The USDA recently changed their guidelines for pork doneness to 145°F internal temp for pork.
Pork can be served medium rare safely, however a fatty and tough cut such as pork shoulder needs to cooked to at least 195°F to be ready to pull apart for pulled pork. For best results we recommend taking your pork off the heat at an internal temp of 200-203°F .
- Pulled Pork Internal Temp – A Short Guide
- Can You Pull Pork at 190?
- How Long Should Pork Rest Before Pulling?
- Pulled Pork on Smoker Recipe
- Can You Overcook Pulled Pork?
- How Do You Tell if Pulled Pork is Done?
- How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?
- Can BBQ Pulled Pork Be Frozen?
- What to Serve with BBQ Pulled Pork
Can You Pull Pork at 190?
You can slice pork shoulder at 165°F but if you want to pull it, you need to wait until the pulled pork internal temp is at least 195°F.
While some pork cuts can be served medium rare, a large and fatty cut like pork shoulder needs extra time to render down the connective tissues for easy pulling.
Try this fantastic recipe for pulled pork in the smoker article.
How Long Should Pork Rest Before Pulling?
Rest pork for around 20 minutes before pulling it apart. Again pulled pork internal temp is at least 195°F.
You can cover it loosely with foil to give it time to relax and redistribute the juices throughout the tissues.
This is an important step that will give you a more moist and tender result.
To bring your pork shoulder (also called pork butt or Boston butt) to the necessary internal temperature for pulling (195°F) will take 10-12 hours, at 225°F.
This is the rough timing of a 10 pound or 4.5kg pork shoulder, but you should always aim for an internal temperature of at least 195°F and not rely on timings.
You can shave off some smoking time by increasing the temperature to 250°F, but pork butt is a fatty, large and tough meat to smoke and is better cooked at the minimum low and slow temp of 225°F or 107°F.
If you need an easy step by step guide try our ‘Pulled Pork On Smoker,’ article.
Can You Overcook Pulled Pork?
Thankfully a pork shoulder is very forgiving and hard to overcook. This makes it a great meat to smoke for beginners.
However, if the pork shoulder cooks longer than the recommended cook times it can become mushy, especially if the BBQ sauce is particularly acidic/vinegary.
Like any cut of meat you smoke you need to keep an eye on it. Have a little taste near the end of the smoke to make sure it isn’t too mushy. Be particularly vigilant during the last hour.
Pulled pork internal temp needs to be at least 195°F to be done. Use a digital meat thermometer at the thickest part of the pork butt to make sure the pork is ready.
It should be moist, tender and easy to pull apart with a fork to ensure best results.
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?
Although this will vary according to the number of side dishes and appetites, aim for around 1/2 pound of cooked pulled pork per person served in buns with coleslaw. That should be enough, especially if you serve your pulled pork with fries, mash, vegetable and salad dishes.
Can BBQ Pulled Pork Be Frozen?
There are often plenty of leftovers with pulled pork so freezing the meat is a good idea.
You can keep the pulled pork in the fridge for 3-4 days, or if you won’t be eating it for a while you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
If you put the meat in vacuum sealed food bags it will keep for longer again – up to 6 months. Make sure you defrost it thoroughly before reheating the pork.
Pulled pork is often served in a bun with coleslaw and a smoky BBQ sauce. Other great sides for pulled pork would be mac and cheese, corn on the cob, mashed or potatoes, fries and smoky BBQ beans.
You could also serve your pulled pork on top of a lovely juicy cheeseburger or on top of baked potatoes.
One of our favourite sides for pulled pork is Pasta Salad.
If you enjoyed this article you might like our ‘Pulled Pork Internal Temp Guide.’
Here’s another great article on what to serve with pulled pork.
For a different approach to cooking pork try our ‘Chinese BBQ Pork,’ recipe for delicious smoked Char Siu Pork.