Making the Perfect Smoked Pulled Pork at Home

Pulled Pork

There are many reasons to love a perfectly prepared smoked pulled pork, but some of the most popular reasons include the smoky flavor, the tenderness of the meat, and the fact that it pairs well with a variety of sides. However, perfecting your pulled pork at home may seem a daunting challenge. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to achieve, we’re here to tell you that it’s possible! We’ll start from the beginning and teach you everything you need to know about making your own ultimate pulled pork feast.

What Cut?

Pulled pork is one of the most well-liked smoked delicacies, making it ideal for feeding big gatherings, like at an outdoor barbecue. It infuses a blend of rich smoke that courses through the supple and savory selection of premium quality meat, robust chunks of thoroughly seasoned crust, and a mild splash of barbecue sauce. The most common cuts used for pulled pork are pork shoulder or pork butt. If you’re new to smoking food, then pork butt is a great cut. When slowly cooked and at low heat, it’s difficult to mess up. While the smoking process for pork butt is lengthy, it’s a simple and worthwhile endeavor. 

The pork butt is a cut that originates in the shoulder. It is loaded with delicious flavor and tied together with juicy fat. Pulled pork from a butt and shoulder cut is seen as the dawn and staple of modern barbecue. During the earlier years of the United States, the Carolinas discovered that this cheaper cut of meat was a delicacy when cooked for the optimum time and temperature. As the tissues melt in the low heat, over time, it tenderizes the pork muscles and turns it into one of the most delectable meats you will ever taste. 

Plan in Advance

If you plan for your pulled pork to be the star of your next party, you’ll need to be able to provide a lot. On average, smoked pulled pork will experience about 30% loss, so anticipate some shrinkage. When preparing your pork, you will discard a significant amount of bone and fat excess, which shrinks the end product. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a pound of pork per person. 

Smoking pulled pork is an all-day commitment. Your smoker could be running for around eight to twelve hours. You’ll want to pick a day with clear weather and a mostly clear schedule. Practicing with different-sized pork portions beforehand is a great way to measure how your smoker will handle the most important cut of meat for your big day.

Tie your cut with string so it doesn’t fall apart, and remember to rub! Seasoning your pork with salt and then adding a salt-less rub of your choice will take your pulled pork from fantastic to perfect. 

Smoking Your Pulled Pork

A wide cut of meat will take longer to cook. The length of your pork is largely inconsequential, but its radius is detrimental to the length you decide to cook it at. A good temperature to smoke your pulled pork should be around 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to be sure that your meat is cooked all the way through. There is no exact formula for perfecting your heat and length, but there is a great practice: keep measuring the temperature. It’s that simple. Keep smoking your pork steadily and surely until its internal temperature reaches somewhere between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. You can turn your smoker heat up higher if it isn’t cooking in time. As noted earlier, pork butt is hard to mess up. It can take a lot of temperature turbulence because it’s such a well-rounded cut of meat. Don’t be afraid to crank up the heat a bit to speed the process up by a few hours. 

As the temperature rises, it may begin to stall, but don’t worry – the evaporating moisture is cooling your meat. It will pass, so keep an eye on the internal temperature.

A frozen or cold piece of meat will slow the temperature rise, so if you’re placing more than one piece of pork in your smoker, you’ll want to space them apart so that warm air will flow better between them. By giving each piece adequate room for air, they should all cook at the same time.

If you want a thicker, crunchier crust on your pulled pork and aren’t afraid to sacrifice some of its moistness and juiciness, then cut your pork butt into halves. They’ll cook a bit faster and leave you with a delightful crust. 

Keep a close eye on your pulled pork throughout the day and you’ll end up with a delicious smoked meal that slides right off the bone.

Enjoying Your Pulled Pork

There are countless ways to enjoy pulled pork. So many that it can be an intimidating task to decide which style is the best. Here are some popular choices that everyone loves:

  1. Sauce it Up
    By itself, pulled pork is a great entree that goes with classic barbecue sides, but you should add some BBQ sauce to give it an extra flavor kick. One of the best, more traditional sauces to choose from would be Carolina vinegar BBQ sauce. It’s got a tart flavor that balances well with the fatty meat and has a level of heat that works well with smoked pork. 
  2. Pulled Pork Sandwich
    Potato, Sweet Hawaiian, Kaiser, and Brioche buns are all popular picks for pulled pork sandwich bread. Choose your favorite and don’t forget to include some sauce. Try toppings like onion, tomato, or even pickle chips to add more texture and flavor.
  3. Carnitas
    Whether you’re eating your pulled pork fresh out of the smoker or leftover, they make great protein for carnitas tacos. Include some lettuce and onion for a satisfying crunch, and wrap your creation in a corn tortilla for a dish that’s out of this world.