Barbecue, there is just something about the combination of fire and meat that makes such a delicious meal. I know slow roasting meat in the barbecue to delicious, juicy perfection is something I love to do. You can transform a cheap piece of meat into a tantalizing taste bud masterpiece. This smoked pulled pork recipe does just that.
It transformed a cheap pork shoulder roast into a delicious, melt in your mouth masterpiece of perfectly seasoned meat.
The outside of the pork roast is bursting with all the flavor of the rub and the juices are sealed in by the crust that forms on the meat.
I can smell the wonderful smell of the meat with the seasoning and smoke mixed together.
It has just the right amount of smoke and seasoning to make the meat pure heaven to taste.
Then as you take a bite the meat is just so tender. Not stringing or tough at all.
So let’s get started on what you’ll need to know to make your own delicious smoked pulled pork.
What’s the Best Cut of Meat for Smoked Pulled Pork?
Before we cook our pulled pork, you need to get your meat.
For smoked pulled pork the best cut of meat is pork shoulder. If you are looking at the grocery store, you might see pork shoulder also labeled as pork butt or Boston butt. Any of those pork roasts will work.
Look for a nice layer of fat on one side of the roast. It helps to self baste the pork shoulder as it cooks.
You can also find boneless pork shoulder roasts. Which you can use too.
But I prefer the bone in roasts. I think having the bone in the meat give it added flavor. Plus the bone can be used to make broth later too.
There’s nothing better than smoked broth, it’s so good.
The Best Way to Cook Pulled Pork
Pulled pork can be cooked in few ways. I’ll share the pros and cons of each method I’ve used.
Crock Pot Pulled Pork
You can make pulled pork in the crock pot. Which is simple and easy to do. It’s great because you start it in the morning and come dinner time you only need to shred the meat.
But I find the pulled pork made in the crock pot not to be as good as the other methods.
Maybe it’s because I like the crisp pieces of pork that result from the other methods. The meat can seem a little soggy.
Crock Pot Pulled Pork…
Pros, easy to make on a busy day, set it and forget it until dinner.
Cons, no crispy bits mixed in and a little soggy for my tastes.
Oven Roasted Pulled Pork
Oven roasted pulled pork is my second favorite way to prepare it. The whole method is very similar to the smoked pulled pork.
And the flavor is pretty good too.
But this method takes as long as the barbecue method and results in less flavor.
Oven Roasted Pulled Pork…
Pro, ok flavor with crispy outer bits.
Con, missing the yummy smoked flavor of the barbecue method.
The Best Method for Making Smoked Pulled Pork
Now we come to my favorite way to prepare pulled pork. Making it on the barbecue or smoking it. The outside gets a lovely crust on it with all those seasonings.
That crust seals in the juices of the pork to cook it to perfection.
Along with the added flavor the smoke adds. It’s just the best method.
Now don’t let the long cooking time scare you away. Just prepare the pork on a day when you’ll be at home all day and soon you’ll be enjoying the best pulled pork ever.
Cooking the pork roast low and slow makes it so very tender and delicious.It is worth the time investment for sure.
Smoking Pulled Pork on a Grill..
Pros, the best flavor you can get over all methods.
Cons, you need to be present to baste and watch your fire.
After reading my description if you are dying to try making your own pulled pork at home, watch this quick step-by-step video. If watching videos isn’t your thing, scroll down just past the video to find the step by step recipe instructions and tips to make this recipe turn out great.
Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe Step by Step
1. Make the Rub
Measure and mix all the ingredients for the pulled pork rub. Hold out 2 tablespoons of the rub to add after cooking.
The rub really makes the flavor so much better. Don’t skip this step.
2. Rub the roast.
Slatter the roast with your homemade rub. Be sure to get all side of the roast. Then take it to your preheated wood fired grill set to 225 degrees.
What Temperature to Cook Pulled Pork at?
You’ll want to cook your pulled pork at a temperature of 225 degrees for 3 hours. Then finish the pulled pork at 275 degrees until done.
Place the roast directly on the grill grate with the fat side up. Close the grill and smoke for an hour.
3. Make the Mop Sauce
While the roast is smoking, make your mop sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and then add to a spray bottle, squirt bottle or brush on with a brush out of the bowl.
You’ll be basting the roast every hour with the mop sauce until it’s done cooking.
The mop sauce adds flavor and helps keep the meat moist.
4. Place in a Pan
Once your pork butt has cooked for 3 hours, it’s time to move it to a pan. With pot holders pick up the roast and place it into a shallow pan.
I use a 9 by 13 inch pan for our roast but you can use a disposable roasting pan too.
Now you’ll want to increase the temperature to 275 degrees. Baste again and continue to smoke.
5. Baste and Cook
You’ll want to continue to baste every hour until the roast is done. You’ll know the roast is done when the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. And the meat shreds easily.
Can you overcook pulled pork?
Yes, you can and the pulled pork can get dried out. Be sure to monitor the temperature of the roast and cook to 190 degrees for best results.
6. Give Your Pork Roast Rest Time
Once your roast is done. Leave it in the pan and cover with foil and let it rest. This keeps the juices in the meat and makes it easier to handle too. Let your pork roast rest about 15 minutes.
7. Shred the Pork
Now your pork roast has cooled it’s time to shred it. You can do this with two forks or your hands.
8. Add The Reserved Rub
Once the meat is shredded add the reserved rub to pump up the flavor and make it even more tasty
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Tips for Making the Most Tender, Tasty, and Moist Pulled Pork Ever
Leave the Fat On
You want to leave the fat cap on the pork roast, don’t remove it. It will help to keep the pork moist over it’s long cooking time. You can remove it after cooking.
Season the Pork Well
Make the rub and rub it all over the roast. You want the full roast covered in the delicious rub seasoning. I always remove some of the rub before I start to place it on the roast.
I used the held out portion of the rub to mix in with the cooked pulled pork for even more flavor. Just remember to remove some of the rub before touching the raw meat. You don’t want any cross contamination.
If you don’t feel like making your own rub you can purchase bottled rub.
Baste the Roast
While cooking be sure to baste or mop the roast. You can use a spray bottle with the mop sauce or if you have a basting mop you can use that. I’ve even used a plastic squirt bottle when I didn’t have a spray bottle.
You want to baste with your mop sauce regularly to add extra flavor and keep the roast moist while cook. I usually baste once an hour.
Cook it Slow and on Low
How long does it take to smoke pulled pork?
When you are smoking pulled pork it will take about 8-9 hours.
To get the pork nice and tender you want to cook it over lower heat slowly. When using our wood fired grill I smoke the roast at 225 for about 3 hours and then switch to 275 for 6 hours or until it reaches the desired temperature of 190 degrees.
If you are cooking on a gas fired grill, you might need to turn one burner on and cook the roast over the burner that isn’t on. Just make sure to keep an eye on the temperature.
If you have a wood chip basket be sure to add soaked wood chips to it for a nice smoke flavor.
If using a charcoal grill, place the coals or briquets on one side and roast the roast on the other with indirect heat.
Be sure to monitor your coals to main the proper cooking temperatures. You can add soaked wood chips to the coals to add the nice wood smoke flavor.
Start cooking on the Grill then Move to a Pan
Start cooking the pork roast directly on the grill to get a nice crust formed on the roast. Then move the roast to a pan to cook the rest of the way. I know it’s an extra step but it does make a difference.
Check for Doneness
I use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. You want the temperature of the meat to be 190 degrees. I use time as a good indicator but I’ve had my pork roasts get to temperature an hour or two early because of the heat outside.
A meat thermometer is the best way to tell when the meat is done and to avoid overcooking it.
Let the Roast Rest and Remove the Extra Fat
After cooking cover the roast with foil and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes.
After the meat has rested, remove the excess fat on top of the roast. As you are pulling the meat apart be sure to remove any fat pockets you find if you don’t like the globs of fat in pulled pork.
Shred by Hand
I find I can get the meat shredded much nicer by doing it with my hand instead of using a fork two forks. Plus it’s easier to remove any fat pockets this way.
I usually start with two forks and as the meat gets easier to handle I switch to one fork and my hands or just my hands.
But you may need gloves to protect your hand from the heat because even after resting the meat is hot. Use two forks if you need to and as the meat cool off slightly you can remove the fat by hand.
Add More Seasoning to Finish it Off
You can add barbecue sauce to the pulled pork or you can add more dry rub to help pump up the flavor of the pulled pork it just comes down to what you prefer. I used to prefer barbecue sauce until I tried it with the dry rub added.
The dry rub is what I add to our finished pulled pork to season it to perfection.
Can Pulled Pork be Frozen?
Making a big pork butt may be too much for your family to eat all at once. It is for our family too.
If you have leftover pulled pork, it can be frozen. It freezes beautifully. All you need to do is place meal-sized portions into a freezer bag or vacuum seal bag and seal.
What’s the best way to reheat pulled pork?
The microwave works great for reheating pulled pork. I like to cover the bowl to keep the moisture in while reheating in the microwave.
Another way to reheat pulled pork is in a skillet. Add a little bit or oil to the pan. Add the pulled pork and heat over medium heat until the smoked pulled pork is heated through.
How to Serve the Pulled Pork
You can also serve pulled pork on top of baked potatoes. This is so very good with sour cream and cheese too.
Or you can serve pulled pork on hamburger buns with coleslaw on top.
I’ve also made roasted vegetables in the oven and in the last few minutes of cooking added the precooked pulled pork on top with a sprinkle of cheese. This is the perfect comfort food dinner.
What to Serve with Pulled Pork
The Most Tender, Tasty, and Moist Pulled Pork Ever
- 5-7 pound Bone-in Pork Shoulder Roast
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 1/2 tablespoon Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
- Mop Sauce
- 1 cup Water
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- Barbecue Sauce (optional)
- In a bowl combine all the rub ingredients and mix well. Reserve couple tablespoons of the rub to add to the shredded pork after cooking if desired.
- Rub the rub onto the roast be sure to cover all sides of the roast with the rub.
- Preheat the barbecue to 225 degrees. Place the pork roast in the barbecue on the grill and cook for 3 hours.
- Mix the mop sauce ingredients and baste the roast once an hour while cooking.
- After the first 3 hours of cooking, move the roast to a barbecue safe pan or disposable foil pan and turn up the heat to 275 degrees. Continue to cook until the roast temperature reaches 190 degrees. About 6 hours.
- Once done let the roast rest. Remove the fat portion from the outside and discard or keep if desired.
- Shred the meat. Removing any fat if desired.
- Add the reserved rub or barbecue sauce and mix well.
- Serve on homemade bread or buns.
In the past I’ve prepared pork shoulders in the crock pot. But since I’ve started making them on our barbecue, I won’t go back to making them in the crock pot again. The barbecue makes the tastiest, tender and moist pulled pork ever.
How do you like to eat pull pork? What your favorite way to finish the meat, do you use a sauce or a rub? Leave me a comment and let me know.
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This post was originally publish in June 2016 but has been updated with new photos, more tips and an updated video too. Hope you enjoy it.