Smoked Pulled Pork [BBQ Pulled Pork Butt]


Smoked pulled pork cooked slowly and slowly over a wood fire is the ultimate BBQ meat dish. Learn how to trim, salt and smoke this iconic cut of pork to perfection.

Smoked pulled pork recipe
Pork shoulder has a large amount of fat and connective tissue that regenerates it, making it ideal for slow and slow smoking. For the perfect pulled pork, we smoke it for 8-12 hours. It takes all day, with some meat prepared the day before, but the results speak for themselves.
Pulled pork butt in aluminum pan with meat grinder

How much pork do you need?

Almost all meats shrink when cooked, especially pork. This can make calculating the amount of pulled pork a little tricky, but I have a foolproof formula to follow.

This is the calculation I do when calculating how much pulled pork I need per person. On average, a pound of barbecue pork feeds three people, serving up a third of a pound of pulled pork per head. When the pulled pork is cooked and shredded, it loses half its weight. For example, an 8-pound raw pork shoulder makes 4 pounds of pulled pork, which serves about 12 people.

Don’t be afraid to overdo it because pulled pork is one of the best meats for leftovers. It can be easily stored and reheated in the following days.

Meat grinders pulling grilled smoked pulled pork

Pork tenderloin vs pork shoulder

You may see some pulled pork recipes that call for pork loin and others for the shoulder. Also what is the difference and who should you choose?

Both pork loin and pork shoulder derive from pork shoulder, although they differ slightly in origin within that cut. Pork butt (also called Boston butt) comes from the top of the shoulder blades, while pork shoulder meat extends to the pig’s front hooves. Pork tenderloin contains more fat and marbling, making it more suitable for smoking on the grill.

Both cuts have lots of hard, interconnected muscles with connective tissue in between. Because of this, they need to be cooked for hours on low and slow heat. This helps break up and soften the tissue, giving us a nice pulled pork in the end.


Start preparing the meat the day before roasting. Place the pork shoulder on a cutting board and use a filleting knife to remove the layer of fat. This portion of fat WILL NOT be broken down during cooking, and we want our dry brine, brine, and smoke to penetrate the pork as much as possible.

Turn the shoulder over and snip off large chunks of fat or tendon. Locate the seam on the shaft that is on the other side of the grease cap. Divide and cut the butt into two. This will help us marinate and flavor the butt more efficiently. Trim off any excess fat or tissue in the two sections.

Don’t worry about the presentation, and it’s absolutely fine if there’s some fat left in the meat. Finally, rinse the meat under cold water, pat dry with kitchen paper and continue with the brine.

Dry brine

While some people like to salt or marinate the pork shoulder, I prefer to salt it overnight . This saves effort and ingredients while providing the best possible tender, juicy meat without masking its natural flavors.

Apply kosher salt to all surfaces of the meat and massage well. Refrigerate pork overnight for best results.

Times and temperatures

Pork loin or shoulder should be cooked at 225°F for approximately 90 minutes per pound of meat, or until the internal temperature reaches 95°C (203°F). We’re using a 5 pound pork shoulder, so we can expect a cook time of around 8 hours.

Variables such as the thickness of the meat, the smoker’s heat retention, and fat content can affect smoking time. I urge YOU to use a meat thermometer to measure the doneness of your meat instead of time.

Technically, pork is safe to eat once it reaches 145°F, but we must thoroughly cook the pork shoulder to get it to a level where we can “throw it away.” At 203°F, it’s more tender and has the perfect texture that we look for in pulled pork.

Smoked wood

Apple or walnut chips are the best woods for smoking pulled pork. Both taste slightly sweet and fruity, as you can imagine. It’s also very adaptable because whatever cut of pork you choose to go with your pulled pork, it goes well with it. If YOU want to mix BBQ sauce with your finished dish, I think apple is a good idea.

However, since applewood is so subtle, it can take a long time to get to the pork. If you plan to cook the meat at a lower temperature for several hours, this is perfect. If you also want to reduce the cooking time, you have to consider something else.

How to smoke pulled pork

Turn your smoker on to 107°C (225°F) or set your grill for dual-zone cooking or indirect grilling. Once the desired temperature is reached, place pieces of apple or walnut on the wooden tray or on the coals.

Place the pork tenderloin in the smoker rack. Close the chamber door and smoke for five to six hours, basting every hour, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 74°C (165°F).

As the temperature approaches 150°F, SHE can see the pork making its way to the grill stall . This is where moisture evaporates from the meat surface while cooling the pork. This phenomenon makes it difficult to get past and raise the temperature to 170°F, where the connective tissue in the meat begins to melt and the surface begins to crust through the Maillard reaction .

My way of getting around this is to wrap the pork in foil. This is a method known as Texas Crutch, seen with brisket. The method prevents moisture from escaping and cooling. The other benefit of this is that it reduces our total cooking time significantly, potentially saving up to 4 hours.

Any downside? Well, the thick layer of moisture this creates around the pork means your chances of developing a rind are limited. It’s your choice, but since we’re going to be pulling the pig, I personally prefer to wrap it.

Once the internal temperature has reached 203°F, remove from the smoker. The exterior of the pork should be a nice dark brown color and YOU should be able to see signs of melted fat on its surface. With joy you will be able to see a smoke ring just below the surface of the meat. It’s not the beginning and end, but congratulations if you make it. Place the pork shoulder in a large skillet. Use bear claw shredder to shred the pig.

Use the claws to shred the pulled pork . If you find large chunks of fat, throw them away. If you find barking, be generous and distribute it evenly for your guests. If cooking juices are left over, you can reuse them by pouring them over the meat.

Pulled pork rest

Leftovers are often unavoidable, but with pulled pork I always try to make a little more. It’s easy to reheat during the week and enjoy on its own or incorporate into another recipe.

You can reheat pulled pork quickly because you toss it with some barbecue sauce and reheat it in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

While sandwiches are the obvious choice, there are many more creative ways to use leftover pulled pork than you might think. Here are some of our favourites:

Pulled pork tacos

The tacos don’t ask for much presentation. They are tasty, versatile and can be adapted to any dietary requirement. Our  Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos  combine juicy, tender pork with citrus, chopped red onions and BBQ sauce for a flavorful bite.


What’s better than nachos for a party? Grilled, these Smoked Pulled Pork Nachos bring something wonderful to the delicious classic in a whole new dimension. The nachos are topped with a thin layer of applewood shavings and grilled over charcoal and firewood for a special flavor that still honors the real star of the show: the pulled pork.


If there’s a surefire way to improve jalapeños, it’s with pulled pork shoulder. I like to add touches of sriracha and bacon.

Pizza toppings

Pork meat. Cheese Pizza _ Say no more. Toss leftovers on a plain margherita pizza, add a touch of BBQ sauce and extra melted cheese.

Smoked pulled pork

Barbecue smoked pulled pork slow cooked and low over apple walnut wood. Prepared with dry brine and tossed with BBQ sauce, this pork shoulder is melt-in-the-mouth, tender and juicy.
Appetizer, dinner, main course , side dish
American cuisine , BBQ
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 8 hours
Dry brine 8 hours
Total time 16 hours 20 minutes
Serving 8


  • Apple or pecan wood
  • Lake
  • Food grade spray/mist bottle
  • Claws for shredding meat


  • 5 pounds of pork tenderloin
  • 2½ tea spoons of kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • ½ cup dry grill batter
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water


  • Trim the fat cap from the top of the pork tenderloin and excess fat from the other side.
  • Locate the seam on the shaft that is on the other side of the grease cap. Divide and cut the butt into two. This will help us marinate and flavor the butt more efficiently. Trim off any excess fat or tissue in the two sections.
  • Coat both pieces with kosher salt and write uniformly on all sides. Leave in your refrigerator overnight to dry the brine.
  • The next day, take the pork out of the fridge. Rinse off residual salt with cold water and dry. Apply a thin layer of mustard all over the pig. Rub the BBQ dry rub into the pork.
  • Turn smoker on to 107°C (225°F). If you use a grill, make sure it cooks in 2 zones.
  • Place apple or walnut chips in smoker or charcoal. Place pork tenderloin on smoker racks. Smoke for 5 to 6 hours or until the internal temperature is 74°C. I spray every hour.
  • Wrap the pork in aluminum foil. Increase the temperature to 163°C (325°F) and smoke for 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature is around 95°C (203°F).
  • Remove the pork from the heat and place in a pan to begin the toss. If you don’t have a chopper, you can use a pair of forks. Scoop out large chunks of fat. Spread the crispy crust evenly and work into the BBQ sauce.
  • Serve about ⅓ pounds per head, either as a sandwich or taco filling, or on its own.

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