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This Smoked Pulled Pork recipe is my family's go-to. Feed a crowd with this tender, savory pork. This pulled pork recipe can be made with a Smoked Pork Butt or Smoked Pork Shoulder.
My husband and I have been working on this smoked pulled pork recipe for nearly 10 years, and I believe we have perfected it! A simple spice rub and lots of time will yield you tender, flavorful pork every time!
We hope you enjoy this tutorial on smoking pulled pork! Please leave any comments or questions you have at the bottom and I'll respond as soon as I can.
Should I use Smoked Pork Butt or Smoked Pork Shoulder?
The short answer, use EITHER of these cuts for delicious Smoked Pulled Pork.
The long answer: Why can you use either pork butt or pork shoulder? Because these are from the same part of the pig! Pork butt, Boston butt, pork shoulder, all originate from the upper part of the pork shoulder. NOT the butt. Confusing right?
This cut is perfect for low and slow cooking, whether you're doing it in the slow cooker or your smoker, like this recipe. Pork shoulders (butts, whatever) come from a part of the pig works a lot, making it muscular and wound with connective tissue. For this reason, you want to OVERCOOK this cut. Achieving a higher temperature than the normal recommended temperature for pork breaks down the connective tissue and makes it super tender and "pull-a-ble!"
How to Smoke a Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder
How Long to Smoke Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder
How long you need to smoke your pork but or pork shoulder until it is "pull-a-ble" totally depends on the size of your cut! I typically purchase a 6-7 pound cut of pork, which takes me about 12-13 hours to smoke. We keep our smoker around 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Generally, you need to plan on 2 hours of smoking for each pound of pork.
Ultimately, you will want to use an instant read thermometer to test the doneness of your pork. At 195 degrees Fahrenheit, the pork will be tender and start to pull. You can choose to keep cooking the pork until about 200 degrees Fahrenheit if you'd like for it to "fall apart."
Do I need to wrap my pork shoulder?
No! You can choose to wrap your smoked pork shoulder in foil to help it progress through the "stall period" that happens between 140 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It is completely normal for the meat to take several extra hours to progress through this period, and your patience will pay off!
This stall period is when the pork will develop the majority of its "bark," the dark outer coating that adds SO much flavor to smoked pulled pork. Wrapping the cut of pork can inhibit the formation of your "bark," although it will speed your cooking process.
How much pulled pork per person?
I plan on 4-6 ounces of pulled pork per person. Man, woman, child. This takes into account both large and smaller appetites, with children eating around 2 ounces and larger men eating upwards of 8 ounces per meal.
If you're doing sandwiches, one slider will need about 2 ounces of pork. A hamburger bun will need 4-5 ounces of pork to fill it.
How do you re-heat pulled pork?
Smoked pulled pork is generally very juicy and forgiving. If you are running short on time, it's okay to quickly nuke it in the microwave. Start at 30 seconds, check it, and add additional 30 second segments until the pork is warm.
Ideally, the pork is reheated in the oven. I like to put the pork in a pan, drizzle some water or chicken broth over it, and cover it with aluminum foil. Then, reheat it in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until warmed through. This method keeps your smoked pulled pork nice and juicy.
Again, how you re-heat your pulled pork is up to you, but be mindful that when you re-heat, you will lose moisture!
- 1 6-8 pound pork shoulder (pork butt)
- For the rub:
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1.5 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Combine the ingredients for the rub and pat thoroughly on the surface of the pork shoulder.
2. Prepare your smoker to cook at the temperature range of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. We do recommend using a water pan to eliminate the need to mop or baste the meat.*
3. Place the spice rubbed pork directly on the grates. Cook for 2 hours per every pound of meat, an estimated 12-13 hours for a 6 pound pork butt.
4. Remove the pork when it reaches a minimum of 195 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature, ready by a probe thermometer.
5. Remove from the smoker and place in a baking dish. Top with aluminum foil and allow for rest for at least 30 minutes before pulling the meat.
6. Serve alone or on sandwiches, and with your favorite barbecue sauce!
*We prefer using pecan wood for most of our smoked meats. Hickory is also popular, or you could opt for cherry or apple wood to keep a lighter smoke flavor.
If you love this smoked pulled pork recipe, I think you'll also enjoy these other recipes made on the smoker:
- Smoked Chicken Breast
- Smoked Corn on the Cob
- Smoked Chicken Quarters
- Perfect Smoked Chicken Rub
- Brown Sugar Smoked Salmon
- How to Smoke a Whole Turkey for Thanksgiving