Savor the irresistible taste of pulled pork seasoned with an aromatic blend of spices and cooked to perfection with this Air Fryer Pulled Pork recipe.
As a perfect addition to outdoor parties, this smoky goodness goes perfectly well with roasted vegetables. Of course, you may also serve this dish as the star of simple family dinners, accompanied by a small bowl of mac and cheese on the side!
Meat dishes that melt in your mouth are always crowd favorites, so let’s make one right now.
What’s the best pork cut for pulled pork recipes?
When choosing meat to make BBQ pulled pork, it is best to select a boneless pork shoulder cut or a pork butt cut.
Their high-fat content and large cuts are the key to maintaining the pork’s moisture, which makes pulled pork tender and easy to chew. For best results, choose shoulder or butt cuts that look fresh and well-marbled.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
The flavorful, juicy, and tender taste of roast pulled pork are not the only aspects you’ll love in this air fryer recipe.
- This dish is very easy to prepare. Just marinate the meat, cook it in an air fryer, then add your favorite bbq sauce while shredding, and you’re all set!
- Pulled pork is always a crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re a meat lover, a barbeque enthusiast, or you just like some good old brisket, you’ll surely love this recipe.
- It is customizable. From enjoying it with a bbq sauce of your choice, having it in a sandwich or bun, and even adding it to a salad, you can enjoy the meaty taste of this dish whichever way you like.
If this pulled pork recipe suits your palate, then you’ll surely also enjoy this Island Pork Tenderloin.
Prepare these simple ingredients, and you’ll be minutes away from cooking this recipe.
- Pork shoulder or butt cut: Pork shoulder or butt cuts are well-suited pork cuts to use for this recipe. These have the right amount of fat and meat, ensuring the pulled pork will come out tender and flavorful.
- Olive oil: This ingredient is necessary for the marinade as it helps to spread the spice rub and adds moisture to the meat.
- Liquid smoke: This flavoring agent gives the pulled pork a smoky taste and aroma.
- Spices (pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and ground cumin): These spices will give your dish a spicy, aromatic, and savory taste that helps intensify the flavor and create a well-balanced seasoning for the meat.
- Barbeque sauce: The barbeque sauce will give a hint of sweetness, tanginess, and smokey flavor to the pulled pork. You may use your favorite barbeque sauce, Sweet Baby Ray’s, or any barbeque sauce you have at home.
See recipe card for quantities.
Shoulder or Butt Cut: If you can’t get your hands on these cuts, you can also use pork loin or tenderloin. Note, though, that these cuts are leaner. So, to ensure the pulled pork doesn’t become too dry, use chicken broth or apple juice to add moisture, and monitor the cooking time.
Olive oil: You can use other neutral-flavored oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil if you don’t have any olive oil.
Liquid smoke: If you can’t or don’t want to use liquid smoke, you can use smoked paprika as a substitute. Add it to the spice rub, and adjust its amount based on your preferred level of smokiness.
🌈 Variations / Options / Add-Ins
Here are some ways you can tweak this air fry recipe based on your preference and dietary restrictions:
- Spicy pulled pork: If you’re looking for a way to make this pulled pork recipe a bit more exciting, you can sprinkle extra chili powder, cayenne pepper or add the hot sauce in your bbq sauce to get that extra kick.
- Pineapple-glazed pulled pork: For a sweeter version, you can create a mixture of pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and a drizzle of lime juice and brush it to the pork roast during the cooking process.
- Korean-inspired pulled pork: Give this pulled pork recipe a little bit of a twist and taste the flavors of Korean cuisine by adding a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and gochujang (Korean chili paste) into the marinade.
Anytime you want a more savory pork dish, you can also try this Herb Roasted Pork Loin recipe.
🥄 Equipment Needed / Helpful Tools
Just get these tools out then you’ll be ready to go and make some delicious pulled pork!
- Air Fryer: This will be the cooking tool you’ll use to make the meat tender and give it crispy edges.
- Gallon storage bag: You’ll need this to marinate the meat. A resealable gallon storage bag will help to ensure that the meat is evenly coated.
- Aluminum foil: This will be placed in the air fryer.
- Meat thermometer: This tool is handy for checking the internal temperature of the meat to ensure that it’s cooked correctly.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Pulled Pork
Now, for the most exciting part, follow these simple steps, and you’ll be enjoying the savory and smokey flavor of pulled pork in no time!
Step 1: Coat the pork with olive oil and liquid smoke
Place the pork in a gallon storage bag, then add some olive oil and liquid smoke. Seal the bag, leaving a bit of air in, and shake the meat inside, making sure that the meat is fully coated.
Step 2: Add the spice rub
After coating the meat with olive oil and liquid smoke, open the bag and add the spices. Seal the storage bag again, and shake it until the meat inside is fully coated with spices.
Step 3: Marinate the pork
Once the meat is fully covered with spices, let it rest in the bag with the air removed for 30 minutes. Even better, put the marinated pulled pork in the fridge overnight so the spices can seep in and enhance the meat’s flavor even more.
Once the meat has finished marinating, proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Prepare the air fryer
Form a bowl-shaped aluminum foil inside the air fryer, and pre-heat it to 370° F.
Step 5: Prepare the marinated pork
Take the pork out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature. Then place it in the air fryer with the fatty side up, and pour the remaining juices from the marinade over the meat.
Note: If you leave the meat in the fridge overnight, let it reach room temperature before pre-heating the air fryer.
Step 6: Air fry the pork
Air fry the pulled pork at 370°F for 1 ½ hours and flip the meat twice every 30 minutes.
After air frying, use the meat thermometer to measure the pork’s internal temperature. The thermometer should reach at least 180°F for the meat to be considered thoroughly cooked. So, if the temperature is lower, cook the meat for an extra 15-20 minutes.
Step 7: Let the pork rest
Once the meat is fully cooked, leave the pork in the air fryer that you’ve turned OFF for 30 minutes before taking it out so it can rest.
Step 8: Shred the pork
Take the pulled pork out of the air fryer, then place it on a cutting board to shred it using your hands or with forks.
Step 9: Mix in the barbecue sauce
Put the shredded pork in a big mixing bowl and pour ½ cup of barbeque sauce. Fold the shredded pork until it is fully coated with the sauce.
Feel free to add another ½ cup of barbeque sauce if you want the sauce’s flavor to be more prominent.
Step 10: Enjoy the goodness of an air fryer pulled pork
At this point, all you have to do is savor the tenderness and flavor of pulled pork. Enjoy it on a fresh bun or as you see fit, based on your preferences.
❓ Recipe FAQs
You can store the pulled pork you air fried in the fridge by putting it in an air-tight container or a heavy-duty aluminum foil. Make sure to wrap the meat tightly so you can keep it for 3-4 days.
Yes, you can reheat pulled pork again in the air fryer. Just make sure that the meat is completely thawed before placing it in a single layer of your air fryer’s basket.
Although not recommended, you can defrost your frozen pulled pork in the air fryer. So, if you’re really in a hurry to defrost meat, simply pop it in the air fryer set to 380 degrees F for 5 minutes, and it’ll be ready for cooking.
Ready to get cooking? Print off the recipe card below or toggle on Cook Mode to keep your screen from going dark while you follow along on your phone or tablet.
Air Fryer Pulled Pork
- Air Fryer
- Storage bag
- Aluminum foil
- Meat thermometer
- 2 pounds pork butt boneless, or shoulder
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt kosher
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce sweet baby ray’s, or your regional favorite
- Place the pork cuts in a gallon storage bag.
- Add the oil and liquid smoke in the bag and close it, leaving a little air in the bag. Shake the pork inside to fully coat all the surfaces.
- Open the bag and add the spices. After doing so, seal the bag again with some air and repeatedly agitate the pork until fully coated in the spices.
- Let the pork sit for at least 30 minutes. For the best results and tenderness, let the pork chill overnight in the bag with the air removed.
- Form an aluminium foil bowl and place it inside the air fryer. Pre-heat the air fryer to 370°F.
- Once you’re ready to cook, let the pork come to room temperature. Then, place the meat in the air fryer basket with the fatty side up. Pour over the remaining juices.
- Cook the pork for 1 1/2 hours at 370°F, flipping it every 30 minutes. Cook the meat to 180°F to ensure it's fully cooked. Cook for 15 minutes extra if needed.
- When the pork is fully cooked, leave it n the air fryer for 30 minutes to rest.
- Remove the pork and shred the meat on a cutting board.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the shredded meat and 1/2 cup barbecue sauce. If desired, add another 1/2 cup. Fold the shredded meat into the sauce to fully coat.
- Add the pulled pork to a fresh bun and top with extra sauce and/or your region’s respective toppings.