This Pulled Pork Barbecue recipe is done Eastern North Carolina style. It features a tangy vinegar based sauce that sets it apart from other styles of barbecue. Serve it on a toasted roll with a side of slaw for a taste of Carolina.
North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue Recipe
North Carolina is known for pulled pork. Eastern North Carolina pork is often referred to as chopped pork and it’s typically served with a spicy and tangy vinegar based sauce. It’s standard fare all over the state, and it’s as equally beloved as Western North Carolina barbecue. Die hard barbecue fans will tell you that when it comes to barbecue, it’s all about the smoke and they’re not wrong. My thought is that, the sauce and rub have a lot to do with the end product, too and for those who don’t have a smoker, this oven technique will work.
How to Make the Best Carolina Style Pulled Pork Barbecue
- Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Pulled Pork Barbecue: One 6-8 pound pork butter, Barbecue rub, cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, granulated sugar, hot sauce, cayenne pepper plus hamburger buns or kaiser rolls for serving.
- Kitchen tools you’ll need: Large bowl or dish for storing the pork butt in the fridge overnight, rimmed pan fitted with an oven safe rack, measuring cups and spoons, medium saucepan, turkey baster and forks for shredding the pork.
- Can I use a slow cooker or a crock pot? These terms are used interchangeably, so yes you can. See my recipe for how to make Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Barbecue in a slow cooker.
- This Carolina style pulled pork recipe is made in the oven. Doing so, results in a tender, fall apart end product. If you have a smoker, by all means you can adapt this recipe using your smoker.
- It’s important for flavor that you roast the pork butt fat side up. As it cooks, the fat renders and releases flavor and adds moisture. That gorgeous char just makes me starry eyed.
- The sauce makes plenty for basting and serving on the side. That being said, you may serve this pulled pork with your favorite sweet and smoky tomato based sauce, too.
- If you prefer, the vinegar sauce can be strained through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pepper flakes. We’re spicy lovers so, I never do. Either way, it’s delicious.
- This pork can also be chopped rather than pulled, if you prefer a finer texture.
- How do I reheat pulled pork? Reheat it gently in a pot on the stovetop or in the microwave on 50% power. Take care not to overcook it or it will become dry.
- You can enjoy this Southern pulled pork as an entrée, piled high on Texas toast or toasted rolls like these Kaiser rolls from Karen’s Kitchen Stories.
Side Dishes to Serve with Southern Pulled Pork Barbecue
Naturally, pulled pork is usually immediately followed by slaw. There are other sides that can be added to the menu as well.
- This pork is delicious with Carolina style red slaw or classic mayonnaise based homestyle cole slaw.
- Another stellar option is a skillet filled with root beer bake beans or calico beans.
- A side of homemade Cornbread Muffins.
- Fresh roasted corn on the cob is a phenomenal option that’s simple to make.
- Use leftover pulled pork to make Pulled Pork Stuffed Cornbread.
- Enjoy a Pig Pickin’ Cake for dessert.
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Pulled Pork Barbecue Recipe
- 1 6-8 lb pork butt
- 1/3 cup prepared barbecue rub blend (Your favorite) (See Cook's note for homemade rub)
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes may adjust to taste
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce i.e. Texas Pete may adjust to taste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne
- buns and cole slaw for serving
- Liberally season pork on all sides with rub. Rub into the pork. Wrap in plastic wrap or place into an airtight container and chill overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Fit a rimmed pan with an oven safe rack. Unwrap pork butt and center on rack fat side up.
- Meanwhile, place sauce ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Reserve 2 cups for serving. (You may strain using a fine mesh sieve to remove pepper flakes, if desired)
- Roast pork for 6-7 hours basting with sauce every hour. Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F and the pork is falling apart. Rest uncovered for 20-30 minutes.
- Shred cooked pork using 2 forks removing all visible fat and bone. Drizzle with small amount of reserved sauce then serve remaining on side.
- Serve on kaiser rolls, hamburger buns or Texas toast with cole slaw.
- 4 Tbsp paprika
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp cayenne
- 1 Tbsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder