How To Reheat Pulled Pork Without Losing The Original Flavor
Hometown cooks create the best pulled pork through a slow, careful process. Pork shoulder is great while fresh. Often, you smoke a large amount of food days before the actual meal. Or, you may labor over your delicious meat with the delicious smoky flavor and don’t want to waste the leftovers. Either way, you need a great recipe that not only reheats your pulled pork but also maintains that original texture and flavor.
Although there are several ways of the reheating process, steaming keeps the original softness and taste that makes pulled pork so mouthwatering and the finished product is definitely worth it. If you love to smoke your own meat, you know what we mean.
Nothing is more terrifying than watching someone throw a slab of carefully cooked pork into a microwave. It dries out the meat, making it stringy. So sad!
Avoid this disaster by steaming your pork back to life. Just make sure you read this recipe before you start your original cook. Otherwise, you’ll miss an important ingredient: drippings!
What You Need To Reheat Pulled Pork
Before you reheat your pulled pork, make sure you collect the following ingredients and supplies. Then, you’ll be ready for this amazingly moist process.
- Mopping Juice: This comes from the drippings of the original cook. See the instructions below for tips on how to save the pork juice after you cook your pulled pork.
- Drippings Container: When you save the drippings, you’ll need a container for storage. We recommend something clear. It’s easier to see the layers of fat and juice after cooling. Also, consider a container with a spout, lip or funnel. This helps when you pour the juice back onto the meat.
- Kitchen Spoon: Pick a metal spoon that you can use to scrape the fat off your drippings. Any normal spoon will work well, as long as it’s thin enough to scrape off a layer.
- Pot Holder or Oven Mitt: As you cook, you might need to adjust your steamer basket. A pot holder or oven mitt allows you to reach into the pot and move the basket.
- Water or apple juice: You’ll use this to steam the mean in a pot. Decide beforehand if apple juice or water best matches your original recipe’s flavor. You don't want to dry out meat even more.
- Steamer Basket: You’ll need a basket large enough to hold all your meat. Plan to pack the meat loosely in this basket and choose your size accordingly.
- Pot: Choose a pot large enough to hold your steamer basket. Any cooking pot will work as long as it fits on your stovetop.
- Meat Thermometer: A basic meat thermometer will help you check the internal temperature of your meat. It’s very important for food safety.
Instructions for Reheating Pulled Pork
This method works best when you plan to reheat your pulled pork within a few days of the original roast. Otherwise, you may prefer to vacuum seal and and put your meat into boiling water for optimum moisture and flavor. Just don’t let anyone microwave your amazing creation! Instead, steam your pulled pork using the steps below for maximum flavor and texture.
Step 1: Save the Drippings
Hopefully, you are reading this tutorial before you finished cooking your meat. Otherwise, you won’t have this crucial ingredient. When you are making your pulled pork, save the drippings in a container or a sealed bag. You’ll need them to reheat your pulled pork.
Pro Tip: Store in a container that has a lip of funnel to make it easier to pour out later. If you don’t have one, you may need a ladle to add the juice without making a mess.
Step 2: Scrape the Fat
Once your drippings have cooled, scrape off the fat. A normal kitchen spoon works well. The fat will be a thick, white layer on the top. You may see some small chunks of meat and that’s fine. You should scrape those off too. Beneath, the juice will be a browner color. Save this brown juice for later. It’s the mopping juice in step 5.
Pro Tip: Use a clear cooling container to make it easier to see the layers between fat and juice. If you don’t have one, just be careful as you scrape.
Step 3: Boil Juice or Water
Get out your cooking pot and place on the stovetop. Fill the bottom with juice or water. It’s your choice! Water will keep your flavor more consistent with the original recipe. However, many people prefer to use apple juice because it softens the meat better and adds sweetness. Bring to a boil.
Pro Tip: The amount of apple juice depends on the size of the pot and the amount of meat. Keep the container of apple juice nearby in case you need to refill. You don’t want to burn your pot!
Step 4: Secure the Steaming Basket
Use the water bath method: place the steaming basket over the boiling pot. Make sure it’s secure. Also, keep a potholder nearby to help you adjust the basket. You don’t want your meat falling in while you steam! The flavor will run into the bottom and you’ll lose that delicious taste.
Pro Tip: Buy a pot with a matching steaming basket. Most of them have nice handles for easy removal. Then, it will fit the pot and you can easily remove when the meat is done.
Step 5: Add the Pulled Pork
Now, you can add your pulled pork to the basket. Add it slowly, making sure you don’t overfill the basket. You’ll notice the steam coming up through the meat from the bottom of the pot. Place the pot lid on top to trap the steam.
Pro Tip: Don’t pack the pork too tight. The steam needs room to flow between the pieces of meat and cook everything evenly.
Step 6: Reheat for 30 Minutes
Allow the pulled pork to reheat for approximately 30 minutes. During that time, you may need to add some more apple juice to the pot. If you do, remove the pork before adding the juice. Adding the juice on top of the meat will wash away the flavor to the bottom of the pot.
Pro Tip: Slowly add your original drippings back to the pulled pork by mopping it every 5 minutes. Make sure you place the pot lid back each time.
Step 7: Check the Temperature
After 30 minutes, test the pork temperature. Make sure the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Your pork should be soft and juicy. Now, it’s ready to eat.
Pro Tip: Use a large piece of meat in the middle of the pot to check the temperature. This gives you the most accurate reading. Meat on the outside cooks more quickly. Meat in the middle of the pot cooks slowest.
Additional Reheating Tips and Tricks
- Some cooks prefer to mix water and apple juice for the steam. It all depends on the original flavor of your recipe.
- If you must wait before serving your pork, keep it in a foil pan and cover with foil. This traps the steam and slows it from cooling.
- Take notes when you reheat your pork. You may want to adjust the steps to match your recipe and reach maximum flavor.
- Read our post "How to Use Your Digital Thermometer" to get the exact temperature reading.
Did you like it?
This process remains our favorite way to reheat pulled pork because it keeps the meat moist and juicy, like your original recipe. You can do even more research to find the best method to reheat the pork. Now, you won’t cringe in terror as someone pops your delicious dish into the microwave. No stringy pork! No tasteless dry meat! No trying to hide it with tons f barbecue sauce! Instead, you’ll enjoy the same strong flavor and soft texture, like when you cooked it the first time. Assemble sandwiches, add bbq sauce and enjoy your food.
Some final thoughts. We hope this post was helpful and inspired you to reheat your pulled pork using steam. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section; tell us what you think in the comments. If you tried this recipe, make sure you share it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Freeze Pulled Pork?
Cooked and pulled pork can be frozen for later use. It is convenient to freeze pulled pork in airtight containers or freezer bags in individual portions, which makes them easier to reheat later. Pulled pork can be frozen for up to a year.
How Long Can You Keep Cooked Pulled Pork in the Refrigerator?
Leftover pulled pork falls in the same storage category as other types of cooked meats, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). They recommend you keep the cooked pork in an airtight container, covered, for up to 7 days. While it is technically good for a week, the recommended quality storage time is only 3 to 4 days. Longer storage of cooked pork would require freezing.
Should You Vacuum Seal Pulled Pork?
Using a vacuum sealer like a Foodsaver will increase the quality of your pulled pork. These devices keep air out, which keeps the leftover food fresher. When freezing pulled pork, using a vacuum sealer is recommended because it will help to prevent freezer burn.
Can You Reheat Cooked Pork in the Microwave?
While you can reheat pulled pork in the microwave, we definitely recommend that you follow the steps above instead. Steaming the pork to reheat it will keep it from drying out.
What Temperature Should You Reheat Pulled Pork?
The USDA recommends that all leftovers be reheated to 165 degrees F. This ensures that the heat will kill any bacteria that may have contaminated your food.