Tender Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe

If you want to have some friends or family over in the summer, what better way to feed a crowd than with some pulled pork? This recipe should be right up your alley if you have a smoker. Included are instructions for a delicious and flavorful pork rub –  in addition to a sweet concoction to infuse the pork. Slap your pork butt on the smoker and let all of the flavors soak in for a few hours. The end result? Tender smoked pork that is great for a sandwich, nachos, and pretty much anything else you'd like. 

Recipe developer Stephanie Rapone came up with this fantastic dish that is great for lunch or dinner. She explains why she loves smoking over other cooking methods: "Smoking allows the pork to cook low and slow, which it needs to really get tender. And, of course, it imparts really delicious flavor. This pulled pork is one of my favorites because it always turns out great, and the leftovers are awesome for freezing and enjoying later in so many other dishes." 

Gather the ingredients for this tender smoked pulled pork

Once you are ready to begin, you will need to gather all of the necessary ingredients. Be sure you have paprika, brown sugar, seasoned salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, chipotle powder, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, canola oil, and a bone-in pork butt — aka the best cut of pork, in our opinion!

Once you have those things, you can make this tender smoked pulled pork. 

Prep the smoker and make the rub

Turn on your smoker and set the temperature to 225 F. Prepare the wood chips (or whatever your smoker takes). For this particular recipe, Rapone suggests using cherry wood.

While you wait for the smoker to heat up, you can make the rub for your pork. This pretty much involves all your spices, so grab a small bowl and add the paprika, brown sugar, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and chipotle pepper. Use your fingers to mix the spices and break apart any clumps as you go.

Make the injection

Now, it's time to make the injection that'll go inside of the pork. In another bowl, mix the apple juice, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, kosher salt, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. You'll also want to scoop up 1 tablespoon of the rub and add it to the mix. 

Use a whisk together the contents of the bowl. Continue stirring until the sugar and salt are fully dissolved.

Trim the pork butt and inject the liquid

Grab the pork butt from the fridge and trim the excess fat off the meat. Be sure to leave about a ¼-inch fat cap. Then, score the fat about ¼ inch into the meat on one side. "When trimming the fat, make sure you have a very sharp knife, ideally with a thin and long blade. Also, once you start the cut, hold onto the little flap and cut away from you to cut as smoothly as possible," Rapone advises. 

Once your pork is all trimmed up, you can grab the liquid and inject it into the pork butt. "To do the injection, you will need an injector intended for meat," Rapone says. "For this smoked pulled pork, the injection is the secret. It brines the meat from the inside-out as it cooks, so the inside of the meat gets great flavor, too — not just the outside getting great flavor from the rub." 

Rub the pork and smoke it

Add vegetable oil to the outside of the meat, lathering it up. Then, use your hands to mix the rub you made earlier on all parts of the meat.

Now, it's time to cook! Place the meat on the smoker and insert a probe thermometer in the middle, making sure you don't put it too close to the bone. Let the pork smoke until the internal temperature reaches about 165 F (a 4- or 4 ½-pound roast will take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours). Once it hits that mark, wrap the pork in a double layer of aluminum foil and continue smoking until the temp reaches 203 F (about another 2 to 4 hours).

Let the pork rest, then serve

Once the pork hits 203 F, place the wrapped meat into a cooler. You don't need ice in the cooler; you just want to use it to insulate the pork, so the temperature decreases gradually. Let the pork rest for an hour in the cooler, then unwrap it and pull it apart.

Now, you can serve the pork to lucky guests. Rapone recommends serving the meat with your favorite sauce and using it as a filler for nachos, tacos, sandwiches, or enchiladas.

"Stored in the fridge in an air-tight container, leftovers are good for a week," Rapone says. "If you vacuum seal it and freeze it, it will be safe to eat for 6 months to a year, but the best quality is within the first 3 to 6 months." 

Tender Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
If you want to have some friends or family over in the summer, what better way to feed a crowd than with some juicy, flavorful pulled pork?
Prep Time
1.5
hours
Cook Time
6
hours
Servings
8
servings
tender smoked pulled pork in dish
Total time: 7.5 hours
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup paprika
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 bone-in pork butt or pork shoulder roast (4 to 4 ½ pounds)
Directions
  1. Heat the smoker to 225 F. Prepare your wood chips (or whatever your smoker takes). Cherry wood is recommended for this recipe.
  2. While the smoker is coming to temperature, make the rub. Combine the paprika, brown sugar, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and chipotle powder in a bowl. Use your fingers to break up any clumps.
  3. Next, make the injection. Combine the apple juice, apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, kosher salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon of the rub that you made in the previous step in a bowl. Whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  4. Trim any excess fat off the pork butt. You want to leave about a ¼-inch fat cap. Score the fat and about ¼ inch into the meat on one side.
  5. Inject the liquid into the pork butt.
  6. Coat the pork butt in the vegetable oil; rub the dry spice mixture all over it.
  7. Place the pork on the smoker and insert a probe thermometer into the middle of the meat, but not too close to the bone. Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165 F (about 4 to 6 hours).
  8. Wrap the pork with a double layer of aluminum foil. Continue to smoke until the internal temperature reaches 203 F (another 2 to 4 hours).
  9. Place the wrapped pork in a cooler (not with ice -- the intention is to insulate it, so the temperature comes down slowly) and rest for 1 hour.
  10. Unwrap, and pull apart the meat with your hands or forks. Serve with your favorite sauce on a sandwich, or use for nachos, tacos, or enchiladas.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 479
Total Fat 26.9 g
Saturated Fat 8.4 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 113.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 26.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g
Total Sugars 20.6 g
Sodium 713.6 mg
Protein 33.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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