Pulled pork sliders are great for game day, or any other occasion. To nail your pork sliders, first you have to nail a smoked pork shoulder. Sliders are a great way to use pork leftovers. However, this recipe works best using tender, juicy pork fresh out of the smoker. As always, I asked the barbecue gurus how they smoke pulled pork and for sliders.
Smoked pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, is the preferred choice for pulled pork due to its high fat content, which helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful during the cooking process. The ideal temperature for smoking a pork shoulder is 250°F, and it should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F. Hawaiian rolls are the best buns to use for pork sliders. These rolls are usually sold in a pack of 12 and are connected, making it easier to build the sliders. If Hawaiian rolls are not available, alternatives such as brioche buns or other small rolls may be used. It is important to choose rolls that are attached to simplify the process of constructing the sliders. Assembling each burger individually can be inconvenient and time-consuming.
The Best Rolls or Buns For Pork Sliders
Hawaiian rolls are the best buns to use when making pulled pork sliders. They usually come in a 12 pack and are still connected—which is important. If you can’t get hold of Hawaiian rolls, you can use broche buns or any other small roll. Ideally, you want to use rolls that are attached because it makes building the sliders much easier. Don’t build each burger individually. It’s too fiddly. You want to prepare the base of the burgers as a whole piece.
The Best Way To Build Sliders
Typically, a packet of Hawaiian rolls will contain 12 buns that are attached to one another. To prepare the buns, slice them lengthwise to separate the tops from the bottoms. Place the top and bottom halves in a toaster for a few minutes to lightly toast them, which will help to prevent the buns from becoming soggy. Next, slice the buns in half horizontally without separating them, creating a total of 24 bun halves.
When constructing the sliders, start with the bun bottoms and build the sliders by adding the desired meat and toppings. Once all the sliders are assembled, place the bun tops on top and use a knife to cut between the buns, separating them into individual sliders.
The Different Ways To Build Sliders
There are many variations that can be tried when building pulled pork sliders. Some ideas include adding coleslaw, pickles, BBQ sauce, or cheese as toppings. The possibilities are endless, so feel free to get creative and experiment with different combinations to find your favorite. This Tasty video below has several variations you can try with your pulled pork.
Pulled Pork Caramelized Onion and Cheese Sliders
This recipe is a straightforward version of a pork slider without salad. For this recipe, you will need to finish the sliders in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. First, separate your slider buns and place the burger bottoms in a baking dish. Layer the burger bottoms with the meat, then onion and top with cheese. For the sauce, baste the cheese with your favorite barbecue sauce, then put the burger tops back on and place in the oven.
I love the Gordon Ramsay version of pork sliders, which is similar to the above recipe. Gordan also caramelizes onion but uses chipotle sauce on the bottom of the buns. He lightly toasts brioche buns and puts a layer of pork on the bottom and tops with coleslaw.
- 1 Pack of Hawaiian rolls or small slider buns
- 1 pork butt (Boson butt/pork shoulder).
- Cheese slices
- Sliced onions
- Take your slider buns, and cut them in half separating the tops and the bottom’s keeping the buns connected.
- Place the burger bottoms in a pan or a baking dish.
- Put a layer of pulled pork on the of the burger bottoms.
- Put a layer of caramelized onion on top of the pork.
- Cover the burger bottoms with Swiss cheese or cheddar cheese.
- Apply barbecue sauce on top of the cheese and spread it with a basting brush.
- Place the tops of the burgers on the sliders
- Based the tops of the buns with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Place the sliders into the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese melts.
- Remove and cut the buns, separating all the sliders.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305
Coleslaw Recipe For Pork Sliders
The coleslaw is an important component of the pork slider. When making sliders, I usually make a batch with coleslaw and a batch without. The sliders without slaw go into the oven with cheese and onion. There are dozens of coleslaw recipes, but here’s one that I like to use that goes perfectly with sliders. You can make the coleslaw salad mix from scratch, but I prefer to buy a ready-made bag from the grocery store.
|Apple cider vinegar||2 tablespoons|
|Pre-cut coleslaw mix salad bag||1|
|Barbecue sauce||as desired|
How to Smoke Pork Shoulder for Pulled Pork Sliders
When is comes to the best meat to use for pulled pork sliders, the best choice is a pork butt or shoulder. These cuts have the perfect amount of fat to keep the meat moist while it’s smoking.
As for cooking temperature, it’s important to keep a steady low heat. I like to smoke my pork butt at around 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit. This might take longer, but it’s worth the wait for that tender, fall-apart meat.
Total cook time. As for cooking time, a good rule of thumb is to smoke the pork butt for about 1 hour per pound. So if you have a 5 pound pork butt, plan on cooking it for around 5 hours. But don’t worry about being too precise, just keep an eye on the internal temperature.
Spritzing. While the pork butt is smoking, it’s a good idea to give it a little spritz every hour or so. I like to use a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, but you can also use any other kind of vinegar or even just water. This helps to keep the meat moist and adds a little extra flavor.”
Wrapping. When the pork butt reaches an internal temperature of around 160-170 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to wrap it up. This helps to lock in all those delicious juices and makes the meat extra tender. Just be sure to wrap it in foil or butcher paper, not plastic wrap.
Done temperature. The done temperature for pulled pork is around 200-205 degrees Fahrenheit. This might vary depending on the size and thickness of your pork butt, so it’s important to use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s cooked to perfection.
Tenderness test. There are a few different ways to test the tenderness of the pork butt. One method is to use a fork to see if the meat easily pulls apart. Another is to use the “poke test,” where you gently press on the meat with your finger. If it’s tender, it should give way easily without feeling tough or hard.
Resting. After the pork butt is cooked to perfection, it’s important to let it rest for at least 30 minutes before shredding. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and makes it even more flavorful and tender.
Shredding. When it’s time to shred the pork butt, the best method is to use two forks or even your hands. Simply pull the meat apart into shreds, discarding any excess fat or gristle. You can also use a meat shredder or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but I like to keep it old school with the forks.
Trimming. Before you start cooking the pork butt, it’s a good idea to trim off any excess fat. This helps to prevent the meat from becoming too greasy and keeps the flavor balanced. Just be sure to leave a little bit of fat on for moisture and flavor.
Rub. As for the best rub to use, it’s all about personal preference. Some folks like a sweeter rub with brown sugar and paprika, while others prefer a spicier blend with chili powders and cumin. Experiment with different combinations until you find the one that suits your taste buds.
Buying pork. Buy a pork butt with a decent amount of marbling and fat, as this will be more flavorful and will be easier to keep moist. Select a pork butt with the bone-in because it will also help keep the meat moist. Also, choose a butt with a large money muscle— the best part of the pork shoulder.
Cooking temperatures. Whatever smoker you have, set the temperature between 250° F and 275° F. Use any smoking with such a hickory, apple, or mix and match with a fruit wood such as cherry or apple. As for the rub, you can use a simple Texas style rub or a barbecue rub.
Texas rub. For a simple Texas style rub as Aaron Franklin would use, apply a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Mix in a little paprika for color and some onion flakes and garlic powder. For a more complex rub, this is a great rub recipe and works well with pulled pork. If you want the rub to stick better, apply olive oil prior to the rub. This will help the rub bind to the meat so you don’t end up with a patchy bark.
Pork Butt Cook Times
- Pork butt
- Yellow mustard or olive oil
- Barbecue Rub
- Barbecue sauce
- Applecider vinegar or apple juice
- Trim the pork shoulder, leaving 1/4 inch of fat.
Apply the binder using olive oil or mustard
Cover the pork with a thick layer of barbecue rub.
Set the temperature of your smoker to 250° F and 275° F
Use any smoking with such a hickory, apple, or mix and match with a fruit wood such as cherry or apple.
Place the pork shoulder in the smoker and leave alone for about 3 or 4 hours.
Place a thermometer probe into he meat.
After about 3 or 4 hours, begin spritzing the pork with apple cider vinegar or apple juice. Don't spritz until the rub has fused to the meat, otherwise it will wash off.
Once the bark is firm and beginning to crack, it's time to think about wrapping. Wrap the pork in two layers of aluminium foil, then place back in the smoker or finish in the oven.
Once wrapped, the pork won't take on any more smoke. Wrapping will help speed up the cook and keep the pork nice and moist.
Cook the pork but until it reaches an internal temperature of about 203⁰F.
Let the pork rest at least 1 hour prior to shredding. Resting will allow the meat to relax and reabsorb some of the meat juices.
Place the pork into holding if you're not ready to serve. This is done by leaving the pork in foil and placing in a dry cooler where it will remain hot for several hours.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 394
My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.