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How to shred pork?

7 Mins read
How to shred pork

Shredded pork is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from tacos and sandwiches to salads and stir-fries. However, if you’ve ever tried to shred a large piece of pork, you know it can be a daunting task. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to shred pork like a pro, so you can enjoy this tender and flavorful meat in all your favorite recipes. Whether you’re cooking a whole pork shoulder or just a few pork chops, these tips and tricks will help you get perfectly shredded pork every time. So, let’s get started and learn how to shred pork like a pro!

What is meat shredding?

Meat shredding is a technique used to break down tough meat fibers into thin, bite-sized pieces. It is often used for meats that would otherwise be difficult to chew such as beef brisket, pulled pork, or chicken. The meat is cooked for a long time, usually by braising, simmering, or slow cooking until it becomes very tender. It is then pulled apart by hand or using utensils like forks to separate the meat into strands and shreds. 

Sometimes the shredded meat is enhanced further by mixing in a flavorful sauce or spice rub. The shredding process results in a pile of loose, stringy meat that some people find more pleasant and easier to eat, especially in sandwiches, tacos, and salads. Meat shredding is a popular technique because it takes an inexpensive, tough cut of meat and turns it into a tender and flavorful dish.

How to shred pork

Shred pork

How to shred pork – The Best Way

Shredding pork can be a daunting task, especially if you are working with a large piece of meat. However, with the right tools and techniques, it can be done easily and efficiently. Here are some ways to follow to shred pork like a pro:

How to shred pork with a Dinner Fork

Shredding pork with a dinner fork is a simple process. Start with a pork shoulder or butt that has been cooked until very tender, usually in a slow cooker or oven. The internal temperature should reach 195-205 F. Once the pork is done cooking, remove it from the pot or pan and place it on a large cutting board or platter. 

Allow the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes so it absorbs some of the juices. Then, hold the handle of a dinner fork and press the tines into the pork using your other hand. Gently pull and tug the fork through the meat to release strands and shreds. Repeat by plunging the fork in from a different angle and pulling and separating the meat. 

Use two forks at once for larger sections. Work slowly and be patient, shredding one area at a time. Flipping the pork over will allow you to shred the meat from all sides. Use your fingers to break up any chunks into smaller strands. Continue shredding and separating the meat until it reaches your desired consistency. 

The result should be loose strands and chunks of juicy pork. Mix in some of the excess cooking liquid or your favorite barbecue sauce to add more flavor and moisture. Serve the shredded pork on buns, tacos, or nachos, or use it in dishes like jambalaya. With the simple tool of a dinner fork, you can easily achieve tender and flavorful shredded pork at home.

How to shred pork

How to shred pork

How to shred pork with a Bear’s Claw

A bear’s claw is a handheld shredder designed specifically for shredding meat. It makes quick work of turning a pork shoulder or other cut of meat into loose strands. Start with a pork shoulder that has been cooked until fork-tender. Remove the pork from the cooking liquid and place it fat side up on a sturdy board or platter. Allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes so the juices can redistribute.  

Next, grasp the bear’s claw shredder and plunge the tines deep into the thickest part of the pork. Use firm and steady pressure to plunge, turn and shred through the meat. Repeat by clamping down into areas that still need shredding. Work the shredder through the meat using motions that mimic how a bear would shred with its sharp claws. Turn the pork over to shred any remaining chunks on the other side.

Use your free hand or tongs to pull apart any particularly large chunks left behind after shredding. The result should be a pile of thin, juicy strands of pork that resemble coarse pulled pork. Mix in some of the excess cooking liquid and season with your favorite spices like barbecue rub, Cajun seasoning, or chili powder (optional).  

The bear’s claw tool, with its multiple tines and leverage, makes shredding a large cut of meat quick work. In just a few minutes, you can transform a pork shoulder into a pile of tender shreds ready to serve on sandwiches, tacos, and more. With the right tool and technique, shredding your pork at home for delicious homemade dishes has never been easier.

How to shred pork

How to shred pork

How to shred pork with a Potato Masher

A potato masher is an unconventional tool that can be used to shred pork when a dedicated meat shredder is not available. Start with a well-cooked pork shoulder that easily pulls apart with two forks. Remove the pork from the cooking liquid and place the fat side up on a sturdy surface. Allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Grasp the potato masher and plunge the perforated metal plate deep into the thickest part of the pork. Press down firmly and rotate the masher to begin shredding the meat under its surface. Repeat this motion, plunging and twisting the masher through different areas of the pork until most of the meat has been shredded. Use your free hand or tongs to lift and turn the pork so you can shred any remaining chunks on the other side. 

The potato masher will leave larger shreds and chunks compared to a traditional meat claw. You may need to use your fingers or two forks to further separate any remaining large pieces. Mix in some of the excess cooking liquid to help moisten the meat. The result will be coarsely shredded pork that works well for dishes like barbecue sandwiches, casseroles, soups, and stews.

While not ideal, a potato masher can function as a makeshift meat shredder when needed. The perforated plate and twisting motion are effective at breaking down the tender meat fibers into uneven strands and chunks. You may need to do some manual shredding to achieve your desired consistency, but with some patience, a humble potato masher can get the job done. In the end, you’ll have homemade shredded pork for your favorite comfort food recipes.

How to shred pork

How to shred pork

How to shred pork with an Electric Mixer

An electric mixer can be a quick and efficient way to shred pork. Start with a well-cooked pork shoulder roast that shreds easily with two forks. Place the pork in a large bowl or container. Allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes so it absorbs excess cooking liquid.  

Attach the paddle attachment to your electric mixer. Lower the paddle into the thickest part of the pork. Start the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase to medium or medium-low. Move the paddle around, plunging and lifting it throughout the pork as it shreds the meat. Use a spatula to occasionally lift and turn the pork so the paddle can reach any unshredded chunks.  

Continue mixing, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until most of the pork is shredded into fine strands. The electric mixer will shred the pork quicker than tools like forks, claws, and mashers. Be very careful not to overmix, or the shredded pork could turn mushy. 

Once the shredding is complete, use tongs or two forks to gently stir and lift the shredded pork to ensure even mixing. Mix in additional cooking liquid such as broth or barbecue sauce to moisten the meat and add more flavor. Fluff the shredded pork with a fork before serving on sandwiches, tacos, pizza, or in dishes like jambalaya.

The electric mixer makes quick work of shredding large cuts of tender meat. In just a few minutes, you can achieve light and fluffy shredded pork without the effort of manual shredding. For the easiest homemade pulled pork, team up your stand mixer and a slow cooker for delicious results. With the right tools and technique, shredding your pork at home for your favorite family recipes has never been quicker or simpler.

How to shred pork

How to shred pork

How to keep pulled pork moist

Pulled pork can dry out easily, so taking steps to keep it moist and juicy is important. 

First, start with a naturally fatty cut of pork that holds up well to long cooking times, such as shoulder or butt. The fat will help keep the meat tender and add flavor. Rub the pork all over with oil and your favorite spices before cooking to create a flavorful crust.

Cook the pork low and slow in a slow cooker, oven, or smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 195 to 205 F. This gentle, moist-heat cooking method will break down tough connective tissues and result in a fork-tender roast that pulls apart easily. Make sure not to overcook the pork, or it can become dry.  

Once done cooking, allow the pork to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before shredding to allow the juices to redistribute. This resting period is crucial to keeping the pork moist, so do not skip it. Then, shred the pork using two forks or your favorite tools. Mix the shredded pork with some of the excess cooking liquid or sauce to add back moisture. You can also add barbecue sauce, broth, or salsa to taste. 

To prevent the shredded pork from drying out before serving, keep it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 to 7 days. Gently reheat the pork in the microwave, oven, or stovetop with a bit of extra liquid like broth until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F. Or, freeze the pork for up to 3 months; simply thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as above. 

With proper cooking technique, resting, and storage, pulled pork can be enjoyed freshly shredded or as leftovers while maintaining a moist and tender texture. By trapping in natural juices and adding back extra liquid as needed, you can achieve delicious and juicy pulled pork to enjoy on sandwiches, tacos, nachos, and more. Take time to keep your pulled pork moist, and it will be a hit every time.

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About author
As the founder and chief editor of Scills Grill, I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut. I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I use various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. Peter Cobbetts is the president and founder of Scills Grill, with over 15 years' experience in barbecue. He's an exceptional pitmaster and grill expert who specializes in smoking briskets, pork shoulders - using charcoal, wood or propane grills/smokers - as well as reviewing kitchen appliances such as grills, smokers etc., having tried out almost every model available on the market.
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