Our pulled pork recipe guides you through the indirect cooking method to attain a succulent, fall apart, smoked pork wonder, on your charcoal or gas grill.
Our ancestors roasted these critters over a hot wood fire, with the meat slowly turned on a spit. Tedious and boring, to say the least.
Bless the modern BBQ grill, friends and good libations.
It's far more fun to cook a roast on a backyard grill! Indirect heat, smoke, a careful watch of the temperature, and our pulled pork recipe, will assure your backyard fame.
We believe that...
"Barbecue is the Mystical Communion of Fire, Smoke and Meat"
Review our "6 Secrets to Smoking Meat" page, to assure your pulled pork is a competition-grade winner!
If you have a smoker, Please visit "Pulled Pork Recipe For Your Smoker" page, for a competitor level pulled pork recipe for your charcoal or gas smoker.
Note: We've added in-context links to some of our pages, and to some great products we know, and use extensively.
Patience Low and slow is the real secret to a great pulled pork recipe. We're talking temperatures of 200-230°F/93-110°C for several hours. You'll need a bucket load of this virtue when you smoke pork on a grill. Figure about 1.0-1.5 hours/lb.
Gas/charcoal grill A gas grill, with at least two burners, is needed for indirect cooking. A kettle type charcoal grill (our very favorite being the Weber Kettle Grill), or a rectangular charcoal grill will work great also.
Be certain you have plenty of gas, or charcoal, for the duration! For charcoal cookers, figure at least 8 lbs/3.6kg.
Meat Pulled pork is made with the pork shoulder. A whole shoulder weighs around 12-16 lbs/5.5-7.3kg, however it is usually packaged in the supermarkets as two cuts. A Shoulder Butt (Boston Butt) and a Picnic Butt (Arm Picnic Roast or just Picnic Roast). Butts weigh in at about 9-10lbs/4.0-4.5kg with picnics at 5-6lbs/2.3-2.7kg, and either are great for this pulled pork recipe.
NOTE: Bone-in or boneless is your choice with Picnic roasts. We like the bone-in for flavor, however the boneless does cook faster.
Spices Our pulled pork recipe calls for a rub, and enjoy putting together our own with these basic fresh ingredients:
Go to our Dry Rub Recipes for more on rub preparation.
Smoker box, or pouch Some gas grills come with a smoker box for the wood chips. If yours does not have one, you can get this heavy-duty beauty, or make an envelope/pouch from heavy-duty aluminum foil. We buy the 18" box of foil and pull out about 18" for the envelope. Put about 4 cups of pre-soaked (in cold water for about an hour) chips on the foil; fold into a flat envelope/pouch shape, and poke a several slices in the top to release the smoke.
Tongs You need a darn good pair of tongs to handle a pork roast. Long and strong is the secret, like our two favorites, the Weber Professional-Grade Chef's Tongs or the Oxo Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs.
Gloves From our experience, and a preference of most grill-masters, a good set of BBQ gloves for handling the meat, are mandatory. We love and use these Barbecue Insulated Food Gloves for "pulling" the pork and wrestling any roast off the grill or smoker.
Aluminum roasting pan (disposable, for ease of clean-up) To keep the juices from causing flare-ups, and to provide moisture. If you do not have a convenient market close by, we've found Weber's
Aluminum Drip Pans (Set of 10) an excellent buy.
Oven/Grill thermometer This is very important as we've found that the thermometers on the smokers are often off by several degrees. Our favorites are the CDN High Heat Oven Thermometer and the Admetior Kitchen Oven Thermometer.
Instant-read thermometer To "pull" pork, the meat must reach the ideal temperature of 190°F/88°C. For pork roast we want 140°F/60°C. Our two favorite, accurate, inexpensive tools are the fast reading CDN Proaccurate Quick-Read Digital Thermometer and the faster Thermoworks Super Fast Water-Resistant Digital Pocket Thermometer.
Chimney-type charcoal starter For the charcoal smoker folks, this is the best way to start, and maintain, the coals. In our opinion, you can't beat the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter for quality and ease of operation.
To rub, or not to rub... If you simply smoked a pork roast with no rub, it will be an absolutely wonderful, succulent hunk o' meat! But for our pulled pork recipe we love a great rub to enhance the meat's flavors so...
Mix together thoroughly the following:
Out of time? Don't want to mess with making a rub? Do what we do in a clinch... use Pappy's Choice Seasoning. It's a favorite with many professional chefs!
NOTE: Pork should be always kept in the refrigerator (below 40°F/4.4°C) prior to preparation.
Trim the any skin and excess fat (leave about a 1/4" layer) from the roast. Rinse, pat dry with paper towel.
We like to apply the rub the day before "fire" time for the most effect, but try to do it at least 2 hours ahead, using this method...
Apply the rub liberally all over the meat, working it in thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until an hour or so before cooking. It is best to allow the pork to come close to room temperature before putting it on the grill.
When the temperature is reached, shut down all but one burner.
For the charcoal grill, fire-up the charcoal...we like the chimney charcoal starter because it's the quickest and easiest way to start, and maintain the coals. For this pulled pork recipe, you'll need to replenish the coals occasionally, to maintain the ideal temperature of around 210-230°F/99/110°C. Use your oven thermometer, placed near the meat, to keep track of the heat.
NOTE: Please, if you use a charcoal lighter fluid, allow the coals to burn to a grey ash coating. Never use self starting charcoal. There are several good "fire-starters" on the market that will not taint the meat, or impart potentially dangerous chemicals to the food.
For the rectangular-type grill, place the coals on one side. You
will need to add more hot coals (about 8 or so) several times
during the cooking cycle, to maintain the temperature. Watch
the temp. and anticipate this with about a 15 minute lead.
NOTE: Always use tongs! Never use that forked, sharp, pokey-thing that comes with all backyard barbecue tool sets. It is for carving meat only! It will pierce the meat, and allow the juices to run out.
When the grill temperature has reached 250-275°F/121-135°C...
Our pulled pork recipe will produce a wonderful, natural flavor, but if you wish (or if you must) you can now bring out your favorite BBQ sauce and...
You can now "pull" the meat. We just use gloves, and a couple of forks (it's hot!), to separate the good stuff out. Place it in a pan/pot, over low heat, to keep the meat warm for serving.
This pulled pork recipe will give you an exceptionally moist, tender roast, perfect as is, but many folks like to have a "finishing" or table sauce with their meat. This can be any barbecue sauce you enjoy, or a traditional "Southern U.S., vinegar based barbecue sauce" served in a bowl along with your pulled pork. Try this traditional favorite:
Once the butter is melted in a saucepan, stir in all but the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vinegar, and allow the sauce to cool.