Pulled pork takes a lot of time to cook and you often end up with a bigger portion of meat than you expected.
But letting this juicy and tender meat go to waste is not really an option. Luckily, there are many ways to use leftover pulled pork. The question is, how long can you keep it?
How long is pulled pork good for? Pulled pork lasts 3-4 days in the fridge. If you want to make pulled pork leftovers last longer, store them in the freezer. It is recommended to always store pulled pork in airtight bags to prevent moisture loss.
Keep reading to learn what is the best way to store pulled pork in the fridge, how to store pulled pork in the freezer and how long it lasts there, how to detect bad pulled pork, and more.
Can Pulled Pork Go Bad?
Pulled pork is a popular American dish commonly made from the shoulder of the pig.
The fat content of this cut makes it ideal for pulling so long as you have cooked the meat low and slow. Once the meat is cooked and shredded, it is typically mixed with a sauce.
Pulled pork, like any other type of cooked and uncooked meat, is rather perishable and should be refrigerated. Only unopened canned pulled pork can be kept at room temperature, in the pantry, or in a kitchen cupboard.
How Long Does Pulled Pork Last At Room Temperature?
The rule of two hours is true for pulled pork two. You shouldn’t allow pulled pork to sit at room temperature for longer than two hours. If you won’t be eating the pork, put it into the fridge once it cools.
Allowing cooked or uncooked pork to sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours creates a high risk of bacterial contamination.
Unopened canned pulled pork can last up to five years in the pantry.
How Long Does Pulled Pork Last In The Fridge?
Pulled pork stored in the fridge is good for 3-4 days. The pork may look and smell good for a few more days.
What Is The Best Way To Store Pulled Pork In The Fridge?
There are a few ways to store leftover pulled pork in the fridge. The important thing is to keep the pork tightly covered.
This helps maintain the flavor and texture of the pulled pork for up to 4 days as well as prevents the smell of the pork from spreading in the fridge.
Here is how to store pulled pork in the fridge:
- Divide pulled pork into portions. Doing this will help you avoid reheating the entire batch of leftover pulled pork multiple times. While you can reheat food a few times, doing it creates a high risk of bacterial contamination.
- Transfer the pulled pork into airtight containers or bags. Zip-top bags work best for storing pulled pork in the fridge as you can remove all the excess air and prevent the tender meat from drying out.
- If your pulled pork is not mixed with sauce, wrap it in aluminum foil first and only then put it into zip-top bags. The aluminum foil will act as an added layer of protection and will prevent the meat from drying out quickly which is often the case with pulled pork without sauce.
- Label the bag with the date. This is important as you shouldn’t keep pulled pork in the fridge for longer than 4 days.
- Store pulled pork in the coldest part of the fridge.
Can You Freeze Pulled Pork?
You can freeze pulled pork to extend its shelf life. But there is a chance of drying out the pork if you don’t use a proper freezing technique.
Keeping food in the freezer for long periods of time causes its texture to deteriorate. So, we recommend you use the frozen pulled pork as soon as possible even though it can last several months in the freezer.
How To Store Pulled Pork In The Freezer
The key to freezing pulled pork is making sure that you retain its juicy and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
It is best to freeze pulled pork in sealable plastic bags. You should also remove as much air as possible from the bags to prevent the pork from drying out.
You can freeze pulled pork in zip-top bags whether it is in sauce or without it. When freezing pulled pork in zip-top bags make sure to remove the excess air.
This step is especially important if you are freezing pulled pork without any sauce as in this case there is a higher risk for the meat to dry out.
If you are freezing a big batch of pulled pork, divide it into smaller portions to be able to defrost and use as much of it as you need later on. Defrosting pulled pork frozen in small portions is a lot easier and quicker.
Tip: If you have cooked a large cut of pork and already know you will end up with leftovers, don’t shred the entire piece of meat. Leave a part of it whole and freeze it. Freezing unshredded pork helps retain the juiciness of the meat.
For more tips, take a look at the video below from Jamie Oliver on YouTube.
How Long Does Pulled Pork Last In The Freezer?
Pulled pork stored in the freezer lasts significantly longer than pulled pork stored in the fridge. The freezer makes pulled pork last up to 6 months so long as the meat is sealed properly.
How Can You Tell If Pulled Pork Is Bad?
The easiest way to tell if pulled pork is still good or not is to smell it. Bad pulled pork has a rancid off-putting smell. If you have had pulled pork in the fridge for too long, you may also notice traces of mold on the meat and in the container.
As for frozen pulled pork, it is best to thaw it first and only then check it for any signs of spoilage. But you can discard it right away if you have had the pork in the freezer for too long and if it is now heavily freezer burned.
Freezer burn may happen as a result of poor freezer packaging. No matter what the cause of the freezer burn is, it is best not to eat freezer-burned pork. Although it is safe to eat freezer-burned food, freezer-burned pork won’t taste good and will be rather dry.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Pulled Pork?
Eating pulled pork that has gone bad may cause food poisoning. You may experience such symptoms as cramps, nausea, fever, upset stomach, etc.
With this said, the chances are low that you will eat so much bad pork as to get food poisoning. Bad pork has a detectable bad flavor and smell that you will notice right away.
There are a few simple rules to follow to avoid food poisoning from pulled pork.
Ensure you are starting off with a good pork shoulder. Once the pork is cooked, don’t let it sit at room temperature for longer than two hours. And lastly, don’t eat the pulled pork if you have had it in the fridge for longer than four days.
Ways To Use Leftover Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is only good for three to four days. Considering how much time pulled pork takes to cook, you definitely shouldn’t waste any of its leftovers.
Luckily, there are many delicious ways to use pulled pork leftovers. You can turn them into a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here are some scrumptious dishes you can make using leftover pulled pork.
- Sandwiches – Sandwiches with pulled meat always turn out juicy and flavorful. You can never go wrong with a pulled pork sandwich with BBQ sauce and coleslaw. A grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork is a good idea too.
- Tacos – Leftover pulled pork is the perfect reason to have a Mexican dinner. Get tortillas, prepare your favorite toppings, and enjoy your evening with the most effortless yet delicious tacos.
- Shepherd’s pie – Making pulled pork shepherd’s pie from scratch takes quite some time. If you have been wanting to make this classic pie with pulled pork, don’t lose the chance to do it if you have pulled pork leftovers.
- Pizza – Making pizza with leftover pulled pork is a great way to use up leftovers and take a break from your usual pizza toppings.
- Empanadas – You can make delicious bite-size empanadas with leftover pulled pork. The only thing left to do is to make the empanada dough.
- Salad bowl – A quick and easy way to use up pulled pork leftovers is to make a salad. Use greens and vegetables of your choice and add a salad dressing to bring all ingredients together.
These are only a few of the ways to use leftover pulled pork. You can also use pulled pork to make soups and stews, stuffed vegetables, casseroles, etc.