Pulled Pork Barbecue

21 Hour Pulled Pork ButtPulled pork barbecue is different depending on what area of the country you are in.. I am in the midwest so my instructions will have a western/Texas flair to it. Perhaps later I will include instructions for doing it the famous North Carolina way.

Pulled pork barbecue is made from the pork shoulder but usually it is not the entire shoulder that is smoked but rather just the butt half of it. The lower part of the shoulder known as the “Picnic” will work but is not as good in my opinion.

Another common name for the pork butt is “Boston Butt”.

These instructions will tell you how to prepare and smoke a pork butt so that when it is done it will literally fall apart with no pulling required and it will melt in your mouth just like butter.

If you follow my instructions you will accomplish a great thing and everyone will be talking about your pulled pork barbecue for a long, long time.

Find a Boston Butt at the meat market or grocery store that has lots of fat marbling and still has the bone in it.. try to find one in the 7-8 pound range.

The night before you are going to smoke it, remove it from the package and wash it real good with cool water.

Rub a nice thin layer of regular yellow mustard all over the butt.. this will help the rub to stick and will create a nice crust when it is all done. (don’t worry.. it won’t taste like mustard once it is cooked)

Mix up a batch of Jeff’s Naked Rib Rub (unbelievable flavor) and rub it all over the butt making sure to work it all down into every nook and cranny of the butt.

Put the butt in a pan with a lid and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Note: you can put on the mustard/rub right before smoking but it is better if you let it sit for several hours.

About an hour before smoking, remove the pork butt from the fridge and let it sit on the counter while you prepare the smoker for smoking.

Get a fire going that will maintain 225 degrees using lump charcoal or real wood burned down to coals.

Once the fire is regulated and the smoker is starting to put out smoke, place the butt in the smoker and leave it be for two hours.


You can count on the pork butt taking about 1.5 hours per pound. If you have an eight pound butt then it will require 12 hours to finish depending on how well you maintain 225 degrees and other variables such as wind, rain, outdoor temperature, etc.


Making pulled pork barbecue is quite a long process but is worth every minute in the end. Pork shoulder is fairly forgiving so don’t freak if you let it get too hot on you or you let it cook too long. I would not say that for brisket or ribs but pulled pork barbecue is another story.

After two hours in the smoker, you will want to start mopping the butt with apple juice. Now many folks use a little brush or a very miniature tool that resembles a mop but I like to use a spray bottle so as to not disturb the crust that is forming on the outside of the meat.

Regardless of the method you choose, mop once every hour beginning at the end of the second hour.

Keep applying smoke to the pork shoulder until it reaches 140-145 degrees.

Once the butt reaches 145 degrees, remove the butt from the smoker and wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil with a splash of apple juice just before closing it up.

Place it back in the smoker and continue to maintain the heat at 225 degrees with no additional smoke needed.

Using a digital probe meat thermometer, monitor the temperature of the butt and let it cook until it reaches 205 degrees.

Once it reaches this temperature, remove it from the smoker but do not unwrap it yet. Instead wrap it in a thick towel and place it in a tight cooler for about 2 hours undisturbed.

After two hours remove the butt from the cooler, remove the towel and then open the foil slightly to let the heat escape.

Once the heat begins to escape the juices will begin to redisribute throughout the pork butt.

Note: do no open the foil all of the way yet or the meat will fall apart without letting the juices redistribute.

Allow it to rest for about 20 minutes and then open the foil.. the meat will literally fall apart.

You can break it apart a little more if you like, place the pieces in a 9 x 13 cake pan and be sure to pour the juices from the foil over the meat when you are done.

Enjoy as is with my Goodness Gracious Sakes Alive BBQ Sauce or put it on a hamburger bun with coleslaw.

At any rate.. enjoy your delicious pulled pork barbecue!


  1. Kenneth Roe says:

    Ive made this multiple times and it is amazing

  2. Thanks. I had trouble getting up to finished temp until I tried your foil wrap. Perfect!

  3. This works to a T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. All of sudden the temperature STOPPED rising after it hit 180….then in about 30 minutes it started rising. No panic here. Waited till 200 then did the two hour Towel Hour in my cooler.

    Turned out perfect!!!

  5. i have such a problem getting the internal temp up high enough on the smoker. i had a 4lb boston butt on this morning for 5 hours and the internal temp was only 136. the temp of smoker starts out a little high, but i was able to stay around 225-250. not sure what i am doing wrong.

    • What style smoker are you using? I have 5 different kinds all with specific uses. None of them are high end models but all work well if used for specific things.

      For long smokes, an offset smoker seems to be the ticket because you can use a coal chimney to pre-heat good amounts of fuel and dump it into the fire box without loosing heat waiting for it to take off again.

      I like my “bullet” smoker or water smoker for whole chickens etc… because I can feed small amounts of fuel into it to keep it going.

      I just did a salmon fillet in a little electric smoker this weekend and it was perfect.

      I’m planning on about 25 lbs of pork butts in the offset smoker tomorrow and searching for some good run recipes.

      • Stacy Mckinney says:

        I would also suggest purchasing a gas smoker. It is easy to maintain the heat. It has a smoker box at the bottom for chips or what i use chunks of hickory, a water pan and 4 racks above that. The meat cooked in it comes out amazing!!

  6. Pardon. “RUB” recipes.

  7. Thanks for the instructions. I basically have followed this process, but never had a good rule of when to wrap it in foil and rest it in an oven at 150. The 140 deg rule will help me get more repeatable dish – thanks. The cooler idea is great, especially when traveling to a potluck, as long as you don’t have to pullover for a taste, I have been known to spritz with applejack,which adds something to the crust. My family swears by the small slider-size Hawaiian sweet rolls over hamburger buns – give them a try.

    Take my word for it, no peeking, keep that lid on, you’re letting the smoke out ! Happy BBQ


  8. please answer a question…do you put pork butt on smoker wrapped in foil in the beginning???

    • When smoking, you never want to wrap in foil at the beginning. Scientifically, the meat will take on more smoke at the beginning of the cook than it will toward the end and at the beginning is when the smoke ring is formed. If you want to use foil, cook the pork butt in the smoker directly on the grate or in an open pan until it reaches about 160 degrees then wrap in foil with a splash of apple juice and let it go until it reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees. It will literally fall apart on it’s own and you won’t need those bear claws to pull it. Save the drippings and after separating the fat from it, mix it back in just before serving to juice it up a little.

    • no after it reaches 140-150 degrees. are the smoke wont penatrate the meat.

  9. If I place the butt in a aluminum pan is it necessary to use a water pan.Also if wrapping it at150dre. with foil would I have to use the water pan at all.Made ribbs with the 3-2-1 and no water but kept misting with Dr pepper and they were goooooood.Thank you.

  10. If smoking, you need to have water in the smoker. If you use a wire rack to keep the meat elevated then yes, put water in the pan. You can even place a heat-proof bowl with water in it on one of the racks in the smoker.

  11. What do I do different if I smoke it on a thursday and travel to serve it on saturday. How best to reheat without losing moisture.

  12. New to smoking have friends that we get together and have a friendly Smoke Off. The first time I used this method I was proclaimed “The Mayor of Favor Town” for whatever that might be worth. This method is outstanding and idiot proof if I could pull it off. Thanks for the Help!

  13. This might be a stupid question but do you stop basting the butt every hour once your wrap it in foil?

  14. William radtke says:

    I’m smoking two pork butts 8 pounds each and I also have it in a aluminum pan the juice is that come from the pork I was told to boil it and then season of a little bit and then put it back into the meat just checking does that sound right

  15. Ok got up at 3 A.M. to try this out. Wish me luck as this will be my first attempt ever. Thank you for the tips Ill post how it turned out.

  16. I am going to attempt this tomorrow. A couple of questions before I get started. About how many total hours do I need for this. If I want to serve this about 6 tomorrow evening what time should I start. I don’t really want to start it before 6 tomorrow morning will that give me enough time? Also should I cut some of the fat off before I begin?

    • Russell Lloyd says:

      Doing a brisket and a 8# Boston but I’m my offset stick burner 3 hours at 250 then moped and wrapped will stay at 230 till done the bark looked awesome will stay with charcoal till done

  17. 2 hour cooler thing, full of ice in the cooler I assume? Also, once you wrap it in e foil and take it to 205, any approximate length of time it takes to do that?


    • No ice.. you just use the cooler because it’s insulated and holds in the heat real well. I place the wrapped meat on the bottom usually and then fill any remaining space with more towels, pillows, etc. to further insulate the box.

      It’s hard to say how long it takes to get from wrapping it to 205.. a lot of variables go into this. You can usually figure on a normal pork butt taking about 12-14 hours total so however long it takes to reach 160, just subtract that number of hours from 13 and you’ll have a pretty good estimate give or take an hour or so.

  18. I use a water smoker and always have great results. I usually let it reat after it reaches about 195 F. I have not tried the foil wrap and waited but I will. My question is however, once you wrap the meat tightly why not place it in the oven on 225 for the remaining time? I have done this twice and it seemed fine and I got a break from less watching the smoker.

  19. Have used this method 4 times now and let me say it is the best!!!! Thanks

  20. Im smoking now. About how long per pound do you continue to cook after the meat is wrapped in foil. Ive got about a 6 pound butt.

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