Pulled Pork Recipe

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About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^
I am not lying to you when I say that following this recipe will give you the most perfect and succulent pulled pork you could ever get from your oven. I am so so pleased with it. :D It's literally years in the making!

I've tried so many pulled pork recipes over the years, always trying to take shortcuts and have pulled pork quicker and easier. I've done crockpot pulled pork, pressure cooker pulled pork, wrapped it in aluminum foil and roasted it at high temps, tried braising it and then roasting, etc. 

It was pretty silly, now that I think about it. Good pulled pork requires serious patience and willpower. :D

Keep reading and I will share alllllll the secrets and you'll be eating the most amazing pulled pork very soon.

P.S. Want a sauce or rub for your pulled pork? I've got them:

Step 1: What You'll Need:

  • pork butt or shoulder - at least 3-4 pounds. See below for more info!
  • 1-2 cups of dry rub - here's my recipe - I really, really recommend it.
  • a baking rack
  • a baking sheet
  • a probe thermometer 
Look for fat on/bone in pork butts if possible - they've been processed the least! 

You will want both a baking rack and a baking sheet - if the pork butt sits in a puddle of rendered fat, it will never crisp up on all sides.

The probe thermometer is the most important part - you need to cook the pork shoulder until it reaches 190 F, and you need to do it without opening the oven constantly. :D

Check out this page for a more in depth guide to picking out/prepping your pork butt.

Step 2: Cleaning Up the Pork Butt

This is a hotly debated subject, but I stand by my way of doing it. :D

If you're smoking/grilling, I think keeping the fat cap on is a great idea. In the oven, however, it can turn into quite a mess. Because you're doing it in the oven, you want the rub you'll be using to make direct contact with the meat for extra flavor, because you won't be benefiting from lovely wood smoke. Smearing your dry rub on a fat cap you'll pull off and discard later is a bad deal. There's also the issue of the fat cap never rendering down enough in the oven to be tasty. 

Before you start going to work on the fat caps, clean your sink thoroughly. Then place a baking rack in the bottom and put the butt on that, fat cap side up. Using a sharp knife and/or kitchen shears, start to cut away the fat cap and any silver skin you encounter.

I normally start this by finding the place the fat cap is the least connected and pulling it up. Then use the knife or shears to cut through the connective tissues holding it to the meat.

Don't fret about getting every single piece of fat - you just want to get off all the really thick bits and the silver skin hiding below them.

Flip the butt over and check the other side, too. 

As you can see in the last photo, I lost 2-3 pounds in the total weight just in fat. :D

Note: because you are working with such a large piece of meat, you might encounter some nasty stuff. There might be large veins and arteries and extra blood. Cut these away and don't worry too much about it. It's normal! Also, check the bone end for any fragments and remove those.

Step 3: Rub-a-dub-dub and Chilling Overnight

Now comes part one of the waiting.

Apply whichever rub you chose generously allllll over the pork butt. Get it in all the nooks and crannies. After it's been properly pampered, place it on a sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Put this in the fridge over night. :D

(For real, the whole night. You can start cooking first thing in the morning and hopefully be able to eat it by dinner!)

Step 4: How to Cook Pulled Pork

There are the seven commandments for getting perfect pulled pork from your oven:
  1. Apply a good amount of dry rub and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
  2. Cook the pork butt on top of a baking rack on a baking sheet - this will allow a crust to form all the way around and let the excess fat render off easily.
  3. I like to pour one cup of water with a little liquid smoke onto the baking sheet to help keep a little moisture in the oven. This is optional!
  4. Use a probe thermometer with a temperature alarm set to go off at 190 F. Make sure the probe thermometer is in one of the thickest parts of the meat and far away from the bone.
  5. Cook it at 400 F for the first hour for pork butts that are 6 pounds and over - under that only do it for a half hour.
  6. After the first round of cooking at 400 F, turn the heat down to 250 F and let it cook until it reaches 190 F.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it rest, covered with aluminum foil, for at least 30 minutes.
Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on how heavy your pork butt is - a rough estimate is at least an hour per pound. The pork butts I cooked for this ible took 10 hours - they cooked from 8 to 6.

Step 5: The Waiting (cooking)

This step is brought to us by Tom Petty (my childhood music crush FOREVER) and the Heartbreakers.



Anytime I make food like this, this song is on repeat in my head.

Continously remind yourself to be patient. Tell yourself it will be worth it. Do not open the oven. DON'T DO IT. The more you open the oven, the longer it will take. 

I started cooking my pork butts at 8 AM. Three hours in, it started to smell like honest to god super delicious barbecue. And I still had seven hours left to go. In the 140-150 F range, you will feel like you're not getting anywhere. You might assume time has started going backwards. But you're going to make it, I promise. :D

Try your hardest to distract yourself until the temp gets to 190 F.

Step 6: Resting Your Pork

After your pork has hit 190 F, you need to pull it out of the oven and let it rest.

I like to cover it with aluminum foil and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. This time I did closer to 45 minutes.

Step 7: Pulling It

This is the best part. :D

If you've followed along with the pork butt cooking/resting rules, you're about to be in for a treat! The pork will honestly fall apart after resting. You can use a couple of forks or yours hands to break it up. The bark on it will be amazing - crunchy and chewy and wonderful.

If you've roasted one with a bone in it, the bone will come right out, too. 

Step 8: Storing + Reheating

I highly suggest The Virtual Weber Bullet page over this topic - it's comprehensive and really useful!

For the best presentation (and to keep the meat the most moist, in my opinion) it's best to store the pork butt whole in the fridge, wrapped in aluminum foil. Then put it in a roasting pan (still wrapped in the foil) in a 300-350 F oven until it reaches 150 F+ internal temp. I just pop the probe in it and let it go. 

I brought a pork butt and a half into the Instructables office to feed everyone, and reheated them that way. I let them get to 170 F because I wanted to make sure the fat and connective tissues got nice and soft again. :D

If you do shred the pork, it's always best to go with a low and slow approach in reheating it. Either spritz is with a little water and cover it in aluminum foil and pop it into a low oven, or microwave at 20-30% power in the microwave until warm. You can also store the pork in a little barbecue sauce or pan drippings to help it out.

You can also freeze the leftovers - I've only ever done this once, though! I froze it in a few servings with a little sauce and reheated it in a small covered pan with a little water. 

8 People Made This Project!

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58 Discussions

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keenam3

1 year ago

I have a stupid question.... I have 2 pork butts totaling 13 pounds
(about 6.5 pounds each). I am cooking them side by side in the oven. I
have never cooked two at once before so do I plan to cook them about 6.5
hours or 13 hours or somewhere in between? I know the time isn't exact
but I would like to have a good idea of what time I should plan to put
them in the oven to eat around 6 or 7pm. Thanks!

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woolfiekeenam3

Reply 1 year ago

If you had one 13 pound pork butt, you'd have to increase the time as it would take longer to cook through. Two 6.5 pound pieces should cook in the same amount of time as a single 6.5 pound piece.

BTW - I love this recipe and come back to it time and again!

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coolguy891

2 years ago

I make pulled pork a lot and have my recipe down, but I may just try this after reading the comments. One thing I would add is that the easiest way to pull your pork is yank the bone out and toss it in your stand mixer with the normal paddle attachment on it. Turn it on low and 20-30 seconds later you will have your entire Boston Butt pulled to perfection without any effort.

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VictoriousVixencoolguy891

Reply 2 years ago

That is awesome to know, as I've wondered about that, but I've been too afraid to try it (I was afraid it would over shred some of it before I could stop it). I knew you could do chicken in a stand mixer, but wondered about other meats, so thank you! :)

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jef400dread

4 years ago on Introduction

MY LORD THIS IS AMAZING. I used the dry rub recipe and followed these instructions precisely. I used the exact measurement of every ingredient in the rub. My results were the best pork I've ever had. Including from restaurants. WOW!

One thing that I'll add; the baking pan/tray that you use under the rack will from then on be designated as a meat pan if you don't cover it with aluminum foil. Lots of hot water, soaking, Dawn, more hot water, more soaking, more Dawn sponge scrubbing, then SOS pad scrubbing still wouldn't completely clean the pan. If you are not also your home's cookie baker, and you use one of her good cookie pans, be ready for some serious stink eye.

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mlaiuppa.jef400dread

Reply 3 years ago

If you can find it, try Dawn Power Dissolver in a spray bottle. (NOT the foam.) When my local store stopped carrying it I found it at an ACE hardware and bought a case of it. Best thing for that black backed on grease. I've removed grease from second hand muffin tins with this and a toothbrush and they look like new.

But I would still line the pans with aluminum foil if you can get some wide enough, just to make clean up easier.

DON'T USE SOS PADS. (Not unless they are the soft no scratch ones.) They'll scratch the pan and then each time it's used there will be baked on oil or grease.

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EricH187mlaiuppa.

Reply 2 years ago

Have you tried parchment paper in the bottom of the pan and hold it down using the rack the meat goes on? It helps save all the great tasting bits of fond.

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ronjohnstonemlaiuppa.

Reply 2 years ago

Dawn Power Dissolver has apparently been discontinued by P&G but available on line from EBAY but will cost you about $25/bottle. Try GoJo Orange Hand cleaner. The pumice abrasive wears out quickly but it is miraculous for cleaning ovens.

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dug1000

2 years ago

Oh, Miss Jessy, brave soul, what hath you wrought? Posting Pork BBQ recipes opens so many cans of worms, one could call it vermiculture.

I am impressed by how civil the Instructables community has remain over this topic. It's one that divides North Carolina more than UNC vs Duke! (Go Heels)

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JeffC156

2 years ago

Cleaning up really baked on Roasting tins is easy. Just place outside under a damp bush for a couple of days. The garden slugs will clean all the stubborn residue off for you. The tin will be as clean as new, but make sure that it is washed in very hot soapy water before you use it next.

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AnnabellaMarieJeffC156

Reply 2 years ago

#1. Gross...just...gross!

#2. Nothing "damp" here in the desert.

#3. Line the pan with foil prior to using it. If you didn't do that, put the pan (and grill racks or oven racks, if needed) into an appropriately sized garbage bag, add 1/4 - 1 cup ammonia, tie it up tightly and leave it in the sun for a few hours. It'll practically wipe itself clean or at least be scrubbable.

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porschefAnnabellaMarie

Reply 2 years ago

Ammonia...raw ammonia in a garbage bag to clean dirty utensils. Have you given thought to a non stick spray. I suggest that before poisoning the family at the the next Sunday Roast
Why not mapped the process and add some bleach as well?
How do they live so long with ideas like that?

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porschefJeffC156

Reply 2 years ago

Jeffc156 is so o telligent that his passive sgressive response was as far away from humourous as geometry will allow.

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burnerjack01JeffC156

Reply 2 years ago

LOL! Like your style! (maybe it's a 'guy' thing). To paraphrase Josey Wales:

"Slugs gotta eat, same as the buzzards." LOL!

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fixfireleo

2 years ago

best pulled pork (shredded wise and easy to make wise) is to cut up your pork butt and throw it in a pressure cooker with a can of chicken broth and some herbs and spices for about 45 min. season to taste then add your favorite BBQ sauce. same for shredded beef...and yes i use chicken broth in shredded beef, it gives it a rich flavor.

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porscheffixfireleo

Reply 2 years ago

So...you are so insecure that you post a recipe of your own? Start your own blog. No one wants yours. Geez the English did not used to be so self centred ,stupid and rude. Buh bye now. Off you go.

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jessyratfinkfixfireleo

Reply 2 years ago

I do it that way in the pressure cooker too! But you can never get close to the right taste that way, so I always end up doing this a couple times a year haha

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elvisisdead

2 years ago

When you're cooking in the oven, it's not as big of an issue, but here's the science behind "the stall".

http://www.genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/stallbbq.html

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maka

2 years ago

@jessyratfink In step 4 you give 6 lbs as the weight for changing the length of the first baking temp. Does that refer to the trimmed or the untrimmed weight of the roast?