Can You Freeze Pulled Pork


Can you freeze pulled pork? The answer to that question is yes, you can. However, we recommend freezing pork before the BBQ sauce is added for the best results. We give you our step-by-step instructions below for how to freeze it.

BBQ pulled pork sandwich
BBQ pulled pork sandwich

What is Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork is traditionally made from shredded pork shoulder. BBQ sauce is typically added to it for flavor after it’s been cooked.

It can be served as a sandwich on a bun, or eaten plain, in a taco, on nachos, or however desired. 

How to Reheat Pulled Pork

There are a variety of ways to reheat pulled pork and you can choose the preferred method based on your personal preference and desired outcome.

Stove. To reheat pulled pork on the stovetop, place it in a saucepan over medium heat, with a little bit of water in the bottom. Heat until warmed through. 

Instant pot.  Keep in mind when reheating pulled pork in the instant pot, that’s already been cooked, a little bit goes a long way. You only need to heat it until it’s warmed through. 

Oven. Using the oven is another good solution for reheating pulled pork. Use an oven safe baking dish with a lid to reheat pork. This will help to maintain the moisture.

Grill. Wrap your pork in a foil packet and place it on the grill over low heat until it’s heated through.  Or using a cast iron pan over the grill can produce delicious results for reheating your pulled pork. 

Slow cooker. Reheating pulled pork in the slow cooker is a possibility for a hands-off method for getting your pork back up to the desired temperature to be served. We recommend reheating on a low setting for the best results.

Microwave.  The microwave is our least preferred method for reheating pulled pork.  This is simply because reheating meat in the microwave tends to change its texture and can make it soggy or tough. 

However, otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with reheating meat in the microwave if that’s your preferred method. 

shredding pulled pork butt
shredding pulled pork butt

How Do You Store Leftover Pulled Pork? 

Knowing how to store leftover pulled pork can be helpful for lengthening its shelf life and getting the most out of it. Here’s how to store leftover pulled pork.

Refrigerator. Seal your leftover meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator with a temperature of 40F degrees or less.

Freezer. Storing leftovers in the freezer can allow them to last longer than in the refrigerator. Just place it in a zipped freezer bag, removing any excess air, then date and label it for the freezer.

How Long Does Pulled Pork Last?

Following are the estimated times for how long pulled pork lasts after it’s been cooked.

Refrigerator. Cooked pulled pork stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator should last for up to 4 days. After that it needs to be transferred to the freezer or thrown away.

Freezer. Pulled pork can last in the freezer for up to 2 months without compromising quality. 

Can You Freeze Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce?

Yes, you can freeze your cooked meat with BBQ sauce. However, we recommend freezing it before the sauce has been added for the best results.

Adding the sauce after the meat has been thawed gives the best results, in our opinion.

homemade pulled pork burger with coleslaw and bbq sauce
homemade pulled pork burger with coleslaw and bbq sauce

How to Freeze Pulled Pork

Following are our simple step-by-step instructions for how to freeze cooked pulled pork.

Cool. Allow your cooked pulled pork to cool before preparing it to be frozen.

Portion. Consider the portion sizes that you’ll want to use later on when serving the pulled pork.

If you want enough for two people, or ten people, or whatever the case might be, divide the meat into these desired portion sizes. 

Seal. Seal the meat in a freezer safe airtight container or use zipped freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible to help prevent freezer burn. 

Label. Be sure to label and date your pulled pork so that you know when it was frozen and what it is later on. 

Transfer to Freezer. Place the items in the freezer to be frozen. 

How To Thaw Frozen Pulled Pork

Following are our top recommendations for thawing cooked pulled pork that has been frozen.

Refrigerator. The best way to thaw frozen pulled pork is in the refrigerator overnight. To do this, you’ll want to transfer the pork directly from the freezer to the refrigerator.

Stovetop. If you need to thaw your pulled pork more rapidly and take it directly from the freezer and prepare to heat it.

You can do this on the stovetop by placing the unwrapped portion of frozen pulled pork into a saucepan and heating it over medium heat until thawed, warmed through, and ready to serve.

Oven. To thaw pulled pork in the oven, you’ll want to be ready to serve it as soon as it’s thawed. To use this method, place your frozen pulled pork in an oven safe baking dish and heat until thawed and warmed through.

The amount of time it takes to thaw pulled pork in the oven will depend on how much pork is used. 

Cold Water. If you want to simply thaw your pulled pork but not heat it to serve it yet, you can use the cold water method. 

To use this method, place your sealed package of pulled pork into a bowl of cold water to allow it to thaw.  For food safety reasons, the cold water should be changed every 30 minutes to ensure that the water stays cold until the meat is thawed.

At this point it can be transferred to the refrigerator until it’s ready to be heated and served.

homemade pulled pork burger with coleslaw and bbq sauce
homemade pulled pork burger with coleslaw and bbq sauce

How Long is Pulled Pork Good After Thawing?

If pulled pork is carefully thawed following food safety guidelines, and is stored in the refrigerator, it is typically good for up to 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions for can you freeze pulled pork.  If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it. 

How do I know if pulled pork has gone bad?

To know if pulled pork has gone bad, you’ll want to watch for the following key indicators. 

Pork that is discolored, smells off, has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, has been in the refrigerator for more than 5 days has likely gone bad.

If you suspect your pulled pork has gone bad, you should throw it away. Do not risk eating it. 

How long does pulled pork keep in the freezer?

Cooked pulled pork can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer or sealed in a zipped freezer bag for up to 2 to 3 months without compromising quality. 

What’s the best way to defrost pulled pork?

The best way to defrost pulled pork is in the refrigerator overnight.  Transfer your pulled pork directly from the freezer to the refrigerator and left there until it’s completely thawed.

Pulled pork can also be defrosted in a bowl of cold water, in the microwave, or on the stovetop.

How can I use pulled pork that’s been frozen?

There are many ways that leftover cooked pulled pork that has been frozen can be used.  You can eat it in sandwiches, soups, stews, tacos, or nachos as a few ideas. 

Is it better to freeze cooked or raw pork?

It can be frozen either cooked or raw. If freezing raw, you can leave it wrapped in its original packaging from the store and place it directly in the freezer.

If freezing cooked, you can transfer the cooled meat to a zipped freezer bag in the desired portion, label with the date and contents, then place it in the freezer. 

How do you freeze raw pork shoulder?

Leave the pork in its original sealed packaging from the grocery store, or wrap the pork in several layers of plastic wrap, then date it and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.


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How much pulled pork per person?

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Wendy’s Pulled Pork Sandwich
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Pomegranate Glazed Pork Ribs

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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