Although there are countless easy takes on how to cook pulled pork, most of them use unorthodox methods. These usually call for the use of a crockpot, Instapot, among other slow cookers. The result may resemble BBQ pork, but it isn’t the real deal. Below, I’ll show you the best BBQ pulled pork recipe cooked for hours in a low heat smoker. The result is mouth-melting goodness that your family will surely thank you for. Before we get to my recipe, I’ll share some good-to-know tips. Here’s a look at my pulled pork recipe guide:
  • Is pulled pork healthy?
  • How to serve pulled pork?
  • What dishes go with pork?
  • What is the best cut for pulled pork?
  • How to cook pulled pork.

Is Pulled Pork Healthy?

Pulled pork has established a reputation for being unhealthy, which is a shame. Pork, in itself, is an excellent source of protein. If you’re living on the current trendy keto diet, you’ve probably cooked your fair share of pork. It’s high in fats, which are good if you treat them properly. Generally, what makes pulled pork unhealthy is all the additives we incorporate into the recipe. This includes store bought barbecue sauce that’s usually high in sugar and sodium. To make pulled pork healthier, it’s best to make your own BBQ sauce. Luckily this is easy. A simple homemade recipe that you can slather onto your slow cooked pork won’t take hours to pull together. All you need is:
  • 1 ½ cups of apple cider vinegar.
  • ½ cup hot water.
  • 1 tablespoon paprika.
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne.
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper.
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
Mix it together in a saucepan over medium heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Then pour over the pork.


How to Serve Pulled Pork

Pulled pork shoulder has long been a staple BBQ food, and the most popular way of serving it is in a Keiser roll with salad. It’s one of those slow dishes that cook for hours, so confining the delicate meat to a mere bun is a shame. I’ve collected a few ideas on how to serve it:
  • Pulled pork nachos: Pair the soft meat with crispy nacho chips, extra chili, some shredded cheese and sour cream.
  • Pork enchiladas: Stuff enchiladas with juicy pulled pork, throw some cheese on and into the oven. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and perhaps a mild barbecue sauce.
  • Grilled peaches: Hear me out on this one—grilled peaches taste amazing, and the Mrs. certainly approved. Throw them on the grill next to the pork and, when done, serve on a pizza base, which you can BBQ too. It’s a perfect summer dish.
  • Mac and cheese: For families with kids, pulled pork mac and cheese is a sensible option. It’s cheesy and delicious even for those who aren’t big fans of pulled pork.
  • Pulled pork poutine: Poutine is a dish native to Canada. It has potatoes, cheese, gravy and now, pulled pork. For the cold winter, this is a great recipe to try. You can always substitute gravy with barbecue sauce.
If you’re wondering what side dishes go with pulled pork, here are a few ideas:
  • A creamy potato salad is a fantastic side dish to pair with pulled pork. It’s fresh and comforting—you can even sprinkle a couple of pieces of bacon in there. For a leaner option, try a herb-based potato salad instead of cream and bacon.
  • Grilled corn is usually a favorite. You can quickly make it on the BBQ and dress it with herb butter. A variation to try is a Mexican grilled corn recipe.
  • Tomato and onion salad is a fresh side that, undoubtedly, all the adults at the table will love. It’s a summer favorite of mine. What I do is finely cut some tomato slices, sprinkle thinly chopped onion on top and dress with a light vinegar dressing.

What Is the Best Cut of Pork for Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork is native to the BBQ, and it’s best cooked there. I’m going to contradict myself here, but if you don’t have a barbecue, don’t fret, there are still ways to make it. The best cut is the pork shoulder. This part is generally divided into two: picnic roast and pork butt or Boston butt. Although you can get away with both, the Boston butt is better. It’s uniform in shape, making it easier to work with and contains an optimal ratio of fat to lean. I suggest that you look for a rectangular cut with a sheet of fat on one side. The meat should have a rich pink to purple color and feel firm when you touch it.

How to Cook Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is native to the BBQ, and it’s best cooked there. I’m going to contradict myself here, but if you don’t have a barbecue, don’t fret, there are still ways to make it.  

Ultimate Pulled Pork Recipe

There are still a few essential steps that you need to watch. For starters, you should begin 12 to 24 hours before cooking by coating your pork cut with the rub. This allows it to absorb all the flavors.

I’m showing you a basic rub, but there are also those calling for garlic powder, mustard and brown sugar even. You can experiment a bit, but be careful with brown sugar as it can burn.

  • 1 butt pork
  • 1 cup paprika.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt.
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper.
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  1. Start by trimming the pork butt from fat. Remove most of it, leaving only about a 0.125-inch layer. The fat doesn’t help the cooking process and will instead hinder the seasoning from creating a crust or bark.

  2. After trimming, you should tie it with twine if it’s not already. This helps it roast evenly. Bind it on the top and bottom, then from side-to-side.

  3. Take the ingredients for the rub and combine them in a small bowl. Then apply a thin layer to the pork, just enough so that it covers the meat. Leave about half for later.

  4. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pork butt in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours before you cook it.

  5. When you’re ready, start by preparing your grill. Add wood carefully—you don’t want to over-smoke the pork. Four ounces should be ample at first, then add as the pork cooks to preserve the temperature. If you’re using a charcoal grill, place the smoker box above the coals and meat over indirect heat.

  6. Bring your pork from the fridge. Sprinkle the other half of the rub across the meat and gently tap it in.

  7. Before you place it on the grill, sprinkle a little water on the surface. This will dissolve the rub, helping it penetrate further while cooking.

  8. When your grill reaches a steady temperature of 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to cook. Place the pork over indirect heat and insert a heat-resistant digital probe to watch the temperature. It should be around 150 degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s likely to increase and dive as the moisture evaporates.

  9. Cook the pulled pork slow until the internal temperature hits a steady 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it cook for a total time of eight to 12 hours. Keep checking that the temperature is between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If it drops, add wood.

  10. The meat is done when it comes off the bone. If there’s no bone, use a fork to feel for softness. If it pulls apart easily, it’s ready.

  11. Take the pork off the BBQ and wrap it in foil to give it time to rest—30 minutes should be plenty.

  12. Before serving, place the pork into a large pan. Use your fingers, forks or shredder claws to pull the meat apart. Then serve with your favorite barbecue sauce.


Final Thoughts

So there you have it—an easy smoked pulled pork. Remember to get the best cut, either Boston butt or picnic roast from the pork shoulder. The best method of cooking it is in the smoker, but you can also make do with a charcoal grill or oven. Be patient, as it can take you a total time of 24 hours before your pork is ready. Choose a suitable side dish and serve up the pulled pork how you and your family wish. The best part is how versatile it is. I hope you found my recipe and guide helpful. Please leave a comment below.

Phil Watson

I’m an old timer who retired, and basically, my mrs. didn’t want me indoors too much. So, I had to get out of the house, and as I’m not the green-fingered kind, there was only one sensible thing to do in the yard: Barbecue! Meat. Fire. Yum. Over a couple of years, I got pretty good at mastering a grill, and decided to share my knowledge with others who are just getting started. Luckily, my wife let me inside the house to set up this site. Here at Barbecue Grill Review, I share my experience with my favorite recipes, guides on how to get started, and review some of the best grills out there.

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