How to Reheat Pulled Pork: 4 Best Ways

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
August 25, 2022

If there is one question you hear the most when it comes to pulled pork, it's what's the best way to reheat it.

I've tested a number of different ways to reheat pulled pork and in my opinion, the best way is sous vide in a gallon storage bag or in a vacuum sealed bag.

If you don't have a storage bag, the next best option is in your oven at 225F with a pat or two of butter on top.

Previously cooked pulled pork should be reheated to 165F.

Best Ways to Reheat Pulled Pork

There are five main ways I reheat pulled pork, they are the following in descending order of quality:

  1. In either a storage bag or vacuum sealed bag, sous vide with a water temperature of 165F.
  2. In the oven at 225F with a pat of butter or two on top of the pork.
  3. In your smoker at 225F with a pat of butter or two on top of the pork.
  4. In a crock pot on the lowest setting with a pat of butter or two on top of the pork.
  5. In the microwave on it's lowest setting (power-wise) with a pat of butter or two on top.

In every case, I'd entirely stay away from reheating pulled pork in the microwave. Visually, the meat looks worse than it would if you reheated it with one of the other methods - It also tastes worse.

If you're also trying to maintain the integrity of the smoke ring - the microwave should be avoided.

1. How to Reheat Pulled Pork Sous Vide

sous vide pulled pork

A lot of people reading the above might believe they need a "sous-vide machine" in order to reheat their pulled pork.

You don't.

All you need is a medium-sized pot, water, and a thermometer. All sous-vide means is to cook - or in our case re-heat - food in a vacuum bag (or storage bag) in warm water.

After which you simply need to use a thermometer to get your water temperature to around 165F.

What You Need to Reheat Sous Vide

In order to use this method, you need:

  • A Pot - the pot needs to be deep enough for the pulled pork to be completely submerged in the warm water.
  • Either refrigerated or frozen pulled pork that's be stored in a vacuum seal or gallon storage bag.
  • Something to hold the bag underwater - A metal spatula works fine.
  • A thermometer - I like to use an instant read thermometer like the Thermapen ONE to measure the temperature of the water.
  • Optionally: A sous-vide machine.

Reheating Sous Vide

Fill your pot roughly half way with water and bring the water temperature to around 165F. Use a thermometer to check the temperature.

sous vide water temperature

Once the water is at 165F, place the plastic laden bag of pulled pork in the water.

Reheating sous vide will take roughly an hour.

pulled pork reheating sous vide

In my opinion, the only downside of reheating in this way is that it takes the longest - however, the pulled pork will taste the closest to the day you smoked it.

2. How to Reheat Pulled Pork in the Oven

pulled pork reheated in oven

While I truly think the sous-vide method above results in the best reheated pulled pork, I realize most folks will likely use their oven.

With that said, the best advice I can give is to use a lower temperature.

I've reheated tons of barbecue over the years, and every time I increase the temperature to speed things up, you ruin the meat.

Rather than running your oven at 325F, reheat at 225F with 1-2 pats of butter on top.

What You Need to Reheat with an Oven

In order to use this method, you need:

  • An oven - whether this is a toaster oven or your kitchen's oven.
  • A tin foil pan - or something to reheat the pulled pork in.
  • Unsalted butter - depending on the amount of pork you're reheating, 1-2 pats of butter is more than enough.

Reheating in the Oven

Something a lot of people mess up when reheating pulled pork is that they try to increase the temperature to 300-325F in an effort to speed up the process.

Don't do this.

What will happen is you'll markedly decrease the quality of the meat and even risk drying it out.

Rather, do the following:

Preheat your oven to 225F.

Place the frozen pulled pork in an oven safe pan/dish; Typically I'll use a tin foil pan or a glass baking dish.

Place 1-2 pats of butter on top of the frozen pork.

frozen pulled pork in oven

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and poke a few holes in the top.

covered in aluminum foil

Place the pan or dish in the oven and allow the pork to reheat for 60-90 minutes (depends on the quantity of pulled pork).

The small amount of pulled pork above took 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to 165F internal.

3. How to Reheat Pulled Pork in Your Smoker

The biggest reason I don't opt to reheat in my smoker is because the sous vide option and my oven are just as easy. Granted, if you own an electric smoker, it's essentially a glorified oven with a smoke component.

I'm also not big on wasting my charcoal and pellets for something that can be done in my oven - especially since electricity is much cheaper.

If a charcoal smoker or pellet smoker is all you own though, simply follow the same sort of instructions as the oven method.

What You Need to Reheat in a Smoker

For this method, you will need:

  • A smoker
  • A pan to reheat pulled pork - I typically use aluminum pans.
  • Unsalted butter - depending on the amount of pork you're reheating, 1-2 pats of butter is more than enough.

Reheating in a Smoker

It should be noted that the meat doesn't need to be "re-smoked." The pulled pork will still taste smoky, your goal is to simply reheat it.

Similar to other methods, you should bring your smoker to around 225F - the lower the better. You don't want to reheat at 300F+ as you risk drying the meat out.

Reheat by doing the following:

  1. Get your smoker to 225F
  2. Place frozen pork in a aluminum pan.
  3. Put 1-2 pats of butter on top of the frozen pork
  4. Allow the pulled pork to be reheated for 30-60 minutes.

4. How to Reheat Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot

pulled pork reheated in crock pot

Most crock pots have three heat settings - low, medium, and high heat.

When reheating with a crock pot, use the lowest setting.

What You Need to Reheat in a Crock Pot

For this method, you will need:

  • A crock pot or slow cooker - with a low setting
  • Unsalted butter - depending on the amount of pork you're reheating, 1-2 pats of butter is more than enough.

Reheating in a Crock Pot

Like the other methods, you should stick to the lowest power setting and avoid reheating with high heat.

Turn the crock pot on to the lowest heat setting.

crock pot lowest setting

Place the frozen pork in the crock pot with 1-2 pats of unsalted butter on top.

frozen pulled pork in crock pot

Allow the pulled pork to reheat for 60-90 minutes (depending on the amount you're reheating).

The small amount of pulled pork above took 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to 165F.

5. How to Reheat Pulled Pork in the Microwave

pulled pork reheated in the microwave

Of all these options, the worst choice is the microwave. However, there's no denying it's convenient and fast; If this is your only option, you can still make it work.

Similar to the oven, you need to adjust how you're using it. Meaning, cook on the lowest power setting or using a "frozen food" setting.

Cooking on the highest power setting will diminish the quality of the meat and even lead to drying it out.

What You Need to Reheat with a Microwave

In order to use this method, you need:

  • A microwave - power setting adjustments and/or a frozen food option are best.
  • A microwave safe dish
  • Unsalted butter - depending on the amount of pork you're reheating, 1-2 pats of butter is more than enough.

Reheating in the Microwave

Similar to the kitchen oven method, the number one thing that people mess up is they try to heat the pork as fast as possible on the highest power setting.

Again, don't do this.

Rather, reheat by doing the following:

1. Place frozen, cooked pulled pork in a microwave safe dish.

2. Put 1-2 pats of butter on top of the pulled pork.

microwaved pulled pork
Frozen pulled pork with 2 pats of butter on top

3. Put in your microwave on the lowest setting or a "frozen food" setting and allow it to reheat for 1-2 minutes.

microwave power settings

What Temperature Should I Reheat Cooked Pulled Pork to?

When working with frozen food, it's always best to be as safe as possible to help avoid foodborne illnesses.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states the following:

"All ready-to-eat or fully cooked frozen foods should be thoroughly heated to 165 F."

USDA.gov

Be sure to use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the pulled pork after reheating.

It should also be noted that after heating frozen foods, they should be kept out of the Food Danger Zone - between 40 - 140F. As bacteria can reach dangerous levels of illness.

If you're reheating the pulled pork for an event, keep the food above 140F with a chafing dish, steam table, warming tray, or a slow cooker/crock pot. The same could be said if you're reheating the pork at home.

Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

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