Smoked Pulled Pork

by Jason
pulled pork visual

Nothing impresses quite as much as smoking a beautiful, tasty, BETTER than restaurant quality chunk of meat in your own backyard.  Low and slow is the name of the game in a smoker.  This pulled pork recipe is one of the easiest smoker recipes to pull off (no pun intended).

Barbeque may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.



You’ll need a smoker to make this pulled pork recipe.  It is possible to adapt a regular gas grill to a smoker using an A-MAZE-N smoker tube or other similar device; I have done this in the past with limited success.  My smoker now is a Green Mountain Grill (GMG) pellet grill, Daniel Boone model.  It’s eight years old now and has lived primarily outside in the elements which is starting to take a toll but it still cranks out great temperature controlled heat and smoke.  It’s also survived a major grease fire, which is a cautionary tale I plan to share another day…

To Start

Get your smoker set up for a 7 – 9 hour smoke.  Follow the directions from your smoker manufacturer unless you’ve already developed your own methods you’ll be using.  My smoker has a grease collection system (drip channels and collection can) however some smokers need a aluminum drip tray(s) placed under the pork butt.  Pork butt’s produce a lot of rendered fat (grease) and if allowed to collect near a heat source can ignite and become a large grease fire!  Yes, this has happened to me!  Please keep a kitchen fire extinguisher on hand at all times.  I recommend this one.

With your smoker ready to go, next you’ll want to consider trimming any excess fat off the pork butt.  We like our pulled pork lean and not too greasy and therefore we have found trimming any large portions of fat prior to cooking does a nice job of accomplishing this.

After trimming the fat, rub the pork butt with a couple tablespoons of yellow mustard.  The mustard will act as a binder to allow the rub to stick to the pork butt.  Don’t worry if someone doesn’t care for yellow mustard; once the pork is done you won’t be able to taste the mustard!

Apply the Rub

I highly recommend using our Bear Dog’s Kitchen All-Purpose Rub.  You can find this in our store.  Apply the rub until evenly coated on all sides of the pork butt.  The best way to apply rub, in almost all cases, is actually not to rub it on.  Sprinkle the rub over the surface of the meat and if needed pat the rub to help it adhere to the surface, flip the meat and repeat for all surfaces until well coated with rub.

Smoke It

After applying the rub, make sure your smoker is around 225 degrees F and setup for a good heavy smoke.  Place the pork butt on the smoker and prepare a spritzer.  You’ll want to spritz the pork every half hour to hour to help prevent it from drying out.  Note, spritzing is optional and some people prefer to not spritz an let a thicker harder bark to form.  This is personal preference and something you could experiment with and find which you prefer.  My spritz is a combination of apple juice, Worcestershire sauce and water in a food grade spray bottle.

The Crutch

“The Crutch”, sometimes called The Texas Crutch, is used to help the pork butt move through the process of breaking down and transitioning into the tender, fall-apart consistency we know and love in pulled pork.  This transition period is sped up by wrapping the pork butt in heavy duty aluminum foil.  Again, this is personal preference, you can choose not to wrap in foil and the cook will take much longer (maybe 3-4 hours longer!) and the pork will develop a thicker harder bark on the outside.

To execute the crutch:  Once the internal temp reaches around 165 degrees F, take the pork butt off the smoker and wrap in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil trying not to tear the foil as you want to trap in the juices, not drip them out into your smoker at this point.  Before closing up the foil, optionally pour some or all of the remaining spritz over the pork butt, then seal up with the foil.  Place the wrapped pork butt back on the smoker and turn it up to 250 F.  NOTE: Once wrapped your pork butt will no longer be in contact with the smoke from your smoker.  Because of this you optionally can finish the cook in your oven if you so choose.  Just be sure to put it in a pan to catch any dripping that may leak out.

Finish It

Once the internal temperature reaches between 195 and 205 F remove from smoker (or oven) and let it rest about 20 minutes minimum before pulling the pork to let if cool and allow the juices to consolidate.  If you didn’t already know, a finished pork butt can be wrapped in a bath towel or two and placed hot into a chest cooler and stored as long as 5 hours before removing, pulling and serving.  It will still be super hot and safe to serve.  This often helps in planning your cook as you can start the smoking earlier and store it in a cooler  This way your not trying to time the end of your cook with expectations around time to eat!

After resting your pork butt I like to rip a hole in the corner of the foil and drain the juices into a bowl so I can selectively add them back in later.  Now unwrap the pork butt and place into a large shallow pan for pulling.  You may need to do this in sections if your pan is on the small side.

Pull the pork, shredding until it reaches a consistency to your liking.  To pull pork you can use a couple forks, or to make life easier get a pair of Bear Claws like these.  Remember to add back in some of the drained juices if you want a juicier wetter final pulled pork, and to recapture the flavor in these drippings!  Enjoy!

pulled pork visual

Smoked Pulled Pork

Serves: 12-20 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 362 calories 10.8 fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 8 pound pork butt (you'll find these typically range from 7-10 pounds)
  • 1/4 c. yellow mustard
  • The rub:
  • 4 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • 4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • The spritz:
  • 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c apple juice
  • 1/4 c water


  1. Start your smoker and set to 225 F.  I like hickory pellets for smoking pulled pork.
  2. Place into a bowl the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, sea salt, pepper and brown sugar.
  3. Combine with a fork until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Unwrap your pork butt, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Option: Trim excess fat with a sharp knife.  We like our pulled pork lean and low fat but this is a personal preference...
  6. Coat top of pork butt with enough yellow mustard to create a thin coat of mustard.
  7. Sprinkle the dry rub mix over the yellow mustard until a well coated thin layer of rub binds to the mustard.
  8. Flip the pork butt over and coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of yellow mustard.
  9. Sprinkle with rub mix again and pat some rub on the sides.
  10. Put the pork butt on the smoker.  Place the fat cap side up, especially if you choose not to trim off excess fat, this will help the fat baste the meat as it cooks.
  11. In a clean food grade spray bottle (I mark mine "BBQ" with a sharpie) add the Worcestershire sauce, apple juice and water.
  12. Every 1/2 hour to 1 hour - spritz the pork butt and cover all accessible surfaces with the spritz to keep the outside from getting overly dried out.
  13. At around the 5 or 6 hour mark, place a remote food thermometer in the center of the pork.
  14. Once the internal temp reaches around 160 - 165 F remove the probe and double wrap the pork in foil.  Large heavy duty foil works best.  Make a tray out of the foil and set the pork butt into the tray.  Pour the rest of your spritz over the pork and pull the foil in tight covering with more foil to completely wrap the pork butt.
  15. Place the temperature probe back into the center, poking it through the foil.
  16. Turn the smoker up to 250 F and continue to cook until temperature reaches between 195 - 205 F.  About another 3 - 4 hours.
  17. Remove the wrapped pork from the smoker and place directly into a large pan like a roaster pan.
  18. Let pork rest in the foil covered with at least a double layer of bath or kitchen towel.  Rest for 15-20 minutes up to 2 hours if needed.
  19. Option: I suggest tearing open a lower corner of the foil and collecting the juices in a separate container so you can selectively add back in later.
  20. Unwrap the pork and pull into shreds in the pan.  I use bear claws to shred the pork but some use a couple kitchen forks.
  21. If you separated the juices earlier selectively add back in until you achieve your desired level of juice in the pork.
  22. Congratulations!  Serve!


After wrapping the pork in the foil you can use a higher temp, like 275 F to finish the pork faster. As a general rule low and slow is best, higher temps risk drying things out and/or overcooking but it can be done since it's wrapped and you keep an eye out for that 195 - 205 F finished temp. I used mustard as a 'binder' to make the rub stick however some people use their favorite BBQ sauce, olive oil, apple juice or no binder at all. Some people think binders block the smoke from penetrating the meat. This is where you can experiment over time and find your favorite methods and spice mix!

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