Sous vide pork shoulder is the easiest way to make the most tender, fall-apart pulled pork. This recipe is almost entirely hands-off, yet gives you juicy meat that can be enjoyed on its own, or as a pulled pork sandwich, carnitas tacos, and more!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Pulled pork is my favorite way to prepare pork. But traditional cooking methods require a lot of attention! The sous vide process is almost completely hands-off!
Once the pork goes into the water, you can walk away! And when you return the next day, you have juicy, tender pork ready for you to enjoy!
The key is in the way that the sous vide cooker works! When you are smoking your pork or cooking it following traditional methods, the meat temperature has to hit 203°F in order to melt the connective tissue. The lower temperature used with sous vide achieves this same melting point by maintaining the temperature over a long period of time.
No more dry meat! This pork shoulder is fall-apart tender, and easy to shed, right out of the bag!
Pork Shoulder: Also called picnic roast, this cut of meat is the lower part of the pig's front leg. It is most commonly used for sliced pork, but with the sous vide it is easy to transform into pulled pork. Pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is the higher part of the leg and is interchangeable with this recipe.
Dry Rub Ingredients: The combination of spices is similar to my Texas BBQ rub, but this version has ground mustard and coriander, which are especially good with pork. If you do not have coriander on hand then cumin makes a good substitution.
Liquid Smoke - If you want the flavor of a smoker, simply add a little bit of liquid smoke to the bag before cooking. This is an optional ingredient for those who love a smoked flavor.
- Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
- Set aside ¼ cup of the spices and rub the remaining spices all over the pork shoulder.
- Vacuum seal pork in a large sous vide bag (first add liquid smoke, if using), then place in a 165°F sous vide water bath for 18-24 hours.
- Remove from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Rub remaining spices on the pork and place in a roasting pan. Finish in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes, or until the spice crust has turned dark brown.
- Your pork should be fall-apart tender when you remove it from the sous vide. If for some reason it is not, follow the instructions for patting the pork dry and adding the finishing spices, but instead of placing it in the oven at 400°F, heat your oven to 300°F and roast for up to 90 minutes, or until the pork is tender.
- Vacuum seal the pork instead of using the water displacement method. Because of the long cook time the plastic bag is at a higher risk of leaking and this risk is reduced when vacuum sealing.
- When cooking sous vide for as long of hours as we are with this pork, it is helpful to cover the lid with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, to reduce water evaporation.
- If you are new to sous vide, check out How to Get Started!
There are so many ways to enjoy pork shoulder!
Pulled pork served with a little bbq sauce. It is delicious with Western North Carolina BBQ Sauce, or my favorite store barbecue sauce is Head Country). Then just add a baked potato and green beans. Or for a little more of an elegant meal, try this Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberries or Gruyere and Leek Mashed Potatoes with your pulled pork.
Pork sandwiches with some potato salad, baked beans, and a few pickles.
I like to add some chili powder and cumin to leftovers and crisp them in oil to make carnitas tacos!
Depending on the size of your pork shoulder this one recipe can give you a lot of meat! It is an easy main dish to serve at a big party! Just have everyone bring their favorite side dish! It is such an easy dinner for any occasion!
Frequently Asked Questions
The pork is unlikely to dry out in the sous vide cooker, but it will turn to a mushy texture if cooked for too long.
The purpose of searing meat before cooking is to lock in flavor and develop a good crust. With the way that the sous vide method cooks, the crust would completely disappear. Therefore, it is not recommended to sear before placing in the sous vide.
I use the Anova Nano (<--affiliate link) and recommend it highly! I can monitor and control the time and temperature using my phone!
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind-the-scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
Sous Vide Pork ShoulderRecipe by:
- 4-7 pound pork shoulder
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard seed
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
- Set the sous vide precision cooker to 165°F.
- Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Reserve ¼ cup of the spice rub and set aside for a second application.
- Rub the remaining spice mixture over the pork shoulder. Place the shoulder into a bag and add the liquid smoke, if using. Seal with a vacuum sealer.
- Place in a water bath and set the timer for 18-24 hours. Cover the container with foil or plastic wrap to reduce water evaporation.
- After an 18-24 hour period, remove the pork shoulder from the vacuum-sealed bag and pat dry with paper towels.
- Rub the remaining spices over the cooked pork shoulder.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the pork shoulder in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes, or until the spices have developed into a dark crust.
- Use two forks to shred the pork, then serve.