The Best Pulled Pork (on the smoker)

Easy Pulled Pork on the Smoker is so yummy! It’s easy, made with simple ingredients… but I am warning you it takes TIME!

If I had to chose only one thing to smoke on my smoker for the rest of my life I think it would be pulled pork… Or maybe Baby Back Ribs… No, for sure pulled pork! I love it!

I tried several times and several different methods of smoking to get this just right… and I finally nailed it! The Butcher Man agreed that it is the best and most delicious he has ever had…and his opinion is one you can trust!

pulled pork being served on a bun with homemade coleslaw

Let me tell you pulled pork on the smoker takes time…all day actually! It is super easy, but it is not a fast thing to cook!

Continue reading if you want to hear about my epic fail… If not skip to the bottom and find the recipe!

Pulled Pork FAIL

The first time I tried one I had read online to plan on 1 1/2-2 hours per pound for smoking/cooking at 225 degrees! I had a small 2 pound pork butt so I planned on about 4 hours. I put it on the smoker at 225 degrees and let it smoke!

At the 4 hour mark I checked and it was no where near done!!!! It was only at 130 degrees and we had to reach around 190-200 degrees!!!

I was shocked and a bit worried, but thought maybe it would just start cooking faster and be done in the next hour! Ha! Boy was I wrong! I let it smoke some more thinking it would start to raise in temperature any minute…nope!

It smoked and smoked and smoked…and smoked…and smoked! It was not getting to temperature! What was wrong?

Well I learned a goof lesson that day! YOUR PORK BUTT WILL STALL! IT WILL STALL AND THAT IS NORMAL! And you need to wrap it in foil at a certain point!

Pulled Pork Success Takes TIME

I researched and decided to try wrapping it in foil after it smoked and reached 140-145 degrees! And guess what! It was perfection…a smoke time of about 4 – 5 hours at 225 degrees, then wrapped in some foil and smoked again at a higher temp of 255 degrees for another 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours-ish! The foil made all the difference and the pork turned out amazing! And has turned out perfect every time!!!

So here’s the bottom line…even a small pork butt or pork shoulder smoked is going to take time…hours and hours actually! A larger one is going to take a lot of hours…think an all-night-event kind of hours-into the next day kind of hours!!!

I have never ever had one smoke in 4 hours (like the 2 hours per pound recommendation I had read and tried the first time). Moral of the story- don’t rely on pound-per-hours because it wont be accurate-ever!

I cannot tell you an exact smoking time like I can tell you to bake a pan of enchiladas at 350 degrees for 30 minutes…it just can’t be pinned to an exact time! I can give you an estimate of what works for me, and then it will vary.

Your small little 2-3 lb. pork butt/shoulder may smoke in 4 hours like some of the people out there say it will (please tell me if yours does- mine never have)! In my research and my experience it takes time! Total time for mine is usually about 7-8 hours- that includes smoking, then smoking longer once it’s wrapped in foil, and then it needs to rest after smoking!

So give yourself extra time when planning on cooking it.

What If My Pulled Pork Gets Done Early?

The great thing is that the meat can be placed in a cooler wrapped up snug in foil with towels around it and it will keep it’s temperature for hours if yours gets done sooner than expected!

Follow my simple instructions, but give yourself enough time! Don’t be so concerned about how long per pound because it’s going to vary every time.

Every cut of meat is different and even the same cut of meat can be different (think of all the differences per animal even for the same exact cut of meat… breed, age, and environmental factors as well) and so every time your cooking time will probably vary a bit-just be patient!

Foil Is Needed – Your Pork Butt WILL STALL

Foil is needed! If you look on the Internet you will see some people prefer to foil it at a certain temperature and others swear by not foiling it. Not foiling clearly did not work for me!

Your pork butt or shoulder will stall at a certain temperature! And it won’t be just a fast little stall were it’s back to cooking in 20 minutes. It will be hours of a stall and you’ll think something is wrong… But don’t fear… It will start cooking and the temperature will rise again!

Several times I have had it stall twice- right around 140 degrees then again at 170 degrees! Don’t panic if it does this! Just let it do it’s thing!

The foil will help it cook a bit faster and help retain moisture and flavor! I have also found in my many failures, that if meat is smoked too long it can get a really bad overly smoked bitter taste.

Foiling the meat can prevent this from happening. Ever since I started foiling it at a certain temperature I have loved it! My pulled pork is delicious every time and is done in time for dinner (none of those late night moo-moo wearing temperature checks)!

The RIGHT Temperature

Pulled pork needs to smoke/cook until it’s at least 195 – 205°! If you are just slicing up the meat and not wanting it for pulled pork it can be pulled from the heat sooner. But pulled pork has to be left alone and cooked until it reaches a higher internal temperature so it will be tender to shred! So low and slow is needed….really slow!

The Rub for the Pork Butt

We can’t forget to talk about the rub that goes on the meat before you smoke it! I rub mine with yellow mustard and a blend of seasonings.

Yellow mustard may sound disgusting but I promise you will not get even a hint of yellow mustard when you eat it.

I then rub it with a combination of seasonings that I have made and perfected. The first time I tried my rub it was way too salty but after several tries I have got it down just right and I know you will love it!

It is a blend of brown sugar, kosher salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and black pepper. It is the perfect balance between salty and sweet with a hint of heat! (The recipe below is perfect for up to a 3 lb. pork shoulder/butt).

seasonings for pork butt rub for pulled pork on the smoker

It is EASY!!!

Rub your meat all over with your mustard, and then rub the spices all over it. Insert your meat thermometer (if it’s one that can stay in the meat while cooking) and out to the smoker to smoke (set at 225 degrees) for at least a good 4 to 5 hours.

Once it reaches 140-145 degrees then you’ll wrap it in foil and turn the heat up to 255 degrees! Let it continue to smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of about 200°.

REMEMBER: This whole process will take HOURS!!!

Let it REST!

After it reaches about 200 degrees, it will come inside and stay wrapped in the foil and will need to rest for 30 minutes, up to an hour. You can also let it rest (wrapped in foil) in a cooler stuffed with towels if it’s going to be a while before you eat, and this will hold the temperature perfectly!

Pulled pork - pork butt wrapped in foil on the smoker

When you’re ready to eat, unwrap the pulled pork and take off any extra fat you see so it doesn’t end up in your meat.

Pull it apart using forks and then add your barbecue sauce (optional). My BBQ Sauce is amazing and so easy and I promise you will love it, or use any bottle of barbecue sauce from the store that you like!

pulled pork after he has reached 200 degrees
Pulled pork on the smoker served on a bun

I love my pulled pork saucy, on a bun with coleslaw (try my yummy and simple coleslaw)! The Butcher Man likes his sauced up on a plate- no bun!

Eat it however you like! Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. You may need to add a little more barbecue sauce when reheating (The BBQ sauce tends to soak into the meat after a while)!

Pulled Pork on the smoker with BBQ sauce and coleslaw on a bun

Hope you enjoy!

For a SUPER Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, try my Soda Pop Slow Cooker Pulled Pork! Also try my Homemade BBQ Sauce!


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Pulled pork on the smoker served on a bun
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5 from 3 votes

The Best Pulled Pork (on the smoker)

This pulled pork is smoked to perfection giving the tender meat a slightly smoky taste. Mix it with some BBQ sauce and you have the BEST pulled pork ever!
6-8 servings depending on serving size (more if servings are small)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword pork, smoker
Prep Time 10 minutes
8 hours
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3-3 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast or pork butt see notes
  • 1 tbsp. yellow mustard

RUB SEASONING BLEND

  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder can add more for added heat
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat your smoker at 225°.
  • Mix your rub ingredients together and set aside.
  • Pat your meat dry with paper towels. Rub the yellow mustard all over it.
  • Rub the Rub Seasoning Blend all over the meat, covering the mustard.
  • Insert your meat thermometer (if it is the type that can be left in while cooking), and place your pork roast on the rack (in the middle) on your smoker.
  • Start checking the internal temperature around the 3- 3 1/2 hour mark. When it reaches 140-145°, wrap the roast in foil (I do it right on the smoker). Mine usually hits this temperature at about 4 hours.
  • Raise the temperature on your smoker to 255°. Close the lid on the smoker and let the meat smoke (wrapped in foil) for another few hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 195-205°. Mine usually takes another 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours. Start checking it at the 2 1/2 hour mark. See notes below if it gets done before you are ready to eat.
  • Once the temperature has reached 195-205°, remove the meat from the smoker. Let the meat rest, wrapped in the foil, for 30-60 minutes before pulling/shredding.
  • After the meat has rested, unwrap the meat, remove any excess fat, and pull/shred the pork.
  • Mix the shredded/pulled meat with BBQ sauce (optional) and serve!
  • I love mine on a bun with coleslaw!

Notes

My total smoking/cooking time is usually around 7-8 hours.  It is pretty close to this every time for a 2-3 lb. pork shoulder/butt.  It can vary so give yourself extra time.  If the meat is done before you are ready to eat, it can be placed in a cooler (keep it wrapped in foil) with towels packed around it.  It will keep it’s temperature for hours if yours gets done sooner than expected!
You can use a bone in pork shoulder or pork butt and will get amazing flavor but it will take a bit longer. I usually just do boneless because lets be honest, I just barely got this one down so why mess with a good thing!?!
Make sure your meat has good marbling for the best flavor.
We love my BBQ Sauce recipe with this pulled pork, and my Coleslaw as a side (or topped on your bun like I do!)
This can be cooked in your oven on a baking sheet, and the times should be similar to on your smoker.  (I have never tried it but I can’t see why times would be different).
This can be cooked in a crockpot on low for 8-10 hours as well.  
This recipe will feed 6-8 people depending on serving size (even more if they are small servings).
 

9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Rave reviews from our friends and my husband! Newbie on the pellet smoker, but this was super easy and perfect for our first pork shoulder. Added some cayenne pepper and Mrs Dash to rub and let it sit in fridge overnight. Rather than wrapping in foil, I used aluminum pan and covered with foil. Thanks for sharing and making it simple and delicious! 😋

    • Beth, The Butcher's Wife

      Tammy!!! This made me so happy hearing this!!!! I am so happy it was a success! I was so intimidated by it at first but it is so easy and yummy!! Thanks for taking the time to comment and thank you for trying the recipe! 😘

  2. 5 stars
    My husband made this today, followed the he times and temps almost exactly. It is amazing!
    We had it with a homemade apple & blue cheese coleslaw and homemade Carolina BBQ sauce on soft rolls.
    Best pulled pork sandwich I ever ate.

    • Beth, The Butcher's Wife

      Judy!!! This made my day!!!! I am so happy to hear it turned out amazing!!! The homemade apple and blue cheese coleslaw sounds amazing… I’m going to need to try that!😋 Thank you so much for trying my recipe and taking the time to comment!!! I love that it’s the best pulled pork sandwich you have ever eaten!!! Yay!!! Thanks again so much!😘

  3. Hi Beth,
    I’m wanting to do this for SB Sunday. I’m debating on wether to cook it all day Saturday or put it on about 10 on Saturday night and get up in the night to foil wrap. Any suggestions for that?

    • Beth, The Butcher's Wife

      Hi Christie! Thanks for stopping by the blog! It is so yummy the next day reheated if you cook it all day Saturday…in some ways even better in my opinion because the flavors have sat over night and if you put fresh sauce on it you won’t even know you cooked it a day early … but you could easily put it on late Saturday night and wake up to wrap it…. or wake up really early Sunday morning and then wrap it later on Sunday to have it ready for when you are wanting to eat! It will stay warm fresh off the smoker for hours if the foil wrapped pork is wrapped in towels and put in a cooler that stays shut… I hope you like it and enjoy the big game!😘

  4. 5 stars
    How long will it stay warm in a cooler wrapped in foil and towels?

    • Beth, The Butcher's Wife

      Hi Greg! It should stay warm for up to 4 hours if need with foil and towels in a cooler that stays shut!!!

  5. Pingback: Soda Pop Slow Cooker Pulled Pork | The Butcher's Wife

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