Memorial Day is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with a piled high pork sandwich? Smoked Pulled Pork is the barbecue superhero which packs big flavors with minimal effort.
When it comes to firing up the smoker, smoked pork butt is one of the easiest cuts of meat to prepare while also being the most versatile. Besides the traditional pulled pork sandwich you can also make tacos and even Loaded Potato Skins. So sit back and enjoy the process and the rewards because low and slow has never tasted so good.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy Process – Because of the fat content in a pork shoulder, this is a forgiving piece of meat suited to the process of low and slow cooking. It requires very little prep.
- Versatility – Not only can you use the pulled pork shoulder in many different ways, but you can also customize your flavors by using your favorite barbecue rub. Like it more savory? Stick with a more traditional SPG type rub. Crave a little sweet? Go with a honey or brown sugar rub. The flavor profile is completely up to you.
- Accessible Ingredients – The pork shoulder is completely the star of this recipe, with just the right accents to accent its natural flavors.
- Meal Prep – This is a great make ahead that you won’t just enjoy all week long, but can also freeze making it easy to satisfy that barbecue craving any time it hits.
Smoked Pulled Pork only requires a handful of ingredients with spectacular results. This is truly the taste of the summer and will make you a total rockstar with your friends and family.
- Bone In Pork Shoulder – D’Artagnan Foods Heritage Pork Shoulder is tender and well marbled with traceable bloodlines. They’re fed a grain diet and from birth are free of antibiotics and hormones. You will sometimes see this cut of pork referred to as a pork butt. It’s a versatile cut of meat suited to low and slow smoking, braising, and roasting. It’s rich in flavor on its own but also a beautiful canvas for flavors.
- Barbecue Seasoning – Use your favorite. It might seem like a lot in the directions but this is a large cut of meat.
- Apple Juice – Once the bark has set on the pork shoulder its wrapped with the apple juice. This adds delicate flavor and an infusion of moisture as it continues to cook.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – This is the base for the North Carolina style vinegar sauce that compliments the richness of the pork. Adds tang.
- Ketchup – Unlike tomato based sauces, there isn’t much ketchup in this North Carolina vinegar sauce, just an accent that adds a hint of sweetness.
- Red Pepper – You just need a pinch to give a slight whisper of heat to the sauce.
- Onion Powder – Adds savory flavor to the vinegar barbecue sauce.
- Garlic Powder – Adds an aromatic layer to the sauce.
- Brown Sugar – Cuts the tang of the vinegar and gives a slight layer of sweetness.
How to Make Smoked Pulled Pork
Fire up your smoker and click those tongs twice. Follow along as I walk you through the easy process of making smoked pork shoulder on a pellet grill.
Time needed: 8 hours
Making this classic barbecue favorite has never been easier. With a few simple steps you will be thinking up all of the ways you can enjoy this beautiful smoked pork.
Preheat your pellet smoker to 250 degrees.
Mix together your barbecue seasoning and salt. Evenly season all sides of the pork shoulder.
Place your pork shoulder on the preheated smoker. Allow it to smoke until it hits an internal temperature of 160. This allows the bark to develop.
Place the pork shoulder into an aluminum pan and pour in the apple juice. Wrap it tightly with foil and put it back on the grill. Allow it to smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 205, or until it is probe tender with your digital thermometer.
Remove the pan from the grill and allow it to rest for 30 minutes while wrapped.
Add all of your ingredients for the North Carolina barbecue sauce to a saucepan over medium heat and allow it to cook for ten minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Shred your pork. Pour in the barbecue sauce and toss to combine.
How to Serve Smoked Pulled Pork
After you steal generous bites of this unctuous pork straight from the pan, it’s time to serve it up. Here are just a few ideas.
- Baked Potatoes
- On top of cornbread
- Fried Rice
How to Store Smoked Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is the ultimate meal prep protein you’ll be reaching for all week long. Whether it’s for taco Tuesday or topping off your lunch salads, it’s a great meat to have on hand. Once it has cooled transfer it to an airtight container and keep it refrigerated until ready to reheat. It will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze the leftover pulled pork. Allow it to completely cool and then transfer it to freezer safe bags. Make sure to label the date. It will keep for up to three months in the freezer. Let it defrost gently in the refrigerator over night before serving.
- Want to be game day ready? You can season your pork shoulder the night before. This will allow the flavors of the barbecue rub to slightly permeate the thick hunk of pork.
- No need to let your meat sit out and come to room temperature. Adding your meat to the smoker still slightly chilled will help it have that beautiful smoke ring.
- An instant read digital thermometer is your best friend. Barbecue isn’t about how long, it’s about reaching target temperatures. You will also use your thermometer at the end to gauge how tender the pork is. If it easily slides into the pork without any resistance, this is referred to as probe tender and you know it is done.
- Always let your meat rest. Not only will it make it easier to handle when you shred it, but it allows all of the juices to redistribute into the meat giving you that tender and moist bite.
Smoked Pulled Pork
- 1 pellet grill
- 1 instant read thermometer
- 1 aluminum pan
Smoked Pork Shoulder
- 1 heritage bone in pork shoulder
- 1/2 cup barbecue seasoning
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 8 oz apple juice
North Carolina Vinegar Sauce
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- dash of red pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Preheat your pellet grill to 250 degrees.
- Add the barbecue seasoning and salt to a bowl and mix to combine.
- Evenly sprinkle the rub over all of the pork.
- Place the pork shoulder onto the heated grill.
- Allow it to smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Place the pork into a foil pan and add the apple juice. Cover it tightly with foil and place it back on the grill.
- Allow the pork to smoke until it reaches 205 degrees and is probe tender.
- Remove it from the grill and allow it to rest covered for 30 minutes.
- Shred your pork and discard the bone.
- Pour in the vinegar sauce and toss to combine.
North Carolina Vinegar Sauce
- Add all of the ingredients to saucepan on medium heat and stir to combine.
- Let cook for 10 minutes.