Recipe Review

The Pioneer Woman’s Pulled Pork Is Tender, Juicy Perfection

published Jul 8, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

I’ve never met anyone who has tried a Pioneer Woman recipe and done anything other than rave about it. With an arsenal of straightforward recipes, multiple best-selling cookbooks, a popular television show, and a line of Walmart kitchen products, Ree Drummond is nothing short of a force.  

When I came upon her recipe for pulled pork, I had a feeling it would be right up my alley. It calls for seasoning a big hunk of pork with a generous spice rub, letting the pork hang out overnight in the fridge, and then cooking it atop a bed of halved onions for seven hours. Hands-free, unattended cooking that promises to yield stellar results? Sign me up!

Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

How to Make The Pioneer Woman’s Pulled Pork

After stirring together brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and black and cayenne pepper, I rubbed the mixture (it’s a very generous amount) over a large pork shoulder roast. I used a 7-pound bone-in roast, which I learned in the accompanying video that Drummond used when she made the recipe on her show. I wrapped the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

The next morning, I arranged the pork in a roasting pan on a bed of halved onions, covered the pan with foil, and roasted it at 300°F for seven hours. I then removed the pork from the pan (in pieces; it was falling-apart tender), defatted the drippings, and cooked them with bottled barbecue sauce until thickened. I shredded the pork, stirred it into the liquid, and served it on hamburger buns.

Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

My Honest Review of The Pioneer Woman’s Pulled Pork

When I pulled the roasting pan from the oven and removed the foil, I was thrilled to see that, despite not being browned before roasting, the pork ended up with a gorgeous, dark bark. I was even more delighted when I removed the pork from the pan to see how tender it was — falling into pieces that I had to scoop out separately. The meat was exceptionally moist, with a wonderfully unctuous, fatty (in a deliriously good way) texture. And, perhaps because there was no cooking liquid added, the pork’s flavor was especially rich — not diluted at all.

There was still plenty of liquid in the pan at the end, let off by the pork and the onions, that helped to sauce the meat at the end. As you shred the pork, you shred some of those sweet, buttery, long-cooked onions into it. It’s a delicious combination. And the good hit of cayenne pepper in the spice rub offered a nice balance to the sweeter elements in the dish. This one is a real winner; I’ll be making it again and again.

Credit: Photo: Chris Simpson; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

If You’re Making The Pioneer Woman’s Pulled Pork, a Few Tips

  1. Watch the video. Press “play,” settle in for about four minutes, and absorb all kinds of good intel that’s not in the recipe itself — most notably to cover the roasting pan with foil.
  2. Use a bone-in roast. Drummond uses a bone-in roast in the video, and for good reason. The bone helps to slow down the cooking, which leads to more tender, moist results.
  3. Let the meat rest at room temp before roasting. It’s always a good idea to take the chill off before cooking meat. In this case, because you’re dealing with a large roast, try to let it stand at room temperature for about an hour before you put it in the oven. 

Overall rating: 10/10