20 Pulled Pork Sandwich Toppings You Must Try!

October 14, 2022

From basics like coleslaw to exotic additions like kimchi, there are tons of pulled pork sandwich toppings to choose from!

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 was constantly trying out my sandwiches with new and cool toppings.

And, now, I would like to share which ones are the best!

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 pork sliders:

1. Tangy Coleslaw

Pulled pork is often served with a side of coleslaw, which is why it is one of the best toppings for your pulled pork sandwich.

The crunchiness of the veggies perfectly complements the soft and tender texture of the meat.

Now, as you can see, I have specifically mentioned tangy – as the pulled pork sandwich is fairly sweet due to the barbecue sauce, I like to make my coleslaw very tangy – I add in apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to add an interesting offset to the sauce.

A Bowl of Crispy Coleslaw

2. Pickles

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

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

Pickle Jar with Onions and Mustard

3. Jalapenos

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 will usually use it to liven up one or more other toppings.

Pickled jalapeno slices

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 super easy to make as well.

Just pickle the onions in a brine made from kosher salt, 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 and with just enough crunch to level up pulled pork sandwiches.

Pickled Red Onion

5. Onion Rings

Pickled red onion not your thing? No problem – top up your pulled pork sandwich with batter fried onion rings! These are crunchy, crispy, and oh so delicious.

Not to mention, the batter adds another level of flavor for the ultimate pulled pork sandwich.

Batter fried onion rings

6. Pineapple Slices

Fortunately, pineapple as pulled pork sandwich toppings 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.

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

For one thing, pineapple and pork are natural companions. For another, the sweet crispness of the pineapple really pulls the sandwich together – no pun intended.

For the best experience, I would suggest giving the canned slices a miss and opting for the fresh version instead.

Grilled Pineapple Slices

7. Avocado Slices

This is definitely something that you should give a try, even though it may feel like an odd or foreign combination.

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

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

Fresh Sliced Avocado on Table

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 are a beautiful accompaniments to the pulled pork.

It is also a great option if you want to boost the pulled pork sandwich texture without going over the top.

Fire roasted bell peppers

9. Grilled Corn

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

Place these on top of your pulled pork sandwich and you are good to go.

The smoky sweetness, complete with buttery and salty goodness means that you get to enjoy an explosion of flavor.

Grilled corn on cob

10. Fried Okra

Growing up in the South, fried okra was a staple. And, 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.

Fried Okra

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, allowing you to create the ultimate pulled pork sandwich.

Sliced Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers are Fried in a Pan

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.

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

Sun Dried Tomatoes with Walnuts and Garlic

13. Potato Chips

Hear me out – this is an unusual but great option for pulled pork sandwiches.

The reason that it works well is that it adds a crunch to the sauce laden pulled pork.

What’s more, as it is lightly seasoned, it doesn’t disrupt the flavors that are already working in the sandwich.

Just make sure to add the potato chips in right before you start eating so that they don’t get soggy.

Salted Potato Chips

14. Salsa

I know that BBQ pulled pork sandwiches are sacred so this can be a bit of a controversial pick. Nonetheless, I love adding salsa to my pulled pork sandwiches in addition to 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.

Fresh Salsa with Tortilla Chips

15. Pico de Gallo

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

Now, I absolutely love topping up my pulled pork sandwich with pico de gallo in the summer. It brightens it up completely.

Homemade Pico De Gallo with Lime

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.

Go ahead and try it!

Spicy Hot Chili Sauce

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!

Spiced Tomato Sauce

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.

Honey Mustard Dressing

19. Cheese

Yes, cheese works really well with pulled pork. However, I would stick to something simple like mozzarella or mild cheddar as you don’t want to detract from the main base.

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

Sliced Cheese On Wooden Board

20. Kimchi

I left this suggestion for last as I know it is pretty out there. Still give kimchi a chance!

It is essentially a tangier, spicier, (and tastier) version of coleslaw.

I can guarantee it will elevate your sandwiches!

Korean Pickle Kimchi

How to Make the Best Pulled Pork?

Of course, before you can think of toppings for pulled pork sandwiches, you must first understand how to make the perfect pulled pork.

Here are the top tips for making pulled pork:

Use the Right Cut

To begin with, it is important to choose the right cut of meat. Now, the most common cuts used for pulled pork is either pork shoulder or pork butt.

Now, I know that a lot of people will use pork shoulder because it is more readily available but when possible, use butt instead.

The reason for this is simple – the butt has much 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 – smoke the pork for the pulled pork sandwiches – you can thank me later.

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

However, if you are 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 this method of cooking allows time for the tissue to break down resulting in a melt in your mouth texture.

I get that smoking pork can be a rather daunting affair but you will be surprised by how easy it is. In fact, you don’t even need a smoker – you can turn your grill into one.

Another tip to keep in mind, use apple wood, cherry wood, or maple wood when smoking the pork. The smoky sweetness 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

If you are going to be smoking your pork and will not be using a slow cooker, make sure to inject the pork beforehand. You don’t have to get fancy, just water, salt, sugar, etc. – about an ounce per pound, depending on how much pork you are cooking.

Yes, you will need an injector for this step but injecting the pork meat will guarantee that it is nice and tender.

Also, when you cook pulled pork, you will be able to prevent the meat from drying out.

Tasty Barbecue pulled pork

Choose the Right Seasoning

Even if you are using a slow cooker for making pulled pork, seasoning is key. For my dry rub I like to go with:

  • kosher salt
  • brown sugar
  • smoked paprika
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • dry mustard powder
  • cumin
  • onion powder
  • cayenne pepper

I have found that these spices are the perfect option for boosting the flavor of the pulled pork without overwhelming the natural flavor profile.

Cook to Internal Temperature

You may be used to preparing pulled pork according to cooking time, but this isn’t an accurate way to know when the meat is done.

Instead, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – your pork has finished cooking when it registers an internal temp of 195 degrees F.

Letting the Meat Rest

It doesn’t matter how you are making pulled pork, it is important to let your meat rest for about 10 to 15 minutes after cooking.

This will allow it to reabsorb any juices that have been lost and will result in nice, juicy meat.

Choose a Good Quality Barbecue Sauce

It goes without saying – BBQ sauce puts the finishing touches on your pulled pork and pulled pork sandwiches!

Due to this, you should think long and hard about the kind of barbecue sauce you are using. I have found that most commercial brands aren’t great – they are far too sweet and always has a slight odd aftertaste.

This is why 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 that I like.

Of course, if you can find a commercial brand like Memphis style BBQ sauce that works for you, then that’s great!

Wrapping It Up

Well, there you have it – the top 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!

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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