Southern Pulled Pork Recipe

Pulled pork is a favorite southern food. My family loves it, so hubby and I make it often, as a joint effort, even though we each have our own favorite pulled pork recipe. I concoct the wet rub or dry rub recipe and rub the meat, and he tends to the smoker.

Really good pulled pork is an all-day job. If you cure the pork in the refrigerator the night before, it’s an even longer job. You can find recipes that are done more quickly, but you won’t find any better than ours.

What Is It?

If you don’t know what pulled pork is, I’m very sorry. You’ve missed out on one of the most wonderful dishes ever dreamed up by mankind. Traditional southern-style pulled pork is made from pork shoulder roasts, which are often called “Boston butts,” “pork butts,” or simply “butts.” The pork is smoked for long hours over hickory, oak, pecan, or some other type of barbecue wood.

To get the best pulled pork, the temperature on the smoker has to be right, and it needs to stay that way throughout the smoking process. The ideal temperature is 225 degrees, but if you can keep the heat between 200 and 250 degrees, you’ll still have an awesome result.

Once the meat is super tender and completely cooked, you pull it. That means that the meat is shredded into fibers, through the use of forks, your hands, or bear paws. Once the meat has been pulled, sauce can be mixed in with the meat. Because the meat has been shredded, there’s a lot of surface area, so the pulled pork will hold onto a lot of tasty sauce.

Smoked pork shoulder for my pulled pork recipe.
Smoked pork shoulder for my pulled pork recipe.

Why Use Pork Shoulder?

Pork butts seem to have been especially created for pulled pork. The shoulder inherently has large amounts of fat and collagen, and when cooked properly, these dissolve into a wonderful texture and flavor.

Another reason a pork butt is the perfect choice for pulled pork is that it’s usually just the right size to fit on a small smoker. Pork shoulders are also relatively inexpensive, and a smoked pork shoulder will feed several people.


Most folks like to rub their pork butts when they’re making pulled pork. This gives the meat a lot of flavor, and if you use a wet rub with an acidic liquid, the rub can also help tenderize the butt.

A dry rub is made with herbs and spices, and a wet rub is made of the same herbs and spices, along with a liquid.

I usually prefer using a wet butt rub for a pulled pork recipe because the liquid helps to release the flavors in the herbs and spices, and because it helps to deliver the flavors deeper into the pork.

My Recipe


  • 1 Boston butt pork shoulder, about 5 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

The pulling of the pork
The pulling of the pork


  1. Rinse butt and pat dry.
  2. Only remove some of the fat if there’s really a lot of fat. I’ve rarely had to do this.
  3. Combine all the dry seasonings and mix with vinegar and oil to create a wet rub.
  4. Rub the pork roast all over with the mixture.
  5. Place it in the fridge, uncovered, and leave it for about an hour.
  6. At that point, wrap the butt in plastic and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. If you’re using an electric smoker, you’ll need to add some wood for flavor. We use pecan wood. We soak the wood for a couple of hours in water or apple juice before cooking. Fill the water pan with apple juice and bring the smoker to 225 degrees.
  8. Unwrap the pork shoulder and place it on the smoker. Our smoker has two racks, and when we smoke just one or two butts, we put them on the top rack to smoke.
  9. Put the lid on the smoker and cook the meat for around 5 hours. Add more wood and re-fill the water pan.
  10. Continue smoking for about 5 more hours. The general rule of thumb is two hours per pound of butt at 225 degrees.
  11. After ten hours, check the internal temperature of the smoked pork shoulder.
  12. It’s safe to eat at 165 degrees, but it’ll be more tender and easier to pull if you wait until the meat reaches around 190 degrees.
  13. Remove the meat from the smoker and place it in a metal roaster. When the pork is cool enough to handle, pull out the bone, and cut the meat into several large chunks.
  14. Use two forks, bear paws, or your hands to pull the pork, separating the muscle fibers.
  15. Once all the pork is pulled, you can mix in your favorite BBQ sauce.

For pulled pork sandwiches, serve your pulled pork on hamburger buns, onion rolls, Kaiser rolls, or sliced barbecue bread.

Since some folks don’t like the sauce mixed in with the pulled pork, you might want to leave some of the meat plain. Honestly, if you’ve used a good pulled pork recipe, the smoked pork shoulder can stand on its own.

Rate my pulled pork recipe! Thanks!

3.3 stars from 105 ratings of Southern Pulled Pork

How to Smoke a Pork Butt

How to Pull Pork pt. 1

How to Pull Pork pt. 2

More by this Author

Comments 38 comments

stayingalivemoma profile image

stayingalivemoma 5 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

yummy!!! I love pulled pork!!!

sensiva profile image

sensiva 5 years ago

Sounds great. I've never heard of it. I enjoy smoking meat and will definitely try this recipe over the next weekend that I don't have to work.

Brian Anderson profile image

Brian Anderson 5 years ago from United States

Man that sounds good... Love pulled pork barbecue.. Thanks for sharing!

Rob Benson 5 years ago

I love me some pulled pork.. "ain't" nothing BETTER!!!!

Lily Rose profile image

Lily Rose 5 years ago from East Coast

Me, too - I love pulled pork! I especially love when it's made by someone else, though, and I happily recently discovered a local restaurant that makes THE BEST pulled pork and I'm hooked! I honestly don't know if I would like it as much if I made it myself ... I'm not good with raw meat. :-/

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Moma, I don't think I know a single southerner who doesn't love pulled pork!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Sensiva, please give my pulled pork recipe a try. If you like smoked pork, I can't imagine your not loving this!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Brian, we love pulled pork, too. Most folks in the South have their own favorite pulled pork recipe, and we sometimes vary ours. This one, however, is practically foolproof - especially on an electric smoker.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Rob - of course a good ol' Gerogia boy knows what good eatin' is! Thanks a bunch for visiting and leaving a comment!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Lily! I actually enjoy making this pulled pork recipe. Part of the process includes getting to smell the heavenly smoky aroma as the pork cooks. Believe me, after being tantalized by the smell for hours, you're ready to dive into that butt!

ronaldoh profile image

ronaldoh 5 years ago from England

A favorite of mine when i visit US, wish you could get it in the uk.Great and informative hub.

Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi habee, this looks delicious, I just love pulled pork! We may have to buy a smoker soon because I would like to give this a try...great job!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

I have never had pulled pork. The method of cooking is similar to our jerk pork but we don't shred ours we cut them into bite sized pieces.

50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Holle, I love the southern pulled pork and the butts are the stuff, when I smoke I generally do two at a time with my rub and at 200 to 220 degrees in the smoker, at about 7 hours when they have a good smoke ring and are pulling away from the bone, I wrap them in foil and move them to the oven at 200 degrees and go to bed. I take them out in the morning after right at 14 hours of cook time and let them rest before pulling due to being to hot on the fingers, but wild or Sams, they just fall off the bone and come apart. I found freezing it ruins it after it's pulled it turns to mush on thawing, so I carry it to friends to share fresh.

Have you had any luck trying to store it cooked? I think canning would just finish it to paste as well. I make tamales and wrapped in corn husks in dozens, it thaws and steams back to life for good tamales, I generally get about 60 tamales to a shoulder and they don't last but about 6 months 'cuz they are a treat to eat so I can't say past that.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

I can smell the wonderful aroma of that pork butt cooking in the smoker from here, Holle. Pulled pork sandwiches (on soft hamburger rolls) are one of my all-time favorites especially when accompanied by sweet potato fries. This is a scrumptious-looking recipe.

Do I need to dress for dinner?

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I love pulled pork as well. I second the comment that it is excellent with sweet potato fries. I have never attempted it at home from scratch, but it is amazing that way.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

I always wanted to make pulled pork and now, you've offered a true and tired recipe. Will this method works for beef? Rated up.

mocrow profile image

mocrow 5 years ago from Georgia

I'm loving your pulled pork recipe! It's similar to ours, but we use a dry rub instead of a wet rub. the wet rub makes more sense, like you say. We'll be trying that method next time.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Ronald, why not make your own with my pulled pork recipe? You can use a charcoal grill if you don't have a smoker. Just use indirect heat.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Clover, I don't think we could live without our smoker! We have a Brinkmamm electric smoker, and we use it for pulled pork, hams, pork loins, ribs, and turkeys. It's really easy!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Cardisa, some people here chop their smoked butts instead of shredding them. I prefer the pulled pork because there's more surface area.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Dusty, we froze some smoked butt a couple of weeks ago, and I ate some last night. It was good, but not as good as just cooked, of course. When I'm going to freeze it, I usually cut it into large chunks instead of pulling it. I freeze it without sauce, too. I just pop it in the microwave for a minute or so.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Drbj, no dress code at my house! I like for folks to be comfy. You're welcome to sit at my table any time. We'll make some pulled pork sandwiches, Georgia-style!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Random, use my pulled pork recipe and make you some pulled pork! It's really not difficult. Oh, and I second the sweet tater fries, but grilled sweet taters are tasty, too!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Howdy, Anglnwu! That depends on the beef. Some beef doesn't have enough fat it in it to smoke this way. We sometimes do briskets in a similar fashion, though.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Mocrow, is your pulled pork recipe on HP? I'd like to read it. If it's not, please post it!

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

You can tell who are the "Southerners!" I too enjoy "pulled pork!" Great article and flag up!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Lol, dallas. We southern folk know how to cook and eat, right? Thanks for reading!

mocrow profile image

mocrow 5 years ago from Georgia

Me again. Just wanted to let you know I'm working on our pulled pork recipe and should be posting it in a day or so. Thanks!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Okay, mocrow - I'm going to go check out your pulled pork recipe now!

Mike 4 years ago

We used this recipe last night.....awesome! Happy New Year. mike

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

That's great, Mike! Glad you enjoyed our southern pulled pork recipe. I feel honored that you trusted your butt with my recipe! lol

hi friend profile image

hi friend 4 years ago from India


hi friend profile image

hi friend 4 years ago from India

great hub

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, hi friend and Sandi!

Sue J 2 years ago

OMGness. Used your recipe. And its in the smoker. I smells heavenly. Only a couple more hrs. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

habee profile image

habee 2 years ago from Georgia Author

Sue, thanks for trying my pulled pork recipe!

Toni 2 years ago

Do you soak the wood chips if using and electric smoker ?

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