Best pulled pork recipe for smoker – Best rub and temp

What’s the best way to smoke pulled pork? Whether in tacos, sandwiches or on a salad, it’s a super easy and awesome tasting way to feed the crowd. Pulled pork is such an incredibly versatile way to serve a casual meal to large groups of people that when I started using a smoker, finding the best pulled pork recipe for a smoker became a bit of an obsession. I searched the web and watched dozens of videos. I learned quite a bit so, let’s get started!

Which cut of meat to use for pulled pork?

Pulled pork is made from pork shoulder. The entire pork shoulder is comprised of two cuts of meat: a butt and a picnic ham.  We are looking for the butt. It can be found in most places you shop for groceries. Look for Boston Butt, Pork Butt, or Pork Shoulder. They are available as either bone-in or boneless. I prefer bone-in as it simplifies keeping things together during the cook and also testing for done. Don’y buy a Pork Loin roast – different cut altogether and it won’t pull.

How do I prepare a pork shoulder for best pulled pork on the smoker?

There’s really not much to do! Preparation styles vary. Some folks just rinse and pat dry, lots of folks will use yellow mustard as a binder. I prefer to use just a light coat of olive oil to ensure the rub adheres to the meat. It’s less messy than the mustard and gives a nice color to the bark. After adding whatever binder you choose, it’s time to add the rub.

What kind of rub to use for the best pulled pork?

Here’s where the variety comes into play. Are you going for Texas, Carolina, Memphis, or some other type of pulled pork? The rub you choose (and the wood) is what makes the difference in flavor. It’s fun to try different rubs and whichever you choose, it’ll still turn out great. I usually go with a Texas style rub. It’s really simple and doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the meat. it’s equal parts kosher salt and pepper with some onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. It doesn’t need to be more complicated that that. Check out this really good video by Aaron Franklin who walks through all the steps including the cook!



What kind of smoker for best pulled pork?

Pulled pork works really well on any type of smoker. I’ve have great results regardless of whether it’s electric, charcoal, wood, gas, or electric. You can definitely do this! If you don’t have a smoker yet, check out my post on what type of smoker you should buy.

Smoked pork butt with dark crusty bark from a Smokin-It model 3 electric smoker
My best recipe for pulled pork – nice bark

What is the best technique for smoking pulled pork?

The best technique is the one that works for you. Pulled pork on a smoker is very simple. The vast majority of recipes call for smoking at 275 degrees, fat side up, until internal temp hits 160, or for 5 hours, or until the fat cap begins to split (as shown in the video above). They all happen around the same time so don’t be too concerned. Most folks will baste or spritz with some liquid every hour or so. At this point, take it off, add some moisture, and wrap tightly in foil. Return it to the smoker until it hits 195-203 degrees (depending on who you listen to). I use 200 degrees. Let it rest for 30 minutes and pull it apart with a couple of forks or specially made claws.

What is the best way to serve pulled pork?

You and your guests will love it any way you serve it. In soft taco shells with some coleslaw, tomatoes, jalapenos, cheese and your favorite sauce is a great way to eat them. Anther fave is on slider buns with some slaw and your favorite BBQ sauce. Or just plain on top of a salad is another fantastic low-carb option.  I also love leftover pulled pork with scrambled eggs in the morning – simply fantastic.

Smoked pulled pork in foil pan pulled apart and ready to be served on tacos, salads, or sandwiches
My favorite pulled pork = ready to serve

What is the best way to store and reheat pulled pork?

Pulled pork is always at it’s absolute best immediately after being pulled. However, life sometimes creates challenges. If serving the next day or you’re lucky enough to have left overs, I’ve had great luck by tossing the pork with a bit of BBQ sauce and storing in gallon storage bags. Reheating in hot water or (in a pinch) the microwave will produce some good results.


The best pulled pork recipe for the smoker is usually the one you are making today. There are so many ways to do this right it’s one of my top 5 recipes for the smoker. Enjoy all the variations available and enjoy eating smoked meat. Life is too short to eat bad BBQ!

Recent Posts