Best Buns For Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Our Top Picks

September 4, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

My top choice buns for making pulled pork sandwiches are Brioche buns and Kaiser rolls. These buns are great because they hold a large helping of meat and the saucy goodness without falling apart.

I have always used a regular hamburger bun to make my pulled pork sandwich recipes but I have recently tried different buns and some of them are so much better than the hamburger buns. Naan bread was a pleasant surprise and is quickly becoming my favorite.

In this article, I have listed the best buns for making a tasty pulled pork sandwich and why they work so well. Read on.

Best buns for pulled pork

Five Best Buns For Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Brioche Bun

Brioche buns make a great choice for pulled pork sandwiches. Brioche buns resemble hamburger buns but are made with more butter eggs and milk to make an enriched bread.

This makes them soft and fluffier than other buns and this denser interior means they absorb quite a bit of sauce without falling apart making the perfect pulled pork sandwich.

The sweet but subtle butter flavor of brioche buns makes an excellent complement to the salty meaty flavor that the pork has. They also come in different sizes which makes brioche buns good for pork sliders or larger meals. 

Freshly Baked Brioche Buns

Potato Bun

Potato buns or potato rolls are the best bread for a milder pulled pork dish. While they are sweet and soft, they have such a subdued flavor that the taste of the pork really stands out. They also resemble the average hamburger bun but they are incredibly soft in comparison.

Potato buns absorb a lot of the sauce and still remain intact. If you would like to make them tastier and add a little crunch, toast them to harden the exterior slightly.

This will create some extra crunch and add a layer of flavor. I recommend Martin’s Potato Rolls.

Freshly Homemade Potato Burger Buns

Naan Bread

Naan bread will surprise you. It is an unconventional choice because it is a flatbread but naan bread could probably pair well with even the sauciest pulled pork recipe. Naan is a flat chewy Indian bread which is why it absorbs sauce incredibly well. 

It has a neutral flavor that pairs well with the flavor of the pulled pork as well as any condiments used. The cavity of the bread can hold a hefty amount of pork so your pulled pork sandwich can be a large wholesome meal with naan bread. 

Alternatively, use naan bread as a pita wrap and make a taco-like snack. I recommend Stonefire Mini Naan Flatbread.

Indian Naan Bread with Coriander Leaves

Kaiser Rolls

Kaiser rolls are great for pulled pork sandwiches because they can handle a lot of sauce and accommodate a larger amount of toppings. They are larger than regular burger buns and have a crisp tougher exterior that holds up very well to the barbecue sauce in the pork.

The interior is soft and the overall flavor of a Kaiser roll is neutral making it the perfect bread for any pulled pork sandwich recipe you want.

Aromatic and Crispy Oven Baked Kaiser Rolls

Ciabatta Bread

Ciabatta bread is an Italian bread that makes it to this list because of its tough chewy texture and airy interior. Ciabatta slices can hold a lot of sauce and toppings without falling apart. 

The bread has a neutral flavor since it is made from wheat flour, olive oil, salt yeast, and water.

That tough exterior makes it easy to handle when eating and the flat flavor allows you to enjoy the full flavors of the pulled pork sandwich.

Italian Bread Ciabatta with Olive Oil and Rosemary

How to Choose The Best Buns for Pulled Pork Sandwiches?

The pulled pork sandwich has evolved from a simple snack composed of meat and bread to a sophisticated meal that involves many ingredients and flavors. For many food lovers, a simple pulled pork sandwich recipe is no longer the experience they are looking for.

With the rise of artisanal and fusion cuisine in the culinary industry, trends are changing and so are pulled pork hamburger recipes. 

Traditional pulled pork recipes are quite alright with regular buns but can be better if you use brioche buns for their slightly buttery flavor or potato buns for their mild but sweet flavor.

Kaiser rolls and naan bread, for instance, are excellent choices for spicier hotter pulled pork recipes since they are such neutral flavors that barely have any sweetness or sourness.

Ciabatta rolls are tough and chewier so they make a great choice for saucier pulled pork recipes or open-faced sandwiches. An open-faced sandwich needs tough bread to hold the weight of the pork as well as absorb all the sauce that comes with the pulled pork.

When picking a bun, consider the recipe of your pulled pork as well as the characteristics of the bread to make sure you come up with a tasty delicious combo that is easy to handle and does not disintegrate while eating. 

Do You Toast The Buns for Pulled Pork Sandwiches?

If there is an option to toast buns or bread for sandwiches, then always go for it. Toasted buns always taste way better than the untoasted version. The caramelized exterior makes for an added touch of flavor and the crunch will excite your taste buds.

Some buns do not need toasting such as ciabatta bread and naan bread. Toasting tougher chewy types of bread could leave them too dry to enjoy and in any event, they already have the crispy texture you are looking to create.

Some buns such as brioche and potato buns will benefit from toasting and become crustier on the outside allowing them to hold up to the sauce and absorb it much slower. They will also gain a caramelized flavor that will only make the taste of the meal richer.

Baking Buns In An Oven

Using an oven is the easiest method to toast buns and the buns will roast evenly through. Simply pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the buns on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Place them in the oven for about 5 minutes. This will give them a good crunch without drying them out. Allow them to cool first before cutting and making sandwiches.

Buns Ready To Bake

Toasting Buns In A Toaster

This could be challenging but a toaster should crisp your buns effectively but not as well as an oven would. You will have to cut the buns in halves and place them in the toaster with the cut side down to avoid burning the inner side of the bun.

With a toaster, you cannot use butter on the buns since this could damage your toaster. Toast the buns for 2 – 3 minutes to get a crunchy exterior.

Let the buns cool and make your pulled pork sandwiches.

Toasted Bread

Grilling Buns In A Griller

A griller is also another effective way to toast buns real quick. Turn up the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let the buns sit on the grill for about two minutes. Do not let them stay longer or they will become too dry.

Let the buns cool down before making your sandwiches.

Grilling the Buns

What are Other Types of Bread for Cooked Pork?

Some of the other types of bread available at your local bakery could make excellent substitutes for the options I have outlined above. They are unusual choices but they could surprise you and wind up becoming a permanent fixture on your grocery list. Let’s take a look.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread can be a great option if you are looking for a bun that has its own strong flavor. The flour-based batter used to make the bread is fermented which is why the bread has a distinct sour taste.

This bread is especially tasty when coupled with spicier pulled pork recipes that will not be overpowered by the sour taste of the bread. It is also quite chewy which makes it ideal for a sandwich that contains more sauce.

Sourdough bread does not need to be toasted to make it crispier. It will hold up well when used for an open-faced sandwich as well.

You can also make sourdough buns using the fermented sourdough batter if you do not want to use the bread. Sourdough rolls would hold the BBQ sauce better than the bread.

My favorite one is KET Inked Sourdough Bread.

Freshly Baked Sourdough Bread

Hawaiian Rolls

Hawaiian bread makes a great pulled pork sandwich. It is fluffy, soft, and easy to bite into. Hawaiian rolls are also quite sweet which may add flavor to your sandwich if you like sweet breads.

Toasting the bread may be a good idea if your pulled pork is especially saucy. I buy KING'S Hawaiian Savory Rolls.

Basket Full of Hawaiian Rolls

Crescent Rolls

This is a strange choice since the shape of these rolls does not allow you to make a sandwich but you could make buns from the dough recipe. The result would be a light, fluffy bun with a subtle buttery flavor, perfect for pulled pork sandwiches.

Alternatively, get yourself some crescent buns and eat them with pulled pork by tearing bite-sized pieces and pairing them with bites of the pulled pork. I would make the buns though.

You can make your own buns with Mom's Place Crescent Roll Mixture.

Mini Crescent Rolls

Texas Toast 

Texas toast is a garlic toast that would make any sandwich great and pulled pork sandwiches are no different. However, for this recipe, you definitely want to toast the bread. It is very soft and would likely disintegrate from absorbing sauce too fast.

Texas toast has a distinct garlic twist which makes it even better when paired with meaty flavors. Use thick slices and toast the bread for a better result.

Texas Toast Slices

French Bread

French bread can be a great substitute for ciabatta but it is slightly chewier and less moist than ciabatta. What makes it a great substitute is the enhanced flavor which livens up the overall taste of the sandwich regardless of the flavor of the pulled pork.

The tougher exterior means it can be used for an open-faced sandwich and saucy pulled pork recipes. It is a great bread for pulled pork sandwiches.

French Bread Loafs

Pretzel Buns

Pretzel buns are an excellent choice for pulled pork since they have a fairly subdued flavor and a tough chewy exterior that can hold its own against the saucy goodness of pulled pork.

The subtle flavor will not interfere with the overall taste of the sandwich which makes it a great bun for all pulled pork recipes.

Pretzel buns with poppy seeds

Hoagie Rolls

A hoagie roll easily holds its own in pulled pork sandwiches and is an old favorite for any sandwich you can think of. Hoagie rolls have a plain flavor similar to white bread which is excellent for sandwiches.

Meatball Cheese Hoagie Roll Sandwich

Onion Buns

I love onions and cannot have too much onion flavor which is why this bun makes it to my list. This bun is made with lots of onions and has an intense onion flavor. In my view, onion and meat always pair well but it may be an acquired taste for some people.

Toasting this bread is unnecessary since it is already flavorful and can hold sauce and toppings comfortably. Try it out.

Onion Buns

English Muffin

The English muffin has a distinctly tougher texture on the outside which holds toppings and sauce quite well. You can toast this muffin or use it as it is. The flavor of the bun allows you to enjoy the pulled pork flavors be they spicy or just meaty.

English Muffin with Melted Butter

Classic Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is shredded pork made from pork butt, pork shoulder, or pork loin. The meat is cured overnight with a dry rub of salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Then, it is cooked in a slow cooker such as a dutch oven to fall apart tenderness.

The ready meat is then shredded by hand or with a fork, which is why it is important to make certain it is fall-apart tender before removing it from the slow cooker.

You can make a meaty pulled pork filling by mixing the shredded pork, with shredded lettuce or purple cabbage and onions. The pulled pork mixture should not have too much moisture, else a soft roll will disintegrate too quickly.

The Takeaway

You have probably never given thought to any other alternative buns for pulled pork apart from regular hamburger buns. While they are a great option and have always afforded you a great sandwich, it is time to b more flexible in your culinary experiences.

The lists above give you a wider variety of options to make you reimagine your regular pulled pork sandwich. Try these options out one by one and let your taste buds decide what you like.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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