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Hearty Dinners/ Pork/ Summer Lovin'

Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

July 15, 2021 (Last Updated: February 12, 2022) by Chris Collins

This Dr Pepper Pulled Pork is sweet, saucy, tender, juicy and all round DELICIOUS!

Forget what you knew about pulled pork, because this is about to be your new go-to pulled pork recipe. Follow me…

overhead close up shot of pulled pork on tray with two silver forks digging in

Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

Using Dr Pepper to make pulled pork isn’t just a novelty, it’s actually a really key ingredient. Not only does it help keep the pork moist, but it also injects a gorgeous sweet flavour.

Does this pulled pork ACTUALLY taste of Dr Pepper?

The flavour is very faint after cooking, but when you mix in the BBQ sauce you’ll definitely taste it. Most of the flavour will come from the sauce though.

Pulled Pork Ingredients

  • Pork – You’ll want to use pork shoulder (pork butt). I prefer bone out with the top layer of fat removed. You’ll likely find this cut of meat in the supermarket, but definitely at the butchers.
  • Dr Pepper – This offers a faint sweetness and helps keep the pork moist as it cooks.
  • Onion – This infuses into the liquid. I also like to mix in the onion as you shred the pork. They’ll be ultra soft and will add a good hit of flavour. Also means they don’t go to waste!
  • Seasoning – To coat the pork. Here I use a simple mix of paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

overhead shot of pulled pork ingredients with text labels

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

How long to slow cook pulled pork?

On a low setting you’ll want to slow cook it for 10 hours. You can get away with 8-9, but honestly the longer the better.

Is it better to cook pulled pork on high or low?

I personally prefer the low setting. It’s incredibly difficult to overcook the meat on low, whereas high can be a little too much, especially if it’s a very thick cut of pork or if you let it over-run a little.

Do you need to sear pork shoulder before slow cooking?

I’ve tested both searing and non-searing, and to be honest the outcome is very similar. The flavour is about the same, the only difference is you get more crispy bits on the pork if searing before hand.

Process shots: add pork to chopping board (photo 1), rub in seasoning (photo 2), add onions and dr pepper to slow cooker (photo 3), add pork then pour over more dr pepper (photo 4), add lid and slow cook (photo 5), take off lid and remove (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make dr pepper pulled pork

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce

Whilst the pork is slow cooking, you can get cracking on the BBQ sauce. Whilst the purpose of slow cooking it is to inject flavour, it’s main purpose is tenderizing (and obviously cooking) the pork. The sauce is what wraps it in a gorgeous sweet, tangy flavour.

Sure you could use store-bought BBQ sauce, but it’s so easy to make it at home it’d be rude not to! Plus, more Dr Pepper 😛 Here’s how I like my BBQ sauce:

  • Sweet – The sweet aspect of the sauce comes from the Dr Pepper, alongside brown sugar and ketchup.
  • Tangy – The ketchup will add some tanginess, but the bulk of the tang comes from apple cider vinegar.
  • Spicy – I love adding a dash of hot sauce, alongside some mustard powder too.
  • Smoky – Smoked paprika offers most of this, but the Worcestershire sauce will also add a touch of smokiness.

Alongside these ingredients, I like to add tomato paste to add a depth of flavour and some onion/garlic powder to add more of a rounded flavour.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yep! Just allow to completely cool then tightly store in the fridge for around 2 weeks. I recommend warming again before stirring through the pork though.

2 step by step photos showing how to make dr pepper bbq sauce

BBQ Sauce Pulled Pork

Once the pulled pork is ridiculously tender (should very easily shred with two forks), you’ll want to whack it on a large curved baking tray. From there, just gently shred then incorporate the BBQ sauce.

Although this sounds like strange advice, I recommend not over-shredding the pork. At least not in the first instance anyway. I don’t know about you, but have you ever had pulled pork that’s been shredded into oblivion and ends up being tough and dry? Yep, we’ve all been there! Start off conservatively and shred further with the sauce if needed.

I also like to sneak in some of the slow cooker juices, alongside some of those ridiculously soft onions!

Can I make pulled pork ahead of time?

I find it’s best served fresh, just because it’s at its most tender. But you can store leftovers in the fridge for 2-3days (or in the freezer).

Process shots: shred pork (photo 1), pour over BBQ sauce (photo 2), toss to combine (photo 3).

3 step by step photos showing how to make bbq pulled pork

Serving Pulled Pork

If you haven’t eaten the entire thing straight off the tray by this point, there’s a variety of different ways you can serve pulled pork. My 3 favourite ways are:

  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw
  • On top of Mac and Cheese
  • Pulled Pork Nachos!

close up shot of pulled pork sandwich on wooden board

close up shot of pulled pork mac and cheese in small white bowl with silver fork digging in

overhead shot of pulled pork nachos in silver baking tray

After another funky slow cooked pork recipe? Check out my Slow Cooker Cola Ham!

For more delicious slow cooker recipes check out these beauties:

How to make Dr Pepper Pulled Pork (Full Recipe & Video)

overhead close up shot of pulled pork on tray with two silver forks digging in

Dr Pepper Pulled Pork

This Dr Pepper Pulled Pork is sweet, saucy, tender, juicy and all round DELICIOUS!
5 from 4 votes
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Servings (click & slide): 10
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 15 minutes
Calories per serving: 348kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4


  • Slow Cooker (for cooking pork)
  • Large Curved Tray (for shredding pork)
  • Large Pot or Deep Pan with Whisk (for BBQ Sauce)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board (for slicing onion)
  • Tongs & Wooden Spoon

Ingredients (check list):

Pulled Pork

  • 3-4lb / 1.5-2kg Pork Shoulder (see notes)
  • 1x 12oz / 330ml can of Dr Pepper (not diet!)
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp EACH: Paprika, Salt
  • 1 tsp EACH: Garlic Powder, Black Pepper

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce

  • 1x 12oz / 330ml can of Dr Pepper (not diet!)
  • 1 cup / 240g Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup EACH: Dark Brown SugarApple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp EACH: Worcestershire SauceTomato Paste (Tomato Puree in UK)
  • 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Mustard Powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: Onion PowderGarlic PowderSaltBlack Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Hot Sauce, or to taste (optional)


  • Prep Pork: Coat the pork all over in seasoning. Use your hands to rub the seasoning into the meat.
  • Cook Pork: Add onion slices to the bottom of a slow cooker then pour in half a can of Dr Pepper. Add pork on top then pour over the rest of the Dr Pepper. Pop the lid on and slow cook on low for 10 hours.
  • BBQ Sauce: Add all of the ingredients to a pot/deep pan and whisk to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally until thickened (approx 20-30mins). It will thicken, just keep gently simmering and stirring. Don't crank up the heat or it'll burn the sugar. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly (i.e. more sugar for sweeter, more hot sauce for spicier etc).
  • Shred: Use tongs to remove pork from slow cooker and add to a large curved tray. Add the onions and a splash of the cooking juice for extra flavour (optional). Roughly shred with two forks. Don't over shred in the first instance or it'll go tough and dry.
  • Sauce: Pour over BBQ sauce then use tongs to combine, shredding a little more if needed.
  • Serve: Add to burger buns with coleslaw, on top of mac and cheese or in nachos (see notes).

Quick 1 min demo!


a) Pork - Pork shoulder aka pork butt is the best cut of meat for slow cooking. You should find it in the store, but if not just pop to your local butchers. Sometimes they already have it pre-packaged, sometimes labeled as 'pork for pulled pork' or something similar. I prefer a slightly smaller size (3lb/1.5kg) because you get more sauce to meat ratio, but the difference is minimal. If you're at all concerned about having too little sauce just make it in batch (use servings toggle at the top of the recipe card to double sauce).
b) Make Ahead BBQ Sauce - To get ahead of the game you can make this in advance. Just allow to completely cool and tightly store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Just warm it up in a pot again before pouring over the pork. Use some of the slow cooker juices to loosen up if needed.
c) Can I make this ahead of time? - I prefer this as fresh as possible, just so the pork is at its most tender. But you can store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for 3 days. Can also freeze it. I recommend reheating in the microwave, adding a splash more sauce if needed to keep it juicy! (thaw in fridge first if frozen).
d) Serving - Sandwiches in burger buns with coleslaw is the classic way. You can also plonk it on top of some mac and cheese. You can also make nachos, but I don't recommend making it purely for this reason as it does dry out in the oven, so just use leftovers. Just stack tortilla chips with pulled pork then cheese and bake at 180C/350F until the cheese melts. Top with avocado, tomato, onion and a drizzle of bbq sauce (or your favourite toppings).
e) Calories - whole recipe divided by 10 without sides:

Your Private Notes:


Nutrition Facts
Dr Pepper Pulled Pork
Amount Per Serving
Calories 348 Calories from Fat 104
% Daily Value*
Fat 11.54g18%
Saturated Fat 4.015g20%
Trans Fat 0.076g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.299g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.993g
Cholesterol 120mg40%
Sodium 948mg40%
Potassium 818mg23%
Carbohydrates 21.32g7%
Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugar 19.06g21%
Protein 38.06g76%
Vitamin A 436IU9%
Vitamin C 8.8mg11%
Calcium 42mg4%
Iron 2.81mg16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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Recipe Rating


  • Reply
    January 31, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    Can this recipe be made in an instant pot? I did this recipe already in the crock pot and it was delicious!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      January 31, 2023 at 6:15 pm

      Hey Callie! So great to hear it went down well in the slow cooker. Unfortunately I’ve never made this dish in the IP so I couldn’t say for sure. C.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    Can I use diet Dr. Pepper, since I’m diabetic?

    This looks awesome!


    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      December 8, 2022 at 1:08 pm

      I usually recommend against diet Dr.Pepper. You could probably get away with it for slow cooking the pork, but really you need the sweetness to balance out the flavours, especially in the BBQ sauce. You could give it a go, but I couldn’t guarantee the results. C.

      • Reply
        December 8, 2022 at 4:28 pm

        Thank you! I guess I’ll have to pass on this recipe because it would be too costly to toss it if didn’t taste right.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    Hi I haven’t made this yet but it looks amazing, does it taste very sweet, there’s a lot of sugar init with the 2 cans of dr peppers?

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 15, 2022 at 5:16 pm

      Hey Sandra. It’s sweet, but certainly not overbearing. If you’re weary at all just leave out the sugar in the sauce and add as much as you find necessary. Enjoy! C.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2022 at 8:48 am

    Just made this, was delicious. I couldn’t get hold of another can of Dr Pepper original, so I used the Cherry flavour for the sauce, and it turned out great. Going to use the sauce for a marinade to do chicken wings.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 4, 2022 at 1:58 pm

      I bet the cherry flavour was awesome! Thanks for the review, Penelope 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    Candace w.
    October 4, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    5 stars
    Delicious, made it with stucky fingers carolina sweet original bbq sauce and ate with brioche buns with swiss cheese and omg so tastey!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      October 4, 2022 at 6:23 pm

      So glad it went down well, Candace! Thanks for the review 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    Aaron Welch
    August 28, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    5 stars
    I followed your recipe, except I used a smoker with mesquite and apple, smoked at 225 with cherry dr pepper in the drip tray with the onoins. At 160 internal I set the pork in the drip pan and covered until 203 internal. It worked so well its my new favorite pulled pork! Also tweeked the sauce abit with more brown sugar, tomato paste and ketchup. Thank you for your guidance! Awesome recipe!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 29, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      That sounds awesome! I’ll have to try a similar technique myself. Thanks for the review 🙂 C.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    Hi, just wondering roughly how long it would take to cook this on low with a bit smaller piece of pork, specifically a 1kg/2.2 pound piece of pork?

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 12, 2022 at 7:45 pm

      Hey Geoff! I’d go for 8 hours on low 🙂

  • Reply
    July 6, 2022 at 3:29 pm

    Can you tell me if all ingredients are used in the sauce OR If I like my sauce “Tangy” I use the amounts of the specific items for tangy to the ketchup?

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      July 7, 2022 at 5:17 pm

      I’m not 100% sure of the question here, but if you prefer your sauce more tangy, I’d follow the recipe as instructed then adjust ad necessary after (a dash more vinegar should help add more ‘tang’). Hope this helps! C.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2022 at 12:31 am

    5 stars
    Delicious and so easy ! Followed the instructions as written.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      April 1, 2022 at 2:52 pm

      Happy to hear it went down well, Stacy! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 17, 2022 at 2:46 am

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Made pulled pork sandwiches and they came out really nice. Loved the Dr. Pepper sauce. I’m thinking of making pot pies with the leftovers.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 17, 2022 at 9:32 am

      Great to hear! Love the idea of leftover pot pies! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 2, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Chris,

    I love all of your wonderful recipes. Just wondering, do you think that I could make this with chicken breasts instead of pork shoulder. Hubby doesn’t eat pork. Thanks a gazillion!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 3, 2022 at 10:28 am

      Hey Lynn! I’ve not tried it myself but I reckon it’d still work just fine 🙂