the same steps as you would with a large chunk of pork.
- Proper Storage
Storing pulled pork in a refrigerator after cooking is very important.
It will last 3-5 days in your fridge, making sure that it remains under 40ºF at all times.
If you don’t store it at a cold enough temperature, it will go bad. You should always store your pork in an airtight container, with multiple layers if possible.
Storing your pork correctly will prevent all the moisture inside the meat from evaporating, ensuring that your meat is nice and tender when you go to reheat it next.
The best way to reheat pulled pork is going to be whichever method leaves it the most tender and juicy after its time in the oven or microwave.
Here is one way you could do it using an oven:
- Place your pork into an oven-proof baking dish or baking tray, along with the leftover pork juices, or some apple juice if you didn’t save the drippings.
- Preheat the oven to 250ºF and then bake it until the pulled pork reaches a temperature of 165ºF.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
Reheating your pork this way allows any moisture that was lost during the original cook to be reintroduced to the meat through the drippings or apple juice.
Keeping the meat moist at all times is the key to tender pulled pork!
- Time Your Cook To Be Ready Before Serving
To avoid having to reheat your pulled pork before your meal, try to time the original cook to line up perfectly with the expected meal time.
Your pork will ideally take 4-6 hours to cook on low during the day, so count 8 hours backwards from whenever your meal will be. This is when your pork should be starting its time in the oven or on the barbeque.
If you don’t leave enough time, you might have to turn the heat up at the end of cooking, which could release the moisture from the meat.
However, if you cook the pork for too long, this could also lead to dry meat. It’s a game of timing, but you can absolutely do it!
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Tips For Smoking Pulled Pork For Ultimate Tenderness
Choose The Right Cut Of Meat
The best cut of meat for pulled pork is the pork shoulder. This cut has just the right amount of fat to create a tender, moist stack of pulled pork.
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Brine And Cure
Adding a brine to your cut of pork before you cook it can make your pulled pork so much tastier and tender at the end.
Your brine should consist of:
- Some form of liquid, such as water or apple cider.
Apply the brine to your cut of meat several hours before you begin cooking.
If your cut is especially large, you may want to leave it in the brine overnight to ensure enough of it soaks into the meat.
A brine will retain more of the pork’s moisture during the cooking stage, as well as adding extra flavor.
Cook At The Right Temperature
Depending on how long you have to cook your pork, you’ll want to cook the meat at around 300ºF.
If you have longer to cook your meat, turn the temperature down a little bit. If you have less time to cook your pork, you can turn the temperature up slightly.
Be careful not to leave your pork cooking at a temperature that is too high; otherwise, the moisture will evaporate!
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Low And Slow
The secret to fantastic pulled pork is cooking it ‘low and slow’.
This phrase means cooking the meat at a low temperature for a long time. Doing so will leave you with a tender, moist piece of pork at the end of your cooking session.
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Spray The Meat For Moisture
If you’re still worried about ending up with dry meat, here’s another tip for you!
Just fill a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar and spray the meat while it’s cooking every few hours. Adding liquid into the baking dish with the pork will keep the natural meat juices intact as it cooks.
Use A Professional Smoker
If you’re using a professional smoker for your pulled pork, you’ll need to baste it with meat juices occasionally during the final hours of cooking.
When you’re using a smoker, you should take into consideration the cooking time, which is roughly 2 hours per pound of pork.
The Bottom Line
Pulled pork is a delicious dish that is always a crowd-pleaser! The secret to having a piece of pork that is tender and moist is cooking it at a low, slow temperature and keeping it moist.
If your pork is cooked for too long at a temperature that is too high, the meat will become dry and tough- which you definitely don’t want.
Follow the steps above and you’ll be left with delicious, moist pulled pork that’s sure to please.