Doctor's Orders: Marinate Pork In Dr Pepper For Optimal Tenderness

Seasoned pork eaters know that the meat works well alongside something sweet. Whether it's marinated in apple cider, rubbed down with brown sugar, or finished off with a fruity glaze, the red meat's natural sweetness always tastes best when enhanced with another honeyed ingredient. In that vein, nothing works to flavor and tenderize the meat quite like Dr Pepper.

There's a long tradition of using soda for more than just drinking. While it's typically been relegated to desserts like chocolate cola brownies or 7-Up cake, soda works well as a meat marinade. Made of a blend of carbonic, citric, and phosphoric acids, the three are key in weakening the proteins found in meat, effectively tenderizing the flesh. Most sodas possess those key acids, but Dr Pepper is the top choice for pork due to its taste.

Often misclassified as a cola, Dr Pepper exists in a league of its own. The recipe comprises 23 closely-guarded ingredients, and its taste complements pretty much any pork recipe you can whip up. The soda is fruity, almost cherry-like, with smoky nuances of caramel and molasses. Rounded off with what we can only assume to be a blend of warming spices like nutmeg, clove, ginger, and of course, pepper, a 12-ounce can of the soda possesses enough flavor to drastically improve your favorite pork dish.

For delicious meals, use Dr Pepper in these pork recipes

It's easy to make outstanding pork chops with the sweet taste of Dr Pepper. Use it to create an acidic marinade balanced by soy sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and onion powder to give pork chops a peppery, savory bite while tenderizing the meat until it falls off the bone. Serve the pork chops alongside buttery 5-ingredient yeast rolls and roasted green beans to complete this hearty dinner.

Infuse Dr Pepper with an even smokier flavor by grilling soda-marinated pork tenderloins. After a few hours steeped in a mix of Dr Pepper, soy sauce, ginger powder, and chili flakes, the meat is ready to absorb the rich flavor of a charcoal grill. Pair the sweet, smoky meat with a Tuscan kale and cranberry salad and braised sweet potatoes for some tang and additional savory sweetness.

For something unique, branch out beyond the standard Dr Pepper and opt for its cherry-flavored soda. Amping up the fruity tinges of the original, the cherry pop tastes incredible with pulled pork. Round out the sweet soda with barbecue sauce, cumin, garlic powder, and a hint of ginger. Marinate the pork shoulder in the mixture and allow it to simmer in the slow cooker. After shredding the pork, place it on toasted Hawaiian buns and serve with potato salad and Brussels sprouts slaw.