Do you ever have those days when you just want to stay in, order pizza, drink some beer, and watch a good movie? I was contemplating canceling my plans and doing just that this past weekend. Alas, I didn’t find the courage to cancel my previous arrangements so I had to push back pizza night. That didn’t mean that I still didn’t have pizza on my mind the next day (yes, I admit, pizza, not beer, movies or staying in, was the high point). Now I could order pizza or be productive and make my own, which will probably taste better. To draw some inspiration, I looked at menus and found California Pizza Kitchen’s habanero carnitas pizza. This pizza combined slow roasted pulled pork with cilantro pesto, red onion, mozzarella, Queso quesadilla cheese, and spicy habanero salsa. Drawing on this idea, I created my version of this delicious pulled pork pizza.

pulled pork pizza
pulled pork pizza
pulled pork pizza

Pulled pork pizza

2 hr, 45 Total Time

Yields 1 12-inch pizza

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  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 8 ounces pork shoulder
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 5 parsley stems
  • Salsa roja
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 7 ounces can diced green chile
  • 14 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno, fresh
  • salt and pepper
  • Caramelized onions
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • Cilantro pesto
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Remaining ingredients
  • 12 inch pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine seasonings for pork (cumin - paprika). Sprinkle evenly on pork. Heat 1 tbsp oil in nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add pork and sear on all sides until browned. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer pork to oven-safe baking dish. Add onion, garlic and parsley stems. Pour enough water to submerge almost all of the pork. You want the water to cover 3/4 of the pork but not completely cover it. Cover baking dish with lid or aluminum foil. Braise for 2 hours or until the pork is tender and easily falls apart. Shred pork with two forks. Keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa roja. Roast jalapeno over a gas burner until completely blackened. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl and cover with plastic. Let sit for 10 minutes. Uncover and remove the skin and stem.
  5. Place all of the ingredients for the salsa in a blender and pulse until chopped. The salsa should be coarsely chopped, not pureed. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 1 hour to let flavors marry.
  6. Heat 1 tbsp oil in nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for 20 minutes, caramelizing the onion. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Prepare the cilantro pesto. Blend together cilantro - parmesan. Slowly drizzle olive oil while continuing to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  8. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  9. Spread cilantro pesto in an even layer on the pizza crust. Sprinkle both cheese, pork and caramelized onions. Cook in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until the cheese melts. Remove from heat. Serve with salsa.

**Helpful tips and common mistakes

Many, many years ago, when I was scrounging around for cash, I worked as a hostess at CPK. I was a high school student who no longer received an allowance but loved to go out and spend time with friends. That meant earning my own money. During my first week of training, I was able to try some of the restaurant’s best dishes. I remember feasting on the salads and pizzas and feeling a strong wave of food coma right before a shift. CPK is, by no means, one of my favorite eateries, but there are some dishes that I still crave. Since then, they have added new dishes that I become curious about but never find the urge to actually visit the restaurant. This pulled pork pizza was one of them.

I only had the image of the pizza and description to go on recreating this dish, but I decided to make some changes to the original.

For the pork, I prefer using pork shoulder for braised pork dishes. A simple blend of aromatics, 2 hours later and you have tender, fall apart pork.

pulled pork pizza

If you’re preparing the pork ahead of time, keep the meat in the liquid to prevent it from drying out.

pulled pork pizza

Meanwhile, prepare your onions, salsa and cilantro pesto. For the salsa, you can increase or decrease the number of jalapenos depending on how spicy you want the salsa. If you’re feeling really brave, use a habanero instead of the fresh jalapeno.

When roasting the jalapeno, you can either do so on directly on the stove top or in the oven. If roasting in the oven, roast at 400 degrees  F for 7-10 minutes or until the jalapeno has blackened.

pulled pork pizza

Time to make the pizza! I cheated this time and bought a prepared crust, but feel free to make your own dough.

pulled pork pizza

pulled pork pizza

pulled pork pizza

This pizza would be great prepared on the grill or in the oven. Just make sure not to overcook the pizza or the pork will dry out. Pair with the salsa and serve.

I was very pleased with this pizza. All of the components meshed well together from the herb pesto to the tender pork to the sweet onions to the mixture of cheeses. The salsa provided heat while adding a fresh element to the pizza. I actually even preferred this the next day as cold pizza, but then again, I’m a huge fan of cold pizza. Well CPK, I have to hand it to you…great idea for a pizza!

pulled pork pizza


Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.


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