how to turn leftover ribs into pulled pork

Learning how to turn leftover ribs into pulled pork or even something else can save you from eating those boring ribs the next day.

It is something you should definitely learn if you like to arrange family get-togethers quite often.

It is common for people to make more than they need on family get-togethers, just in case!

But, make a mistake here and you will have a fridge packed with leftover pork ribs.

Now, you do not have to waste those bones because you can utilize them in many ways, from pulled pork to BBQ sandwiches to pork rib quesadillas.

So, let’s get started.

Why and How to Turn Leftover Ribs into Pulled Pork with Ease?

turn leftorver ribs pulled pork

Before you decide to play around with your leftover pork ribs, you may want to get a better idea about what pulled pork truly is. 

What is Pulled Pork?

It gets its name from the finishing touches applied to the grilled meat right before being served.

It involves making thin slices of butt roast using your hands, a set of forks, or meat claws.

Pulling the meat helps tenderize it and release its intense taste, especially after long periods of smoking. 

pulled pork strips

Why Is Pulled Pork So Popular?

From the Carolinas to the Golden State, pulled pork is a must-have for any barbecue.

Of course, pulled pork is tasty!

But that is not all. It is a cheap meal option with lots of room for innovation.

One of the many amazing things about pulled pork is that it can be prepared quickly and easily.

Some folks are so dedicated to perfecting their pulled pork recipe that they will fly across the country to take part in local cooking contests. 

Tip: Leftover ribs stay good in the fridge for up to four days if you store them in a shallow, airtight jar and wrap them securely in plastic wrap or foil. 

Is It a Good Idea to Store Leftover Pork Ribs?

storing leftover pulled pork

It definitely is!

There are many uses for rib bones, so it is worth your while to keep them.

Small amounts of collagen found in them help to hydrate and revitalize skin.

Both magnesium and calcium can be found in abundance in pork bones.

Bone broth is a high-iron food made by simmering animal bones. This can be useful in warding off anemia and other health problems brought on by poor diet.

Fact: Always bear in mind that the optimal cooking time for pork shoulder is substantially higher than the typical 145F. 

How Do You Turn Leftover Ribs into Pulled Pork?

how to turn ribs to pulled pork

The pork shoulder is the source of pulled pork.

And if you already have leftover spare ribs, why not utilize them to make something even better, something like pulled pork?

Pulled pork is made from the pig’s shoulder. Two roasts can be cut from the animal using the leg and the shoulder. 

It is possible to make pulled pork with either roast. 

When cooked properly, it can be sliced thinly and carved into delicate, juicy, and flavorful strips or shredded into fine ribbons. 

How to Do It?

Now that you clearly understand why it is called pulled pork, you may have also understood how you can make it using leftover ribs.

The process is fairly simple!

  1. Scoop out the meat from the cooked ribs and dice it.
  2. Get rid of the extra cartilage and fat.
  3. The next step is to combine the pulled pork with the sauce.
  4. Let it simmer for at least an hour.

Voila! You have turned your seemingly useless leftover ribs into delicious pulled pork! 

How Do You Cook Perfect Pulled Pork from Scratch?

cooking pulled pork from scratch

Pulled pork is, in our opinion, the pinnacle of American barbecue: meat so soft that you can tear it apart with your fingers.

It’s juicy, smokey, and served with an intensely peppery sauce.   

When you have left-over ribs, you can surely use them for pulled pork. But, making pulled pork from scratch is just as wonderful.

Digging a pit, stacking it with wood, and keeping it burning through the night as the meat slowly smokes is the proper way to prepare a hog.

But, if there is no suitable, unfrozen land near you and your rusty grill is currently buried under a blanket of snow, you can always use your trusty oven.  

How to Make Pulled Pork

making pulled pork

It does not have to be very tricky when you have already mastered other BBQ recipes.

Just follow the steps, and you will be good to go.

Step #1: Begin by Trimming Fat

You will need a pork shoulder (also known as Boston butt or pork butt) roast to create pulled pork.

Though bone-in is available, you should prefer boneless.

Pork should be fat-trimmed and sliced into 4-ounce servings.

Make a rub by combining the spices in a bowl and applying it to the pork. (You may get this ready the night before.)

searing pork

Step #2: Consider Searing

Take a few tablespoons of oil and heat it in your Dutch oven pot. Keep it set to medium-high heat.

Now add the meat and sear it for a few seconds.

Step #3: Put in the Oven

You should do it if you are going with oven-pulled pork.

Set oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Coke cans should be poured all around the pig in the Dutch oven.

Leave the lid on the pot and let it cook for three hours.

After 2 hours, take the top off and continue cooking until the pork is soft and can be easily pulled apart with a fork.

Step #4: Place in the Slow Cooker

If you are using a slow cooker, you should skip the previous step.

slow cooked pulled pork

Put meat in a slow cooker and surround it with coke. The pork should be cooked until it is soft and can be easily shredded with a fork

You should either cook it on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Step #5: Place in Instant Pot

If you are using an instant pot, you should jump straight to this step after searing the meat.

Put the pork in the instant pot and surround it with coke. Now, set the pressure to high and leave it for 70 minutes.

When the timer goes off, wait for the pressure to relax naturally, which usually takes another 15 minutes.

That’s what you have to do to cook pulled pork from scratch.

Be sure to pair it with the right sauce to make it even more delicious.

What Can You Do with Leftover Baby Back Ribs?

what to do with left over ribs

The bones from leftover pig ribs can be used to make a delicious broth that can be used in many different ways.

Pork stew mixed with hot chili will taste even better with the broth’s smokey flavor. 

What If There is a Good Amount of Meat Attached?

There is still enough meat on the bone?  That is even better! 

Use as a Filling

Use the leftover meat to fill enchiladas and tacos. Likewise, it is an excellent addition to nachos. 

Use as Pizza Topping

Rib meat in the fridge is a great excuse to try a new pizza topping, like BBQ pulled pork.

use as pizza topping

Spread BBQ sauce on the pizza crust, then add shredded mozzarella, any remaining pork, and any other toppings you like.

Before serving, top the pizza with chopped scallions. 

Enjoy with Baked Beans

Shredded pork is deliciously mixed together with baked beans. In order to have enough meat for recipes like this, we often end up cooking more ribs than we anticipate needing. 

Make Sandwiches

If there is enough meat, leftover ribs can be used to make sandwiches.

This is the traditional method for enjoying succulent smoked meats, so why not add ribs to the menu?

make pulled pork sandwich

Shredded pork should be heated slowly with BBQ sauce and then piled over toasted, large buns. Add extra sauce and slaw on top, if you like. 

Make Smoked Rib Quesadillas

Make tasty quesadillas out of those leftover smoked ribs for a new take on an old favorite.

Nicely wrap those tender slices of smoked rib in warm, pliable tortillas.

Simply, use melted cheese to smother them, and you have a full Tex-Mex supper in minutes.

Soft and creamy quesadillas are a family favorite, and you will appreciate how easy they are to clean up after serving.

Fact: It takes about half an hour in a 250F oven to reheat your leftover ribs but always place them in a single layer covered with aluminum foil for better results. 


Now you do not need to serve boring, reheated pork ribs, right? You already know how to turn leftover ribs into pulled pork and so much more, don’t you?

From pulled pork and cheesesteaks to casseroles, quesadillas, and tostadas, you can use leftover ribs in any way you like.

Be sure to store those spare ribs carefully and you will be able to use them even months after storage.