Skip to Content

What sauce keeps pulled pork moist?

Pulled pork is a delicious barbecue staple that can be used in everything from sandwiches and tacos to pizza and salads. The key to great pulled pork is keeping it moist and flavorful. Choosing the right barbecue sauce to mix into pulled pork can make all the difference in preventing it from drying out.

Vinegar-Based Sauces

Vinegar-based barbecue sauces are excellent options for keeping pulled pork moist. The vinegar acts as a natural moisturizer and tenderizer for the pork. Vinegar sauce flavors like Carolina mustard, Alabama white, and North Carolina styles work well. The tangy and acidic flavors balance nicely with rich pork.

Some examples of popular vinegar-based barbecue sauce styles that will keep pulled pork moist include:

  • Carolina Mustard Sauce – Made with yellow mustard, vinegar, and spices.
  • Alabama White Sauce – Mayonnaise-based with vinegar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  • North Carolina Sauce – Cider vinegar and red pepper flakes.

The sharp vinegar flavors penetrate into the meat, while the sauces cling nicely to moisten the pulled pork strands. Vinegar sauces also cut through the richness of the pork.

Tomato-Based Sauces

Tomato-based barbecue sauces also pair deliciously with pulled pork to keep it moist. The tomato purees, pastes and juices give a nice consistency for coating the pork. The sauces nicely glaze and adhere to the meat.

Some popular tomato-based sauce styles for moist pulled pork include:

  • Kansas City Sauce – Tomato-based with molasses, vinegar, and spices.
  • Memphis Sauce – Tomato sauce with honey, brown sugar, and garlic.
  • Texas Style Sauce – Tomato, chili powder, onion, garlic, and cumin.

The tomato in the sauces provides moisture while the sugars and spices flavor the pork. The sauces have enough thickness to thoroughly coat the meat.

Finishing Sauces

Finishing sauces are also great for keeping pulled pork moist when mixing in or serving. These sauces add a final flavor and moisture infusion.

Some classic finishing sauce options include:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar & Pepper Sauce – Cider vinegar and cracked black pepper.
  • South Carolina Mustard Sauce – Yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar, and spices.
  • Alabama White Sauce – Mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The sauces penetrate into the pork adding a nice sheen of moisture and extra kick of flavor. They balance the heavy pork and won’t make it overly wet.

How Much Sauce?

A general rule of thumb is to mix in 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce per 3 pounds of pulled pork to keep it moisturized but not swimming in sauce. Adjust according to your preferences!

Key Tips

  • Mix in the sauce just before serving or refrigerating leftovers so the pork doesn’t get overly soggy.
  • Reserve some extra sauce for serving on the side so people can add more as desired.
  • Try making a few batches with different styles of regional barbecue sauces to find a favorite.


The right barbecue sauce makes all the difference for keeping pulled pork moist, flavorful and delicious. Vinegar-based, tomato-based and finishing sauces all help prevent the pork from drying out. Mix in just the right amount before serving and offer extra on the side. With the perfect sauce, pulled pork will be juicy, tender and full of flavor at every bite.