Versatile Pulled Pork

Whether you’ve been smoking meat for decades or for days, pulled pork is one of the most forgivable meats out there to smoke! I think back to when I got my first pellet grill and spent hours online figuring out what I could smoke first that would turn out amazing; and then I found it…pulled pork! I am going to share with you my favorite pulled pork recipe that is SO versatile and SO easy to do! It comes in handy when you need a quick dinner but it can also be a crowd pleaser during your next party! We have shared these meals during Feast Days with friends, parties, loved ones who just had a baby, and many other people in our community! 


I primarily buy my bone-in pork butt (you may find boston butt or pork shoulder) at my local membership grocery store. Ours comes in a two pack, which can be daunting to a new backyard cook. I simply open up the packaging, pull one butt out, and freezer seal it to use for another time. Some cooks end up smoking both at the same time but it all depends on the size of your smoker, the audience you’re cooking for, and if you want to freeze some at the beginning or at the very end. For now, we’ll focus on this pulled pork recipe but please check out PelletGrilling101 to learn about your options when your packaging has multiple butts in it.


Have you ever had a pulled pork sandwich, taken a bite, and got a ton of chewy fat in your mouth? It’s happened before and this step helps you and your guests avoid this unpleasant experience! Now that we have our lone butt, I like to focus on the trimming of the butt. To me, this is one of my favorite things to do. When trimming, I like to lay down a large piece of parchment paper or a large tray to do my prep on. You may choose to wear gloves or not, I do just for sanitary reasons. Then my only other tool is my curved boning knife. A boning knife will give you the best success at properly trimming your butt. If you do not have one, fear not, any sharp knife will do the trick. I like to start by placing the fat cap up because that’s where I do most of my trimming. I cut into that fat cap and try and remove all but a quarter inch of fat on the top. I leave SOME fat, that quarter inch, to help protect the meat during the cook and also to leave flavor for the final product. I flip my butt over and do my best to remove any silver skin or blood lines. Once this is done, I pat it dry with paper towel and prep for my rub!

MITCH TIP: it’s easiest to trim a cold pork butt so trim after having it in the fridge.


Here’s where your creative juices can start flowing; do you want to go sweet, savory, or something totally different? It’s all up to you! For this pulled pork recipe, I stick to a rub that has a sweet and smoky component to it. My rub consists of:

– salt; paprika; black pepper; nutmeg; mustard; allspice; citric acid; garlic powder; ginger; sage; thyme; white pepper; and cinnamon

MITCH TIP: Before applying a rub, make sure your butt is properly trimmed and you use a paper towel to pay it dry!

I liberally apply my rub to all sides of the butt and rub them into the meat. Some people put a little mustard on their butt before applying rub. They call the mustard a “binder,” but for this recipe, that isn’t necessary. After applying the rub, wrap in plastic wrap and place in your fridge for a minimum of six hours; I tend to go 12 hours with mine.


Time’s up! Your fridge may smell great, but it’s time to turn your pellet grill on and move the temperature to 250. While your grill comes to temp (about 10-15 minutes), remove the pork butt from the fridge and unwrap. I like to sprinkle a little more rub on at this point. Once your grill is ready, place the butt in the middle of your grill FAT CAP DOWN (HYPERLINK TO FAT CAP UP OR FAT CAP DOWN PORTION OF PELLETGRILLING101) and stick your thermometers in; kick back and relax as your butt smokes away! 

MITCH TIP: stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the butt.

Now, here’s where true patience is tested. Most of the time, I plan for 75 minutes of cook time per pound of pork butt and my next step comes at around 167 degrees. Your butt WILL hit the “stall,” [INSERT HYPERLINK HERE FOR MY ARTICLE ABOUT THE STALL IN PELLETGRILLING101] all you have to do is be patient and wait it out. This is very normal and makes me think back to the first few times I went through the agonizing wait of the stall; this is why we calculate about 75 minutes per pound for cook time!

Once your butt reaches 167 degrees internal temperature, open your grill lid and take a peek. Is there a nice rich bark or does it look like it needs more time? This is all up to you but I have found success around 167-170 degrees internal temperature. If your bark looks good, it’s time to pull out the apple cider, tin foil, and rubber gloves (trust me, I don’t have many nerve endings at the tips of my fingers anymore because I didn’t use gloves early on!).

MITCH TIP: use the 18″ tin foil and tear a sheet about three feet long then do it again. Make a “plus sign” and place the center of the plus sign in a rectangular baking dish. This dish will help shape your pork butt and will give the apple cider a place to collect.

You have your tin foil, your apple cider is opened, and your gloves are on. Remove the thermometers and remove the butt from the grill. Place in the tin foil and you’ll slowly pour two cups of apple cider over the pork butt. You’ll notice the baking pan doing its job and allowing the butt to sit in a nice apple cider bath. Wrap the rest of the “plus sign” around the butt and make a big, tight tin foil ball. Lift it out of the dish and place back on the grill; sticking the thermometer back into the butt. 


Continue cooking the butt at 250 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees. You’ll want to make sure your thermometer is in the thicket part of the butt, again. When your butt reaches 205, do yourself a favor and “probe” the pork butt in a few different places with the thermometer. What you’re looking for is a “buttery” texture to it. When it feels like soft butter, you’ve finished your cook!


These are crucial. Like any athlete will say, “rest is important.” That rings true to smoked meat as well! When you take your pork butt (that’s still wrapped in tin toil) off your grill, wrap it in two towels and place in a medium-to-large sized cooler and set aside for at least one hour. I let it rest for two hours but it’s completely up to you and your timeline. When my two hours of resting is up, I pull out my slow cooker, my apple cider, my rubber gloves, and the cooler holding my freshly smoked pork butt. I open the foil packet up and gaze upon the beautiful piece of meat I just smoked. The first thing I do is remove the large bone from the butt. It should pull out cleanly; this is the “true thermometer,” a clean pull means you did a great job!

Then I simply use my hands, in my gloves, and pull the butt apart and place it in the slow cooker. I pull all the way to the bottom which is where our fat cap was this entire time. I do not use any of that; it has served its purpose. My final step is to sprinkle a little bit more of my seasoning and pour in a half cup of apple cider and mix it all together.

MITCH TIP: When pulling my finished pork product, my goal is to find the tubes of meat and try to keep them as intact as possible. A lot of people shred the entire butt, however, the most enjoyable bites come from the tubes within the pork butt – look for those and try and harvest as many as you can!


This pork is amazing after all of this but, by tomorrow, it’ll be the best thing you ever tasted because the rendered fat, apple cider, and rub all meld together cohesively. All you have to do is remove the slow cooker pot from the fridge, place it in the cooker apparatus, and move it to slow for a few hours. The juices and seasoning will all warm up together and create the most pleasing flavors ever!


– a pork butt

– a curved boning knife

– paper towel

– your favorite rub

– tin foil

– rectangular baking dish

– two cups of apple cider

– meat thermometers

– rubber gloves

– two towels

– a medium-to-large sized cooler


Trim the majority of the fat from your pork butt

Pat it dry

Rub your favorite seasoning on it

Wrap in saran wrap and let marinade for 6-12 hours in your fridge

When ready to cook, set grill temp to 250 and take butt out of wrap

Sprinkle some more rub on butt

Smoke butt at 250 until internal temp of 167 then check on butt

If bark is good, wrap butt in toil foil and add two cups of apple cider then wrap tightly

Return butt to smoker until internal temp has reached 205 degrees

Probe the butt to make sure texture feels as smooth as butter

Remove from smoker and wrap in towels

Place bundle in cooler for 1-2 hours

Remove from cooler and pull

Add more seasoning and half cup of apple cider if desired


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