I love pork shoulder! It’s easy to make, full of flavor and a versatile protein for many different meal types! If you’re cooking pulled pork, you want to make it on a grill or smoker because the wood-fired flavor is unmatched when it’s combined with our Smokin Sweetness Rub, Midnight Rub, apple Juice, butter and brown sugar. Your family and friends will love it!
8-10 lb Pork Shoulder bone-in or bone-out (will make 25-32 5oz Servings)
1/4 cup Apple Juice
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter (softened)
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Apple Juice (optional for injection)
Your favorite BBQ Sauce and/or condiments
1. Heat Smoker to 275 degrees
2. Put on your gloves and use your knife to cut open the package and set the pork on the cookie sheet. Discard the packaging.
3. If not injecting, skip to step 4. If injecting, use a whisk or spoon to mix the apple cider vinegar and apple juice in a bowl until combined. Then filling the meat injector, inject the solution in a grid pattern around the pork shoulder. It may squirt you from different areas, so please keep your head on a swivel for that surprise!
4. Let the meat rest for 30 -60 minutes. This step helps the injection penetrate the meat fibers and the acidity in the injection solution break them down further tenderizing the meat.
5. Using your “clean hand”, hold the shaker of seasoning and liberally season the meat all around, getting in the cracks and crevices if there are any.
6. Let the meat sit for about 20-30 minutes, getting it closer to room temperature or go to the next step and put it right on the grill (fat side up).
7. When the smoker is holding its temperature at 275 degrees, set the meat on the grill. If you have a meat probe, push it in to the thickest part of meat not touching the grill grates. If using a grill to smoke with the offset heat method, set the meat on the grill opposite of the coals/wood.
8. Let the pork cook for at least 1 hour before checking the temperature. Also refill/replenish coals or wood as needed to maintain internal smoker temperature. The meat will take in the most smoke penetration during this first 4 hours.
9. When the meat hits an internal temperature of 165 degrees, pull off the grill onto a foil-lined pan making sure to have the foil sealed to keep juices in. If you have butcher paper, place a layer on top of the foil. The butcher paper allows the meat to breathe and more of that luscious bark to form.
10. While in the pan, cover with the butter, brown sugar and ¼ cup of apple juice & apple cider vinegar. Wrap it up without spilling juices and place back on the smoker.
11. When the meat hits an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees, check the doneness by using an instant-read meat thermometer, push into the thicker parts of the meat, not near the bone, checking to see if it slides in and out like butter! If so, pull to the roasting pan and let rest in a cooler or unheated oven for at least 60 minutes. If not, leave on the smoker for another 30 minutes before trying this step again!
12. Optimal resting time is 2-4 hours. Allowing the meat to rest gives it an opportunity to reabsorb any juices that cooked out and are sitting in the foil wrap.
13. After the meat has rested, unwrap and discard the wrap, but keep the juices in the pan. Pull the bone out and set aside or give to your hungry dog! If it slides out without much effort, you know you have a tender hunk of meat in your presence!
14. Use the meat claws or the two forks (or your hands if you can stand the heat to “pull” the meat apart or shred and shake on some more Hook’s Rub to provide another pop of flavor. If there are any fatty chunks that are inedible, give to your dog or discard.
15. At this point, you can use your favorite BBQ sauce to eat alone or plop a handful on some buns, top with your favorite condiments and SMASH the sandwich!
PRO TIP 1 (After Step 4): When I cook, when seasoning the meat, I like to have one “clean hand” and one “dirty hand” so as to not contaminate the rub bottle, utensils, etc with meat juice. Using gloves, make the decision which is your “seasoning shake/clean hand” and which is your “move the meat/dirty” hand! This step will save you that little thought in the back of your head if you wiped down your shaker, tools or pans!
PRO TIP 2 (After Step 9): You are looking for a beautiful mahogany color on the meat at this point.
PRO TIP 3 (After Step 11): Pulled Pork is at it’s most flavorful when you cook it to “poke through tender” which means, it’s done when you poke it with a meat thermometer and it slides in like melted butter! Normally pitmasters give you an internal temp to finish at, but in some cases, it’s not “poke through tender” which will lead to meat that’s still tougher than you want to chew through. I don’t have an issue with the “temp method,” but I have had more success and happy bellies when using the “poke through” method! When your pork is about 190-200 degrees, then poke in a few places to check for that slide in! It could be done at 190 degrees, but also could be done at 210 degrees!