Meal Madness · pork · slow cooker

North Carolina Pulled Pork Tostadas

Barbecue isn’t just a method of cooking meat, it’s a way of life in Texas.

I’ve eaten my fair share of ribs, brisket, pulled pork and smoked sausage. I’m not big on brisket, but it is a Texas specialty at legendary restaurants like Salt Lick  and Pecan Lodge. I’ve always been more of a fan of the piggy stuff….like ribs and pulled pork and sausage. That is what really gets me going for some down-home barbecue.

One thing about Texas BBQ: it’s always served with a sweet & tangy sauce. I love sweet BBQ sauces. I was practically raised on the stuff. Mixing a pulled pork shoulder with some Sweet Baby Ray’s or Stubb’s barbecue sauce makes BBQ what it is, in my opinion.


Even though I love Texas barbecue, I’m not so picky with other regional barbecued meats. I’ve enjoyed Memphis-style pork ribs on Beale street. I’ve delighted my tastebuds with burnt ends in Kansas City. One thing that I always do, though, is slather my meat with some sweet barbecue sauce.

When I first learned about Carolina barbecue, I was pretty nervous to try it. What does mustard have to do with smoked meats? What is a vinegary-based sauce like? I’m not so sure about this…


Knowing the University of North Carolina was more than likely going to clinch a #1 seed in the tournament, I had to get over my fear and try my hand at some Carolina pulled pork. I don’t own a smoker and I have failed miserably at operating a charcoal grill, so I opted for a slow-cooker method. I’ve slow-cooked a ton of pork shoulders before for carnitas and stews so I knew it would be good.

The end result sincerely shocked me. It reminded me of a cross between sauerbraten and carnitas. The meat was spicy & tangy, but still had a tinge of sweet. It was fall-off-the-bone tender and I could almost sit there and just eat it with my fingers.

Deciding against eating like a caveman, I made tostadas with my pulled pork. Every Carolina pulled pork recipe I came across had coleslaw in with the pork on a sandwich, so I whipped together some bagged coleslaw and topped my crunchy tostadas with it. A little sprinkle of queso fresco and a drizzle of crema (Mexican sour cream) and these babies were good to go.

No sweet barbecue sauce necessary.


North Carolina Pulled Pork Tostadas

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A Carolina barbecue classic made with a slow-cooker and served on top of tostadas.


For the Pulled Pork:

  • 2 onions, cut into quarters
  • 2 TBS. brown sugar
  • 1 TBS. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 4-5 lb. pork shoulder roast
  • 1 TBS. liquid smoke
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

For the tostadas:

  • Queso fresco
  • 1 bag coleslaw mix (with dressing in the bag)
  • Crema or sour cream
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt


  1. Make the pulled pork: Place onion quarters in a large slow cooker. Top with pork shoulder. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Rub pork shoulder all over with sugar mix.
  2. In another bowl, combine the liquid smoke, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic powder, and cayenne. Pour half of the mixture on top of and around pork shoulder. Place the remaining half of the sauce into the fridge until ready to serve. Cook pork on low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Using tongs, remove cooked pork shoulder from slow-cooker. Cut off fat strip and take out any bones. Using two forks, shred pork. Place shredded pork back into slow-cooker and pour reserved sauce over the top. Toss and coat well.
  4. Make the tostadas: Line 3-4 tortillas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil over tortillas and rub all over both sides. Sprinkle salt over the top. Preheat oven to 400 and then bake for 4-5 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Make coleslaw according to package instructions.
  5. Build the tostadas: Start with a tostada shell and pile pulled pork on top, draining any excess liquid. Top with coleslaw, queso fresco & crema.

Step-By-Step Instructions


Place quartered onions in the bottom of the slow-cooker. Top with pork shoulder.


In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.


Rub sugar mix all over pork shoulder.


In a large bowl, stir together liquid smoke, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic powder, and cayenne. Drizzle half of the sauce mixture over and around pork shoulder. Refrigerate the remaining half.


Cover and cook on  low for 8-10 hours.


Remove cooked pork shoulder from slow-cooker and trim off fat strip and remove any bones.


Using two forks, shred pork. Return shredded pork to slow-cooker and drizzle reserved sauce over the top. Toss until well-coated.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 3-4 tortillas on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil over the top and then rub evenly on both sides of the tortillas. Sprinkle salt on top. Bake for 4 minutes per side or until browned and crispy.


Build the tostadas: Start with tostada shell and pile on the pulled pork, draining any excess liquid. Top with coleslaw, queso fresco, and crema.



4 thoughts on “North Carolina Pulled Pork Tostadas

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