Pulled pork is always popular at a backyard BBQ, but sometimes you cook more than you need and have a bunch of leftovers. When that happens you might ask, “Can you freeze pulled pork?”
The answer is yes. You can absolutely freeze pulled pork and when frozen properly the meat will stay tender and tasty.
Being able to freeze and reheat pulled pork is important because if you’re cooking a whole pork shoulder you’re probably going to have leftovers.
And there are so many ways to eat leftover pulled pork, making it a perfect item to keep in the freezer for those busy nights when you need a quick meal and you’re sick of grilling frozen burgers.
So let’s talk about how to freeze pulled pork the right way…
How To Freeze Pulled Pork And Keep It Moist
Leftover pulled pork will last about 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, so if you know you won’t be able to use it all by then you’ll want to freeze the meat so it doesn’t go bad.
The best way to freeze pulled pork is to store it in resealable freezer bags or an airtight container. If you have a lot of meat left over, storing it in multiple freezer bags allows you to defrost only what you need so you’ll get several meals out of your leftovers.
The key to freezing pulled pork the right way is to retain as much moisture as possible. You don’t want it to be dried out when you reheat it. Yuck.
One way to keep the meat moist is to freeze it before shredding. Of course, you can only do this if you know you’re making more than you need and purposely have leftovers. I do this all the time when smoking pork butt…two butts are better than one!
If you’ve already shredded the meat, don’t worry you can still freeze it. Just try to collect any juices that may be left at the bottom of the pan or dish it was served in.
Place the pulled pork in the freezer bag and don’t overstuff it. Lay it flat on your counter and press out as much air as you can. You want to remove as much oxygen as possible to prevent spoilage. A vacuum sealer works really well to pack up your frozen pulled pork, but it’s totally optional.
Seal the bag and lay it flat in the freezer until frozen so it will retain its shape and maximize freezer space. Once it’s frozen you can stack multiple bags like pancakes or slide them into the freezer like books on a shelf.
How Long Is Frozen Pork Good For?
Pulled pork can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. Be sure to label and date it so it doesn’t get buried and forgotten in the back of your freezer.
How To Reheat Pulled Pork
There are a number of ways to reheat pulled pork, and one isn’t necessarily better than all the rest. The secret is to warm up your pork without drying it out.
Whichever method you choose, you should let the meat defrost before heating it. Let it sit on the counter at room temperature or in the fridge for a few hours. It helps to add a little liquid for it to absorb as it defrosts. You don’t need much, just a few splashes of broth, apple juice, or reserved liquids from when you first cooked the pork.
Here are the different methods for reheating frozen pulled pork:
Slow Cooker/Crock Pot
In my experience a slow cooker is the best way to reheat pulled pork. It’s almost foolproof and gives you the best results with pork that is tender and juicy.
Just add the meat to the slow cooker with some barbecue sauce, broth, or apple juice. You’ll want to keep the temperature set to low or use the “warming” mode. Stir it regularly and in a couple of hours you’ll have some seriously delicious leftovers.
Since you’ll be reheating it so slowly using this method, you can skip the defrosting step if you don’t have time.
After a cooker I’d say the next best option is the stove. Just do the same thing you would in the slow cooker. Add your meat with barbecue sauce or liquid and heat slowly while stirring regularly.
You just can’t leave it unattended like you can a slow cooker.
Preheat your oven to 225°F and then add your meat to a roasting pan with some liquid and then it slowly warm up. It should take about 30 minutes but keep an eye on it because it can dry out quickly. You can always add a little extra fluid if needed.
Remember to keep the heat low, it’s already cooked and you just want to warm it up.
Add your pork to a pan with some liquid and place on your grill over low heat and keep the lid closed. It should be good to go in about 30 minutes but you should monitor it to prevent the meat from drying out.
For best results use indirect heat, so if you have have a gas grill with three burners you’ll place the meat over the center burner. Turn the two side burners on and leave the center burner off. This protects your meat from direct heat and helps prevent drying out.
If time is really of the essence you can reheat frozen pulled pork in a microwave. Just place the pork in a microwave safe dish with a splash of apple juice or barbecue sauce and cook on high for a few minutes.
It will cook very quickly in a microwave and it can dry out quickly, even when you add some liquid to the meat. I recommend heating for just one minute and then checking on it. If it’s not ready, cook an additional 30 seconds and keep checking it every half minute until it’s done.
Things To Do With Leftover Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is one of my favorite things to cook. My whole family goes crazy for it and there are so many leftover pulled pork recipes to try with whatever is left.
I actually make extra pulled pork on purpose. I figure as long as I’m firing up my Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, I might as well make the most of it.
Some of my favorite leftover pulled pork recipes include:
- BBQ pulled pork sliders
- Pulled pork tacos
- Pulled pork quesadillas
- Pulled pork mac and cheese
- BBQ pulled pork nachos
- Pulled pork breakfast skillet
- BBQ pulled pork pizza
Honestly, there are so many things to do with leftover pulled pork! And don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new!
Can You Freeze Pulled Pork With Sauce?
When I make pork shoulder for family and friends, I shred the meat and serve in a big pan or plate and I don’t put any barbecue sauce on it.
I do it this way because some people like their pulled pork swimming in BBQ sauce and others like just a few drops, so I prefer to let my guests add the sauce themselves.
I also prefer to freeze pulled pork without any sauce. That said, if you’ve got leftover pulled pork that’s already been sauced you can certainly freeze it that way too.