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Best Smoked Pulled Pork Recipes

Best Smoked Pulled Pork Recipes

Smoked Pulled Pork Shopping Tips

Bone-in cuts tend to be slightly less expensive than their boneless counterparts, and have more flavor.

Smoked Pulled Pork Cooking Tips

According to the USDA, the recommended internal temperature for cooked pork should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.


Delicious Pulled Pork Sauces

In true BBQ tradition, the sauce is something used to enhance smoked meats and not to overpower them with overly strong flavors or too much salt. The sauces in our collection of pulled pork barbecue sauces are nothing like the sugar-heavy and preservative-ridden sauces you find in the supermarket. These sauces are perfect for the most traditional of barbecue, have balanced flavors and use simple ingredients.

Pulled pork sauces are frequently optional, and are never added while the pork is cooking, only after it is pulled. Serve it on the side for guests to decide how much, if any, they'd like to have.


How to Make Smoked Pulled Pork

There are a few different places you can get a pork shoulder.

  1. Online at Snake River Farms (the best quality money can buy)
  2. At a local butcher or farmers market
  3. Grocery Store

You’re looking for a bone in pork shoulder, but if you can’t find one locally, boneless will work too. The bone adds some moisture/fat/flavor to the meat when it’s cooked low and slow. If it’s boneless, you’ll want to tie the meat with some butcher’s twine to help it retain moisture.

Try and find one that’s in the 6-8 pound range. For my family of three that’s more than enough meat for dinner, and a weeks’ worth of salads for my wife and I. A good rule of thumb is to cook 1 lb per person.


Best Pork Injection Recipes

One of the best secrets to making delicious pork on the grill or in a smoker is with one of these Best Pork Injection Recipes. Larger cuts can dry out, and it is quite difficult to add flavor right into the center of the meat. An injection marinade is inserted straight into the center, adding moist, flavor and often tenderizing power. Used by pitmasters for decades, the injection solution is key to making a noteworthy pulled pork barbecue. These are the best recipes I know for adding a little oomph to pork butts, whole shoulders, and pork loin roasts. Get yourself a meat injector and take your pork to a whole new level.

Basic Pork Injection Marinade

If you are looking for an easy "go to" recipe for a pork injection marinade, then look no further. It will help to keep your smoked pork tender and flavorful during a lengthy cooking process. This injection marinade is the perfect starting point for making great BBQ Pulled Pork.

Tropical Pork Injection

Not only does this injection marinade add flavor and moisture to cuts of pork, but the acidic quality of the pineapple juice and cider vinegar act as tenderizers. Use this injection solution on leaner or tougher cuts of pork to maximize the flavor and tenderness of the meat.

Surefire BBQ Pork Injection

For great barbecue pork, the flavor starts inside. This injection marinade balances acid, liquid, and fats with a full but straightforward flavor profile that makes for great pulled pork. Keep this Pork Injection Recipe handy, because you will be thrilled with the results.

Smoke and Spice Pork Injection

Take your pulled pork to a whole new level of smoky goodness. This pork injection marinade contains both flavor and tenderizing power. It adds the perfect balance of ingredients to make sure your pork shoulder or pork butt doesn't dry out during long smokes.

Garlic Maple Pork Injection

Prevent lean cuts of pork from drying out on the grill or in the smoker. Use this injection marinade to add flavor and moisture inside the meat. It will keep it tender and juicy through the cooking process. This injection solution works perfectly with all cuts of pork, but particularly on pork loin roasts.

Easy Pork Injection Marinade

Another stellar injection marinade for smoked pork roasts. It is a simple solution that takes a few minutes to prepare. Next time you're in the mood for pulled pork, give this marinade a try.

Pork Injection Basics – The Movie!

Best Results - Injecting Pork

With any of these Best Pork Injection Recipes prepared and loaded up into your injector, take a look at your roast. The goal here is to distribute the injection solution evenly through the meat. Start at one end and push the needle into the center from the top. Squeeze the injector until the marinade starts to leak out of the injection site. Stop squeezing. Move about two inches forward and repeat. Fill the center of the roast, top to bottom, in a pattern covering as much of the meat area as possible.

I recommend an injection every two inches, front to back and side to side. Let the meat tell you how much it will hold. Once you are done injecting, dry the surface with a few paper towels. Be gentle, though. The marinade will continue to distribute through the meat, but if you press on the roast, you will squeeze out the solution. And that defeats the purpose. Once the meat is fully injected, handle it carefully. If you are adding a rub, sprinkle it in place and gently pat to secure the seasonings.

Meat Injectors

You can't use a meat injection if you don't have an injector. It is merely a syringe, often available at a decent price. However, you will need a good one. Below I have listed three models that are different in design. If you are doing a lot of injecting, then you want something with a pump action, versus the regular syringe style. When buying a meat injector, look for something easy to use, that fits comfortably in your hand, and can handle the volume you need.

Ofargo Marinade Injector

The Ofargo Marinade Injector is a classic style syringe. The marinade is sucked up through the needle and then pushed back into the meat. The needle on this model is large enough that it shouldn't clog. Still, make sure that your marinade is near water thin. It is an inexpensive unit that you can purchase for around $10. It is dishwasher safe and durable enough to last for several years. The volume on this injector is small, but it will handle most jobs for a single family.

Oklahoma Joe's Trigger Meat Injector

The Oklahoma Joe's Trigger Meat Injector is more of a marinade pump than a syringe. Dip the hose end into a container with your marinade, and the trigger mechanism pumps the solution into the meat on both strokes. This will make for faster injecting and is excellent for those that are doing more than a single, small roast. At around $30, you pay a little more, but it can handle a lot more injecting. It will save your hands if you have a lot to do.

Chop's Power Injection System

Do you need to inject a dozen whole pork shoulders? Then this is the system you need. The tank holds a gallon of injection solution. Pump up the pressure and start injecting. It is the system used by caterers and BBQ competition cooks. Easy on the hands, it will allow you to inject at lightning speed. Of course, it costs around $160, so this is really for those who make money on barbecue.


Pulled Pork Recipes for Every Occasion This Season

If you ask any pitmaster, they're likely to agree that the key to perfect pulled pork has a lot to do with how long the meat has been cooking. Unlike quickly searing a steak or some shrimp, cooking a pork shoulder on low for hours allows the moisture and flavors of the meat to be sealed inside. This pulled pork recipe recipe mimics the 'low and slow' method, and the juicy result is certainly worth it. It's tender, soft, and melts in your mouth. Even better news? You've probably got most of the ingredients you need to make this exceptional pulled pork already in your pantry or fridge &ndash now all you need is a great pork shoulder. This simple recipe calls for a few sweet onions, some seasoning blend, chicken broth, salt, and a tenderloin. That's it. Give the pork between eight to ten hours in your slow cooker, and it will be fork tender and ready to shred by dinner time. Plus, it'll fill your house with a mouth-watering aroma.

Pulled pork is a regional classic, and we believe that all Southerners should be able to make it. This slow cooker pulled pork is a great foundation for both amateur and seasoned cooks, and doesn't take much time to prepare in advance. When it comes to seasoning the meat, we recommend a spice blend of garlic powder, oregano, and crushed red pepper. You can often find this already blended in the spice aisle of your local grocery store, but don't be afraid to mix up the ingredients if you've already got them all on hand. We tested this recipe with McCormick Grill Mates Backyard Brick Oven Seasoning, but try swapping in your favorite pork rub if desired. If you'd rather not serve this great pork dinner recipe as a main dish, it can easily be subbed into many of your other favorite recipes. Try making Pulled Pork Nachos for game day or as a Friday night family dinner treat. Or, whip up some Pork Noodle Bowls as a cozy dinner recipe on cold evenings. We also love topping this juicy pork with our favorite local barbecue sauces &ndash like Alabama white sauce &ndash and serving as a pulled pork sandwich next to some creamy potato salad and a cup of banana pudding. If you're looking to share this recipe with friends, we definitely recommend preparing 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Pulled Pork for your next potluck or church gathering you'll have everyone asking for the recipe.


How to Cook Smoked Pulled Pork?

The key is to cook it slow and low for hours in a deliciously smokey BBQ.

  • Set up your BBQ or smoker for indirect grilling (coals on one side/food cooking on another)
  • Put a drip pan under the spot where your meat is going to cook, and if using smoking chips/chunks-soak them in water for an hour or so.
  • Light up the smoker, place your meat in there, and then relaxingly spend your day maintaining the temperature of the smoker and amount of smoke (a general rule of thumb is to cook at temperatures between 225°F and 250°F for 90 minutes for every pound &ndash ie 4 lb. pork butt for 6 hours &ndash 6 lb. for 9 hours). If you want a meltingly tender and delicious pulled pork, you can&rsquot rush the process. It will take time to break down the pork butt to tenderness without going dry. Also, individual pork varies depending on age, breed, etc. So don&rsquot get locked into a specific time. Only the pork can tell when it is truly done. If you can stick a fork into the meat and easily twist it, or if it is bone-in and the bone easily comes out, the pulled pork is ready.

I’ve always learned ever since my days in culinary school that it is incredibly important to let the meat rest before cutting into it or serving it. During this resting time, the juices soak back into the pork bringing about a lot more flavor and tenderness to it. This process can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.

The bark is the crust that forms on the outer surface of the meat you are smoking. Smoke particles stick to the outside seasoning and begin to make a firm outside edge that appears to be dark red and black in color. This crust is coveted and acts almost as a caramelized outside of the meat bringing about a ton of flavor to your meat. Think of it as a candied outside crust.


Best Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe

Almost everybody who owns a Smoker loves to make pulled pork. That&rsquos why especially for pulled pork we try to make sure you have plenty of recipes to choose from, when visiting the Recipe section of the Bradley Smoker Website.

Ingredients

Approximately 3 kg pork butt

For brine:
½ cup molasses
350 g kosher salt
6 cups water

For dry rub:
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne
½ tsp ground anise seed
1 tsp ground fennel seed
2 tsp cumin

Directions

1. Dissolve salt & molasses in water
2. Submerge pork butt in brine
3. Cover container and place in refrigerator overnight
4. After brining for 12 hours, remove from brine and pat dry
5. Combine ingredients for dry rub in a small bowl
6. Pat rub evenly over pork butt
7. Preheat smoker with Bradley hickory bisquettes to 210°F and place pork butt in smoker
8. After 6 hours, check for doneness. If meat tears apart easily when pulling with a fork, then it is ready!
9. Allow to rest for 1 hour
10. Pull meat apart with forks and serve!


Easy Barbeque Sauce for Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup good quality ketchup
  • 4 TBS yellow mustard
  • 4 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 2 tsps cracked black pepper

1. In a 1 or 2 quart saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a low simmer. Cook and stir until the sugar has melted and the sauce has thickened but is still runny. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with your pulled pork. This will store well in the refrigerator if there is any left over.


Kansas City-Style Smoked Pulled Pork

This Kansas City-style smoked pulled pork has a deeply flavorful bark, a smoky flavor all the way through, and is so tender and juicy that it will shred with just your hands. The best part? It’s low maintenance and besides watching your smoker, you can set it and forget it until it’s done!

Alright everyone, let’s talk smoked pulled pork! When you first buy a smoker it’s the first thing everyone recommends you make (because it’s a cheap cut of meat and it’s pretty hard to screw up), but honestly it’s pretty intimidating at first and most people (hi, me included) messed it up at least a little the first time.

It can be hard to find reliable information with cooking styles like barbecue that are steeped in tradition and old wive’s tales – everyone you talk to will give you different advice and everyone is adamant that their way is the only way. Then to make it worse, they tell you things like “smoke it until it’s done” (not HELPFUL!). So when you finally do find exact instructions somewhere, it’s all so overwhelming that you’re temped to just throw in the towel before you even start. BUT smoking meat is NOT hard if you have the right information to do it, and luckily for you, I’ve sifted through thousands (okay, hundreds [alright, fine, tens]) of recipes, essays, and manifestos about smoking pork and this blog post is what I’ve learned and what I’ve been able to put to use.

If you want perfect succulent pork, but you just don’t know where to start – start here. I will cover everything I can think of to help you on your way to barbecue nirvana.

I have a Traeger, but no matter what you have, the basic cooking instructions and recipe will be the same for any smoker. You’ll just need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing your wood and starting up your smoker. The amount of “babysitting” you’ll need to do during cooking will vary greatly with the type of smoker you own. Traegers are very set-it-and-forget-it, an old school offset smoker isn’t, so use your best judgement.

Smoking Temperature

Barbecue diehards will tell you to smoke at 225 degrees F or not to bother. Here’s the thing, that takes 100,000 years and depending on your smoker’s ability to hold heat and accurately measure temperature that could be way too low if you’re planning on eating the food sometime this week. You can smoke meat low and slow at any temperature below 275 degrees F and get the same results. I promise. I’ve tried it. Also, if you don’t believe me, then let me leave you with this: Aaron Franklin of renowned Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX smokes all of his meat at 275 degrees F and recommends that you do, too, in his book.

Personally, I like to smoke pork shoulder at 250 degrees F because it significantly cuts down the cook time from the traditional 225 degrees F, but it’s still easy to manage and not a big deal if you forget to check the temperature for awhile. Whereas at 275FF, my pork finished SEVERAL HOURS before I planned for it to be done, and it’s a little harder to manage because you have to monitor it more aggressively.

I recommend you start with 250F, especially if you’re new to smoking meat and you haven’t quite figured your smoker out yet. It’s a good middle ground temperature which will deliver good results.

You might be tempted to turn the temp way up, which of course will get your pork “done” in record time, but meat only turns into barbecue at low and slow temperatures, so don’t do this because it won’t give you the results you want!

Internal Temperature and “The Stall”

Every serious cook will preach the importance of internal temperatures when cooking meat. It’s not only important for food safety, but they’re the only truly reliable indicator of when meat is done but not overcooked. (If you struggle with steaks and chicken breasts, get an instant read thermometer and use it!)

The recommended temperature for pork to be safe/done is 145F, but with barbecue you don’t just want the meat to be cooked, you want the fat and collagen to render out so it’s fall-apart tender and juicy which means the internal temp needs to be MUCH higher. The “perfect” temperature for smoked pulled pork is 203F. I know that sounds counter-intuitive to someone who is used to cooking things like pork chops to 145F, but if you pull that pork shoulder off at 145F it’ll be so tough that it won’t even pull apart with hulk-level strength.

I recommend you get a probe thermometer that you can stick in the meat when you start cooking with a cable that hooks up to an electronic gauge outside of the smoker so that you can watch your pork’s temperature without opening and closing the lid and letting your heat out. But any instant read thermometer will work just fine!

Old school pitmasters will tell you to test the meat’s doneness by seeing how easily you can pull the bone out or trying to shred it to see if it’s done, but the easiest and most reliable way is to just monitor the temperature.

HOWEVER, there’s a phenomena known as The Stall (dun, dun, duunnn) that is unique to meat cooked low and slow. You’ll see the temperature slowly rising at first, and then when you get to about 165F it will just stop moving (or it might even start dropping! The HORROR!) and it’ll seem like something is wrong. DON’T PANIC.

Listen, I was told about the stall when I bought my smoker and I didn’t believe it. It didn’t make any logical sense to me why it would happen. And when it did happen I freaked out thinking I was doing something wrong and messed with the pork and tried wrapping it in foil (more on that later) and all of this other stuff because it just didn’t make sense.

But actually, it’s science and it does happen. It’s because of evaporative cooling. At this point, the meat is losing moisture at the same rate or faster than it’s gaining heat. Basically, the meat is sweating. As the moisture that’s being pushed out reaches the surface of the meat, it evaporates which causes the temperature to cool down. Once every single last drop of moisture is gone, the temperature will start rising again and you’ll be on your way to perfectly smoked pulled pork.

Can you speed up the stall? Yeesss, but I don’t think it’s worth it. First of all, we’re already smoking at 250 degrees F, which will get you through it faster than if you were smoking at 225F. The most common way to speed up the stall is with what’s called “the Texas crutch”, which means taking the meat off when it hits the stall, wrapping it tightly in foil and then putting it back on. But when you wrap the meat in foil you’re essentially just letting it braise in it’s own juices instead of cook in the smoke, which means you’re taking it from a dry environment to a wet environment and that’s not going to do your bark any favors. Not to mention that it’s just a waste of wood because no more smoke is going to get to your meat. IF YOU MUST, don’t use foil, use pink butcher paper to help retain some of the bark. But please don’t do it at all. Just let your meat do it’s thing. You don’t need to wrap it, and by the time you open the smoker, take the meat out, wrap it up, and then open the smoker AGAIN to put the meat back on, the temperatures will have dropped so much that you’ll be setting yourself behind anyway. It truly doesn’t help that much anyway.

Just remember, it’s done when it’s done. It takes about 13 hours for a 7-9 lb pork shoulder, but so many things can affect this (weight of the meat, temperature of the meat when you put it on, temperature outside, etc.) you can’t speed it up and every smoker will give you a different result. Just track the temperature and be patient!

Ingredients, Injecting, and Basting

My favorite barbecue rub is a Kansas City style rub – sweet, a little spicy, and with garlic and onion powder. I think it’s got the deepest flavor, but it’s all about personal preference. You can use a different rub, and the instructions for cooking will still be identical! I make my own rubs because most pre-made rubs aren’t gluten free, but you can use a pre-made one too (although, these usually have MSG and other stuff you don’t need in them). It does take a large quantity of spices to make a rub, and it always looks like it’s way too much, but it really absorbs into the meat, so I assure you it’ll be the right amount!

Some people will inject their meat with a marinade (but this isn’t competition barbecue so I don’t), or baste it during the cooking (I think this hurts the bark and is unnecessary), but you can experiment with both of those things if you like!

Some people also use what’s called a “slather” under their spice rub to help it stick (usually yellow mustard). I’ve done it with and without and honestly I didn’t notice much difference in the end, so I go without because there’s less clean-up.

Lastly, I just want to talk for one second about the smoke ring. That’s the pinkish-red color right under the bark of the meat. Some people will tell you that it indicates how far the smoke penetrated the meat, however, that’s not true. It shows how far the smoke penetrated the meat before the meat hit a certain internal temperature. Smoke is still flavoring your meat after that, there’s just no visual evidence. The colder your meat is to start, the bigger your smoke ring will be. But again, amazingly smoky meat can exist without a smoke ring, and in fact it’s not allowed to be used as a judging criteria for competition barbecue anymore.

Alright! I think I’ve covered just about everything there is to cover! If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments or drop me an email or DM me on Instagram and I will try to help!