New Ways to Cook With Leftover Barbecue

It’s pretty easy to find your fridge overflowing with leftover barbecue during the summer. Maybe friends cancelled plans to come to your cookout, maybe rain ended the whole thing, or maybe you were just overzealous when planning your spread. Whatever the reason, you now find yourself staring down several pounds of brisket and pulled pork every time you grab something to drink. Instead of subsisting on nothing but sandwiches for the next week, put that smoked goodness to use in some more creative ways. We’ve rounded up seven fantastic recipes that’ll make you wish you had leftover barbecue more often.

1. Beef Brisket Street Tacos

beef tacos

Delicious meat tacos |

Texas is the land of brisket. Due to the state’s proximity to Mexico, it was only a matter of time before someone started stuffing the barbecue beef into some tacos. This sweet and smokey dish from Rocky Mountain Cooking takes things up a few notches with some easy pickled onions and a drizzle of avocado cream. While this recipe calls for brisket, it’s equally delicious with pulled pork. And feel free to use up other leftovers. Grilled corn would be spectacular tucked into the tortillas.


Pickled Onions

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Avocado Cream

  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups leftover brisket
  • ½ cup chopped green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Cotija cheese

Directions: Place onions in a large glass jar or container. Meanwhile, heat cider vinegar, 4 tablespoons salt, and 4 tablespoons of sugar over high heat in a saucepan until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour mixture over onions. Let sit at least one hour. Cover, and store in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, combine avocado, crema, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon cayenne. Blend to combine.

Heat a liberal amount of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add brisket, green chilies, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat, tossing to combine, until meat browns around edges and mixture is heated through.

Warm tortillas over stove or in microwave. Fill with meat mixture, top with onions, cheese, cilantro, and avocado cream. Serve.

2. Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd's pie

Shepherd’s pie with a twist |

Often considered a winter dish, shepherd’s pie is fully capable of making an appearance during the summer if you swap pulled pork for the usual ground meat. The Black Peppercorn’s hearty version shows you how to do it with just eight ingredients. The meat has enough flavor already, so all you have to do is whip up some potatoes, and wait for the casserole to bake. It may not be the lightest dish in the world, but you’ll enjoy every bite.


  • 5 to 6 cups pulled pork
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 to 4 pounds potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel potatoes, and if large, cut in half. Place in a pot, and cover with water. Season with salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, and drain. Add butter and milk to potatoes, and mash until creamy. Season with salt, to taste.

Toss pork with sauce to coat, and spread into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle peas and corn on top, then spread mashed potatoes to cover. Top with cheese, and bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until cheese is brown and filling is bubbling. Serve.

3. Barbecue Chicken Pizza

barbecue chicken pizza

Barbecue chicken pizza |

Barbecue chicken pizza seems to show up on menus nearly as frequently as classics like pepperoni and sausage. Too often, it’s a few slices of dried out white meat covered with sickly sweet sauce and some cheese. Make a way better version at home with this simple recipe from She Wears Many Hats. It’ll be on your table long before a delivery driver could make it to your place.

While this recipe is great the way it is, feel free to jazz it up with a few extras. Sliced red onions, pickled jalapeños, and just about any fresh herb make great toppings. If you want to go with herbs, add them after the pizza comes out of the oven so they don’t wilt.


  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 8 ounces barbecue chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions: Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, with pizza stone, if you have one. Divide dough in half, and roll out to 10-inch circles. Brush with olive oil. Evenly spread sauce on each crust. Top with chicken and cheese.

Place pizza on stone or a sheet tray, and bake until crust is crisp and cheese is melted and bubbling, about 8 minutes. Repeat with remaining pizza. Slice and serve.

4. Barley Stir-Fry with Baby Back Pork Ribs and Steamed Vegetables

Slabs of Barbecue Spare ribs, bbq

Barbecue ribs |

Because ribs are an on-the-bone meat, it can be hard to figure out what to do with them aside from reheating and eating with a little more sauce. The smokey flavor and toothsome texture are perfect in this barley stir-fry from It’s basically a twist on fried rice using whole grains in place of the usual white starch.

While this recipe looks indulgent, it’s actually pretty nutritious. You’ll get loads of fiber from the grains, protein from the meat, and a serious boost of vitamins from all the veggies. Who knew ribs could be healthy?


  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 12 ounces cooked barbecue rib meat, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 broccoli head, cut into florets
  • 1 cauliflower head, cut into florets
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • Salt
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • Sesame seeds

Directions: In a medium bowl, mix meat, five-spice powder, soy sauce, and white pepper to combine. Set aside.

In a hot wok or skillet add vegetable oil. Sauté rib meat and serrano about 2 minutes, tossing occasionally. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer, tossing occasionally. Add broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot, and cook 2 minutes. Add zucchini and chicken stock. Cook 2 minutes, or until stock is nearly evaporated and vegetables are just tender. Add barley, and toss to coat. Season with salt, to taste.

Remove to a serving platter. Drizzle with hoisin, and top with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve.

5. Barbecue Chicken Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing

Grilled chicken breast, vegetables, tomato, salad

Spicy chicken salad with corn |

In an ideal world, salads would be the perfect summer meal. Unfortunately, many of them are too light to even qualify as a snack. This hearty salad from The Cutting Back Kitchen changes that by topping greens with plenty of barbecue chicken, black beans, corn, and tomatoes. The best part might be the dressing. Made with Greek yogurt, avocado, and lime, it’s a deliciously satisfying way to round out the meal. You’ll be a salad lover in no time.



  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ lime, zested, and juiced
  • Water
  • Salt


  • Lettuce
  • 8 to 10 ounces barbecue chicken, tossed in sauce
  • 2 ears of corn, cooked, and cut from cob
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions: Place avocado, yogurt, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro in a blender. Blend to combine, adding water to thin, if desired. Season, to taste. Set aside.

Fill four bowls or plates with lettuce. Top with chicken, black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, and cheese. Top with dressing, and serve.

6. Smoked Pulled Pork Spring Rolls

Cooking Spring Egg Rolls

Rolling spring rolls |

Shrimp might be the usual star in spring rolls, but subbing barbecue pork makes them a little more substantial. Vindulge’s recipe combines the smoked meat with some crunchy veggies and tender noodles for a roll with tons of texture and flavor. It’s fusion food at its finest.

If you’ve never tried making this Asian staple before, this is a perfect opportunity to dive in since you just have to do a little bit of chopping before you get started. The real key to turning out perfect spring rolls is setting up an assembly line in a large work space. You’ll need a big bowl of warm water to soak the wrappers, a cutting board for working, bowls with all of your fillings, and a tray with a damp towel to cover the finished rolls. As long as you have the setup, it’s a cinch.


  • 12 rice paper wrappers
  • 1 small head of lettuce
  • 1 (8-ounce) package rice noodles, cooked
  • 2 cups smoked pulled pork
  • 12 slices pickled carrots
  • 1 small red bell pepper, julienned
  • ½ small cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • Purchased dipping sauce

Directions: Fill a large bowl with warm water. Set one rice paper wrapper in water until softened, about 5 to 10 seconds.

Place moistened paper on a cutting board. Add a piece of lettuce on bottom half of wrapper. Add a few strands of noodles, some pork, carrots, cucumber, sprouts, and four to five herb leaves.

Roll wrapper halfway, fold in sides, and complete roll. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Serve with dipping sauce.

7. Barbecue Spaghetti

pulled pork, barbecue

Barbecue pulled pork |

Inevitably, your stash of barbecue is going to leave you with just tiny amounts of all the different meats you cooked. We can’t think of a better use for those odds and ends than the Neelys’ Barbecue Spaghetti, featured on Food Network. Though they include a recipe for their homemade barbecue sauce, you can speed this dish along by using your favorite bottled version. It’s about as far from authentic Italian as you can get, but barbecue and noodles might become your new favorite food combo.



  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  •  1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 3½ cups barbecue sauce
  • 1 pound barbecue pork, beef, or chicken, chopped
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté pepper and onion until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic salt. Add 3½ cups barbecue sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and add meat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Season liberally with salt, and add spaghetti. Cook until al dente, about 7 minutes, and drain. Toss pasta with sauce, and serve.

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