If you want to be the star of any family gathering, preparing pulled pork the right way will help you achieve this. Don’t forget that leftover pork shoulder is the best cut of meat for pulling purposes.
However, more often than not, there are leftovers that you can eat the next day.
Reheating pulled pork right is an art in itself. I still clearly remember the first couple of times I tried reheating pulled pork when I made too much-pulled pork. I ended up with a hard, dried-out mess.
But, I didn’t give up. Over the past decade, I’ve experimented with several ways to reheat leftover pulled pork until I perfected each method.
Today, I’ll talk about the ways to reheat the leftover pulled pork, so you’ll never worry about ending up with dried meat again.
- Reheating pulled pork properly involves six different methods, including sous vide, microwave, oven, crock-pot, grill, and steam, each with specific instructions to retain moisture and flavor.
- Temperature control, moisture retention, and careful handling are key factors in reheating pulled pork, ensuring that the meat remains juicy and flavorful without drying out.
- Proper storage of pulled pork is essential, with two common methods being the Wozniak Method for large pieces and vacuum sealing for individual portions, preserving flavor and nutrients.
Store Pulled Pork Correctly
Before I talk about how to reheat leftover pulled pork, there’s a crucial step that comes before the actual reheating, and that’s storing leftover pulled pork.
If you’re cooking pulled pork in advance for an event, keep it whole and shred it after reheating. This will help your meat keep the moisture instead of being dried out.
In case you want to pull the meat before you store it, make sure to do it while the meat is still hot.
Here’re the two storage methods I most commonly use.
1. The Wozniak Method
This method was created by Mike Wozniak, the pitmaster of the 2010 Kansas City Barbeque Society Team of the Year.
This is the perfect method if you want to store large pieces of meat, and it’s what Wozniak does with his leftover pulled pork after he competes.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Once the shredded pork reaches 175 degrees internal temperature, use foil to wrap it tightly. Pinch the edges to make sure they’re sealed off.
- Put the shredded pork you’ve wrapped in a watertight plastic bag.
- Put the bag in the cooler.
- Fill the cooler with ice.
This is done to bring down the meat temperature, as it’s too hot to be put in the fridge. Once the meat temperature lowers to 40 degrees, you can put the shredded pork in the fridge.
Note: The pulled pork can stay in the fridge for up to four days or up to three months in a freezer. If you keep it longer than that, you risk freezer burn.
2. Vacuum Sealing
If you want to store the pulled pork in individual portions, you should vacuum seal it. Vacuum sealing is great for preserving the meat and having more space in the freezer.
Most containers have extra air space, and you have to calculate what’ll fit in your fridge and freezer and what won’t. You don’t have to think about these issues with a vacuum sealer.
You should shred the meat before sealing it and make sure it’s not hot anymore. If you can’t wait for the cooked pulled pork to cool off, use the Wozniak method first and vacuum seal it once the temperature is below 40 degrees.
Once you seal the shredded pork, there’s no excess air inside, and there’s no way for microorganisms to enter.
Moreover, sealing will help your pulled pork leftovers retain flavor and nutrients.
“Vacuum sealing machines are sold everywhere nowadays. All you have to do is portion out the pulled pork, about 5 ounces per serving. Once the bag is vacuumed out, it’s sealed, and you can put it in the freezer.”
- Smoked BBQ Source, YouTube Channel
Pro tip: Write the date and bag contents on the outside. That’ll make it easier to identify later on, and you’ll know by which date you should use it.
Reheat Pulled Pork Sous Vide
When discussing how to reheat leftover pulled pork, let’s start with sous vide, French for “under vacuum.” It is one of the best methods to ensure your pulled pork leftovers are tender and moist.
For this technique, you’ll need sous vide machine. I’m guessing this isn’t something you have on hand. That’s alright.
You can also use a big cooking pot and a vacuum sealer.
If you are reheating leftover frozen pulled pork, leave it to thaw for 24 hours.
The sous vide machine, or the cooking pot should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remember, the water should be hot, but it mustn’t be boiling.
Once the desired internal temperature is reached, put the meat you placed in a vacuum-sealed bag in the cooking pot. Please don’t open the bag, and make sure it’s completely submerged.
Leave the bag in the pot for 30 to 45 minutes for every inch of meat thickness.
It is also a good method to use if you want to reheat pulled pork. In that case, leave the meat in the water for an additional thirty minutes.
There’s no need to add any extra sauces or moisture.
Once it’s done, take it out of the bag, add your preferred sauce, and enjoy some delicious meat.
Also Read: Pulled Pork With Beer
Reheat Pulled Pork in the Microwave
Reheating pulled pork in the microwave is the method many cooks are against. It’s considered almost sacrilegious to microwave BBQ food.
Also, many people are worried about food safety. Some plastic chemicals will contaminate the food and make it cancerogenic.
However, a study done by Harvard University found that microwaving plastic containers won’t cause cancerogenic chemicals to enter the food .
To be completely on the safe side, use a microwave-safe dish or a microwave-safe glass, as these are regulated by the FDA .
Here’s how to reheat leftover pulled pork in a microwave:
- Put the meat in a safe dish.
- Add liquid, such as leftover juices, apple juice, oil, or sauce.
- Have the meat on high heat for two minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. You can use a meat thermometer to check it.
If you’re reheating pulled pork that’s frozen, first use the defrost setting for several minutes until the meat thaws.
I admit, it isn’t ideal, but this is one of the best methods to use when you’re in a hurry.
Also Read: How to Reheat Chicken Wings
Reheat Pulled Pork in the Oven
You can also reheat the leftover pulled pork in the oven. Compared to other reheating methods, this is the easiest because you can leave the pork butt in the oven and go about your business.
Compared to sous vide and microwave methods, the advantage of oven-reheating pulled pork is that you can reheat larger pieces of meat.
Here’s how the oven reheating process works:
- Start by preheating the oven to 250 degrees.
- While you wait for the oven to heat, wrap the meat in the foil. Before you close the foil, add a half cup or a cup of leftover sauce, or use a little apple juice, white wine, beer, or water to make sure the pulled pork doesn’t dry out.
- Put the pulled pork in an oven-safe dish, such as a baking pan.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, and bake until it reaches 165 degrees.
- If necessary, add more sauce before eating.
If you want more crispiness, remove the foil and put the meat under the broiler. Keep an eye on the meat, as this won’t take too long.
Once it’s done, put the reheated pulled pork on a plate or a bowl, add your favorite BBQ sauce, and enjoy.
Reheat Pulled Pork in the Crock-Pot
If you’re wondering how to reheat the leftover pulled pork to keep the meat moist, look no further than a crock-pot or a slow cooker.
If you are busy, this is also a great way of reheating the meat because it doesn’t require much from you once it's in.
However, with this method, you have to be careful not to:
- Reheat on a high setting, as the leftover pork butt will end up burned.
- Reheat in a warm setting, as there’s a risk of bacteria growth if it doesn’t heat fast enough.
Since a slow cooker or a crock-pot seals in the flavors, this is a great way to reheat smoked pulled pork.
If the pork butt is frozen, make sure to let it thaw for a day.
Start the cooking process by putting the crock pot on low heat and putting the meat in, together with leftover drippings.
You can also use some apple juice or barbecue sauce. Don’t put in a lot of apple juice, as the crock-pot is very good at retaining moisture.
Leave the pulled pork for about 2 hours. As always, use a thermometer to check the reheated pulled pork temperature. Once it reaches 165 degrees, it’s done.
Reheat Pulled Pork on the Grill
If you plan to reheat the leftover pulled pork using the grill, make sure to think about the heat. Direct heat will dry out the meat even if you add liquids, so use the two-zone cooking method.
I only use the burners on one half of the grill and put the meat on the half that’s not on. This way, the meat is exposed to medium heat.
This can also be done if you have a charcoal grill. Pile up the charcoal on one side, so you have a hot zone.
Once the indirect heat reaches 225 degrees, it’s time to start the reheating process.
As always, make sure the meat is completely thawed.
To make sure the pulled pork's moist flavor is retained, wrap the meat in two layers of plastic wrap. Before closing the wrap, add ¼ cup liquid, such as apple juice, water, or BBQ sauce.
Put the meat on the cool part of the grill, and leave it there until the meat reaches 165 degrees.
Once the pulled pork is done reheating, carefully unwrap the plastic foil so the juices don’t run out.
If you’re in the mood for some crispy pulled pork, put it on the direct heat side of the grill for a few minutes.
Finally, when you remove it from the grill, put it in a pan together with any remaining liquids, and serve.
Reheat Pulled Pork With Steam
Are you wondering how to reheat the leftover pulled pork with steam? Well, steaming could be the best method for reheating pulled pork. It’s healthy, and the pulled pork will have that soft texture.
You’ll need a steaming basket that fits over a slow cooker or a crock-pot for this method.
Instead of boiling water, you can boil apple juice and use it to reheat your pulled pork.
Place the steaming basket over a pot, and put the pulled pork in. Leave it steaming for about half an hour.
Don’t forget to stir the slow cooker occasionally to ensure you reheat pulled pork equally.
You’re done reheating meat once it reaches 145 degrees. Move the pulled pork into another pot, add BBQ sauce, and serve.