Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

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Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, the ultimate comfort food! Ideal for sandwiches & tacos, this easy recipe blends soda, brown sugar & spices in your slow cooker.

This easy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork recipe brings a unique twist with a blend of brown sugar, spices, and the distinct flavor of Dr. Pepper soda. It will be one of your favorite go-to recipes for game day, picnics, or when you need to serve a crowd.

a bowl of pulled pork with dr pepper and a slow cooker in the background

This easy pulled pork is cooked in the slow cooker so you can set it and forget it. The slow cooking of the pork allows the flavors to develop over time and helps to create melt-in-your-mouth meat that is perfect for sandwiches.

Why add Dr Pepper to pulled pork?

Dr Pepper is full of flavor, a blend of 23 flavors to be exact. Just like with other recipes, you use a marinade to add flavor and to tenderize the meat.

The acid in the soda tenderizes the pork and keeps it juicy as it slow cooks. The soda adds flavor and the sugar caramelizes slightly to make the pork melt in your mouth delicious.

Ingredients

ingredients for dr pepper pulled pork on a table

Notes about these simple ingredients:

  • Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or boston butt. This the best cut of meat for the slow cooking process, as it’s marbled with just the right amount of fat, ensuring the meat stays juicy and flavorful. Pork tenderloin has less fat so isn’t ideal for shredded pork, but will work in a pinch.
  • Dr. Pepper. This isn’t just a quirky addition; the soda adds a unique sweetness and depth of flavor, complementing the savory notes of the pork.
  • Brown sugar creates a lovely caramelization, black pepper adds a subtle heat, and garlic and onion powders bring a familiar, flavor. The chili powder and paprika add a hint of smokiness and warmth. 
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce and chopped onions round out the dish, infusing it with classic barbecue flavors. Our favorite sauce is Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce or our homemade bbq sauce

How to Make Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

Get this easy family favorite cooking in just 4 steps.

  • In the bottom of the slow cooker add the chopped onion and minced garlic.
  • Put the pork into the slow cooker on top of the onions and garlic.
  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika.
  • Add the spice rub mixture to the pork and try cover it in the spices as much as possible. Pour in one can of Dr. Pepper around the pork and cover with the lid.
collage of how to make dr pepper pulled pork

Allow the pork to cook on low heat for 9 – 10 hours or high heat for 6 -7 hours.

Once cooked, remove the pork from the crock pot and place it on a cutting board or a baking sheet. Shred it with two forks. Remove all of the juices from the slow cooker, but reserve 1 cup of juices.

Place the shredded pork back in the empty slow cooker then add the the BBQ sauce and 1⁄2 – 1 cup of the reserved juices. Mix together. Add additional sauce and juices, according to taste. 

tongs holding pulled pork in a bowl

Internal Temperature of Pork for Shredding

The magic number we’re aiming for is 205°F. At this temperature, the connective tissues within the pork shoulder melt and transform, resulting in meat that’s incredibly tender and easy to shred. 

To get an accurate reading, I recommend using a Thermoworks meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the pork, making sure it’s not touching the bone.

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Make it a meal.

Serve with potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, a fruit salad and a Roy Rogers for a complete meal!

a pulled pork sandwich with bbq sauce and coleslaw

Ideas for Leftover Pulled Pork

​Don’t get tired of leftovers, choose one of these ideas the whole family will love!

  • Pork sandwiches are a classic choice. Imagine soft hamburger buns or slider buns, a heap of juicy pulled pork, a spoonful of creamy coleslaw, melted cheddar cheese, and a dollop of extra BBQ sauce. Simple, yet so satisfying.
  • How about pulled pork tacos? Warm up some tortillas, add the pork, then top with fresh salsa, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of cilantro. You’ve got yourself a Tex-Mex night right at home. 
  • Our family loves making pork nachos. Layer your favorite tortilla chips with pulled pork, cheese, jalapeños, and a drizzle of BBQ sauce, then bake until melty and golden. Perfect for movie nights or for an easy lunch.
  • Leftover pulled pork also makes a fantastic pizza topping. Pair it with BBQ sauce, red onions, and cheese on a pre-made pizza crust for a quick and delicious meal. 
  • A pulled pork omelette with some cheese and vegetables can start your day off with a hearty, protein-packed breakfast.
  • Pulled pork shepherd’s pie. Swap out the traditional lamb or beef with your leftover pork, add some veggies, top with mashed potatoes, and bake until bubbly. It’s cozy and delicious.
  • Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese. Just try it. This recipe gets rave reviews.
  • Pork Sliders. Follow our bbq chicken sliders recipe, but switch out the chicken for pork.
  • BBQ Pork Salad. Use our BBQ chicken salad recipe, and replace the chicken with pork on the top of a salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make smoked Dr. Pepper pulled pork? 

Yes! There are two different ways you can use Dr Pepper for smoked pork. The first is by using a meat injector to inject the soda right into the pork before smoking. Inject about ½ cup of soda.

Secondly, add soda into a spray bottle and spray the outside of the pork every hour or so during smoking. This will add that flavor to the crust.

Lastly, when you wrap the pork butt in aluminum foil (once it reaches160ºF on the smoker), drizzle the pork with soda as you wrap it so that the soda gets locked in as the pork finishes smoking.

You can use any of the methods above to infuse that cherry flavor, or use all three methods together.

Can you make Instant Pot Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork?

Yes! Use your instant pot for this recipe. It’s the perfect way to get that slow cooker Dr pepper pork flavor in a fraction of the time. Follow the instructions for our Instant Pot Pulled Pork and replace the chicken stock with a can of Dr. Pepper.

Can you use diet Dr. Pepper for pulled pork?

I don’t recommend using diet sodas. The sugar in the soda caramelizes during cooking and that’s the flavor you’re going for. The artificial sweetener won’t do the same thing. 

Can you use a different soda?

Yes! Try a dark soda like root beer or Coca Cola. The flavor profile changes slightly, but they both make amazing pulled pork.

closeup of a bowl of dr pepper pulled pork with bbq sauce on it
closeup of a bowl of dr pepper pulled pork with bbq sauce on it

Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

5 from 2 votes
Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, the ultimate comfort food! Ideal for sandwiches & tacos, this easy recipe blends soda, brown sugar & spices in your slow cooker.
Servings 20
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours
Total Time 9 hours 10 minutes

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Ingredients
 

  • 5 -7 pound pork shoulder or boston butt with the bone
  • 1 can of Dr Pepper 12 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce plus extra for serving
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • hamburger buns for serving

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the pork by trimming any excess fat from the pork should or pork butt.
  • In the bottom of the slow cooker add the chopped onion and minced garlic.
  • Put the pork into the slow cooker on top of the onions and garlic.
  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika.
  • Add the spice rub mixture to the pork and try cover it in the spices as much as possible. Pour in one can of Dr. Pepper and cover with the lid.
  • Cook the pork on low heat for 9 – 10 hours or high heat for 6 -7 hours.
  • Once cooked, remove the pork from the slow cooker and place it on a cutting board or a baking sheet. Shred it with two forks. Remove all of the juices from the slow cooker, but reserve 1 cup of juices.
  • Place the shredded pork back in the empty slow cooker then add the the BBQ sauce and 1⁄2 – 1 cup of the reserved juices. Mix together. Add additional sauce and juices, enough liquid to make the pork as juicy as you prefer. Serve from the slow cooker or from a large bowl. Serve the pulled pork immediately with your favorite buns.

Notes

  • If using a smaller pork roast, you may be able to cook for a smaller amount of time. Check pork with a fork to ensure that it is tender. It may need additional cooking time if it not tender.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 -5 days.
  • Can you freeze pulled pork? Yes! Store in a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 – 2 days before reheating and serving it.
  • Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
  • The calories shown are based on the pork serving 20 people, with 1 serving being 1/20 of the pork (enough for a small sandwich). Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 63kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 165mg | Potassium: 109mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 265IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 63
Keyword easy pork recipe, how to make shredded pork, pulled pork in the slow cooker

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Penny
23 days ago

Since there are so many variations of barbecue sauce, what kind do you recommend, so it’s not too strong tasting?