Making Pulled Pork in an Apartment (Sous Vide Pork Shoulder)

One of the things I dislike about living in an apartment is not being able to use my smoker. Thankfully I can still make some decent BBQ indoors, even if it takes a full 24 hours. It is worth the wait. The key is using a sous vide, liquid smoke, and sodium nitrate.

J Kenji Lopez-Alt over at The Food Lab did the heavy lifting on figuring this out. His method is what I use, so go over and check it out.


  • If you want it for dinner, start it just before dinner the day before. Then pull it out of the sous vide after 23 hours and finish it in the oven around dinner time the next day.
  • Double bag the pork shoulder, and if your vacuum sealer has a Moist mode, use it. Nothing is worse than the seal on your bag breaking overnight.
  • I use triple the amount of liquid smoke because I couldn’t really taste it with the amount The Food Lab recommends. I also use smoked salt and smoked paprika in the rub.
  • The sodium nitrate really does the trick for making a faux smoke ring. Be careful with this stuff, though. Measure it by weight and don’t overdo it. Never eat it directly. It IS NOT regular salt. It is dangerous stuff in large amounts.
  • This saves for at least a week in the fridge. If you want to eat it after that, freeze it. If you freeze it in a vacuum sealed bag, you can just drop it right in the sous vide for 30 minutes at 165F and it will be ready to serve!
  • We love eating this with coleslaw and Martin’s Potato Buns (unless we are avoiding carbs, then we just eat a platter of it.)

For my dry rub, I use a blend of thyme, black pepper, smoked salt, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, garlic powder, smoked paprika, rosemary, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper.

For my sauce, I prefer a take on an Eastern Carolina vinegar-based sauce. I mix up a small batch in a squeeze bottle:

  • 1 TBSP ground black pepper
  • 1 TBSP crushed red pepper
  • 1 TSP roasted garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup pepper vinegar (white vinegar that hot peppers have been aging in for 9 months)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

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