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Cherry Dr Pepper Pulled Pork for Game Day
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In this recipe I will show you how to make my cherry Dr Pepper injected pulled pork in all of it’s complete and utter, fall-apart deliciousness.
- Prep Time: 25 min
- Cook Time: 14 hours*
- Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
- Meat Finish Temp: 205°F (96°C)
- Recommended Wood: Hickory + Cherry (50/50 mix)
*In a time crunch and need to get this done in a hurry? Check out my 5 hour pork butt instructions
- 1 or more Pork Butt(s) (Boston Butt)
- (2) 12 oz. cans of Cherry Dr Pepper (1.5 cans per butt*)
- 1 cup Jeff’s original rub
- (1) 9×13 Disposable cake pan (about 2 inches deep)
*I used about 9-12 ounces as an injection then I used about 1/2 can in each pan per my instructions below.
I highly recommend using the pork butt instead of the picnic when making pulled pork. The picnic will work fine but it does have a thick skin that needs to be removed and in my opinion it is not as flavorful as the butt.
The butts are usually called a “Boston butt” and range anywhere between 6-8 lbs and may have a fat cap on the top side.
I have seen these lately being sold as 3 and 4 pounders as well but upon closer inspection you will notice that they are actually just halves.
Tip: The pork butt normally shrinks by 40% during cooking which is great information if you are calculating how much meat to cook. i.e. an 8 lb. butt will yield just under 5 lbs of meat.
I decided to inject my pork butts this time which is something I rarely do. my original rub is amazing and adds a lot of flavor to the meat. Injecting with the cherry Dr Pepper adds flavor to the inside of the pork butt and increases the juiciness of the finished product.
I put an ounce or so of cherry Dr Pepper about every 2 inches across the top of the butt. There are various methods for injecting meat but I usually go in at a 45 degree angle and once I push the needle in.. I back up about 1/2 inch before pushing in the plunger.. seems to work well for me. It is ok if some of the fluid runs out the top of the hole you made.
After creating this recipe several years ago, I found the Cajun Bayou injector and I’ve never looked back. The needles are larger than most others allowing for larger ingredients if you so desire.
I normally use yellow mustard or some olive oil to help the rub to stick but in staying with the theme, I used more cherry Dr Pepper to simply wet the outside of the meat and help the rub to stick better.
Once I moistened the outside of the meat, I poured about 1/2 cup of Jeff’s original rub on top and proceeded to massage it into the meat. As the rub mixed with the beautiful deep red color of the soda, it turned into a paste and made the pork butt look good enough to eat right then and there. I added more rub for the sides and bottom of the pork until it was well coated on all sides.
Leave the pork butt(s) on the counter to warm up a little and go get the smoker ready to go. If this takes you more than about 25-30 minutes then you might want to do this before prepping the meat so it does not sit out too long.
I highly recommend setting the smoker up for cooking at about 225°F (107°C). This does take a little more time but then my rub does not burn so it’s worth it to me.
If you have a water pan, be sure to use it. It does seem to help keep the air more moist and while I don’t subscribe to the idea that the moisture actually gets into the meat, I do think that moist air has less of a drying effect than completely dry air so it does help.
If you like you can add some juice, more Dr Pepper or even an onion or garlic bulb to the water pan if you’re feeling it.. I threw in an onion and garlic bulb for good measure;-)
Once the smoker is setup and ready to go, place the pork butt directly on the grate and let it smoke away for a while. If your pork butt has a fat cap like mine did, place it fat side down.
What Type of Wood for Pork Butt? : I use heavier flavors for the larger cuts such as mesquite, hickory or pecan. In this session, I used a 50/50 mix of Hickory and Cherry to stay with our “cherry” theme a little bit.
If you are using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker, keep the smoke going by replacing the chips/chunks as needed for at least 4-6 hours.
Be sure to insert a digital probe meat thermometer either in the beginning or sometime in the first 4-5 hours so you can monitor the internal temperature.
Note: you can also use a thermapen to check the temperature once the pork butt gets close to being done. The new Thermapen one reads in 1 second or less and I always keep mine close by anytime I am cooking.
Once the pork butt reaches about 160°F (71°C), you may opt to place it in a pan and/or wrap it in foil to finish it off. At this point the butt has been exposed to plenty of smoke and some time in the foil will not only super tenderize it, it will help it to get done a little faster in some cases. You can always just leave it on the grate until it’s done if you wish.. your call.
Here’s one of my pork butts.. at 3 hours in.
Then at about 5 hours..
At around 6 hours, I checked and they had reached 160°F (71°C) so I placed them in a foil pan, added some cherry Dr Pepper to the bottom and covered the top with foil before placing them back into the smoker to finish.
Let the pork butts cook until they reach about 205°F (96°C) being about perfect. At this point they are very tender and will practically fall apart with very little effort.
Here is one of the butts once it reached 205°F (96°C). As you can see the pan is full of liquid which is part cherry Dr Pepper and mostly rendered fat and juices from the meat.
Here’s how to save the juice and use it later.
Beautiful smoke ring and it is absolutely delicious.. albeit very hot!
If you follow my cooking instructions and let it cook to an internal temperature of 205°F (96°C), this process will be very easy. After letting it rest on the counter for an hour or two, I usually pull the bone out (unless, of course, it’s boneless) then start pulling the meat into large pieces and discard any fat that I find.
I then stir the meat around in a bowl and it just sort of falls apart. If you have any trouble with this, just use 2 forks and pull the meat in opposite directions to shred it.
As I stir it around, I am still looking for any pieces of fat that can be removed. I do not like clumps of fat in the meat so I am very careful to remove as much as possible. This is a little tedious but I think it is worth it.
Add more of my original rub if it needs it. I usually add several tablespoons more and stir it around to coat. Do a taste test to make sure you added enough.
The pulled pork is now finished and can be used in these special game day appetizers or in whatever way you wish.
Cherry Dr Pepper Pulled Pork for Super Bowl
Delicious, tender and juicy smoked pulled pork made possible via the use of Cherry Dr Pepper and Jeff's original rub. Easy to make and perfect for game day!
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 14 hours
- Total Time: 14 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Hot Smoking
- 1 Pork Butt (Boston Butt)
- 2 cans 12-ounce cherry Dr Pepper (1.5 cans per butt)
- 1 cup Jeff’s original rub
- 1 Disposable cake pan (9x13 about 2 inches deep)
- Remove meat from wrapper
- Inject cherry Dr Pepper into pork butt about every 2 inches.
- Generously apply Jeff's original rub to all sides of pork butt.
- Setup smoker for cooking at 225°F (107°C).
- Place pork butt into smoker fat cap down.
- When internal temperature of meat reaches 160°F (71°C), it can be wrapped in foil, if desired, to speed up the process.
- Let the internal temperature of the meat come to about 205°F (96°C) before calling it done.
- Let the meat cool uncovered on the counter for about an hour.
- Remove the bone from the meat and discard.
- Pull the meat apart into sections removing any clumps of fat as you go.
- Further pull the meat into smaller pieces discarding any fat or gristle that you find.
- Season the finished pulled pork again with Jeff's original rub and stir around to disperse.
- The pulled pork is now ready to use as you wish.
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Amazing for us, holy cow!! Took photos but can’t find a way to post them. Perfect!
Currently have a 4.6 lb butt resting using this recipe. I didn’t use a water bowl because I don’t know where I would position it in my smoker as I can’t put it underneath. Does that matter? I’m currently using a Masterbuilt gravity series 560. Any suggestions on how to properly rest the meat as well? I put the but in a glass baking dish, covered with tin foil, and placed it in the microwave (don’t worry I won’t turn it on lol). Also, any suggestions on how to use the wood with this smoker? I do an offset of charcoal followed by a few chunks of wood, and then charcoal again. Thanks for your advice.
Smoked the Cherry DP pork butt last night with your rub. Oh man, is it good! I’ve used several of your recipes but this one is my favorite.
Thank you, Jeff. Keep on smokin those meats!
Hey Jeff. I’ve made several of your recipes over the years but none of them have been as PERFECT as the Cherry Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork I made yesterday for Super Bowl. I had a 8 pound Boston Butt from our local butcher. I followed the recipe exactly. Put it in the Traeger at 9:40 p.m. Saturday night. It was 160 at about 3:00 a.m. but because I was sleep walking, I decided not to foil it but left it naked on the grate for the rest of the cook. At 2:30 Sunday, an hour before kick-off here on the Left Coast, it was at 205 degrees. It was then foiled and put in the cooler for 3 hours. After the dreadful SF 49ers loss to KC, I pulled it out. It was still way hot. Separated out the fat and pulled it. It had the most amazing bark. My wife agrees that it is the best pork shoulder I have ever made. Juicy and delicious with the perfect hint of cherry in every bite. Yum! Thanks for what you do!
I could not find a Boston Butt anywhere and all that was left was a butt shoulder roast, didn’t matter. This came out great!! Used half of it to make pulled pork sandwiches and the other half made the mushrooms. Both were great!!!
I tried this today, when I injected with the DP though as I pulled the needle out the DP would just squirt everywhere… any suggestions?
I feel like the dp didn’t really even go inside is just all over the top
I had same issue, any suggestions?
What are your thoughts on injecting the night before a smoke? Is there a reason to wait until immediately before putting on the smoker, or could it be injected/rubbed the night before, and put in the fridge overnight?
I made this using an 8 pound Boston Butt for a party for eight people. My wife thought we would be eating pulled pork for a week. When the party was over, there was not a shred of pulled pork left.
This was a delicious recipe. Mine took about 10 hours to cook on my BGE: 5 hours to get to 160 on the grill over indirect heat with a water pan and 5 more to get to 205 in a foil wrapped pan. I used a temperature of 225 +/- 15 degrees with a remote reading thermometer (Redi Chek Model ET-733).
I served the pulled pork on cheese and jalapeno buns with a side of cole slaw. For the non meat eaters (had one), I did your smoked bbq shrimp. Also wonderful, and I will post a comment there as well.
Can this be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, then heated up to serve.
If so, microwave or oven?
ABSOLUTLY !! I have cooked 8-10 lb of meat and it is just my wife and I. We will have din din for a couple of nights as well as some for sandwiches for lunch. The rest I put in freezer for a later date. If you are going to fire up the smoker you might as well get the most of it. You just have to add a little more BBQ sauce and or the dry rub when you re- heat. Once and a while my neighbor buys the meat and I do the cooking. We then split the meat in half.
Jeff, or anyone else here. I want to try this pulled pork recipe this weekend and was wondering if after the 4-6 hours of smoking can you place the meat in pan, cover and turn up the heat to deduce the cooking time. Has anyone done this?
I have done that very thing many times. Last week I smoked a 10 pound shoulder. I brined it for 24 hours before coating it liberally with Jeff’s Rib rub. I smoked it for about 6 hours and finished by wrapping it in foil and putting it in a roasting pan 350 degrees until the meat was at 205 degrees. I then let it sit for a little over half an hour. It pulled apart easily with my bear claws. The secret is to keep the moisture up. Don’t let the water pan go dry. Put a little water in the roasting pan also. Also, you must use a thermometer, don’t guess. I use the wireless model that I can carry around in my pocket and it lets me know when it it time.
By the way, that pulled pork did not last very long at all.
Bob, Thanks for the info. I will give it a try. Meat is in the smoker as I write this.
Bob, Thanks for the info. Meat turned out great. Started smoke at 07:30am and stopped @ 12:30pm. Moved to foil pan, added the soda, thermometer and covered. Left it in smoker on low (no smoke) and it was ready by 3:30pm. It was a great meal. Homemade potato salad, baked beans, grilled corn. Life is good.
I made this last weekend for Sunday dinner on my Traeger Grill. I got up at 3AM to get it on and started. I pulled the meat off at about 12hrs so we could eat at 5PM the meat was awesome, it had a nice thick smoke ring and the bark was super good as well.
I rocked this recipe yesterday for Easter but added Sailor Jerry Rum with the Cherry Dr Pepper when injecting the pork butt. OMG!!! My best smoke so far. Not a single piece of meat left over!!!! Thanks Jeff!!! My phone is not clicking on the five stars but I’d rate it 10 stars if I could.
Why fat cap down on yr butts Jeff.
This is personal preference. I have discovered that my pork butts sometimes stick to the grate and with the fat cap down, this means I’m not disturbing or losing the rub and crust on a “good” side. Also, there is plenty of fat within the meat and I have not found that the fat cap in the up position adds moisture to the finished product based on my side by side tests. Like I said, it’s personal and if you have had great results in a certain configuration, I recommend that you continue doing what works for you.
Totally agree, it is a preference thing…I have found that it does make a difference on what style of smoker use are using as well, my bottom direct heat smokers force me to keep fat cap down..on my indirect Lange its fat side up to keep the juices rolling down the meat without drying out the bottom of the cut..!! Thnx again..
Just tried the Dr Pepper recipe, my wife said it was the best butt that I have smoked yet. It was very flavorful and quite moist—
That’s Jeff for this great recipe
I made this on Sunday along with your Goodness Gracious Sakes Alive BBQ sauce and it was excellent! I served it on Kings Hawaiian hamburger buns with homemade coleslaw. I think everyone went back for seconds or thirds. A few guests had fourths!
Thank you for an excellent recipe!
I had always heard Dr. Pepper was great for enhancing roasts so I was anxious to try this. My first “well phooey” was when the Dr. Pepper foamed up while pulling it into the injector and injecting into the meat. Solved this problem by pouring Dr. Pepper in a tall glass and stirring it rapidly with a spoon until it quit foaming. Then the process went smoothly after that.
I really enjoy trying all your recipes! I am doing pork butt for super bowl and was thinking about smoking the pork about 6 to 8 hours then injecting it before finishing it off, what do you think, have you ever tried this method ?
I have not tried this but I don’t know why it wouldn’t work theoretically. My only concern would be that the pork butt getting to 200-205°F is the most important thing where tenderness is concerned and during the injecting, it would no doubt cool down some.
Definitely let us know how it goes if you try it out.
Thought I would let you know how it worked out injecting the pork butt after smoking it for awhile. Rubbed the pork with a generous amount of your rub and let sit overnight. Then I smoked it with cherry wood for about 7 hrs removed it from the smoker and injected one with butter and garlic powder and the other with Dr Pepper.
I then double wrapped and put in oven for about 13 hrs. I had put apple juice in the drip pan so I cooled it and removed the fat layer thicken it and used it as a sauce. Not to brag but it was the best pork butt I have ever done.
What do you do with the leftover fluid in the pan? You said that you save it for later but didn’t specify what for?
I put it in the fridge and let the fat get solid. I then remove and discard the fat on top. The juices are then mixed back in with the finished pulled pork as needed. How to De-fat the Dripping from Smoked Meat
That is a great recipe. Did you use all of the juice after removing the fat? It looked like a lot of juice. I have mixed a little juice before.
Receiving these recipes is definitely a highlight of each week! I have your recipes for rub and sauce and use them both! My whole family would agree that they both are home runs! The sauce is better than any commercial product I have purchased and I like the fact that I know what is going into it. I am going to work on making my own ketchup to try and eliminate the HFCS from that aspect. Thanks again!
Just to let you know, I generally use the Hunt’s brand all-natural with no HFCS. Making your own will definitely be better than the store-bought though.