How To Reheat Pulled Pork

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Pulled pork in a bowl

Depending on what area you are from or what style of regional barbecue you love, pulled pork is an iconic bite of BBQ. The only problem is that a pork butt can be a massive hunk of meat and you might not eat it all, so you need to know how to reheat pulled pork. The best way to reheat pulled pork is either in an oven or on the smoker. You can reheat it at low temperatures which are perfect for not drying it out, while also tossing it in some extra barbecue sauce (if that’s your thing.)

You’ll also want to know how to reheat pulled pork without drying it out. No one wants dried-out shreds of pork, so you need to use a method that will allow you to keep it moist by doing two things. First, you need to be able to reheat it at a low temperature so you won’t draw much more moisture out of the meat. Secondly and ideally, you want to be able to reheat it in such a way that you can add moisture. That can be done by reheating in a dish with juice, apple cider vinegar, or extra barbecue sauce depending on your preferences.

We here at Angry BBQ have spent some time around pulled pork. We’ve smoked it, eaten it, had leftovers, and reheated it. Pulled pork is easy to reheat, so don’t stress out about it. As long as you do it slowly and focus on how to keep it moist, you’ll be able to enjoy pulled pork even a couple of days after it’s been smoked.

In this article, we’ll cover how long your leftover pulled pork will last, how to tell if it’s gone bad, what the United States Department of Agriculture says you need to reheat pulled pork to, some uses for all that leftover pulled pork, and the pros and cons of the different ways to reheat. We’ll even discuss whether the microwave is a good option for reheating when you’re in a rush or not. Let’s get to it!

Slow cooked pulled pork partially shredded

How Long Is Leftover Pulled Pork Good For?

The last thing you want to happen when you reach into your fridge for leftover pulled pork is to find that it’s gone bad. One way to prevent that from happening is to know how long it lasts in the fridge. The USDA says that when using cooked pork, it should be eaten or frozen within four days of it being cooked. 

How To Tell If Pulled Pork Has Gone Bad

Just because the USDA recommends you should eat your leftovers within four days doesn’t guarantee that your pork will last that long. You need to know what to look for, and your sense of sight is a great place to start.

When you pull your pulled pork out of the fridge, take a quick look. Does it look pretty much the same as it did when you put it in there? Or does it have mold growing on it or is it discolored in any obvious way? Obviously, mold growing means you should throw it away, but any change in look should be investigated further.

The next sense you should use is your sense of smell. Does the pulled pork smell like barbecue sauce, wood smoke, or the dry rub you use? That’s a good sign. If it smells sour or like ammonia, that’s a sign bacteria have taken over. Just remember that pork smelling tangy while it’s raw is a bad sign, but pork that smells tangy due to a vinegar-based sauce shouldn’t be a problem. 

For a deeper dive into this subject, check out our article on how long pulled pork is good in the fridge along with some storage tips.

How Hot Does Pulled Pork Need To Be When Reheated?

So your leftover pulled pork is good to go and you’re looking forward to enjoying it. Before you go any further, you need to consider how hot it needs to get when reheating it. Per the USDA, you’re looking for an internal temperature of the meat to be 165° Fahrenheit to ensure it’s good to eat. While it may not be the easiest to temp, look for the thickest pieces of pork still together and use an instant-read meat thermometer like the ThermoWorks Themapop 2 to check the internal temperature.

How To Reheat Pulled Pork

So now we know how to make sure that our pulled pork is still good, how long we should keep it, and to what temperature we should be reheating it. So what are the different ways to reheat pulled pork? Our two favorite ways are on the smoker or in the oven because of controlling the temperature. The oven is more convenient than firing up the smoker, but you can get a little more smoke flavor on your pulled pork. Plus, reheating your food using the same appliance/smoker as the original cooking method is usually the best.

You can also reheat your pulled pork on your grill by setting it up for indirect, or two-zone, heat. If you or your grill struggles to maintain a steady temperature, this might not be the best idea. 

A slow cooker or Crock Pot could be a great option as well, especially if you’re reheating a lot at one time. Just make sure you’re paying attention so you don’t overcook it.

If you have a sous vide machine and a vacuum sealer, this is a foolproof way to ensure you reheat your pulled pork to the correct temperature without overcooking it. However, you do need at minimum a vacuum sealer, and this method isn’t quick. 

Finally, there’s the microwave. The go-to for rapid heating in every kitchen. Is it possible to keep pulled pork from drying out in the microwave? We’ll get to that.

Should I Use BBQ Sauce To Reheat My Pulled Pork?

One of the most important things to keep in mind while reheating pulled pork is moisture. You don’t want to serve dried-out pork whether it’s fresh or reheated. 

What Are You Going To Use All That Leftover Pulled Pork For?

We’ve all been there. We’ve stared at leftovers in the fridge trying to figure out what to do with them. You certainly can have another pulled pork sandwich, but what if you want something different? We’ve got you covered. 

If you enjoy a hearty meal during the colder months (or really any time of the year,) Jannah Haas has a recipe for a barbecue spin on the traditional shepherd’s pie with her pulled pork shepherd’s pie recipe. You can even omit the peas as we would in my house if you want. You still get a melty cheese topping over smooth mashed potatoes, plus that sweet corn layer over pulled pork tossed with your favorite barbecue sauce. What’s not to love?

Pulled pork sheppards pie
Pulled Pork Sheppard’s Pie

If you’re looking for even more ideas, check out our list of some of the best leftover pulled pork recipes. There are breakfast options, appetizers, and entrée ideas, so there’s something for everyone and every need. 

Pulled Pork Nachos
Pulled Pork Nachos
Pulled Pork Sweet Potato Fries
Pulled Pork Sweet Potato Fries
Pulled Pork Waffles
Pulled Pork Waffles

So what is the best way to reheat pulled pork barbecue? Let’s break it down.

How To Reheat Pulled Pork In A Smoker

Chances are you smoked a pork butt on your preferred smoker if you’ve got leftover pulled pork. What better way to reheat it than to return it to the smoker? You’ll be able to maintain a low temperature to help keep from drying out the pulled pork while possibly adding even more smoke flavor. This is also how to reheat pulled pork on a pellet grill.

You’ll want an aluminum roasting pan, your favorite barbecue sauce (or apple cider/apple cider vinegar if you don’t want the bbq sauce), aluminum foil, and an instant-read thermometer. It doesn’t take much to reheat that pulled pork nicely!

If you don’t have a roasting pan, you can tightly wrap the pulled pork in a double layer of foil to lock in all that moisture.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
  2. Add your leftover pulled pork to the aluminum roasting pan with enough barbecue sauce or apple juice/apple cider vinegar to lightly coat the pulled pork. If you’re simply wrapping the pork, tear off enough to wrap the pulled pork in a double layer of foil. This will trap all the moisture and help prevent any tears releasing food and liquid.
  3. Cover the pan with aluminum foil tightly to help trap any steam.
  4. Place the pan on the preheated smoker.
  5. After about 15 minutes, pull the pan from the smoker and unwrap to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the pulled pork. If you are using the apple juice or apple cider vinegar method, pull the pork if it’s reading 165°F. 
  6. If you are using barbecue sauce, look for around 160°F. If it has hit that temperature, return the unwrapped pan to the smoker to finish. The barbecue sauce will pick up extra smoke flavor.
  7. Otherwise, return the wrapped pan to the smoker until it reaches the proper temperature.
  8. Let rest for 10 minutes, then enjoy!
Reheat pulled pork with smoker

Reheating Pulled Pork On The Grill

You can also use your charcoal grill or even your gas grill to reheat pulled pork much like the smoker. You’ll just need to set up your grill for 2-Zone, or indirect heat, cooking. You’ll still target the 250°F mark on the indirect side of the grill. Otherwise, follow the instructions the same as above. You can also add wood chips in a foil packet to the hot side for the extra wood smoke flavor at the end as well.

How To Reheat Pulled Pork In The Oven

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to reheat pulled pork is in the oven. You get great temperature control and you don’t even have to leave your kitchen. You can’t add that extra wood-smoke flavor like you can on the smoker, but it still is one of the best ways to reheat pulled pork. 

You can use an aluminum roasting pan or really any oven-safe dish. You’ll also want aluminum foil, an instant-read thermometer, and your preferred liquid for keeping the pork moist.

Leftover pulled pork in a casserole dish

How Long To Reheat Pulled Pork In The Oven

When you’re reheating pulled pork in the oven at 250°F, it will take roughly 15 minutes or so. It comes down to how much pork you’re trying to reheat and how thick of a layer of pork is in the dish. The more pork and the thicker the layer, the longer the time. If you’re reheating a small amount and spread it fairly thin, it may only take about 10 minutes.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  2. Add the pulled pork to the oven-safe dish and add enough liquid to lightly coat the pork.
  3. Tightly cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  4. Put the dish in the preheated oven.
  5. Pull the dish after 10-15 minutes and uncover to check the thickest piece of pulled pork’s internal temperature with the instant-read thermometer. If it has reached 165°F, pull it. If it’s not hot enough, add liquid if necessary and recover the dish before putting it back in the oven.
  6. Once it has reached the correct temperature, let the pulled pork rest for about 10 minutes, then enjoy!

Reheating Pulled Pork With Sous Vide

Reheat pulled pork with Sous Vide

Not everyone can reheat pulled pork using the sous vide method. At a minimum, you need to be able to vacuum-seal your meat safely in a watertight plastic bag because while you want moist pulled pork, you don’t want it water-logged. Now you don’t actually need a sous vide machine in order to reheat pork this way, but it is the easiest way. You can heat water on stove burners to create a hot water bath, but you need to keep monitoring it throughout the process to ensure it stays at the temperature you want.

If you have the time and you have the ability, reheating pork via the sous vide method will guarantee that you don’t overcook it. The reason we say having the time is that this method will take longer than any of the other methods. You’ll be heating the water bath to 165°F, so while you will never overcook the meat, you’ll also be reheating it much slower than the other methods. So make sure you have the necessary tools and the time, but this is a foolproof way to reheat pulled pork.

Also, vacuum sealing your leftover pulled pork can help keep it safe during storage both in the fridge and the freezer.

Instructions

  1. Make sure your pulled pork is vacuum-sealed in a food-safe bag. Prior to sealing, you can add more barbecue sauce or your preferred liquid. The thinner the mass of pulled pork, the quicker it will reheat. It will take about 45 minutes per inch of food.
  2. Preheat your water to 165°F either using a sous vide machine or by heating it on the stove and monitoring the temperature. Remember, you aren’t looking for the water to boil. It boils at 212°F, and a number of food-safe vacuum sealed bags are made from materials that will melt at that temperature.
  3. Place the bag of pulled pork into the pre-heated water.
  4. Let the pulled pork reheat at the rate of 45 minutes per one-inch thickness. If you aren’t sure, let it go a little longer since 165°F water will not overcook the pork.
  5. Remove the bag, let it rest for 10 minutes, then open the bag and serve!

Reheating Pork In A Slow Cooker/Crock Pot

On a cold or busy day, a slow cooker can be a lifesaver for dinner preparations. It can also be used to reheat food as well. Most low cookers have a traditional high, low, and warm selection, so you don’t have quite the same degree of control as you do with other methods. It can also take longer to reheat like the sous vide method.

For this method, all you’ll need is your slow cooker, the pulled pork, an instant-read thermometer, and a liquid of your choice. 

Instructions

  1. Set your slow cooker to warm.
  2. Add your pulled pork and about a ¼ cup of your chosen liquid, either barbecue sauce, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar.
  3. Check the thickest part of the pulled pork with an instant-read thermometer after about two hours. If it’s hit 165°F, it’s done. Otherwise, continue to let it run and check it about every half an hour or so. 
  4. Turn off the crock pot and serve!

Can I Reheat Pulled Pork In The Microwave?

The microwave is the king of quickly cooking and reheating food, the emphasis being on speed. Microwaves aren’t the most even of cooking tools and they tend to dry food out. That can make reheating something like pulled pork tricky, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. 

How To Reheat Pulled Pork In The Microwave

You’ll need a microwave-safe bowl or other dish, your instant-read thermometer, and your desired liquid to help keep the pork moist through the reheating process. You’ll want to make sure you’re reheating on a lower setting on your microwave to help prevent drying the pork out quickly.

Instructions:

  1. Put your pulled pork in a microwave-safe dish. Add a small amount of your preferred liquid to help keep the pork moist. 
  2. Select a lower power and run the microwave for a minute at a time.
  3. Stir the bowl and check the thickest part of the pulled pork with an instant-read thermometer. Continue to repeat steps two and three until the pork reaches 165°F internal temperature.
  4. Serve!

Wrapping It Up

We all love pulled pork, and we almost always have leftovers. For reheating it by itself, we recommend using a smoker or an oven for best results. You’ll have a great deal of control over the temperature to prevent it from drying out. With the smoker, you can even get more wood smoke flavor if you want. 

What’s your favorite use for leftover pulled pork? Or do you have a trick for reheating it perfectly each time? Let us know in the comments!

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