How to Reheat Pulled Pork

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 21, 2021

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The best solution is serving fresh food although I do understand that people don’t always have time to do it the right way.

I know that plenty of people prepare a lot of food in advance for that reason, and then later they just reheat is quickly and easily.

It’s a good idea but one should do this the right way for the food to maintain its best qualities. In this article you are going to learn several tested solutions on how to reheat pulled pork.

How to reheat pulled pork

Reheating pulled pork the next day might actually result in dry meat if you don’t do this the right way. In that case what matters the most is for the meat to maintain its juiciness as much as possible.

The key principles for avoiding overdrying of reheated pulled pork

The storage method is nearly more important than the pulled pork reheating method itself.

You need to know that the key in this situation is following several rules.

Never reheat pulled meat, wait with pulling until the whole thing is reheated. With that easy method, you are going to retain much more moisture which will make the meat more juicy.

A good solution is to store the meat right after you’re done cooking, while it’s still hot. That way you can be sure that there’s more moisture inside the meat, try to retain all the meat juices and greases created during cooking.

In that case, a method developed by Mike Wozniak will work great.

It consists of packing hot meat right after the end of cooking in a waterproof bag, which is then placed in an ice-filled cooler. That way you make sure that the meat will be as moist as possible after reheating.

Warning, the method is slightly more complicated so I encourage you to familiarize yourself with it in detail in this article.

Going back to the basic principles for reheating pulled pork, one has to remember that it should be done slowly just like during regular smoking.

You should bring the meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F to make sure that you get rid of all the undesirable bacteria.

For that reason, you shouldn’t reheat it fast and on direct flame, as the external part of meat will be like a hard shell whereas the meat on the inside will likely be slightly warm or even cold and dry.

If you’re in the mood for making some pulled pork from scratch, check out our delicious recipe where we go deep into all the details of how to make it, start to finish

You should also remember that:

Cooked pulled pork can be stored in the fridge safely for up to four days (In a temperature of about 40 degrees F).

After freezing, on the other hand, you can store such meat for as long as 2 to 3 months, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

How to Reheat Pulled Pork

There are several widely used methods for reheating pulled pork. Below you will find a detailed description of each of them, and which one you choose depends on you (in random order).

Reheating Pulled Pork in Oven

I’d like to start by presenting a method for reheating pulled pork using an oven. The advantage of this method is the speed and ease as you don’t have to get charcoal burning as is the case with a grill, plus you have less to clean up.

Another advantage is the fact that you can do it conveniently in the kitchen at any time of the day and whenever the weather outside is far from perfect.

Step 1 – Heat up the Oven to 225 degrees F. In the meantime, you can start preparing the meat, there are two ways to do that.

The first consists of wrapping the pulled pork in a double layer of foil and placing it on the tray.

The second way is to put the meat in a heat-resistant dish and also wrap it in foil in order to retain the moisture.

In both cases, before closing the dish or foil one should add a little liquid inside to make up for the moisture loss (use apple juice, beer, apple vinegar, wine or bouillon).

Step 2 – Place the ready meat in the oven and roast it until the temperature inside the meat reaches at least 165 degrees F (use a digital meat thermometer for monitoring).

Step 3 – Once you reach said temperature, next cut the foil and roast the meat for a short while, watching once again as the bark becomes crispy.

Step 4 – All that is left is to remove the ready meat and pull it using your favorite method (personally I recommend meat claw pork pullers).

How to Reheat Pulled Pork on the Grill

This should be done almost the same way as during standard meat smoking, which means using the indirect cooking method. That way the meat will slowly reach the adequate temperature without getting overly dry.

It is an effective method, but it takes a lot of time if you’re using a charcoal grill (getting the charcoal burning and cleaning etc), which is why I definitely recommend using a gas grill instead if you have one.

When it comes to a charcoal grill, you have to divide the cooking area in half, placing the briquettes on one side only and the meat on the other.

When it comes to a gas grill, you need at least two burners, in such situation you need to start only one of them while placing the meat on the other side (with the burner off).

Step 1 – Reach a grill’s internal temperature of 225 degrees F, making sure beforehand that the meat is close to defrosting.

Step 2 – Take out the defrosted meat and wrap it in foil, adding about ¼ glass of water inside in order to make up for the moisture lost during cooking. You can also coat the meat with some of these best BBQ sauces, and then seal the foil tight.

Step 3 – Place the meat on the cold side of the grill (across from the side with hot charcoal or above the inactive burner). Leave the pork until it reaches 165 degrees F inside, use a digital thermometer for monitoring.

Step 4 – Remove the meat from the foil once it reaches the right temperature (keep the foil together with the juices/liquids) and place it for a few minutes directly over the source of heat to roast it. You can use some sort of container if you have accidentally pulled some meat.

Step 5 – All that is left in the end is to remove the pork from the grill and then you can move on to the stage where you pull the meat and serve it with the food.

Reheating Pulled Pork in a Crockpot

The possibilities of the crockpot will be appreciated by everyone who’s had a chance to cook with this device. Do you know that you can use it to very easily reheat smoked pulled pork?

Step 1 – Defrost the pork and then set the crockpot to low heat.

Step 2 – Put the defrosted meat in the crockpot and add the remaining fluids you have left after defrosting. If there are hardly any, add separately a bit of apple juice, bouillon, sauce or simply water (not too much as this device can really retain a lot of water).

Step 3 – Leave the meat in for a few hours, speaking from experience I know that it is about 2-4 hours. Just plug in a reliable meat thermometer to follow the temperature (at least 165 degrees F) and focus on something else in the meantime.

Step 4 – Once the pork reaches the target temperature, take it out and serve it.

Reheat it in the Microwave

I will just overlook all those legends about using a microwave oven being bad for health. Just read a few articles on the topic and you will find out two major things.

A microwave oven made of the right materials, when used properly, won’t constitute a problem when it comes to safety to health.

A significant problem for the pulled pork lovers, on the other hand, might be the fact that using this method causes pork to lose probably the most moisture. On the other hand, it is the fastest and most convenient method out of all the available ones.

I assume that all the principles have been met and you can move on to utilizing this method.

Step 1 – Put the meat in a container that was made of a microwave-friendly material (like an adequate glass dish).

Step 2 – Then set a low power or medium at most and leave the meat like that for as long as a few minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

What matters is for the meat to be cooked at low settings in order to retain as much moisture as possible. When you see that the meat is getting dry, add a small amount of liquid.

Reheat Pulled Pork Sous Vide

Sous Vide is a cooking device that is based on having the food vacuum sealed in a waterproof bag that is then placed in hot water where cooking takes place.

In practice it’s a great way to reheat pulled pork while maintaining high moisture level of the meat.

The method requires an additional device that allows to vacuum seal food, which can then be frozen. A very useful and inexpensive device that comes in handy in the kitchen so if you still don’t have one, you should really consider buying it.

Another important thing is the fact that in this case the meat should be pulled before packing it in the vacuum bag (mostly due to the size). This is an exception among all the methods where meat has to be pulled before being frozen.

You can add some liquids to the bag with pulled meat right before freezing it.

Step 1 – Prepare a large pot full of water and set the sous vide at 165 degrees F.

Step 2 – After reaching the right temperature, submerge the bag with meat in the water.

Step 3 – It is recommended to leave the pulled pork in the water for 45 minutes per inch of the thickness. It is possible to put in frozen meat, in such case one has to add about half an hour more to the basic time.

The advantage of this method is great moisture retaining inside as the meat is not exposed to cooking using “direct” heat.

Best way to reheat pulled pork

The best method depends on how much time you have, what tools you own and what results you want to achieve.

The fastest way is a microwave, but the most effective and convenient is an oven, crockpot or sous vide. A grill will be fine as well as long as you have a gas grill (charcoal requires more time, attention and cleaning).

Familiarize yourself with every method and decide for yourself what will be the best for you. I recommend testing them all so that you can make a 100% informed best choice for your situation.

How many times can pulled pork be reheated?

It would be the easiest to say that just once and there are many arguments in favor of that, but I will try to elaborate on the topic more.

When reheating meat, you lose not only flavor and juiciness, but you also take chances when it comes to bacteria. Which makes proper storage, reheating and frosting of meat crucial in this topic.

From the technical point of view, one can reheat pulled pork more than once, but one has to follow several basic rules which actually isn’t quite as easy.

First and foremost, you need to make sure that before you serve the pork, it has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. It is a temperature at which all kinds of bacteria get killed, and the meat is ready to be consumed.

Next you need to be sure that the same meat, or rather its remains, gets cooled down again within no more than two hours (the sooner the better). After that time, the chances for bacteria to develop start growing significantly.

The last important step is to store cooled down meat in a temperature of 40 degrees F or even lower than that.

Ultimately, I would advise against reheating the same piece of pulled pork again. That way you lose a lot of flavor and the best qualities of such meat, but more than anything else you risk your health through the potential bacteria if something goes wrong at one of the stages.

A solution in this situation is to pull the meat and pack it in several vacuum bags, then freeze it. That way you have several portions of meat to choose from that, when frozen, can stay in the freezer for as long as 2 to 3 months.

However, you’re going to need a sous vide and tools for vacuum packing of food. It is the only situation where I recommend pulling the meat before freezing it, it doesn’t apply to other methods described in this guide.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.