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Kansas City-Style Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders

Sara Gore Pulled Pork + Clam Chowder + Cable Car Cocktail + KC Ice Water
Sara Gore Pulled Pork + Clam Chowder + Cable Car Cocktail + KC Ice WaterNathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
3 hrs
Prep Time:
45 mins
makes 12 sliders

Chef notes

I love this recipe because it's the ultimate game-day, stick-to-your-ribs kind of comfort food you're looking for on a cold day. It's juicy, full of flavor and oh-so-messy in the best way possible! It's got everything you need: It's meaty, sweet, spicy, briny and creamy. It's a meal on a bun. What more could you want?

Technique tip: You really can't overcook this pulled pork; low and slow is the key! The good thing about this recipe is there are make-ahead steps that make it much easier to prep before the big game. This recipe also yields leftover pork that can be made into nachos, a pizza or just a main entrée served with potato and veg.

Swap option: Pick up pre-made coleslaw for a shortcut.


Pulled Pork
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • One 2- to 3-pound pork shoulder
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • cups ketchup
  • 1 bottle or can beer
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
Cole Slaw
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Pickled Onions
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
To serve
  • Slider potato rolls
  • 1/2 pound Gouda or Edam cheese, sliced


For the pulled pork:


Preheat oven to 325°F.


In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and ground mustard. Rub the spice mixture all over pork shoulder. Then dust the pork shoulder with flour.


Heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown meat on all sides. Remove the meat from pan and then sauté onion and garlic in same pot until translucent. Add tomato paste and allow to cook, stirring 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, including 1/4 cup brown sugar. Quickly bring up to a boil. Return pork to pot. It should be mostly submerged in liquid.


Cover and transfer pot to oven. Allow to cook for about 3 hours. It should just start to fall apart (this can be made a day ahead).

For the coleslaw:


Place the shredded cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.


In a second bowl, mix together the mayo, vinegar, mustard, celery seed, sugar and salt. Add enough of the dressing to cabbages and carrots to your liking.


Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the pickled onions:

Mix the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a jar and stir until dissolved. Add onions and jalapeño to jar. Let sit out for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve:

Top potato slider bun with cheese. Pop under the broiler to melt. Layer hot pulled pork on top. Follow up with coleslaw and pickled onions.