Here is our pulled pork in smoker recipe, complete with an easy to make sweet dry rub.
It’s a long smoke but very much worth it. It’s so versatile and can be a pork smoker recipe that leads to buns, sliders, pulled pork pizza, pulled pork mac and cheese and even pulled pork served on top of burgers.
Let’s get to making this fantastic meat for smoking.
- Ingredients For Sweet Dry Rub
- Pulled Pork in the Smoker Recipe Step 1 – Buying Your Pork Shoulder
- Smoked Pulled Pork Step 2 – Prepare Your Meat
- Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 3 – Smoke for 5 Hours Unwrapped
- Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 4 – Smoke for 6 Hours Wrapped
- Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 5 – Rest Your Pork
- Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 6 – Pull Apart with a Fork and Serve
- Pulled Pork in the Smoker FAQ’s
- How Long to Smoke Pork Butt For Pulling?
- Should I Smoke Pork Butt at 225 or 250?
- Should I Wrap my Pork Butt?
- Where to Buy Organic Pork Online
Smoked pork butt is one of the best meats to smoke for beginners because it is very forgiving and difficult to get wrong.
We are going to use pork shoulder for this smoked pulled pork recipe. It’s also called pork butt, even though it actually comes from the shoulder of the pig!
It’s a very affordable cut of meat which is tough and fatty and therefore perfect for cooking slow and low pulled pork.
We recommend leaving the bone in because the bone adds additional flavour (because of the marrow) and helps the meat cook better.
We’re going to cook our pork shoulder in a similar way to our ‘How to Smoke Brisket,’ article, using the ‘Texas Crutch,’ method of wrapping the meat in foil or butcher’s paper for the second stage of cooking.
We explained this in detail in our Brisket article, but the gist of it is that wrapping our meat makes it cook quicker, avoid any temperature stall in the cook, and makes for a juicier end result.
Ingredients For Sweet Dry Rub
3 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Sweet Smoked Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder (or more if you like heat)
1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon of Granulated Garlic (not the same as garlic powder)
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Fine Sea Salt
We always recommend buying from the your local butcher because that way you know where the meat has come from, and can find out about the life that it has had. Preferably from a trusted local source!
Depending on your cut of meat you might need to remove excess fat. If so, you can always ask your butcher to do this.
Make sure your pork doesn’t have any dark spots on it, is a nice light pink colour (not greyish) and that it has a nice amount of fat marbling for best results.
Depending on the number of your guests aim for around a pound of meat per person – so 8 guests means 8pound pork shoulder cut.
Smoked Pulled Pork Step 2 – Prepare Your Meat
Put all your dry rub ingredients into a bowl and mix them together to form your rub.
If you have excess fat on your pork remove it now with a sharp paring knife or sharp scissors.
Now we are going to cover our pork in the mustard of your choice (American, French or English – which is the hottest) for taste, moisture, and the fact it will help the dry rub stick better. You will probably need around 2 tablespoons.
Safest to use rubber gloves here.
Now you can use your hands to rub the seasonings all over your pork shoulder on both sides. The rub should stick fairly well but you may need to apply some pressure to get the rub right into the meat.
Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 3 – Smoke for 5 Hours Unwrapped
Get your smoker up to temperature – 110°C or 225°F. We like to use a mix of apple wood and hickory wood chips here but cherry or oak chips work well too.
Place your pork directly onto the grills, and close the lid of your smoker/barbecue. Depending on your smoker you may need to refuel every hour or so.
Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 4 – Smoke for 6 Hours Wrapped
Now this is where things can get tricky. Your meat will eventually reach a point called the ‘stall,’ where its internal temperature will stop rising.
This stall will add extra time to your cooking, and it can even last hours. This is where our ‘Texas Crutch,’ method comes in.
If we wrap our pork shoulder in butcher’s paper or foil we can braise our meat, avoid the stall, save time and retain moisture.
How do you know when you have reached the stall?
It’s different every time you cook.
It will probably occur around 4-5 hours into cooking but it’s hard to predict.
The only way to be sure is to measure the internal heat of your meat using an internal meat thermometer.
If you don’t have one, have a look below.
The stall usually occurs around 145°F-165°F or 63°C-74°C which is well below the temperature we need to bring our pork to.
When the pork gets to this temperature take it off the heat and wrap it up in paper or foil, as tightly as possible so that it is as airtight as you can make it.
It’s also customary and helpful to add liquid at this point. We like to add a good splash of cider, but apple juice is a good option too. You could also try a splash of beer, if you prefer.
Some cheeky people even add a splash of bourbon if you have it.
Other people like to add apple cider vinegar, but we prefer a sweeter and less sour flavour in our pork.
Once your pork shoulder is tightly wrapped return it to your smoker or barbecue and cook for another 5-6 hours.
Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 5 – Rest Your Pork
You then need to rest your pork in its paper/foil for at least 1 hour to retain moisture in the meat tissues.
Pulled Pork in Smoker Step 6 – Pull Apart with a Fork and Serve
You can now prepare your meat for serving by pulling it apart with a fork.
The classic way to serve pulled pork is of course to put it in a toasted brioche bun with your favourite BBQ sauce.
Pulled Pork in the Smoker FAQ’s
How Long to Smoke Pork Butt For Pulling?
How long you smoke your pork butt so that you can pull it depends on the size of your pork butt and the temperature you smoke at.
You should factor in 2 hours of cook time per pound of pork meat if you are smoking at a temperature of 225-250F. This means an 8 pound pork butt will take roughly 16 hours, and a 10 pound pork butt will take 20 hours.
Should I Smoke Pork Butt at 225 or 250?
Smoking your pork butt in the 225-250 range will bring about a largely similar result in terms of timings and overall juiciness. Smoking the pork butt at the slightly higher temperature of 250F will make the crust a little crispier than 225F.
The internal temperature of your pork butt should be around 203F so that the fat has rendered down enough to pull the pork apart.
Should I Wrap my Pork Butt?
It’s definitely a good idea to wrap pork butt. It allows you to get past the ‘stall,’ where the internal temperature plateaus and cooking is completely slowed down. It also helps to infuse flavour and maintain moisture.
Classic sides for pulled pork in the smoker include coleslaw and/or fries but you can serve it with whichever accompaniments suit you and your guests.
Pulled pork in smoker recipe nailed!
Soak up your guests’ praise.
If you have a lot of leftover pulled pork you should have a look at our article on leftover pulled pork recipes.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to check out ‘How to Smoke Brisket.’
If you would like to read another fantastic article on pulled pork in smoker recipe try here: