How to Cook the Ultimate Pulled Pork with a Smoky BBQ Sauce?

March 31, 2024

Ah, the sweet, smoky aroma of juicy, tender pork slowly cooking over a hot bed of crackling embers. What if we told you that you can create this culinary masterpiece right in your backyard, without the need for a professional pitmaster? Well, that is exactly what we aim to achieve with this guide, teaching you how to cook the ultimate pulled pork with a smoky BBQ sauce. Our recipe uses pork shoulder to achieve a juicy, tender meat product that is perfect for sandwiches, tacos, and many other dishes.

Selecting the Right Pork Shoulder

Finding the perfect pork shoulder is the first step in your quest to making the ultimate pulled pork. You’re looking for a piece of meat with a good amount of fat to keep the pork moist during the long, slow cooking process. Look for a shoulder cut, also known as a Boston butt, that weighs between 4 to 7 pounds. Ensure there is a layer of fat on one side, which will self-baste the pork as it cooks.

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Once you have your pork shoulder ready, it’s time to prepare it for the smoker. If there’s too much fat, you can trim some off, but remember to leave enough to keep the meat juicy. Next, apply a rub of your chosen spices and seasonings. The rub will enhance the flavor of the pulled pork and create a delicious crust on the outside.

Preparing Your Smoker

Proper preparation of your smoker is crucial for achieving a good smoke flavor and maintaining a consistent temperature. Start by filling your smoker with charcoal and light it up. Let the charcoal burn down until it’s covered in white ash, which usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Then, add a few handfuls of soaked wood chips on top of the hot coals. Hickory, oak, apple, or cherry wood are all excellent choices for smoking pork.

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Next, fill the water pan in your smoker to help maintain a steady temperature and add moisture to the cooking environment. Now, adjust the vents to reach a stable temperature of 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining a slow and steady temperature is crucial to achieving a tender, juicy pulled pork.

Smoking the Pork Shoulder

Now, it’s time to smoke the pork shoulder. Place the pork shoulder fat-side up on the grill grates and close the lid. The pork will cook slowly over the course of several hours. You’ll need to monitor the temperature of your smoker, adding more coals and wood chips as needed to maintain the desired temperature and smoke level.

The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your pork shoulder, but expect it to take about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound. While the pork is smoking, you can start preparing the smoky BBQ sauce.

Creating the Smoky BBQ Sauce

While your pork is slowly smoking, it’s the perfect time to prepare your smoky BBQ sauce. This tangy, smoky sauce will complement the flavors of the pork perfectly. Start by sautéing onions and garlic in a saucepan until they are soft. Add ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and liquid smoke. Simmer the sauce for about 15 to 20 minutes until it thickens.

Once the sauce is done, let it cool, and then blend it until smooth. If you’d like, you can strain the sauce to remove any chunks. The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Pulling the Pork and Serving

When the pork shoulder has reached an internal temperature of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s ready to be removed from the smoker. Let it rest for about 30 minutes before pulling it apart. Use two forks or your hands to pull the meat apart, removing any large pieces of fat.

Once the pork is pulled, you can mix it with some of the smoky BBQ sauce. Serve the pulled pork on a bun with extra BBQ sauce on the side, or use it as a filling for tacos, topping for nachos, or in any other dish you like. Your homemade, smoke-infused, juicy pulled pork with a smoky BBQ sauce is sure to impress your guests and satisfy your craving for a mouthwatering, tender, and flavorful barbecue feast.

Fine-Tuning the Smokey BBQ Sauce Flavor

Every pulled pork recipe is only as good as the BBQ sauce that accompanies it. The sauce is what imparts a unique flavor profile to your dish, making it truly memorable. It’s the perfect time to add your personal touch and really make it your own. In this step, we’ll be fine-tuning the smoky BBQ sauce we prepared earlier.

Start by tasting the sauce. Note the sweet, sour, and smoky flavors. The brown sugar adds a rich sweetness, while the apple cider vinegar contributes a pleasant tang. The smoked paprika and liquid smoke, on the other hand, lend a deep, smoky flavor. You might want to adjust these elements according to your family’s tastes. For instance, if you prefer a sweeter BBQ sauce, consider adding a bit more brown sugar. If you like it tangier, a splash more of apple cider vinegar will do the trick.

Remember, the sauce’s flavor will intensify during cooking, so it’s important to strike a balance. Moreover, the sauce should complement the flavors of the smoked pork, not overpower them. Once you’re satisfied with the taste, set the sauce aside. It’s ready to be slathered onto your beautifully smoked pork shoulder.

From Smoker to Dinner Table: Serving Your Pulled Pork

After hours of patient waiting and monitoring, your pork shoulder has been transformed into a tender, juicy, and incredibly flavorful masterpiece. It’s time to serve your smoked pulled pork and impress your guests with your culinary prowess.

Allow the pork shoulder to rest for about 30 minutes after you’ve removed it from the smoker. This is an important step to lock in the juices and ensure that your pork is tender and moist. Once rested, use two forks or your hands to pull the meat apart. You’ll find it falls apart easily under the slightest pressure, a sure sign that you’ve nailed the slow cooking process.

Now comes the moment of truth – mixing your smoked pulled pork with the smoky BBQ sauce. Make sure every bit of meat is well coated with the sauce. The smooth, tangy, and smoky sauce should seep into the tender pulled pork, enhancing its flavor and adding a delightful richness.

Serve your BBQ pulled pork on a soft bun, with a side of coleslaw or pickles, and an extra serving of BBQ sauce for those who love a saucy bite. Alternatively, use it as a filling for tacos, or a topping for nachos – the possibilities are endless.

As you and your guests take the first bite of the tender, smoky, and juicy pulled pork, you’ll be met with a burst of flavors – from the smoky undertones of the pork shoulder to the tangy sweetness of the BBQ sauce. This is the moment when all your hard work pays off – the moment you realize that you’ve just cooked the ultimate pulled pork with a smoky BBQ sauce.


The process of making the ultimate pulled pork with a smoky BBQ sauce in your backyard might seem daunting at first, but as you can see, it’s all about patience, the right ingredients, and the proper techniques. From selecting the perfect pork butt, preparing a flavorful dry rub, managing the smoker’s internal temperature, to creating a balanced BBQ sauce, each step contributes to the final, mouthwatering result.

With this guide, you’re not just learning a recipe; you’re learning a skill – the art of slow cooking, the mastery of flavors, and the joy of serving a meal made with love. So, fire up that smoker, invite some friends over, and impress everyone with your homemade, smoke-infused, pulled pork – the perfect centerpiece of any barbecue feast.