This Sous Vide Pork Shoulder is incredibly easy to make and turns out extremely flavorful and tender EVERY TIME! It’s a reliable and foolproof recipe to make the best pulled pork. Sous vide method allows you to set the temperature precisely to your preferred doneness, and there is no chance of overcooking!
Pulled pork is wonderful to have on hand to add protein to meals. You can make sous vide pork shoulder ahead of time, and serve it with sandwiches, tacos, or burritos, and top with BBQ sauce. Heavenly delicious!
This sous vide pork shoulder always gets rave reviews from family and friends. The texture is unbelievable tender and just melts in your mouth. It’s different than the traditional pulled pork as it’s so much more tender and juicer. The BEST pulled pork ever!
Sous vide cooking the pork shoulder in the warm water bath first and then finishing it in the oven (or a smoker) produce the most delicious pulled pork. It’s also gluten-free, low carb, paleo, and keto friendly.
What is Sous Vide?
Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French. It’s a water bath cooking technique by vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking for a long time to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This method is known for being a precise and consistent way to evenly cook the meat or fish.
Why Sous Vide Pork Shoulder?
- Pork shoulder is the classic cut for pulled pork and it contains less fat. Sous vide cooking makes the meat so much more tender and juicer compared to traditional methods using crock pot, instant pot, or oven.
- Sous vide machine cooks the pork evenly from edge to edge, and it’s low-stress cooking by eliminating short windows of time for perfect doneness.
- It’s actually quite easy to make and there’s no need to brine the meat, as your sous vide machine will do most of the work. Try this once, and you will never go back to the old way!
- It’s perfect for making ahead of time and finishing in the oven or smoker before serving.
How to cook sous vide pork shoulder
You can find pork shoulder in the meat department of most supermarkets. It’s usually about 4-6 pounds, with a layer of fat on the bottom. Both bone-in and boneless work for this recipe. I love bone-in for the extra flavor. It’s sometimes labeled as pork butt or Boston butt.
First season the pork shoulder with dry rub. It could be as simple as salt and pepper, but I usually add some extra seasonings such as paprika, oregano, garlic, and cumin. I also like to add pineapple juice, which adds incredible flavors to the pork.
Next, add the seasoned pork shoulder and pineapple juice to the zip-lock bag and vacuum-seal it using “water displacement” technique (see recipe for details).
Note: there is no need to sear the pork before sous vide cooking. It doesn’t make any difference and it’s not worth the effort.
Then cook the vacuum-sealed pork shoulder in a sous vide water bath at 165 °F (74°C) for 16 to 24 hours. Once the pork shoulder is cooked, remove it from the bag and shred with two forks.
I like to broil the shredded pork for a few minutes so the edges become crispy. Then top with BBQ sauce and serve with sandwiches!
Why sous vide pork shoulder at 165°F?
Sous vide method allows you to cook the meat to your desired doneness. I have cooked sous vide pork shoulder for so many times, and my favorite setting is to cook at 165°F / 74°C for about 18 hours. At this temperature, the pork is very tender and moist, and can be easily shredded with forks. The texture is much juicier than the traditional methods. If you’d like to try other temperatures, here is the chart:
|145°F / 63°C||24 to 36 hours||Super tender and moist, but cannot be easily shredded with forks.|
|165°F / 74°C||16 to 24 hours||Tender and moist, and shreddable with forks.|
|185°F / 85°C||12 to 16 hours||Close to traditional texture with meat easily fall off the bones (tastes slightly dry)|
How long to sous vide pork shoulder
The pork shoulder in this post was cooked for 18 hours. You can take it out after 16 hours, or cook as long as 24 hours at 165°F.
How to keep shredded pork moist?
There will be some liquid in the bag that the pork releases while cooking. Don’t throw the juices away. Pour 1 cup of the juices on top of the shredded pork and toss to combine. This will keep the pork moist.
How to make the best pulled pork sandwich?
Add a little butter on some hamburger buns, and toast under the broiler until lightly browned. Assemble the sandwich by adding some shredded pork on the bun, and top with some BBQ sauce. You can also add some coleslaw on top of the pork.
Tips for making the best sous vide pork shoulder:
- Vacuum seal the bag: Use the vacuum seal bag if you have one. But you can also use a ziplock bag. Just make sure to leave the seams above water so that the bag won’t pop open during the long cooking process.
- Cover the pot: You’ll need to cover the sous vide container with the lid to minimize water evaporation. If you use a regular pot, you can cover it with aluminum foil. You should also check the water level a few times and make sure the meat is completely submerged in the water.
- Plan ahead: It takes 16-24 hours to sous vide cook pork shoulder. So start cooking at least a day before you plan to serve. You can also make it ahead and broil it in the oven when you’re ready.
- Can you overcook sous vide pork shoulder? Although you cannot overcook sous vide meat, the pork can get mushy if left in the sous vide water bath for too long.
- How to reheat sous vide pork shoulder? Although you can reheat it in the microwave, I recommend heating it up in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes until warmed through.
- Can you freeze pulled pork? Yes, it freezes well. Store it in an airtight container and it’ll last for up to 2 months.
More Sous Vide Recipes You’ll Love:
Sous Vide Pork Shoulder for the Best BBQ Pulled Pork
Sous Vide Pork Shoulder
- 4-5 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt (bone-in or boneless)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4-5 cloves garlic smashed
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice or orange juice
For Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- hamburger buns
- butter optional
- Season the Pork: In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, smashed garlic, and dried oregano.
- Rub the pork shoulder all over with the seasoning.
- Sous Vide Pork Shoulder: Add water to the sous vide container or a large pot, set the Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 165°F (74°C). If you’d like to cook them to different doneness, follow the guide in the post above.
- Place the seasoned pork and pineapple juice into a large vacuum seal bag or zip-lock bag. If you use a zip-lock bags, seal them using the “water displacement” technique: seal all but one corner of the bag, and slowly place it in the water bath. Make sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. Then seal the rest of the bag.
- Lower the bag into the water bath, and make sure the meat is fully submerged in the water while the seams are above the water.
- Cover the pot with aluminum foil and sous vide cook for 16 to 24 hours.
- Shred the Meat: When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath (don’t throw away the juices in the bag).
- Remove the pork to a large baking sheet, and shred with two forks. Spoon 1 cup of juices from the bag on top of the pork and toss to combine.
- Broil on high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the edges of the pork have browned and become crispy.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and spoon the BBQ sauce over the pork and toss to combine.
- Make the pulled pork sandwich: Add a little butter on the hamburger buns, and toast under the broiler until lightly browned. Assemble the sandwich by adding some shredded pork onto one half of the buns, and cover with the bun tops. Serve warm and enjoy!
- Check from time to time to make sure the water level is not too low.
- Make it ahead: After the pork shoulder is sous vide cooked, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before shredding.
- You can use a frozen pork shoulder, and cook it for the same amount of time.