I always have a batch of this flavorful, versatile dutch oven pulled pork in my freezer. My basic spice combination is super flexible and pairs with a variety of cuisines. Searing then braising the pork in a dutch oven results in crispy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork.
Dutch oven pulled pork is a staple that I turn to regularly in my meal planning. It’s an incredibly versatile cut of meat, relatively inexpensive, deeply flavorful, and super easy to cook.
There are some drawbacks, though – primarily the time commitment (anywhere from 4-8 hours) and the portion size. The pastured pork shoulder or Boston butt that I source from my local butcher is generally in the 3-5 pound range. That’s a lot of freakin’ meat.
For years I used the entire cut to make a gigantic batch of carnitas, pork ragu, BBQ pulled pork, or chili, and then froze the leftovers into manageable portions. This was effective in terms of reducing waste, but even this crazy-for-carnitas family tires of it after 4 (or more) pounds worth.
Enter this oven braised pulled pork recipe. Every 6 weeks or so I purchase a boneless Boston Butt, rub it down with a super versatile spice mixture, braise it in my dutch oven, and then freeze the pulled pork into 1-pound cooked portions.
I can easily defrost an individual portion to make an endless variety of quick weeknight recipes that I’ve adapted from their lengthier parent versions. Crispy carnitas in 20 minutes? Yes please. Fast weeknight pork ragu? Sign me up.
All of the flavor with just a fraction of the commitment.
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Dutch Oven Pulled Pork Recipe Notes
My go-to cut for dutch oven pulled pork is a boneless boston butt. They’re readily available in most grocery stores and butchers, and it’s also an option from my local CSA farmer. Because it’s boneless, it’s much easier to cut it down into manageable 3-4″ chunks for searing. .
My basic spice rub complements a wide variety of cuisines – sea salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and a touch of oregano. If you consistently use pulled pork in spicy recipes, feel free to add a tablespoon of red pepper flakes or chili powder.
I sear then braise my pulled pork in my trusty dutch oven. The method isn’t difficult, but you do need to babysit the pork a little, so it’s definitely a weekend task.
The texture that results from browning then braising the pork in a dutch oven is unmatched – crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Towards the end of the braising process, the exterior starts to caramelize in its own fat, creating a delicious crispy crust while the interior meat stays moist and tender. To. Die. For. Tasty.
If you’ve only ever cooked pull pork in the crockpot (I’m not judging, I did it for years, and still do it for certain recipes), you’ll want to try this version of braised pulled pork in a dutch oven. You won’t be disappointed.
(PS – I’m in love with my Lodge dutch oven linked earlier. I’d marry it and have little dutch oven babies. It’s such an integral part of my cooking arsenal that I own three – red, blue, and white. How’s that for an honest endorsement?)
How to Use Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
I’ve adapted a variety of more time-consuming recipes into fast weeknight dinners using this basic braised pulled pork as a base, such as my weeknight Pork Ragu recipe. This is an incredibly flexible recipe that takes on a variety of flavors from Mexican to American to Italian:
Need fast and easy? Toss some into a grain salad for a kick of protein (this combo makes an excellent packed lunch BTW).
As a base for an easy breakfast hash.
Mixed with rice, black beans, avocado, lettuce, and pico de gallo for a burrito bowl.
Served with carrot slaw, avocado, and lettuce for a paleo wrap.
What’s your favorite way to eat oven braised pulled pork? Tell me in the comments!
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- Heat the oven to 300*.
- Prepare the spice mixture. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano and mix to combine.
- Using a sharp knife, trim any excessive fat from the pork, but take caution to leave some intact (fat=flavor!). Slice the trimmed pork into 3-4" chunks. Dunk each side of the pork cubes into the spice mixture, covering all sides.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the fat of your choice and heat until it simmers. In batches, brown each side of the meat until the exterior is golden brown, 6-8 minutes per side. To ensure maximum browning, ensure pieces are not touching and that the pot is not overcrowded. For a 4-lb boston butt, this this typically takes me 3-4 batches total.
- Transfer the meat back to the dutch oven and arrange in a single layer at the bottom of the pan - for this stage it's totally fine for the pieces to be touching, and it will be a bit snug. Add ½ cup of water to the dutch oven, cover, and transfer to the oven. Braise in the oven for 3-4 hours, or until the meat easily pulls with a fork. In the last hour or so, all of the liquid will have cooked off and the meat will start to render in its own fat.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and then shred with a fork. The cooked meat can be immediately consumed, or, divided into 1-pound portions and freeze. To freeze, I wrap the pork in plastic wrap, then store in a gallon zip-lock bag. Cooked pork keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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