One of the most versatile meats in barbecue is the smoked pork butt or Boston butt from which we get the famous smoked pulled pork.

Smoked pulled pork is extremely easy to make with only a few steps required for getting the pork ready for the smoker.  The hard part is in the keeping the smoker going for 14+ hours while it slowly smoke cooks to perfection.

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My rub recipe in pulled pork equals amazing flavor and crust that is to die for! I cake it on at the beginning of the cook then once it's pulled I sprinkle on even more to get the perfect amount of seasoning all through the meat.

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Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14-16 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 195-205°F
  • Recommended Wood: Cherry
What You'll Need
Remove the Skin on Pork Picnic Roast (optional)

I prefer the Boston butt over the picnic roast but if you do find yourself with a picnic, here's how to remove the skin.

Lay the roast on the cutting board skin side up.

Make a cut through the skin right down the center as shown.

2014-IMG_4190 2014-IMG_4191

While pulling up and away from the center, run the blade of a sharp knife along the attached skin.

Turn the roast over to finish removing the skin.

A little work but the skin will come off pretty good this way.

2014-IMG_4192 2014-IMG_4193

Mustard and Rub the Pork

Whether you use a skinless picnic roast or a Boston butt is up to you but I personally think the butt is not only easier, but has better flavor and texture.

As with most pork, I use yellow mustard to create a binder or base for the rub to stick to.

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Spread the mustard all over the meat.

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Sprinkle about ¼ cup of Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here) all over the top of the roast then massage it in so that it mixes with the mustard.

Flip the roast over and get the bottom side the same way.

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Here's a picture of the pork picnic roast ready for the smoker..

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Ready the Smoker

Set up the smoker for cooking at 225°F and make sure you have plenty of smoking wood for the long haul. If you are using an electric, charcoal or gas smoker, I recommend having enough wood chips, chunks or splits for about 6-8 hours of smoke.

Once the smoker is running steady at the prescribed temperature, it is time to put the meat on the smoker grate.

Note: if you need further help with your smoker, please see the following pages:

Smoke the Pork

At 225°F you can expect this 6 to 8 lb roast to take up to, and exceeding, 14 hours.

The last one I did, took more than 20 hours. With large pieces of meat like this, odd things can happen and you just don't take it from the smoker grate until it reaches the correct temperature or the correct amount of tenderness.

Some folks use a thermometer while others just feel of it, poke it, etc. and either method is fine when making smoked pulled pork.

Place the pork butt directly on the smoker grate fat side down.

2013-IMG_0826

The reason I suggest placing the meat fat side down is that the bottom of the roast tends to stick to the grate. When it's time to remove it, I'd rather lose the fat cap than a big slice of the meat.

Regardless of what kind of smoker you are using, keep the cherry wood smoke going for 6-8 hours if possible.

I recommend using a meat thermometer for the most failsafe way to tell when the meat is done. Once you've cooked a few and you want to start experimenting with the guess work, go for it.

I like to leave the pork butt open and on the smoker grate for the entire time but if you want to speed things up somewhat, you can wrap it in foil once it reaches 160°F. Once you wrap it, no more smoke is required and it can even be moved to the kitchen oven at 225°F if you want to.

When the pork butt reaches 200-205 in the very center, it is done.

Use a digital probe meat thermometer such as the Maverick ET-733 to monitor the temperature while it cooks.

You an also check the temperature periodically using the improved ThermoPop digital pocket thermometer which reads in 3-4 seconds (that's fast), is splash-proof and is being offered now for only $29. One of my favorite toys.. er, tools;-)

ThermoPop_generic-01

Resting the Pork Butt

Once the pork butt is done cooking, it can be pulled immediately or it can be held up to 4 hours or more by wrapping it in a double layer of foil, then in a thick towel or two. Place the wrapped bundle into an empty ice cooler and fill in any remaining space with more towels, small blankets or pillows.

Pulling the Pork

Many people take the pork butt out of the smoker too early and have a tough time pulling the meat. Using my method, it will fall apart very easily with very little effort on your part.

Use a couple of forks to pull or shred the meat removing any clumps of fat that you find.

2013-IMG_0700

Notes/Comments:
  1. One of the most important parts of the pork butt is the crust which is created by adding a lot of rub to the outside before it goes into the smoker.
  2. Smoked pulled pork can be used almost anywhere that ground beef is used such as on tacos, in burritos, on taco salad, on pizza, mixed with cream cheese as a dip, piled on top of baked potatoes, with eggs and potatoes for breakfast and almost anything else you can imagine.

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"Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future!" ~Michelle M.

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Printable Recipe

How to Make Smoked Pulled Pork
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Author: Jeff Phillips
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10-12
Smoked pulled pork is extremely easy to make with only a few steps required for getting the pork ready for the smoker. The hard part is in the keeping the smoker going for 14+ hours while it slowly smoke cooks to perfection.
Ingredients
  • 6-8 lb pork butt or pork picnic roast
  • Yellow mustard
  • Jeff’s rub
  • Jeff’s barbecue sauce
Instructions
Remove the Skin on Pork Picnic Roast (optional)
  1. Lay the roast on the cutting board skin side up.
  2. Make a cut through the skin right down the center as shown.
  3. While pulling up and away from the center, run the blade of a sharp knife along the attached skin.
  4. Turn the roast over to finish removing the skin.
Mustard and Rub the Pork
  1. Spread mustard all over the meat.
  2. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of rub all over the top of the roast then rub it in so that it mixes with the mustard.
  3. Flip the roast over and get the bottom side the same way.
Ready the Smoker
  1. Set up the smoker for cooking at 225 °F and make sure you have plenty of smoking wood for the long haul. If you are using an electric, charcoal or gas smoker, I recommend having enough wood chips, chunks or splits for about 6-8 hours of smoke.
  2. Once the smoker is running steady at the prescribed temperature, it is time to put the meat on the smoker grate.
Smoking the Pork Roast
  1. Place the pork butt directly on the smoker grate fat side down.
  2. Keep the cherry wood smoke going for 6-8 hours if possible.
  3. I recommend using a meat thermometer for the most failsafe way to tell when the meat is done. Once you’ve cooked a few and you want to start experimenting with the guess work, go for it.
  4. I like to leave the pork butt open and on the smoker grate for the entire time but if you want to speed things up somewhat, you can wrap it in foil once it reaches 160°F. Once you wrap it, no more smoke is required and it can even be moved to the kitchen oven at 225°F if you want to.
  5. When the pork butt reaches 200-205 in the very center, it is done.
Resting the Pork Butt
  1. Place the wrapped bundle into an empty ice cooler and fill in any remaining space with more towels, small blankets or pillows.
  2. Hold for up to 4h ours if desired or it can be used immediately.
Pulling the Pork
  1. Use a couple of forks to pull or shred the meat removing any clumps of fat that you find.

 

About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

16 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Dennis Bowden October 27, 2016 at 7:53 am - Reply

    how much fat do you leave on the butt? I want to trim it down, but not risk it getting dried out.

    • Ben October 31, 2016 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      I leave it all on. Fat = flavor.
      I then discard any excess as I pull the shoulder.

  2. Dan April 18, 2016 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    I’ve got two 11 lb. picnic roasts that I plan to smoke using this recipe. How long do you expect these will take? 22 hours (2 hours per pound)?

    • Jeff Phillips April 19, 2016 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      I’ve got two 11 lb. picnic roasts that I plan to smoke using this recipe. How long do you expect these will take? 22 hours (2 hours per pound)?

  3. NRatty February 6, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Mmm! I am doing this today! I got a picnic roast, bone in, skin on(scored and salted overnight) cut into a 3 pound piece, and set for smoking at 250 degrees. I am going to crisp up the skin in the broiler when done. I have a feeling it’s going to take 2 hours per pound or more to get it done in my electric smoker. But I don’t mind waiting! Gives me time to make greens and creamy spiced coleslaw.

  4. Lance Males February 15, 2015 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Jeff,

    I bought your rub recipe and also received the eCourse. I did a pulled pork butt and stopped it at 174 F when I realized the USDA recommended temps were 160.

    Why should I take it to the 205? Does that make it fall apart?

    Love your rub recipe.

    Lance

    • David March 29, 2016 at 8:28 am - Reply

      Lance,

      The difference in temp allows the pork to be pulled. Stopping the smoking process in the 170’s will deliver a juicy pork that works great for pork slices. If you want pulled pork… You have to go past 200.

      Best of Luck,

      David

  5. David September 28, 2014 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Hello!

    What’s your preference with your BBQ and pulled pork…do you pull the meat and toss it in the sauce and serve? Or, sauce on the side?

    Dave

  6. Charles September 18, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I made this last week and everyone fell in love with the pulled pork. They keep asking me for the rub recipe so I gave them your website lol yes they were mad!!!

  7. Butch Blackwell August 24, 2014 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Jeff,
    I really like the printable versions of your recipes!!!
    I just made a double batch of your rib rub….best stuff on Earth!!!
    Got Ribs in the smoker, gonna try the chicken cherry bombs 🙂

  8. Ben August 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    I am surprised you would ever use any method other than your “best mistake I ever made.” I have done that the last two times and don’t think I will ever do it another way. Perfection!

  9. chris ogden August 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Hey Jeff,I did 2-8# butts a week ago. Used your excellent rub again. Took them all the way to 205 degrees. Man they were great. I also didn’t cut away the crust like so many people do. What a taste difference.

    I have given your site to my buddies with grills and smokers. you have my vote for good research and technique.

  10. bruce August 21, 2014 at 10:45 am - Reply

    When and how much jeffs sauce do you add

  11. steve August 21, 2014 at 10:12 am - Reply

    you mention making extra pulled pork and freezing it how do you suggest to reheat it w/o drying it out
    thank you steve

    • Butch Blackwell August 24, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

      Put it in a crock pot with a bit of apple juice.

      • steve August 24, 2014 at 9:24 pm - Reply

        thanks sounds like a good idea I’ll try it in 2 weeks at family reunion

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