Pulled pork is a staple of smoking, and something you definitely need to have in your tool box. You can either serve the finished product straight up, in a sandwich, a taco, mix it in a salad…the options are nearly endless.

While you can use a picnic shoulder for this, I prefer Boston butt. It has a better fat-to-meat ratio, which yields pork that’s easier to pull and just melts in your mouth.

The key to this is maintaining a relatively steady temperature in your smoker.  It’s also important that you leave the pork in the smoker long enough. This will be about 12 hours out of your day if you’re going low and slow, which is the best way to smoke it.

Pro Tip: At a certain point, around the 160 degree range, you will hit the “stall”. The internal temperature will continually rise until it hits this point, at which time it will slow to a crawl, and may even stop for a while. Leave it alone. I repeat: don’t touch it. Leave it alone. Don’t jack up the heat. Don’t reposition the pork. Don’t call your guests and cancel the barbecue. Just relax, be patient, and once the evaporative cooling has finished, the temperature will begin to climb to 195 again. Here is a good explanation for what is happening.

Shortcut: if you can’t dedicate 12 hours to maintaining your fire, you can cheat a little bit.  After the first few hours, you won’t be able to get any more smoke on the meat (the smoke will have penetrated the meat as much as it will), so it’s just about maintaining a cooking temperature until the internal temperature hits 195 degrees. After the first few hours, you can transfer the pork to a oven preheated to 250 degrees and finish it in there.

Print Recipe
Pulled Pork
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Passive Time 8 hours
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 hours
Passive Time 8 hours
  1. Trim the excess fat off of the top and sides of the shoulder. Leave the fat on the bottom; this will help create a dipping juice as you cook it.
  2. Cover the entire shoulder with Saint Brian's Dash Cunning Spice Rub and gently pat onto the meat.
  3. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (double wrap or place inside a resealable plastic bag to prevent leaks in your refrigerator) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably for up to 8 hours.
  1. Fire up your smoker according to the manufacturer instructions. Preheat to 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put the pork in an aluminum cooking tray to catch all of the drippings.
  3. Place the Boston Butt in the smoker.
  4. Keeping the smoker temperature between 225-250 degrees, smoke the pork until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees, replenishing the wood chips/chunks every 20-30 minutes for the first 3 hours.
  5. Remove the pork from the smoker. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 45 minutes.
  1. Skip the forks or claws; dig in with your hands. Nitrile gloves will make this easier, as this will be a greasy process. Grab a handful of the meat, pull it off the shoulder, and then hand pull it into another tray or bowl.
  2. If you are serving the pork right away and don't anticipate any leftovers, before placing the pulled pork into the second tray, dip it quickly into the juice in the original cooking vessel. If you know the pork will sit a little while, or anticipate leftovers, once the pork has been pulled pour some of the juice over the pork to help keep it moist.
  3. Have barbecue sauces, such as Saint Brian's Original Barbecue Sauce, or Saint Brian's Sweet Victory Barbecue Sauce, set out so people can add whichever they want. If you want to go for a Carolina taste, have some straight apple cider vinegar out for dipping.
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