This post was originally published on May, 22 2018 and was updated on July, 28 2020. This coca cola pulled pork recipe is an easy, flavorful, and protein-packed dining option! Make it in the slow cooker or instant pot to get a meal on the table with virtually no effort at all!
There’s nothing like an easy pulled pork recipe that’s full of smoky, spicy, and sweet flavors. And this one has it all! Brown sugar, chili, and coffee combine with spices in a dry rub that is complimented by the sugary sweetness of dark soda. Yum-o!
This recipe starts by slathering a pork butt or shoulder roast with an easy dry rub that comes together in no time. Here’s what you’ll need:
The Best Dry Rub Recipe
- Brown Sugar
- Kosher Salt
- Instant Coffee
- Garlic & Onion Powder
- Black Pepper (freshly ground, plz)
- Chili Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
All you do is whisk the ingredients for the rub together and voila – a dry rub is made! (It's very similar to my favorite dry rub for chicken wings!) The pork can be rubbed with the spice blend up to a day ahead of time. The longer it’s on the pork the more flavorful it will be! The coffee may seem a little unconventional but trust me. It’s all roasty and toasty and compliments the sweetness of the soda perfectly. Speaking of soda…
Using Soda in Pulled Pork
My grandma tells this story of being in the grocery store and looking over the pork roasts. She was stopped by a woman who asked her how to cook them. My grandma mentioned she always uses a cup of coffee or a dark soda in her shredded pork. Here’s why! The soda will add sweetness to the pork (so there’s a sweet and savory action happening). Many of the flavor profiles of cola are rooted in spices – cinnamon, clove, chili, etc. so it will enhance the spices used in a rub. The addition of liquid will also keep the pork moist and prevent it from drying out during the cooking process. Finally, soda is acidic. This acid will help break down the fibers of the meat to leave you with the most tender pulled pork you ever did taste!
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Using a crock pot or slow cooker is my go-to method for preparing shredded pork. It requires minimal prep, virtually no hands-on cooking, and can be made while you’re asleep or at work. It’s everything you want in an easy dinner recipe! Here’s how it’s done:
- Rub the pork. With the dry rub you made. How fancy!
- Place the pork in your slow cooker. Be sure that when you’re buying pork shoulder/butt that you’re taking the size of your crock pot into account. Don’t want your butt to be too big!
- Pour in the soda. I like to use classic Coca Cola but have also used Dr. Pepper to great success. Root beer could be an option too, with its sarsaparilla-y flavors. Steer clear of diet colas or sodas containing aspartame.
- Set it and forget it. I love to prep my pork in the evening and then set it on low right before bed. It cooks all night and then in the morning I turn it off and go about my business. A few hours later (or when you return from work), it’s cool enough to handle and can be shredded easily right before dinner.
While my preferred way of preparing it is in a slow cooker, this recipe can also be made in an Instant Pot!
Making the recipe in an Instant Pot
Follow the directions just as above for slow cooker pulled pork but instead, set the Instant Pot to high pressure for 3 hours with the warm setting turned off. That’s it! When releasing the pressure it’s important to note – because the soda is carbonated there will be a lot of pressure. It’s best to let it release naturally for around 30 minutes. Otherwise there will be soda spray all over the place.
How to use Coca Cola Pork
Obviously, the classic way to enjoy pulled pork is on a sandwich. Preferably with a pile of coleslaw on top! But there’s a whole host of other ways to use it. Tacos, mac n cheese, quesadillas, pizza, nachos! The list goes on! Get creative, think outside the box, and invite me over for dinner!
Coca Cola Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker
- Instant Pot
For the Dry Rub:
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 2 TBSP instant coffee
- 1 TBSP garlic powder
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- ½ tsp. coriander
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
For the Pulled Pork:
- 8 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
- 2 cups dark soda such as Coca Cola
- In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, salt, coffee, and all of the spices. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and rub the entire surface of the meat with the spice blend. Be sure to thoroughly coat all sides. This can be done up to 24 hours in advance. If done in advance, cover the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
To Cook the Pork in a Slow Cooker:
- Place pork, fat side up, in the slow cooker and pour in the soda. Cook on low for 10 – 12 hours, or until the bone will lift out of the roast with little to no resistance.
- Turn off the slow cooker and let pork sit until cool enough to handle.
- When ready to serve, remove pork roast from slow cooker and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove bone and discard, along with any large pieces of fat from the roast. Shred the pork with two forks (or your hands!).
- Skim the fat off the top of the juices in the slow cooker (if there is a lot of liquid, discard all but 4 cups from cooker) and return the pork to the cooker. Set slow cooker to warm and stir pork occasionally until warm enough to serve.
- For a classic BBQ pulled pork sandwich serve the pork on a soft bakery bun topped with BBQ sauce and coleslaw.
To Cook the Pork in a Pressure Cooker:
- Place pork, fat side up, in the pressure cooker and pour in the soda. Close the lid tightly and set the timer for 3 hours on high pressure without the warm setting engaged. When timer goes off, allow steam to release from pressure cooker naturally for 30 minutes before pressing the manual release valve.
- Proceed with shredding and serving the pork as instructed above.
- Pork can be stored in fridge for up to five days or frozen for up to four months.
- Coffee can be substituted for soda as the liquid in this recipe, if desired.