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Last Updated on August 24, 2023
Just because you’re on the autoimmune protocol doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy a BBQ-style pulled pork! Of course, there is no BBQ, but my AIP pulled pork recipe is so delicious you won’t even miss it!
AIP Pulled Pork
This recipe for AIP Carolina BBQ Pork tastes so great that I would serve it to any guest. We’ve been eating it with an AIP coleslaw, zucchini zoodle salad, and either roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash.
Pulled pork is a popular meat dish made from tender, slow-cooked pork shoulder or butt. The process involves seasoning the meat in a flavorful blend of spices and then slow-cooking it for several hours until it becomes incredibly tender and easy to shred.
The result is a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth texture with a rich and smoky flavor. Pulled pork is often enjoyed as a pork sandwiches, paired with BBQ sauce and coleslaw. It is a favorite choice for backyard barbecues, casual gatherings, or family meals.
Since the AIP diet doesn’t allow for nightshades, traditional BBQ sauce isn’t an option, but my pan juices and seasonings allow you to make something very reminiscent of barbeque sauce!
Carolina Pulled Pork
Carolina pulled pork, also known as Carolina-style barbecue, refers to a specific regional barbecue tradition that originated in the Carolinas, a southeastern region of the United States. It is characterized by slow-cooking pork over wood or charcoal, resulting in tender and flavorful meat.
The distinguishing feature of Carolina pork is the use of a vinegar-based sauce, often referred to as mop or dip. This sauce is typically tangy, with a combination of vinegar, spices, and sometimes a touch of sweetness.
It is used to baste the pork during cooking and can also be served as a dipping sauce. Oftentimes nightshade foods make their way into Carolina pulled pork, but since this recipe for AIP pulled pork, there are no tomatoes or other non-compliant ingredients.
Because the autoimmune protocol has some limitations, it’s necessary to tweak the recipe so it’s AIP complaint. My recipe for AIP Pulled Pork has the Carolina taste to it, and I think you’re going to love it!
AIP Pulled Pork Ingredients
- coconut sugar
- onion powder
- garlic power
- sea salt
- fat of choice (coconut oil or avocado oil)
- (3-5 lb.) pork shoulder roast or Boston Butt (with fat cap removed)
- onion, thinly sliced
- apple cider vinegar
- maple syrup (or honey)
- coconut aminos (coconut aminos is a soy sauce substitute)
- garlic cloves, minced or pressed
How to Make AIP Pulled Pork
1.) Start by pre-heating the oven to 300F.
2.) In a small bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and cinnamon and set aside.
3.) Next, heat a Dutch oven or large pot on a medium heat.
4.) While the pan is heating up, rub pork butt with the spice mix. Once the Dutch oven is hot, add coconut oil to pan and sear roast on all sides.
4.) Add the sliced onion to pot and all the remaining ingredients.
5.) Cover tightly with lid and place in the oven.
6.) Bake for 3-4 hours, or until the meat falls apart when shredded with two forks.
7.) I usually check the roast at 3 hours. If it’s still feeling a bit tough, give it longer – trust me on this. These roasts are best low and slow.
8.) Once roast is tender, carefully place the Dutch oven on stovetop and remove meat.
9.) Skim some of the fat off the remaining liquid. There shouldn’t be too much if the fat cap was removed. If you didn’t remove it, there will likely be a lot. That’s okay, just be sure to remove it.
Shred Pulled Pork and Reduce the Juices
Now you are ready to shred the AIP pulled pork. There are two ways you can do this:
1.) Shred the Pork By Hand
The most common way to pull pork is to use 2 forks and go at it by hand. The benefit of shredding the pork by hand is you can selectively discard all the fatty pieces.
2.) Shred the Pork Using a Stand Mixer
I love using a stand mixer for this; it’s so much faster! Just note, if you do use a stand mixer, your will have all the fatty pieces mixed in with the pork. As long as you used a boneless pork roast and you don’t mind the fat pices mixed in, go for it.
It’s especially easier to shred pork in a stand mixer when you are making a large roast or multiple pork roasts for a crowd.
Reducing the Liquid for Sauce
Boil the cooking liquid on medium-high heat until the sauce reduces a bit – the cooking time will depend upon how much juice it yielded. When it thickens a little, it’s ready. You can also thicken it a bit with some arrowroot flour. Now you’ll have AIP BBQ!
Be sure to taste it and add salt if needed. Serve the meat with the sauce poured on top and incorporated into the meat.
Variations to Recipe
If you are not on an AIP diet, feel free to spice this Carolina pulled pork up a bit with some red pepper flakes or smoky paprika. You can cook the recipe as-is and then eat it with regular BBQ sauce or use some AIP BBQ Sauce. You can also add some black pepper.
My family members are not AIP, and my husband enjoys spicy things, so he dices up some jalapeno peppers to saute and then incorporates that into the shredded pork. I bet that’s amazing!
Other Ways to Cook Pulled Pork
I like to slow cook my pulled pork in the oven, I find that it makes for a more tender and juicy outcome. If you prefer, however, you can use the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, or a slow cooker.
If using a crock pot, you can skip the step that sears the meat if you are pressed for time. Just rub the roast with the spice mix and place in crock pot. Then add all ingredients and cook on low 6-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker. My old crock pot needed to cook overnight and the next day. My new crockpot would cook a roast in 6-8 hours. So plan accordingly.
If you want to cook this AIP pulled pork recipe in the Instant Pot, I have a recipe for that’s in the Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook. There are over 140 AIP Instant Pot recipes in this awesome cookbook!
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it in a Ziploc bag for an easy meal prep later for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat Pulled Pork?
The best way to reheat pulled pork is on the stove or in an oven with some of the cooking liquid to keep it juicy and moist. If you didn’t save any of the liquid from the pork roast, you can add a little broth to it just to moisten it up.
What to Serve with Pulled Pork
If you are not on an AIP diet, a favorite way to eat pulled pork is with homemade macaroni and cheese and southern-style green beans or cooked navy beans (there are tons of health benefits of white beans).
What Temp for Pulled Pork?
You can tell it’s ready when it has achieved the desired pull-apart texture, and the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 190 degrees.
Can I Season the Meat Ahead of Time?
Seasoning the pork ahead of time is the best way to lock in the flavors all through the meat. You can even season it the night before and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Just be sure to bring it closer to room temperature before searing for a more tender meat.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Pulled Pork?
To cook this Carolina pulled pork recipe in the oven you can expect it to take 3-4 hours or a little longer. It will take about 2 hours in a pressure cooker when you count the time for the pressure to build up and release. A slow cooker will take 6-8 hours or longer.
What’s the Best Cut of Pork to Used for Pulled Pork?
The best cut of meat for pulled pork is a boneless Boston butt pork roast. Sometimes it’s labeled as a pork shoulder; they are basically the same thing. Butt – shoulder, I don’t get it either!
What Can I Use Instead of Pork for Pulled Pork?
You can use the same seasoning rub to make a whole chicken for a shredded chicken recipe. Just follow the steps to make roasted chicken in the oven, using the seasonings for this recipe instead. You can combine the same spices together with the other ingredients and cook it on low on the stove to make a sauce.
What is the Secret to Tender Pulled Pork?
The secret to tender pulled pork lies in the slow cooking process. By cooking the pork at a low temperature for an extended period of time, the collagen in the meat breaks down, resulting in a juicy and tender texture.
Additionally, marinating the pork prior to cooking can enhance the flavor and tenderness. So, for the most succulent pulled pork, remember to cook it low and slow!
Why Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Pulled Pork?
Apple cider vinegar is a popular ingredient to add to pulled pork for several reasons. Firstly, it adds a tangy and slightly sweet flavor that enhances the overall taste of the dish.
Secondly, the acidity of the vinegar helps to tenderize the meat, resulting in a more succulent and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar acts as a natural meat tenderizer, breaking down the tough fibers and making the pork easier to shred.
Is Wet or Dry Rub Better for Pulled Pork?
When it comes to pulled pork, the choice between wet or dry rub is a matter of personal preference. Both methods have their merits, so it ultimately depends on the flavor and texture you desire.
Dry rubs consist of a blend of dry spices, without any added liquid. These rubs form a flavorful crust on the surface of the meat, adding a rich and savory taste. Dry rubs are especially popular for creating a smoky and delicious flavor profile.
Wet rubs, typically made with a combination of spices and liquid ingredients like vinegar, are great for imparting a tangy and saucy flavor to the pork. The liquid helps to penetrate the meat, resulting in a juicy and flavorful end product. Wet rubs also create a nice caramelized glaze on the outside of the pork when cooked.
Does Pulled Pork Get More Tender the Longer You Cook It?
Pulled pork does indeed get more tender the longer it cooks. This is because the slow cooking process allows the collagen in the meat to break down, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish.
As the pork cooks for an extended period, it becomes easier to pull apart. So, if you’re aiming for tender pulled pork, be patient and let it cook low and slow for the best results.
Carolina Style BBQ Pork (AIP, Paleo, GAPS, SCD)
- Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic power
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, or fat of choice
- 1 (3-5 lb.) pork shoulder roast or Boston Butt (with fat cap removed)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- In a small bowl, mix first five ingredients together and set aside.
- Heat a dutch oven on medium.
- Meanwhile rub roast with spice mix. Once dutch oven is hot, add coconut oil to pan and sear roast on all sides.
- Add onion to pot and remaining ingredients.
- Cover tightly with lid and place in the oven.
- Bake for 3-4 hours, or until the meat falls apart when shredded with two forks.
- I usually check the roast at 3 hours. If it’s still feeling a bit tough, give it longer – trust me on this. These roasts are best low and slow.
- Once roast is tender, carefully place dutch oven on stovetop and remove meat. Shred meat, removing any fat, and set aside.
- Skim some of the fat off the remaining liquid. There shouldn’t be too much if the fat cap was removed.
- Boil the liquid on medium high until the sauce reduces a bit – this will depend upon how much juice it yielded. When it thickens a little, it’s ready.
- Serve the meat with the sauce poured on top and incorporated into the meat.
- NOTE: Alternatively, this recipe can be made in the crockpot. Skip the step that sears the meat. Just rub the roast with the spice mix and place in crock pot. Then add all ingredients and cook on low 6-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker. My old crock pot needed to cook overnight and the next day. My new crockpot would cook a roast in 6-8 hours. So plan accordingly.