How to reheat pulled pork without drying it out

Written in 2024
by Toni Costa

    When you reheat food, it always seems to taste way worse and loses a lot of its moisture, but it doesn't have to be this way. This guide should help you reheat food and make sure it's stored correctly for a much better leftovers meal.

    Reheating food is generally split into two different categories, either as cooking ahead for the next meal you want to make or as a leftovers meal, and we want to look at the classic mistakes and the simple strategies you want to perfect to get the best out of your pulled pork.

    What Actually is Pulled Pork?

    Pulled pork is a type of pork dish that is typically slow-cooked over a long period of time until it is incredibly tender. Once it's ready, the meat is then "pulled" or shredded apart using forks or other utensils. It tends to come from a large cut called the butt, so big there are usually leftovers.

    Storing the Pulled Pork

    When the meat loses its moisture and dries out, it very quickly ruins the meal, it will lose its flavour and tenderness, so the first step of this guide is to prevent this and store the meat properly.

    The most important rule when it comes to pulled pork is that you should never store it in the fridge for more than two days, and if possible, try and eat it on the day it was cooked.

    If you absolutely have to store pulled pork in the fridge, make sure to put it in an air-tight container or wrap it tightly in cling film so that no air can get to it. This will help to preserve its moisture for a little longer.

    To be a little more specific, world-famous champion pitmaster Mike Wozniak created the Wozniak Method

    Wozniak Method

    1. When the pork has reached an internal temperature of 175° F, wrap it in aluminium foil tightly. Make sure all edges are covered.
    2. Place the wrapped meat in a sealable plastic bag, such as a clean (fragrance-free) trash can liner.
    3. Make sure it's deep in the ice.
    4. At this point, the temperature of the meat has risen too high for the refrigerator. It will raise the already-low fridge temperature, even more, removing foods from their optimum temperatures.
    5. Move the meat to the fridge when its temperature is in the 40s.

    Heating the Pork after its Defrosted

    As the pork was cooked slowly in the first place, reheating it slow is the best way too, the optimum way to get the most moisture and tenderness.

    Thawing the Meat

    The USDA states that a cooked pork shoulder may be frozen for up to two months. It will still be good after three months, but it won't be as flavorful.

    Completely thaw meat in the fridge for around 24 hours to do so.

    How to Reheating Pulled Pork Sous Vide Style

    Sous Vide pulled pork is the best way to reheat it as it will preserve all of its moisture. Preheat your water bath to 165°F/74°C or whatever your desired temperature is. Put your pulled pork into a sealable bag, and make sure to remove as much air from it as possible. Place the bag in the water bath and let it cook for ur planned cooking time, it differs from personal preference.

    Common advice here is that you should shred the pork before it is frozen, but it will cook slightly differently, so you may need to experiment with what you like best!

    How to Reheating Pulled Pork on the Grill

    Grilling pulled pork is another great way to reheat it, as long as you don't mind a few blackened bits. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, around 350-400°F/177-204°C and place the pulled pork directly on the grate. Grill for around 10-15 minutes, flipping once, or until it is heated through.

    The problem with this is that it can suck the moisture out of the meal, but using a two-zone indirect cooking method can help prevent this.

    Reheating in the Microwave

    The microwave can be a great way to reheat pulled pork, but it's not always the best option. Because microwaves cook food from the inside out, the outside of the pulled pork can become dry and overcooked before the inside is heated through.

    If you do choose to microwave pulled pork, try to use a low power setting and cover the dish with cling film or a microwavable lid to help keep in as much moisture as possible. Heat for around 4-5 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until it is hot all the way through.

    A lot of die-hard grillers are heavily against this method as it's seen as cheap, or not as true to the traditions, but it's effective!

    Reheating in a Kitchen Oven

    If you're reheating a large amount of pulled pork, the oven is probably your best bet. Preheat your oven to 225°F and spread the pulled pork out in an even layer on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil and heat for around 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.

    You can also add a little chicken broth or apple cider vinegar to the pan before reheating to help keep the pulled pork moist.

    This is a great method if you want to avoid drying out the pork, but it does take a little longer than some of the other methods.

    How Many Times are you able to Reheat Pulled Pork?

    You can reheat pulled pork as many times as you like, but it's best to avoid doing it too often. This is also dependent on a lot of factors, it needs certain conditions to be met to avoid bacterial growth from the back and forth temperatures. The Pork needs to be served at 165F, refrigerated within 2 hours of serving, and stored at 40F below.

    Every time you reheat pulled pork, it will lose a little bit of moisture, so try to reheat only the amount that you'll need.

    To keep all that moisture and prevent the back and forth of freezing, portion it out into individual servings and freeze it for up to three months. Thaw pulled pork in the fridge overnight before reheating.

    What food is best to pair with Pulled Pork?

    There are endless possibilities when it comes to what to serve with pulled pork. Some of our favorites are BBQ sauce, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread. You can also get creative with your sides, using rolls, potatoes, or even fruit!

    What Sauces go best with Pulled Pork?

    There are a lot of different sauces that go well with pulled pork. Our favourites are BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce. You can also get creative with your own sauces or even use a store-bought one.

    If you're looking for something a little different, try using pulled pork in a soup or chilli recipe. It's a great way to change up the flavours and add some extra protein to your meal.

    Safety Concerns about Reheating Pulled Pork?

    As with any food, there are always safety concerns when reheating pulled pork. The main concern is bacterial growth.

    Bacterial growth can occur when pulled pork is reheated multiple times or not heated to the proper temperature. To avoid this, make sure to reheat the pork to an internal temperature of 165°F and eat it within 2 hours of cooking.

    You should also avoid reheating pulled pork more than once. If you're not sure if the pork is still safe to eat, it's best to throw it out.

    When in doubt, throw it out! Better safe than sorry.

    Final Thoughts on Reheating pulled pork

    There are a lot of different ways to reheat pulled pork, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Our favourite methods are the oven and the microwave, but you can also use a slow cooker or stovetop.

    No matter which method you choose, make sure to reheat the pulled pork to an internal temperature of 165°F and eat it within 2 hours of cooking. You should also avoid reheating pulled pork more than once.

    If you're not sure if the pork is still safe to eat, it's best to throw it out. When in doubt, throw it out! Better safe than sorry.

    Experiment with a variety of sauces and sides along with pulled pork to try to make tons of absolutely beautiful meals time after time with an incredible cut of meat.

    Written by Toni Costa

    I'm Antonio! I'm a university student based in Leeds, UK. My passions, are sports and food! The less said about the teams I support the better...

    Working on the SmokeGuys site has allowed me to improve my writing and of course, provide you with awesome reviews and guides!

    Top linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram