20 Pulled Pork Sandwich Toppings You Must Try!

August 2, 2023
Edited by John Smits

From basics like coleslaw to exotic adds like kimchi, there are tons of pulled pork sandwich toppings to choose from. I’ve pulled together 20 of my absolute favorites so you can mix it up!

Growing up in the South, I ate my fair share of pulled pork sandwiches. While I loved the original versions, the adventurous side of me is constantly topping my sandwiches with new and cool toppings.

Pulled pork is one of the finest meats you can stick between two buns. But are you ready to experiment with some new toppings? I would like to share some of my favorites with you!

Pulled Pork Sandwich Toppings

The Best Pulled Pork Sandwich Toppings

Here are the best toppings that you can add to your pulled pork sandwiches or pulled pork sliders:

1. Tangy Coleslaw

Let’s start with the O.G. topping – coleslaw. Pulled pork is often served with a side of coleslaw, so it’s one of the best toppings for your pulled pork sandwich.

The crunchiness of the veggies perfectly complements the tender meat.

I specifically mentioned tangy – pulled pork sandwiches are fairly sweet if you’re using barbecue sauce, so I like to make my coleslaw very tangy – I add in tart apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to balance the sauce’s sweetness.

Making a Pulled Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw

2. Pickles

If you like keeping it simple, pickles are the way to go! They are slightly sour and yet super crisp, which means that they perfectly balance out the pulled pork.

Personally, I don’t like my pulled pork sandwich with pickles alone. I usually add it on top of another mildly flavored topping.

3. Jalapenos

Now things are heating up – I like to think of jalapeno slices like spicy pickles! They have an edge to them and have just enough crunch to add another level of flavor to the pulled pork sandwich.

Once again, I will not just add jalapenos to pulled pork sandwiches – I usually use them to liven up other toppings.

4. Pickled Red Onions

If you haven’t tried pickled red onions before, you are missing out! Not only are they the perfect topping for a pulled pork sandwich, but they are also super easy to make.

Just pickle the onions in a brine made from kosher salt, water, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar for an hour, and you are all set to go.

What I love about these onions is that they have a little bit of everything – sweet, sour, salty, with just enough crunch to level up pulled pork sandwiches.

5. Onion Rings

Top your pulled pork sandwich with batter-fried onion rings! These are crunchy, crispy, and oh-so-delicious.

The batter adds another level of flavor to the ultimate pulled pork sandwich.

6. Pineapple Slices

Fortunately, pineapple as a pulled pork sandwich topping isn’t quite as controversial as putting it on pizza. Still, I know a lot of people believe that fruits and meats shouldn’t meet. Those people are wrong.

I am here to tell you that you should absolutely give pineapple slices a try.

Pineapple and pork are natural companions. The sweet crispness of the pineapple really pulls the sandwich together – no pun intended.

You worked too hard smoking that pork to use canned pineapple. Grab a fresh, whole pineapple for maximum deliciousness.

7. Avocado Slices

One of my favorites – avocados are definitely something that you should give a try, even though it may feel like an odd combo.

The creaminess of the avocado works so well with the pulled pork sandwich, and best of all, it doesn’t outshine the pork.

Since avocados can be a bit mild, I like to add jalapenos, pickles, or even pickled onions into the mix.

Pulled Pork Burger with Avocado Slices

8. Roasted Bell Peppers

Sure, this takes a little extra effort, but it is definitely worth it. The sweet smokiness of the roasted bell peppers is a beautiful accompaniment to the pulled pork.

They provide a nice crunch to contrast with the tender pork.

9. Grilled Corn

This is an oldie but goodie. Grill the corn to the desired level of doneness and scrape the kernels off the cob.

Place these on top of your pulled pork sandwich, and you’re good to go.

The smoky sweet pork, paired with the buttery and salty goodness of corn, means that you get to enjoy an explosion of flavor.

10. Fried Okra

I grew up in the South, where fried okra was a staple. If you have never tried out these tasty bites, you are missing out.

Cut up the okra into bite-sized pieces, then dip in buttermilk, and roll in a mix of cornmeal, salt, black pepper, garlic herb seasoning, and deep fry until golden.

I can guarantee that this on top of your pulled pork sandwich is going to be unlike anything you have ever tasted.

11. Fried Tomatoes

If fried okra seems a little bit out there to you, then try fried tomatoes instead.

The trick here is to use green tomatoes. Slice them up and dredge the slices in a mix of buttermilk and egg.

Then, roll in a mix of cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs, Creole seasoning, salt, and pepper. Then deep fry.

These are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Greatest pulled pork sandwich of all time? It’s gotta be up there!

12. Sundried Tomatoes

Don’t want to make all that much effort for your pulled pork sandwich? Then go ahead and top it off with some sundried tomatoes. Tomatoes are an all-time great sandwich topping. All-time!

The sweet, tangy flavor will do absolute wonders for your sandwich.

13. Potato Chips

It sounds weird. But hear me out – chips are a great option for pulled pork sandwiches.

The reason that chips work well is that they add a crunch to the sauce-heavy pulled pork.

Just make sure to add the potato chips in right before you start eating so that they don’t get soggy. Mix it up and try Fritos or Doritos.

14. Salsa

I know that BBQ pulled pork sandwiches are sacred, so this is going to be a bit of a controversial pick. But I love adding salsa to my pulled pork sandwiches on top of the regular sauce.

It is saucy, salty, tangy, and spicy – what more could you ask for?

I would suggest cutting down the BBQ sauce by half and subbing in the rest with the salsa. Have some wet naps handy – this one gets messy.

top view of ingredients for a pulled pork sandwich

15. Pico de Gallo

This is a chunkier, crunchier take on the salsa, made from fresh tomatoes, lime juice, and red onion.

I absolutely love topping up my pulled pork sandwich with pico de gallo in the summer. So fresh!

16. Hot Sauce

I love spicy foods, which is why I will frequently spike the BBQ sauce for my pulled pork sandwiches with some hot sauce.

Give it a try! I’m a Cholula fan, but use whatever hot sauce you like.

17. Red Gravy

Don’t get me wrong, I love my barbecue sauce as much as the next Southerner, but sometimes I am in the mood for something a little different.

This is where New Orleans-style red gravy comes into play. It is a type of tomato sauce that is spiced up with Cajun seasoning, peppers, garlic, onion, and celery.

It is easy to make and perfect for your sandwiches!

18. Honey Mustard

If you want to incorporate some new flavors with minimal fuss and don’t want to give up your traditional sauce, try honey mustard.

It is sweet and tangy and the ideal partner for your pulled pork.

19. Cheese

Yes, cheese works really well with pulled pork. However, I would stick to something simple like mozzarella or provolone, as you don’t want to detract from the star of the show (smoked pulled pork).

For that added kick, toast the sandwich bread or buns for a few minutes so that the cheese gets nice and gooey.

20. Kimchi

Did I save the best for last? Kimchi may be adventurous if you’ve got a conventional Western diet, but I love the stuff.

It is essentially a tangier, spicier, (and tastier) version of coleslaw. It’s fermented like saurkraut.

I can guarantee it will elevate your sandwiches!

How to Make the Best Pulled Pork

Before you can top your pulled pork sandwiches, you must understand how to make great pulled pork.

Here are my top tips for making pulled pork:

Use the Right Cut of Pork

The most common cuts used for pulled pork are either pork shoulder or pork butt.

I think pork butt is slightly better for pulled pork than pork shoulder. The butt has more marbling throughout the cut. This means more moisture and flavor!

As an added bonus, this cut has a pretty uniform shape. This makes it easier to cook to perfection.

Smoke the Pork

Do yourself a favor and smoke the pork for the pulled pork sandwiches. You can thank me later.

I know that if you are like most people, you typically use your slow cooker or crock pot to make pulled pork. Fair enough, it is efficient, fuss-free, and makes pretty good pork.

a sandwich with pulled pork and sides

But if you’re looking to take your pulled pork to the next level, then you need to try smoking your chosen cut of pork. Not only do you get a delicious, smoky flavor that you just can’t mimic with a slow cooker, but you also get bark. The bark is the exterior of a piece of meat that gets smoked, and it’s packed with flavor.

I get that smoking pork can be daunting, but you will be surprised by how easy it is. It is the most forgiving cut of meat to smoke. In fact, you don’t even need a smoker – you can turn your grill into one.

Besides classics like oak and hickory, you can use apple wood, cherry wood, or maple wood when smoking pork. The sweet smoke of these woods complements the flavor profile of the pork.

Even if you are a diehard fan of your slow cooker or crock pot, make it a point to smoke the meat at least once.

Inject the Pork

I don’t inject my pork, but lots of pit bosses do. You don’t have to get fancy, just use a liquid with flavor, like juice, cider, or beer. Use ½ ounce of liquid per pound of meat.

Yes, you will need an injector to do this. But injecting the pork meat can add moisture and richness to the finished product.

Dry Brine

2-24 hours before cooking, apply ½ tsp kosher salt per pound. If using table salt, use ¼ tsp per pound. This is called dry brining, and it makes the meat juicier and more tender. Store the meat in the refrigerator until it’s ready to go on the smoker. Use a rub with no salt (like my dry rub, coming up) if you dry brine the pork.

Choose the Right Seasoning

Your seasonings should enhance and compliment the flavor of the pork. Use ⅓ cup per 5 pounds of meat. For my dry rub, I like to go with:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

These spices bump the flavor of the pulled pork without overpowering the flavor of the meat.

Cook to Internal Temperature

Use a meat thermometer to track the internal temperature – your pork has finished cooking when it registers an internal temp of 203°F and a probe slides in with little to no resistance.

Letting the Meat Rest

Rest your pork for 2-4 hours in an insulated cooler. Wrap it in aluminum foil before sticking it in the cooler.

Collagen will continue to break down while it rests and will result in juicy meat.

Choose a Good Quality Barbecue Sauce

BBQ sauce puts the finishing touch on your pulled pork and pulled pork sandwiches!

If you’re using sauce (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t), grab a good one. I have found that most commercial brands aren’t great – they are too sweet for me.

I prefer to make my own from scratch. I get to control exactly what goes into it so that it turns out just the way I like.

Of course, if you can find a commercial brand of sauce that works for you, that’s great!

Hot Barbecue Sauce on the Container

Wrapping It Up

Well, there you have it – the top 20 pulled pork sandwich toppings. If you want to take your sandwich to new heights or are simply looking for a new experience, give these toppings a try.

If you’re playing around with toppings, the key is to look for something that compliments the pork flavor, without overshadowing it. Have fun trying my toppings or discovering your own!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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