How to Reheat Pulled Pork: The 5 Methods to Try

August 28, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

When reheating pulled pork, you can use an oven, a slow cooker, an Instant Pot, a stovetop, or the microwave. I would recommend the oven for the best results, though.

As I grew up in a large, hungry family, the concept of leftover pulled pork only became a reality when I started living on my own. I then had to figure out how to store and then reheat the meat and make sure that it still tasted as good as the day it was cooked. After some trial and error, I figured it out!

In this post, I am going to show you all the different ways that you can reheat pulled pork, along with step by step guidelines. Let’s begin!

Reheat pulled pork

How to Reheat Pulled Pork?

I am going to provide you with step by step instructions on how to reheat pulled pork using a variety of methods below.

Before I do get started, though, I want to talk about one thing first: thawing the pulled pork. If you have frozen the leftover pulled pork, then it is important to defrost it completely.

If you fail to do this, then the pulled pork is going to defrost and heat unevenly. This means that some sections of the reheated pulled pork will be done to a safe section. There will be other parts that are still frozen or cold and other sections that are burnt.

So, save yourself the hassle and make sure to thaw out the pulled pork before attempting to reheat it.

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Method 01: Reheating Pulled Pork in the Oven

This is my favorite and most recommended option if you want to reheat leftover pulled pork. It does the job evenly and is also pretty hands off, allowing you to tend to other things in the kitchen.

I also like that of all the methods, that oven reheating pulled pork method is a great way to maintain both the texture as well as the flavor.

And, in case you were wondering:

How do you reheat pulled pork for a party? This is the way to do it!

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 225 F.

Step 2

Arrange the pulled pork in a single layer in a baking dish or oven safe dish in a single layer.

Add a splash of liquid to the pan. You can use BBQ sauce, apple juice, broth, or leftover juices from when you cooked the pulled pork.

You can also use water if you want, but using juice or broth is a great way to work some flavor into the meat as well.

Take a strip of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap tightly over the top.

Step 3

Place the dish in the oven and cook until the pulled pork reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.

Step 4

Take the dish out of the oven and peel back the foil. Be careful as you do so as steam is likely to escape. If you keep your face or hands above the opening of the dish, you can be scalded.

Give the pulled pork a stir and then serve immediately.

Method 02: Reheating Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

While this is a pretty great way to reheat pulled pork leftovers, I do have to warn you that it can take longer than other reheating methods. Due to this, it is only an option if you are planning your meal ahead of time.

Step 1

Place the pulled pork in the slow cooker or crock pot.

Spread it around so that it is in as thin of a layer as possible.

Step 2

Pour in a little apple juice, BBQ sauce, broth, or some other liquid.

Step 3

Close the lid and choose the Warm setting. Set it for between 2 to 4 hours.

Check the internal temperature of the meat, when it hits 165 F, it can be taken out.

Step 4

Stir the meat and then serve immediately.

Pulled Pork Taco

Method 03: Reheating Pulled Pork in the Instant Pot

As far as reheating methods go, this is a great way to reheat pulled pork without drying it out but also doing so quickly.

Step 1

Add a small amount of water to your cooker.

Place the trivet inside the cooker.

Step 2

Place the pulled pork in a baking dish.

Arrange the baking dish on top of the trivet.

Close the lid of the cooker.

Step 3

Select the Steam function and set the Timer to 5 minutes.

Steam until done and then use the Quick Release or Natural Release to open the lid.

Check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. It should read 165 F.

Step 4

Take the dish out and stir the meat before serving immediately.

Method 04: Reheating Pulled Pork on the Stovetop

This is something that anyone can manage as it is a fairly straightforward process. The only thing to be mindful of when reheating leftover pulled pork in this manner is that you should watch the meat closely.

It is very easy to overcook or overheat the leftover pulled pork, causing it dry out or worse, burn.

Step 1

Place the leftover pulled pork inside of a Dutch oven or heavy bottom skillet. Add a splash of apple juice, BBQ sauce, or other liquid to the pan.

Place the lid on top and make sure that there is a tight seal.

Step 2

Place the pot on the stove and turn the heat to low.

Stir occasionally and check the temperature of the meat. When it reaches 165 F, take it off the stove.

If you are worried that the pulled pork is in danger of drying out, add a splash of apple juice, sauce, or other liquid.

Method 05: Reheating Leftover Pulled Pork Using the Sous Vide Method

This is a pretty unusual reheating process and it is possible that you have never used this before. Still, I find that it is a great way to keep pulled pork moist.

You can use a sous vide machine if you want, but since it is likely that you don’t have one, I am going to show you how to make do without:

Step 1

Use a pan that is large enough to hold all the shredded pork.

Pour water into the pan – only add as much as the pot can manage once the pulled pork is added to the pan later on. You don’t want the water overflowing.

Step 2

Place the pan on the stovetop and use medium high heat to heat the water.

Heat the water until it reaches 165 F.

In the meantime, place the pulled pork leftovers into a large Ziploc bag. Leave the top open.

Place the bag in the pot but let the top hang over the side of the pot. Hold in place with a binder clip or clothespin.

Step 3

Check the temperature of the water and make sure that it is at 165 F. Maintain it at this temperature throughout.

Every so often, check the internal temperature while you reheat pulled pork. When it registers at 165 F, take out of the pan and plate.

Serve immediately.

Grilled Pulled Pork BBQ

Extra Tip: Reheating Pulled Pork via Microwave

I am including this method for reheating pulled pork in a different section for a reason. While using the microwave may be the easiest way to reheat pulled pork, it is far from the best. In fact, I would go so far as to say to avoid this method completely.

The problem when you try to reheat leftover pulled pork in the microwave is that the microwave heats food unevenly. Due to this, some sections will be too hot and others too cold.

Still, if you do want to go ahead, here is what you should do:

Step 1

Arrange the leftover pulled pork in a microwave safe dish. Make sure that it is arranged in just a single layer.

If you have a lot of leftover pulled pork to reheat, do so in batches.

Add a splash of apple juice or other liquid to the pulled pork.

Step 2

Place the dish in the microwave.

Heat on high for 2 minutes. Stir to redistribute the heat and check the internal temperature. It should read 165 F throughout.

If not, place it back in the microwave and heat it again for a minute. Check the temperature again. Stir and serve immediately.

How Long Does It Take to Reheat Pulled Pork?

It is always best to pay attention to the internal temp when you reheat pulled pork. Not only does this ensure that the meat is heated enough, but it is also the only way to keep the food safe.

Pulled pork or pork butt that registers at less than 165 F isn’t safe to consume.

Still, I am going to provide you with some general guidelines for how much pulled pork will take to reheat based on the different methods:

1. How Long to Reheat Pulled Pork at 225 in the Oven?

If you are reheating cooked pulled pork in the oven, then the process can take around 30 minutes.

2. How Long to Reheat Pulled Pork in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

In a slow cooker, the process can take between 2 to 4 hours. With an Instant Pot, though, it takes just 5 minutes.

3. How Long to Reheat Pulled Pork on the Stovetop?

It can take between 15 to 25 minutes on the stovetop.

4. How Long Until the Pulled Pork is Ready Using the Microwave Method?

It can take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes for the pulled pork to be heated to an appropriate temperature.

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Can You Rewarm Pulled Pork?

As you will have noticed, for all the methods, I have mentioned that you should serve the pulled pork immediately.

You shouldn’t let the pulled pork sit out after you have reheated it. Doing so can cause bacteria to grow on the food and increase the risk of food poisoning.

And I really don’t recommend reheating the pulled pork again. For one thing, it will be completely devoid of moisture and flavor. For another, if the pulled pork has been out for long enough, even heating it may not kill the toxins produced by the bacteria.

American Pulled Pork Sandwich

Storing Pulled Pork Properly – The Key to Reheating Pulled Pork

Believe it or not, if you want to make sure that you reheat the pulled pork the right way, you should store it properly.

Here are some tips for doing just that:

Keep the Smoked Pork Butt Whole

Never shred the entire pork butt – this is usually how you end up with too much pulled pork on your hands. Instead, only shred as much as you need in that moment.

The great thing about doing this is that the whole cut retains moisture far better than the shredded sections. So, when you reheat the meat, it tastes better and is a lot juicier too.

Place Meat in a Vacuum Sealed Bag

A Ziploc bag should do just fine but if you have a plastic bag that can be heat sealed, so much the better.

In any case, once you place the leftover pork in the bag, make sure to squeeze out all the excess air. This prevents freezer burn when freezing the pork butt.

Now, when you prepare pulled pork, you may have some leftover juices or sauces from the cooking process. Make sure to save these as well. Place in a different freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and seal up.

Write the date of freezing on the bags. This will let you know when to use the leftover meat by.

Use Within a Month

Technically, you can store the pulled pork for a couple of months in the freezer. However, just because it is safe to eat doesn’t mean that it will taste good after all this time.

I recommend using the meat up within a month, particularly if you are storing shredded meat. This is a good way to maintain both the taste as well as the texture of the pork.

Thawing the Pulled Pork

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is important to thaw the pork properly as well.

The best option is to place the meat in the refrigerator. This may take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days, depending on the weight of the cut.

But, it is the best method for thawing the pork out completely while ensuring that it is kept at a safe temperature.

If you really are short on time, I would suggest putting the pork in a watertight plastic bag. Vacuum seal it so that no water can get in. Then, place this bag in a container. Pour in some cold water.

Let the pork sit there for 30 minutes. Then, empty out the bowl and refill it with cold water again. Continue to do this every half an hour until the pork has completely defrosted. This should only take a few hours.

Pulled Pork Meat on a Plate with a Fork

Wrapping It Up

Well, there you go – all the different ways that you can reheat leftover pulled pork and still enjoy a delicious meal. All you need to do is to figure out which way works for you best. Go ahead and give these various methods a try to discover your favorite option!

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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