How to Make the Best Pulled Pork Without the Pork

How to Make the Best Pulled Pork Without the Pork

Guy Fieri once said that pulled pork sandwiches “bring people together.” According to the TV personality and chef, they’re the “ultimate comfort food” and a “celebration of the culinary heritage that makes American barbecue so special.”

The culinary heritage Fieri refers to comes, of course, from the American South. According to The Roasting Pig, Spanish colonizers likely created the dish by cooking pork low and slow over a fire, a method they probably adopted from Native American people.

Pulled pork has evolved since then, and now different states have their own versions of the dish. In Kansas City, for example, pulled pork is typically slow-smoked and heavily sauced with a thick, sweet, and tangy tomato-based dressing. In Alabama, the dish is usually served with the state’s signature creamy white barbecue sauce.

While pulled pork is usually made with, well, pork, it can also be made with plant-based ingredients, and the result is just as delicious (if not more so) as the original. If you love pulled pork without the pork, below, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite vegan recipes for you to try next time you’re in the mood for barbecue.

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Why do they call it pulled pork?

The term “pulled pork” simply comes from the method of preparing the dish. The “pulling” refers to the process of shredding the cooked pork—which is usually taken from pork shoulder or pork butt–into pieces. The meat is slow-cooked, by smoking, roasting, or braising, and this allows for the meat to break down and become easy to shred or “pull” apart.

What is vegan pulled pork made of?

Pulled pork doesn’t have to be made with pork meat at all. Jackfruit is one of the most popular vegan options for pulled pork, due to its fibrous texture that resembles shredded meat when cooked. Mushrooms, especially varieties like king oyster, portabello, or shiitake, can also be used for vegan pulled pork due to their meaty texture. 

Other vegan pulled pork ingredients include seitan, soy curls, and tofu, all of which taste delicious in a sandwich, on mac and cheese, a wrap, or any other format you prefer to eat your pulled pork in.

7 vegan pulled pork recipes to try

If you’re feeling inspired to whip up some vegan pulled pork, check out a few of our favorite ways to make it with plant-based ingredients below.

VegNews.PorkThe Herbivorous Butcher

1 Vegan Hawaiian Kahlua Jackfruit Pork

Smoky, sweet Kahlua pork is a Hawaiian staple. This vegan version from The Herbivorous Butcher Cookbook uses jackfruit as a stand-in, alongside ingredients like liquid smoke and pineapple juice, with mouthwatering results.
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banana peel pulled pork sandwichThe Stingy Vegan

2 Banana Peel Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich

PSA: you don’t need to throw away the banana peel. Instead, save it and turn it into tasty vegan pulled pork. According to The Stingy Vegan, this is a method often used in Venezuela and Brazil, and it’s a winner. “Who knew that something so delicious could be made from something that we normally throw away?,” they wrote.
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vegan pulled pork banh miLazy Cat Kitchen

3 Vegan Pulled Pork Bánh Mì

When combined with crunchy vegetables, sour pickles, spicy Sriracha mayonnaise, and fresh coriander, jackfruit pulled pork is the ultimate filling for a “really special” vegan bánh mì, says recipe developer Lazy Cat Kitchen.
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bbq pulled pork jackfruitIt’s Liv B

4 Vegan BBQ Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

Fieri says a pulled pork sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. But what about mac and cheese? We say it doesn’t get more comforting than that. Unless, of course, you combine vegan pulled pork and mac and cheese together. Delicious, comfort food overload.
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Mushroom Pulled PorkLive Eat Learn

5 Vegan Pulled Pork With Mushrooms

Shredded king oyster mushrooms are one of the best options for meaty vegan pulled pork, and this recipe from Live Eat Learn is the proof. “Holy moly! It looks like pulled pork, it tastes like pulled pork, it’s only a little spongier in texture but it’s so good,” said one reviewer.
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pulled pork jackfruit sandwichMinimalist Baker

6 Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich With Lentils

Lentils? For pulled pork? It doesn’t sound possible but trust us, it is. And it is delicious. The key, according to Minimalist Baker, is to mix them with shredded carrots and marinade them with spices like smoked paprika and garlic powder, alongside coconut sugar, sea salt, and a little barbecue sauce.
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instant pot pulled porkThe Edgy Veg

7 Instant Pot Jackfruit Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is already a pretty easy recipe to whip up, but with an Instant Pot, the easy factor goes up a notch and so does the stringy texture and smoky flavor, says The Edgy Veg. Enjoy it in a sandwich, a wrap, or a taco, or just stand over the Instant Pot and eat it as-is, we’re not judging.
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