The Best BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}

The best BBQ pulled pork sandwiches EVER. The pork is so tender and flavorful and can be made in the slow cooker or instant pot!

BBQ pork sandwich on bun on white plate

With over 1,500 recipes on my blog, I think I can easily say that in the last ten years, I’ve made this BBQ pork sandwich recipe more than any other recipe.

It’s been my standby recipe for family reunions, church parties, entertaining company, basic weeknight dinners, and feeding crowds of 200 or more.

With slow cooker and pressure cooker directions, it is SO easy, and the tender, saucy pork is crazy delicious. 

It really is the best BBQ pork recipe out there. Perfect for sandwiches (or for salads or quesadillas!). 

shredded BBQ pork sandwich with coleslaw on white plate

How to Choose a Pork Roast

I almost always make this BBQ pork with pork sirloin roasts. Costco sells a 4-pack that I keep on hand just for this recipe. 

Pork shoulder or butt roasts work great, too. For really tender pork, you want to choose a pork roast that has adequate fat and dark, marbled meat.

I have not had great luck making this BBQ pork with pork loin (it’s often too lean) or pork tenderloin. 

uncooked pork roast in slow cooker

Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

This recipe is brilliantly easy in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. No matter which one you use, you add:

  • broth
  • pork roast (I cut the pork into large chunks)
  • liquid smoke (amazing for flavor!)
  • salt and pepper

The slow cooker does it’s thing for about 8-9 hours (low) or 5-6 hours (high). For an electric pressure cooker, I cook the pork on high pressure for 55-60 minutes and then usually let the pressure naturally release all the way. 

After cooking, the pork should be fall-apart tender. If not, add extra cooking time until it is!

shredded pork in slow cooker with BBQ sauce

BBQ Sauce Matters

All that’s left is pouring on as much BBQ sauce as your soul can handle. 

The pork has tremendous flavor from cooking in the liquid smoke and seasonings, but the BBQ sauce is really why we’re all here. So use a BBQ sauce you love. Like, one that you’d willingly guzzle on its own.

It needs to be that good. This is my favorite homemade BBQ sauce recipe.

When I don’t have it on hand, our favorite store bought brands are Sweet Baby Ray’s and Kinders.

cooked shredded BBQ pork with BBQ sauce

Serve this delectable BBQ pulled pork on buns. Store bought, homemade, whatever makes you happy. 

You can also throw some coleslaw on there, too. I firmly believe that is a match made in heaven, but only a few remaining family members agree. The others (gasp) ditch the coleslaw and add a slice of cheddar to their BBQ pork sandwich.

To each his or her own. Although it pains me to say that.

All you really need to know is these are hands down the best BBQ pulled pork sandwiches on the planet. They are so easy to make, and the cooked pork freezes beautifully, making them a great freezer or make-ahead meal. 

bite taken out of BBQ pork sandwich

FAQs for BBQ Pulled Pork

Can I leave out the liquid smoke?

I highly recommend using it, because it adds an amazing depth of flavor. But you can leave it out if you really don’t want to use it or don’t have it. You might consider adding a pinch of smoked paprika or other smoky spice for a flavor boost.

Does this freeze well?

It sure does! I cook the pork, mix it with BBQ sauce, let it cool a bit, and then freeze in gallon-size freezer ziploc bags. To reheat, I thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the slow cooker for a few hours, in a skillet on the stove, or in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so.

Can I use this recipe for shredded pork without the BBQ sauce?

Yes! It makes delicious pulled pork with or without the BBQ sauce.

Can I double (or triple) this recipe?

This recipe doubles or triples really well. For a really large batch, you can cook the pork in an electric roaster – about 250 or 275 degrees for several hours, depending on how much pork is packed in there.

What To ServeFrench Bread Rolls 
Coleslaw
Fresh vegetables and/or green salad

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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Yield: 8-12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
BBQ pork sandwich on bun on white plate

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, pork butt or pork sirloin roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I use coarsely ground)
  • 2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 to 3 cups BBQ sauce (plus more for serving)

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork roast into large 4-inch pieces (optional, but helps cook a bit faster and more evenly). Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Slow Cooker Directions: add water or broth and liquid smoke to slow cooker. Add pork. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours, until the pork is fall-apart tender.
  3. Pressure Cooker Directions: Decrease the water/broth to 1 cup. Add the water or broth, pork and liquid smoke to an electric pressure cooker. Secure the lid, set the valve to seal, and cook on high pressure for 55-60 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes (or all the way). Quick release any remaining pressure.
  4. Remove the pork from the slow cooker or pressure cooker and discard most of the remaining liquid (I leave about 1/4 cup or so). Shred the pork using a couple of forks - it should easily fall apart into pieces. Place the meat back in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. Add the BBQ sauce and heat through (or keep on warm for several hours).
  5. Serve on buns with extra barbecue sauce.

Notes

Adding Time: if you get to the end of cooking time for either the slow cooker or pressure cooker and the pork isn't tender enough, simply add more time until it is falling apart tender.

Bone-in Pork: you can also use bone-in pork roasts for this recipe. Cooking time should be about the same. Discard bone before shredding.

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Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my lovely friend, Sarah M.
Recipe originally posted August 2010; updated October 2020 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

barbecue chicken sandwich on a white plate