Root Beer Barbecue Pulled Pork

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. All opinions are my own. #BrighTENtheSeason



I have always had very lofty visions as to what the holiday season should look like.  I love this time of year best of all, and essentially I want it all; the friends and family gathering in a beautifully decorated home with expertly wrapped presents under the perfectly trimmed tree, as we all feast on a warm and cozy meal.  Unattainable?  Maybe.  But I always try.

One Christmas, I took the tree part just a little too far.  I was living in Boston – on my own in a tiny studio apartment – but I would be darned if I wasn’t going to have a large Blue Spruce that I could cover in twinkly lights and the menagerie of ornaments I had been collecting since I was a kid.  With the best of intentions, I set off on foot for the nearest lot.  There, with what seemed like an angelic pool of light surrounding it, I found my tree.  It was big – bigger than I had even anticipated wanting – but I reasoned that I had a sunshiny attitude, the wherewithal to carry it home, and more importantly, it was too pretty to pass up.  That tree was mine.

What ensued over the next two hours was a true comedy of errors.  It began with me dragging my purchase the 7 blocks back to my abode, involved a few choice curse words of which to this day I am still not proud (so much for bringing the sunshine), and ended with me tending to scratched arms and a heaping pile of needles on the floor.  When my best friend called later that evening to see how my day went (she was aware of what I had planned to do), I told her that I would never, ever, ever do that again, and that I had sworn off of decorating completely.  My sentiments lasted all of 24 hours as I am nothing if not a sucker for ornamental flair, but in that moment, they were very, very real.

The thing that did change as a result of that experience, however, is that now I always bring at least one person with me when I head out to find my tree; to keep my ideals in-check and to help load and unload, naturally.  But also because the older I get – and as I learn to let go of some of those “visions” I have created over the years – the more I want this season to be about the people I love and the memories we build.  I am most interested in creating moments, not necessarily perfection, and today I am teaming up with A&W TEN® {10 calories and full flavor} to show you how I did that with my recent Tree Trimming Party.

I believe that the key to entertaining at any interval between November and January is to make the prep work as easy as possible on yourself.  These recipes accomplish that as both the root beer barbecue sauce and the pork shoulder can be prepared well in advance (In the case of the sauce, up to a week ahead of time to be exact!).  A&W TEN®  is at the heart of each of these dishes, infusing them with a subtle sweetness – as the main flavor component in the sauce and the liquid in which the pork roasts.

Once those items are prepared, you can take your menu anywhere you like.  The pulled pork can be served alone on a platter, accompanied by a large green salad, perhaps?  Barbecue nachos would be another fun option.  Let your guests go all-in on a tower of tortilla chips, melted cheese, fresh cilantro – and of course – pulled pork.  I opted for overly-stuffed sandwiches.  My logic was that if we were going to get down and dirty with some Christmas tree sap, then we may as well do the same with our food; sticky fingers for all!  I topped the sandwiches with an appropriately festive slaw of fennel, green cabbage and red pears, in an orange-mustard vinaigrette.  The finishing touches were in stems of arugula and herbs, pretzel rolls from a local bakery, and an apple cider/fennel syrup drink made to sparkle with a splash of club soda.

As I looked around my living room at one point –  in-between bouts of laughter and choruses of carols, my friends haphazardly licking sauce off of their fingers, and my newly adorned tree – I thought to myself that this is having it all.  It was a moment I hope to relive again and again.





Root Beer Barbecue Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Things in Jars
Serves: 16 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1½ cups A&W TEN®
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot, set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for approximately 2-3 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and paprika to the pot and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Pour in the A&W TEN® and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and using an immersion blender or a regular blender (Carefully!) pulse until smooth. Store in a glass jar, in the refrigerator, for up to two weeks.





Root Beer Barbecue Pulled Pork
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Mains
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1, 2 ½ pound pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon fennel seed
  • ½ tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup A&W TEN®
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Using a paper towel, pat the pork shoulder completely dry.
  3. Combine all of the spices and place the mixture on a large shallow plate. Place the pork shoulder on top of the spices, and rotating, completely coat the meat, gently patting the spices in as you go.
  4. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a roasting pan or dutch oven (Use whatever kind of vessel you plan to roast the pork shoulder in!). Add the pork shoulder to the pan and sear on all sides, for approximately 8-10 minutes; 2 minutes on each side should do it as you want to create a nice crust on the outside of the meat, but not burn the spices.
  5. Add the A&W TEN® to the pan. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for approximately 3-3 ½ hours, until the shoulder is nearly falling apart. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Skim any fat that has accumulated off of the top of the cooking liquid. Using two forks, shred the pork into large pieces. Toss with a few tablespoons of Root Beer Barbecue sauce, and serve with additional sauce on the side.


You can purchase A&W TEN®  at Target.  Find more ideas from these perfect holiday moments.

Here are a few incentives to sweeten the deal:

  • Cartwheel offer:
    • 30% off 12pack of Canada Dry TEN®, 7UP TEN®, A&W TEN®, Sunkist® TEN™ Soda
    • 10% off 8pack 12oz bottles of Canada Dry®, 7UP®, A&W®, Sunkist® Soda and more
  • From Nov 16 – Dec 12, (5) $100 Target GiftCards™ will be given away each week to those who upload an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter photo showing how they #BrighTENtheSeason. All winners must be at least 18 years old.


3 Responses to Root Beer Barbecue Pulled Pork

  1. Hah! We always get a real tree, too, and I definitely feel your pain there. One year, we came downstairs to find that it had tumbled over during the night. Fortunately, we hadn’t decorated it yet so we just stood it back up and tied it in place with fishing line. 🙂 But let’s talk about these sandwiches…I am all about pulled pork, and using A&W TEN in the recipe is genius! Perfect easy holiday meal! #client

  2. Anonymous says:

    This post is stellar!! I love the taste of root beer and can’t wait to experiment with it in this recipe. Thanks so much!!

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