Introduction: Pulled Pork on a Weber Kettle Grill

The best meal that takes a day to make and a few minutes to eat: pulled pork

Step 1: The Grill

BBQ is low and slow cooking. Although most 'Qers make pulled pork on a smoker, the same results can be achieved on a kettle. In fact, the benefit of a kettle is that you can grill and BBQ. By grilling, you use direct heat directly under the meat. (Think: steak) With BBQ, you use indirect heat, which is more like using an oven.

Step 2: The Meat & the Rub

Pulled pork is made from a cut known as a Boston butt. The butt is the upper part of a pork shoulder. When shopping for a boston butt, be sure it is not boneless. The bone adds tremendously to the flavor of the pork.

The initial flavor for the pork is provided by the rub. The rub is a blend of spices that is worked into the pork prior to cooking. Rubs are like relatives, everyone has one. Here is one I sometime use:

2 Tbls Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tbls Sweet Paprika
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garlic
1 Tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp Ground Mustard
1/8 Tsp Celery Seed
1/2 Tsp Ancho Chili Powder

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until well blended.

The rub can either be added right before the cook, or the night before. The choice is up to you.

Whatever you do, be sure to take the pork out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Step 3: Ready the Chips

Wood Chips

One of the keys to good pulled pork, is smoke. Adding smoke to your grill is easy. First, pick up a bag of wood chips (from the store, not the ground...unless of course you already have some chips, in that case you probably will pick them up from the ground). For pork, I use a sweet wood such as maple or apple. Using anything else, like mesquite, might provide too harsh of a taste.

Soak approximately two large handfuls of wood chips in a large bowl of water for about an hour. Although I said "chips", you can also use wood chunks. If you use chunks, be sure to soak them longer so the wood becomes saturated with water. The wood is soaked so that it "smokes" when added to the grill and doesn't simply burn up.

Step 4: Ready the Charcoal

Cooking a five pound pork shoulder can take upwards of 9 hours. That is a long time to keep your kettle grill at an optimal temperature of 250 degrees. Also, you want to minimize the number of times you open the grill lid because every time you do, you lower the grill temperature and effectively lengthen the amount of time for your cook.

The best way to maintain a low and steady temperature is by using a process known as the modified minion method. By adding lit coals on top of unlit coals, you can maintain a low temperature fire for a long period of time. The lit coals will slowly heat up the unlit coals. It is a great process.

Place approximately 90 unlit coals to one side of your grill, or two piles of 45 coals to both sides.

Place approximately 20 coals in your charcoal chimney and light the chimney.

Step 5: Here Comes the Heat

Heat the coals until they have ashed over (turned grey).

Step 6: Placing the Pan and the Coals

Place an aluminum foil pan in the bottom of the kettle in the location that will be directly below your meat. This will either be in the middle, or off to the side. Place a small amount of water in the pan. This will catch any droppings from the meat and prevent them from burning.

With the pan in place, add your lit coals to the unlit coals.

Step 7: The Chips Are Down

Add a handful of soaked wood chips to the lit coals. Place the grate on the kettle, close the lid, and wait for...

Step 8: Smoke!

Step 9: Work the Vent

The temperature of the kettle needs to be around 250 degrees. This is done by controlling the top and bottom vents of the grill to restrict the flow of oxygen. To make controlling the vents easier, I marked the position of the vents on the bottom ash catcher. To start out, move the bottom vent to half and close the top vent almost all of the way.

Step 10: Watch the Temp

Although controlling the temperature of the grill by the vents might seem difficult, it's not.

Adjust your top vent until you hit 250 degrees. Make small adjustments. Open it more to raise the temp and close it to lower it. Unless you have some wild temperature swings, your bottom vent will remain untouched for almost the whole cook.

Step 11: Meat on Deck

With smoke pouring out of your grill and the temperature gauge around 250, you are ready to place your pork on the grill.

Place the pork on the grate and close the lid.

Step 12: Downtime

Plan on at least 9 hours to cook your pork. This is in addition to the prep time of readying your grill. Needless to say, if you are planing this meal for dinner, start early or your "dinner" may turn into a "midnight snack"!

Once your pork is on, your grill will need periodic checking to ensure your temperature is where it should be. Some temperature movement is normal and swings from 225 to 275 is fine. Just adjust your vents to keep yourself on target.

Step 13: Still Waiting...

Avoid opening the kettle lid at all costs. Doing so will just let out valuable heat. Instead, grab yourself a good beer, sit back and enjoy the sight and the smell of your grill.

As the day goes on and your temperature begins to drop, work your top vent to let in more oxygen. If your temperature really drops, add some additional lit coals to get your temperature back up. However, in most cases this is not necessary.

Step 14: Almost There

You want to cook the pork until it has an internal temperature of 190 degrees. Although the pork is technically cooked past 150 degrees, 190 degrees ensure that this tough piece of meat is transformed into a moist and delicious feast.

Start checking your pork around the 7 1/2 hour mark to see how far you are from the end. Although the internal temperature will rise very fast at the beginning of the cook, it will move very slow towards the end.

Step 15: Done!

With your temperature probe reading 190 degrees, your pork is finally done. Remove it from the grill and wrap it aluminum foil. You will want the pork to rest anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

Once fifteen minutes has passed (let's face it, you have been at this for 9 hours and you are hungry...there is no way you are waiting any longer) start to "pull" the pork apart.

Step 16: The Pull

You can pull the pork using a fork, a knife, your hands, or whatever! As you do, be sure to check for the smoke ring. The smoke ring is a pink ring around the outside of the meat that was created by all of the smoke in the grill. Also, be sure to take a quick taste of the "bark". The bark is the thick covering on the outside of the is always delicious.

Step 17: Come and Get It

With your pork masterpiece complete, you can serve it however you like and with whatever you want. You can top it with a vinegar sauce, mustard sauce, or red sauce. Bun, or no bun, it is entirely up to you.

This process works great for me, I hope it works just as good for you. Enjoy!


Grillinit made it!(author)2017-06-06

Inspiring post. I'm trying it and my temp will not come down. At 300 and I have shut the bottom and top vents. Anny ideas?

mnlang made it!(author)2017-06-07

Thanks! And sorry you are having issues. Try adding more water to the water pan. It will help act as a heat sink and bring the temp down. I hope that helps!!

glenn_brianq made it!(author)2016-10-22

I'm 4 and half hours into the smoke and it is working great! I love my Weber and really didn't want to drop the cash on a dedicated smoker, thank you for posting this and saving me some money! Now I have more cash for my other love, cigars! Cheers!!

mnlang made it!(author)2016-10-22

That is awesome, Glenn! So glad to help! Looks like you are going to feast!!! Love the cigar, too!!

jeffreychandler made it!(author)2016-07-06

What size is the butt you used for this recipe? 9 hours must have been pretty large and I can't see where you mentioned a weight anywhere. Thanks!

ChrisS494 made it!(author)2016-05-28

Just wanted to say thank you for this write-up. I love my Weber Kettle and have always wanted to try a pork butt. My first attempt wasn't a complete success, but turned out OK and was a learning experience. Yesterday I gave it another shot; short of me not allowing enough time and having to finish in the oven in the house, it came out great!! Thank you again.

mnlang made it!(author)2016-05-29

Oh wow, that's fantastic! I'm glad it all turned out!!! Thanks for letting me know!

oligray made it!(author)2016-05-11

Excellent article, very informative thanks! First attempt with my Weber very successful. Even managed to maintain temperature easily with only one side of lumpwood lit (the other went out early on).

mnlang made it!(author)2016-05-14

Whoa! Looks fantastic! Thanks, I'm glad it turned out so well!!

SmokeAndSip made it!(author)2016-05-14

Meat has been on for about 2 hours and twice now, smoke has completely stopped coming out. Is that normal? Hubby did a no/no and opened to add more chips. Smoke continued.... Smoke stopped about 30 min ago again.

mnlang made it!(author)2016-05-14

Hey! That's pretty normal depending on how many chips were added. Smoke should not run the entire cook, so it will taper out eventually as the chips are consumed. Good luck!

jdelver made it!(author)2016-04-30

You have taken great photos!! Thanks for the post. I will be enjoying this in only a few minutes.

mnlang made it!(author)2016-05-01

That is awesome! Thanks!!

JonW2 made it!(author)2015-05-14

is the temperature in Celsius or fahrenheit?

LivinProof made it!(author)2015-11-04

Must be Fahrenheit... 250 Celsius is mega high for a slow cooked food

mspritzer made it!(author)2014-06-23

My weber 22.5 inch does not have a temp gauge. What is the best way to measure temp?

mnlang made it!(author)2014-06-23

How about a digital thermometer where the probe is connected by a steel cable? If so I like to run the probe through a potato that has been cut in half. The potato is then set on the grate near the meat and measures the internal temperature of the grill via the cable hooked up to the thermometer.

BradP3 made it!(author)2015-08-07

Thanks for the instructable! I'm one hour into this, and feeling excited. I struggle with understanding how these 90 briquettes can last 9 hours. Let's see. I'm using the potato technique with my probe. At first, I misunderstood and put the probe into the potato but not through it. For later readers, just a tip to put the probe all the way through so that it is exposed to the ambient air temperature. Duh.

neal.smith.923 made it!(author)2015-04-03

I bought a thermometer and drilled a hole in the top. In took just a few minutes.

JoeA13 made it!(author)2015-07-19


peter.lester.94 made it!(author)2014-08-02

I usually put an old fashioned meat thermometer through the top vent with a little foil wrapped around the probe to block the breeze around it. Also you can get the meat temperature by threading the cable of a digital thermometer through the vent and sticking the probe into the meat. The digital readout sitting outside nearb so there's no need to lift the lid.

JamesC46 made it!(author)2015-06-23

The Minion on a Kettle produces epic pulled pork. Time for a WSM

Pulled Pork 1.jpgPulled Pork 2.jpg
bbqwithjeff made it!(author)2015-05-05

Is it weird that I knew this was you by the pic of your grills and patio?

mnlang made it!(author)2015-05-06

Ha!! Not at all, Jeff! Thanks for noticing!!

Kennson made it!(author)2015-02-19

I don't yet get the idea of the coals. So I put 45 on each side, and light up 20. Do I put 20 on one side or do I put 10 on each side?

gonads81 made it!(author)2015-03-17

put 10 lit coals on either side if you split the 90 in half. it's easier to just stack about 90 up against one side. about 15 lit ones are enough to get this going. if you are serious get a pit temperature controller. like the ones BBQ guru make. They will keep the pit temperature spot on.

rickpeery made it!(author)2014-11-04

Thank you for the info. Will let you know the results. I'm thinking, nothing but perfect.

rickpeery made it!(author)2014-11-04

I did a 5lb roast and it was awesome. I would like to do a 10lb roast this weekend how much time should I allow for cooking this larger roast?

mnlang made it!(author)2014-11-04

10 pounds will probably take about 2 1/4 - 2 3/4 hours. Glad the first one turned out so good! Good luck!

ApacheRosePea00. made it!(author)2014-09-12

I posted a few weeks back and tried my first smoke a few days later. I had issues lighting my charcoal to start but everything else went smoothly. But due to my setup, if I had to add fuel or smoking wood, I had to remove the grill grate each time(I left everything on the grate including the meat so I bet I looked silly). To avoid that this time, I am going to give the snake method a shot. Anyone have any tips for the snake method?

One tidbit I learned that may help others(sorry if it has been mentioned and I missed it):

If you are having trouble hitting 190 near the end, you can preheat your oven to 225-250 and bring the meat to temp there. All the smoking that can be done is already done so no worries there. Just cover the meat with foil first but be warned---your house will now smell of all that wonderful goodness while you wait! I will get pictures this time if I remember during crunch time!

Rowdee made it!(author)2014-08-14

Excellent. Im from California and living in Brazil. I am a cook and Im working on a fish taco biz here rite now. I want to incorporate BBQ pulled pork sandwihes in to my menu and I bought a Weber to start on till I can build a proper big smoker. This is an excellent article and method. I can see that it would really work. Thank you.

mnlang made it!(author)2014-08-17

That is awesome! Pulled pork on "anything" is fabulous. Sounds like you have a great plan. I'm glad I could help!

LouisK1 made it!(author)2014-08-09

I'd add that getting a good digital thermometer is a huge help. NEVER trust the one built into the grill! I bought a Maverick which has a remote unit so I can monitor meat and grill temp from inside if I need to. Watching football, making pulled pork at the same time!

mnlang made it!(author)2014-08-10

That is a great point! Multitasking was never so much fun!!

ApacheRosePea00. made it!(author)2014-08-08

I am confused. How many charcoal brick-ettes are used? I seem to have read two different numbers and am a stickler for details, especially since this will be my first smoke and possibly for a dinner gathering. This is a great guide though. I will definitely be using it in a week or so!

mnlang made it!(author)2014-08-10

Hi! No worries and thanks! You probably read this:

Place approximately 90 unlit coals to one side of your grill, or two piles of 45 coals to both sides.

Place approximately 20 coals in your charcoal chimney and light the chimney.

In essence, you will use 90 unlit coals and then later top that with 20 lit coals. How you organize the unlit coals in the kettle is up to you. Good luck!

peter.lester.94 made it!(author)2014-08-02

Smoking in Astoria Queens.

Just set up my weber kettle to slow smoke a large pork shoulder. I cut off the skin leaving some fat on the meat, seasoned with my own light brown sugar Paprika rub, skin and joint and let them sit for an hour at room temperature while tinkering with the temperature of the grill. One side foil pan with water the other Royal Oak real wood charcoal. The smoke turned blue and the apple chips filled up my backyard with a foresty smokey aroma. The upstairs neighbor shouted out the window,'What are you cooking? It stinks!' She has always been a firm believer of using her mouth as a weapon. Not wanting to encourage her I trundled the kettle down an alley where the smoke moved in a different direction. Got the heat right again and popped the meat on the grill. I laid the seasoned skin on top so that the fat would baste the joint. When the meat hits the right temperature I will wrap in foil and let it sit. Add a few more chips a couple of oiled slices of eggplant and the skin on the grill and let that cook while the meat sits... Yum

peter.lester.94 made it!(author)2014-08-02

My wife is going to use the smokey eggplant to make Baba Ghanoush

mnlang made it!(author)2014-08-05

Wow, that all sounds great! Too bad your neighbor didn't know the magic you were creating!!

peter.lester.94 made it!(author)2014-08-02

Now I have to wait.

lcagle made it!(author)2014-06-04

Thanks for the info and so easy to follow along. This was my first time cooking pulled pork. When it was done the bone pulled right out. And the meat just fell apart it was yummy!! Now we're going for round two.

lcagle made it!(author)2014-06-04

Thanks for the info and so easy to follow along. This was my first time cooking pulled pork. When it was done the bone pulled right out. And the meat just fell apart it was yummy!! Now we're going for round two.

danzo321 made it!(author)2014-05-26

90 briquets?! How big is your Weber??

mnlang made it!(author)2014-05-26

Ha! Yup, 90! It's a standard 22.5 inch kettle. You need a good load of fuel to get through the cook.

barcoblanton made it!(author)2013-10-13

I've been using weber grills for years and if I were to use 20 briquettes on each side as you suggest the temp would be 300 to 350..i usuall use 14 each side and add 6 every 45 mins

mnlang made it!(author)2013-10-13

You are completely right if it was 20 a side, but it is 20 total, with only 10 each side. Although since I've posted this, I've moved to two zones with all the charcoal to one side. About 5 hours in, I rotate the pork and if necessary, add a few more coals to finish out the cook. Cheers!

hsides1 made it!(author)2013-08-18

Sure did :) took another hour and a half but it turned out great! Love that rub recipe

hsides1 made it!(author)2013-08-17

It's probably a little too late to ask now as I'm almost done but obviously for a smaller piece of meat it won't take as long? I'm 5 hours in and hitting 170 but just cooking a small picknick roast.

mnlang made it!(author)2013-08-18

Yes, if it is a smaller cut, it won't take as long. However, BBQ will "stall" around the 170 mark for several hours. So even though the internal temp will rise fast, it will plateau and only climb slowly until it's done. I hope it turned out great!

TheWilly17 made it!(author)2013-08-04

This method was a huge success! It was the best PP I have ever made. I will be using this method on a Beef Brisket next week, thanks for posting this for everyone to share.

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