pork butt

Pulled Pork is nothing more than slow smoked pork butt or pork shoulder. But which is it? They are from two different ends of the animal. Well they do and they don’t because really it’s both. They are one in the same and the terms will be used interchangeably in this post. A pork butt is not from the butt of the pig. It was named a butt after the barrels called butts that they were shipped in back in the days of the wooden sailing ship. Both pork butt and pork shoulder make pulled pork. I’ll hand it over to Tom from here to take care of the ingredients and grilling instructions…

Pulled Pork Marinade Ingredients:

2 pork butts/shoulder (same thing) approximately 4.5 lbs each
4 cups apple juice, divided
1/2 cup fresh, minced garlic, divided
1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ rub

First of all, place each pork butt in apple juice,  garlic, and rub into a resealable plastic bag or other container and marinate from 4-24 hours in the fridge:

pork butt
One of the Butts

Remove from the marinade and pat dry:

pork butt
Butts Ready for the Rub

Pulled Pork Rub Ingredients:

2 tbs onion powder
4 tbs of your favorite BBQ Seasoning
2 tbs garlic powder
4 tbs Spanish paprika
4 tbs kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
Olive oil

Rub Ingredients
Rub Ingredients and the two Butts

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Coat each pork shoulder with olive oil and then the rub.  When applying the rub, be liberal. Think of how much surface area there is compared to the meat in one pork butt. If you go light, then the rub will have little impact on the flavor of the meat.

Rubbed Butts
Rubbed Butts

Set up grill, in this case a Kamado style, for indirect grilling which means putting a plate setter between the fire and the grill grate. In a regular grill, put coals and smoke wood on one side and the meat on the other.

Target temperature of the grill is between 225-250. Put your favorite smoke wood on the coals and smoke the butts for approximately 2 hours per pound, until internal temp is 185-190°. For a very extensive list of smoke woods and what foods they pair well with, click this link.

Time to get to the grilling. Here are the two pork shoulders when they were first put on the grill:

Butts on the Grill
On the Grill

Pork shoulders at the three hour mark:

Butts after three hours on the grill
3 hours in

Somewhere around the 5-6 hour mark, you will experience the stall. That’s when the collagen inside the pork shoulders melts and cools the meat down. Similar to throwing water on a fire. The steady climb of the temps on your probe thermometer will stall out for up to an hour, only rising a few degrees. Be patient. Don’t add more fuel to the grill. Just relax, have an adult libation and enjoy your time by the grill.

8 hours in the smoker and the pork shoulders are looking perfect:

Rubbed Butts 8 hours in
8 hours

At this point, pull each pork butt off the grill and wrap in foil to cool down and allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. The shoulders will continue to cook while resting in foil for a little while. Let the pork shoulders rest in the foil for an hour:

Foiled Butt
Rats, Foiled Again

Shred meat from the pork shoulders with a couple of these cool meat forks if you have them:

Shredding Forks
Shredding Forks
Closeup of the Shredding Forks
Closeup of the Shredding Forks

Or you can use regular forks or even your fingers:

Shredding Fingers
Pulling the Old Fashioned Way

The sweetness of the apple juice melds beautifully with the savory of the rub.  This pulled pork didn’t need any sauce. It was that good on its own. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or comments about this recipe, feel free to leave them below.

Here are all of our grilled pork recipes

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Pulled Pork: Back to the Basics

A simple marinated and rubbed pulled pork recipe done low and slow in a smoker
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time9 hrs
Total Time9 hrs 10 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Servings: 12 -14



  • 9 lb pork butt/shoulder (2 butts, approximately 4.5 lbs each)
  • 4 cup apple juice divided
  • ½ cup garlic minced, divided
  • ¼ cup your favorite BBQ rub


  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 4 tbsp your favorite BBQ rub
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp Spanish paprika
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • olive oil



  • Place the marinade ingredients in a water tight container along with the pork shoulders and soak in the fridge for 4-24 hours


  • Combine the dry ingredients of the rub in a bowl and mix well
  • Coat the outside of the pork butts with olive oil and then liberally apply the rub


  • Set up the grill for two zone or indirect grilling which means a plate setter between the fire and the grill grates in a Kamado style grill or coals on side and nothing on the other in a regular grill
  • Target temperature of the grill is between 225-250F
  • Place a chunk your favorite smoke wood on the coals and the pork shoulders on over the plate setter in a Kamado or on the side with no heat in a regular grill
  • Smoke for approximately 2 hours per pound of one pork butt (not combined weight) until they reach an internal temperature of between 185-190F
  • Remove from the grill, wrap in foil and allow to rest for an hour
  • Shred with fingers or shredding forks
  • Serve with buns, slaw and BBQ sauce on the side but don't expect people to eat a lot of sauce. They won't need it.


Tom Jones

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

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It’s hard to beat great smoked pork isn’t it? How long did you marinade the pork for?



Overnight. But you could go a couple days if you wanted to…


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