Amazing Pulled Pork Recipe for ANY Skill Level

Pulled Pork Sandwich

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Today, I’ll be showing you how to make delightfully flavorsome pulled pork. Now, I will warn you before we begin; after trying this recipe for yourself, you’re never going to look at pulled pork the same again. Mind you, this recipe isn’t another one of those countless guides teaching you how to use an Instapot or some other slow cooker for making ‘smoked’ pulled BBQ pork; no, my friends, this is the real deal! 

Read on if you want to whip up delicious barbecue pulled pork that will melt at the very moment it enters your mouth and a dish that will completely change your perception as to just how good pulled pork can be.

This recipe is excellent for beginners and pitmasters alike, mainly thanks to the fool-proof nature of cooking pork butt (actually the shoulder of the animal). You can’t exactly ruin a pork butt when cooked low and slow, further driving my argument that it is a great starting point for anyone beginning their smoking career.

Let’s begin!

Pulled Pork Overview

One of the most popular ‘low and slow’ cooked foods is pulled pork, and for good reason. It presents smokey essence interwoven with tender strands of meat that still contains a large amount of moisture, as the muscles are pulled apart rather than torn, making them all the more soft and mesmerizing. 

Pork butt is the usual choice for making pulled pork, and in my opinion, the use of this particular cut is essential to capture the flavors we’re striving for in this dish. This cut of meat typically weighs between 5 and 8 pounds. As for grill requirements – just about anything with a lid will do; free at least 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound of pork for the cooking process (this is the usual time it takes to cook 1 pound at 225°F).

This easy pulled pork recipe is one of the most versatile BBQ dishes in existence, perfect for feeding hoards of people.

Pulled Pork Recipe

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Recipe by Ran – TastyBBQing.com Course: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

8

Sandwiches
Prep time

8

hours 
Cooking time

12

hours 
Total time

20

hours 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat (2.5 teaspoons when using suggested pork butt size)

  • 1/3 Cup of TastyBBQing’s Rib Rub (recipe here)

  • 1 Cup BBQ Sauce

  • 10 Elongated bread rolls or hamburger buns

  • 5-pound pork butt

Method

  • Preparation. Trim away the vast majority of fat on the surface of the meat; skipping this step will result in seasoning the fat instead of the pork, which will most likely be cut off before eating, resulting in a loss of flavor in that area of the meat. Once you’ve done that, hogtie the pork with kite string or butcher’s twine; this needn’t be pretty, you’ll be throwing the string away once you’ve finished anyway. It just has to serve the purpose of stopping the meat from falling apart while cooking.

    If you have the time, season the pork butt entirely with kosher salt and place it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. This process is called dry brining – the extended period given will allow the salt to fully cure and penetrate the meat’s surface. 

    This process is one of the many reasons our dry rub recipe is excellent, as it contains no salt to begin with, therefore accommodating for the dry brining process that makes your dish that much better. (Note: if you aren’t going to be performing the dry brining process, make sure to use a dry rub that has salt added, or add salt to our recipe). 

    Just prior to cooking, spray the surface of your meat with water – this will allow the rub to stick much better. It also enables the pork butt to retain its moisture further, making the meat much more susceptible to taking on smoke (which is what we want).
  • Getting the Grill Ready. Prepare a two-zone, indirect grilling setup, and heat the grill’s indirect side to 225°F. Alternatively, if you have a smoker, get that to the same temperature. For more info on how to set up and cook in a two-zone grilling method, visit our guide here. 

    From there, add between 4 and 6 ounces of wood chips, pellets, or chunks. This may seem like too little to many people; if you’ve already had prior experience in smoking meats, feel free to add any amount that sounds right to you. It’s just that people have different tastes, and you’re far better off with having too little smoke as opposed to too much smoke, and 4-6 ounces is a great middle-ground—just my 2 cents.
  • Cooking the Pork. Once your grill or smoker has reached our desired temperature, insert a digital probe into the dead center of your pork butt (stay at least 1/2 an inch away from any bone when doing this). This setup allows you to monitor the pork’s internal temperature without even having to open the smoker or grill.

    Place the pork butt on your smoker (or on your indirect grilling side). Do this directly on the grate; this will help create far more flavorsome bark than a pan or tray. Then, leave the meat to smoke without opening your cooker to check at any point. Looking at the meat won’t help you in the slightest! Rather, stick to watching the interior temperature of your meat with the digital probe, and make sure that the cooker itself is holding at a temperature of between 225°F and 250°F. Your cooker may temporarily rise to somewhere around 300°F, which is fine since pork butts are so forgiving. But, even still, try keeping the temperature to 250°F for optimum results. 

    Add roughly 4 ounces of wood every 30 minutes for the first two hours; this quantity is vital for creating a desirable, smokey flavor without overpowering the meat altogether. You can choose any wood you’d like for this smoke; for more info on smoking with wood and what species to choose, click here. 

    A few hours into the cook, you’re probably panicking. You see that the internal temperature of the meat isn’t going above roughly 150°F. You check your fuel source and see that you still have plenty left. What went wrong? Well, nothing. What you’re experiencing is a stage in the smoking process known as ‘stalling,’ in which the temperature reaches a certain point that takes a very long time to overcome. It is actually this stalling period that creates the aromatic and flavorful bark that smokers worldwide desire and praise endlessly. So, in short, this is nothing to worry about. Just let the pork butt keep smoking, it’ll eventually reach our desired temperature.

    Once you’ve finally reached an internal temp of 203°F, after anywhere from 8 to 12 hours depending on how long your stalling period lasted, it’s time to open up your cooker and check if the pork is ready. There are two methods of doing this. The first is done by stabbing a fork into the pork and rotating it 90°. If the meat gives after very little pressure, it’s done. The second method is only possible for pork butts that still have their bone. Turn the bone a little and try pulling it out. Like the fork test, if you feel very little resistance, pull the bone out, and your pork is ready. 

    If there are still have several hours before you’ll be eating the pulled pork, place in an indoor oven set to 150°F, wrapping the meat in foil first so that it doesn’t dry out during this period.

    If the pork is not ready after 12 hours, close your lid and let it cook for another hour. If it’s still not done after this, cover it in foil and let it run for an hour at 225°F. Alternatively, do the last step in an indoor oven set to 225°F, still with aluminum foil.
  • Pulling the Pork. Around half an hour before serving, place your meat in a large pan to catch any drippings. Then, pull the pork apart with either gloved hands, forks, or Claws. As you do this, throw out large chunks of fat. If you wish, you could chop the meat like they do in some parts of the country, but bear in mind that doing so will cause you to lose much more moisture than the usual pulling, so I stick to the traditional method. Once completely pulled, mix the pork well, so that each serving contains an equal amount of crunchy bark. Then, when that’s finished, pour the drippings you collected earlier onto the meat.
  • Serving. This dish goes well either on its own, in a roll, in hamburger buns with BBQ sauce, or with a side of coleslaw.

P.S.

  • Keep in mind that claws (such as the ones in the above photo) are useful in pulling the pork though not necessary by any means; using your hands or forks works just fine.

Conclusion

And that concludes today’s article! I sincerely hope you enjoy this amazing pulled pork recipe. Be sure to comment below if you have anything you’d like clarified or generally have any further inquiries. Have a great day!

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