North Carolina Style Pulled Pork Barbecue

I promised y’all I wouldn’t over-do the healthy and light recipes this week, so here’s one that’s basted in butter (geez, I’m turning into Paula Deen now… just add more butter!).

I never knew pulled pork barbecue could be so amazing until packing in some Hursey’s Bar-B-Q, hush puppies and coleslaw when living in North Carolina. The difference about “Eastern” North Carolina style pulled pork is an apple cider vinegar base sauce versus being smothered in a thicker traditional barbecue sauce. This was a staple at every homecoming football game during college.

I’ve tested this recipe on some of my southerners, and they’ve all agreed it has the right amount of spice to give it some extra zing. Although the recipe is time consuming slow roasting and with a day of light prep before cooking, the great thing about it is you can make it ahead of time, refrigerate and reheat in a crockpot for your cookout. If you’re without a grill like me, or just don’t want to be slaving over a hot grill while you have company, no worries! All of the cooking is done in your oven and you still have a traditional BBQ entree. If you want to eat it the North Carolina way, pile it high on a bun topped with coleslaw.

North Carolina Style Pulled Pork Barbecue

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lb. boneless pork roast


1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (I had onion salt and garlic powder, and it worked just fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Basting Marinade

1/2 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons liquid hickory smoke (found in the ketchup aisle!)

Barbecue Sauce

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups water
5/8 cup ketchup
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (you may need to add more to your taste preference)
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

First start by patting dry your pork roast. Mix all ingredients for the rub in a small bowl. Season the entire pork roast and cover overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Place the pork roast in a large, disposable aluminum roasting pan. Pour the basting marinade over the pork and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for approximately 4 1/2 hours (or until the pork becomes tender enough to start “pulling” away, turning the pork every hour, and basting every 1/2 hour).

Transfer the pork roast to a cutting board. Drain the excess juices from the pan. Slice the pork roast and pull apart the meat (trimming the fat) and place back into roasting pan. Mix the barbecue ingredients in a large bowl and pour over pulled pork, stirring to make sure all pork is covered, and cover with aluminum foil.

Place pulled pork back into the oven (still at 325F) and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring pork and barbecue every 30 minutes.

Twice baked potatoes, hush puppies, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and corn on the cob all make great side dishes!