pulled pork in the oven 124

pulled pork in the oven

Pulled pork is easily one of my top three favorite foods in the universe. It works on so many levels, especially the “tasting really good” level. But it’s also a great crowd pleaser (we cooked it for our wedding!), easy leftovers, and has real foodie appeal due to the time, palate, and skill needed to make legit “barbecue” (I know some of you were waiting for me to call it that, you can relax now). Yes, you can throw a bunch of pork in a crock pot and you’ll still end up with something good to eat, but there are wonderful levels of flavor that can be brought to the dish with just a little planning and attention. This is going to be a long post, but that’s just because I think it’s better to explain pulled pork in detail.

Right off the bat, I’ll affirm that I am by no means a barbecue expert. Most of the skill I’ve developed in this area and many others came from eating something delicious made by a pro and then trying to figure it out myself. In this case, my biggest asset and all-around favorite resource for all things barbecue is Meathead over at Amazing Ribs. He’s my kind of guy: he goes into nerdy amounts of detail about everything from smoking techniques to the science of slow cooking to the regional flavors and preferences around the country. You could (and I did) spend hours reading and learning about barbecue, and you are almost guaranteed to need some pork by the end. He even has lots of great recipes by him and other readers, with plenty of explanation. I’m not ashamed to plug another site when it does something well, and Meathead has done a great job making a resource for the rest of us.

So with what I’ve learned through others and through my own experiments, here is my official tutorial to the best pulled pork that’s ever come out of your kitchen so far. It’s going to be cooked in the oven, so for all you purists out there who are getting a little nervous and preparing to defend real barbecue in the comments section, I’ll start by saying this: the best pulled pork is made in a smoker. Hands down. If you know what you’re doing with a smoker (and if you have one, I guess) you have no excuse to not be out there doing the right thing and slow smoking your pork. Or, if you make my pork from this recipe and really enjoy it, I’d encourage you to learn how to smoke and take it to the next level. I have my own custom smoker that I built from a Weber Smokey Joe grill (that can be another post if you’re interested), and I agree there’s nothing better than real smoked meat.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s January or you can’t sit outside by the smoker all day, and personally I’d rather eat good food than be a purist sometimes. In these situations, your oven can work just fine. If you have the chance to smoke the pork butt for an hour or two, or if you’re not afraid to cautiously use wood chips in your oven (like me), feel free to do so, just so you get that smokey flavor. Otherwise, it’s still going to be awesome. Let’s get to it.

The techniques and temperatures come from Meathead’s post on pulled pork.

First, get yourself a pork butt. Pork butt is the front shoulder of a pig, and is dark, fatty and tough. It’s also some of the nicest and richest meat on the pig if you treat it right. If you can’t find pork butt or it’s too expensive, an okay second choice is a picnic roast, which is also sometimes called pork picnic or pork butt picnic. It’s just the next section down on the leg, and although it still tastes great, it’s not quite as dark and lovely as its big brother.

pulled pork in the oven

Once you have your butt, rinse it and trim it of any major areas of visible surface fat. This is less about calories and more about flavor: the fat will mostly melt and run off during cooking, so any spices and whatnot that are rubbed on the surface will go with them. Don’t worry about getting all of it, just trim any big chunks.

The next step is one of the most important ones. Brush the meat lightly with vegetable oil, and apply a spice rub evenly over the entire surface. You don’t have to go crazy, a thin layer will do, but try to get good coverage. The idea of the spice rub is to leave it for several hours or ideally overnight, so it will permeate and flavor the surface of the meat. Additionally, the salt and sugar in the rub will help pull moisture out of the meat’s surface, allowing a nice layer of crust or “bark” to develop while cooking. You can use your spice rub of choice, but I long ago fell in love with Meathead’s Memphis Dust recipe and use it every time. I scaled it down since I barbecue less frequently, so here’s the ratios for one pork butt or so:

Meathead’s Memphis Dust from Amazingribs.com:

2 tb brown sug

2 tb white sug

4 tsp paprika

2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp ginger powder

1/3 tsp rosemary powder

(I also add a few pinches of chipotle powder or cayenne)

Massage the rub gently into the meat, then wrap it fairly tightly and refrigerate overnight.

pulled pork in the oven

On the day you’re cooking, get the meat out and preheat your oven. Depending on how much time you have, you can cook pulled pork anywhere between 225-275°F, and even crank to 300°F toward the end if you’re in a hurry (ribs are pickier, so don’t be so frivolous with temperatures if you’re making them). The goal is to get the meat to 190° very slowly, so that the proteins, fats, and collegen can all have time to break down slowly and so a nice “bark” can develop. This will take between 8 and 12 hours depending on how much meat you have, how hot you’re cooking, and how hungry you are (it’ll take longer if you’re hungrier, trust me). And for those of you like me who are impatient and like to cut corners, you cannot and should not skimp on the final cooking temperature. The pork will be “cooked” at around 160°, but the collagen will not break down and the meat won’t fall apart perfectly until 190°. So calm down.

I use a rig in my oven to create an open but moist environment. Place a large pan on the oven rack and fill with a quart or two of water. Over that, place some metal cooling racks (or the grate from your grill if it’ll fit) and place your meat on the rack. This will allow for moisture in the air, without the sauna effect that you’d get in a slow cooker that would prevent a crust developing.

pulled pork in the oven

Cook the pork for the rest of your life. Every few hours, check the internal temperature (or leave a probe in the meat so you don’t have to open the oven as much). Around 150°, the temperature will stop rising for an uncomfortably long time and you’ll be tempted to turn up the heat, but don’t worry about it. It’s part of the process.

pulled pork in the oven

When the meat finally reaches 190°, remove it from the oven (or turn the oven off) and let it rest for 30-60 minutes (let’s be honest, you’re going to pick 30, aren’t you?).

pulled pork in the oven

Take two forks or some other claw-like implements and pull the pork apart. It should come pretty easy. Make sure you pull the bark apart and mix it into the rest of the meat; it adds a lot of flavor.

pulled pork in the oven

Sauce: purists eat pork with little or no sauce. I like sauce, but I’ve learned to resist drowning the meat in it. You just put a lot of work into making a delicious meal, and you need to respect it like you would a good steak. Right now I really like Carolina style, vinegary-but-still-ketchupy sauces, so I put a little of that on my sandwich and that’s it. Alternatively, you can mix some sauce into all the pulled pork so it has a light coating but isn’t overwhelmed. It’s nice to have some on the side so people can decide how much they want.

Now- we’re done! You made amazing pulled pork in your oven. Eat it. With lots of people, on a great roll, with something classic like baked beans or cole slaw on the side. Please admit it’s one of the best things ever. What’s your favorite barbecue experience?


pulled pork in the oven

Don’t forget to sign up for the emails if you haven’t yet!

Happy cooking!

124 thoughts on “pulled pork in the oven

  1. Reply Tiffany Apr 4, 2012 3:37 pm


    Trying this out from the UK, couple of questions if you dont mind!

    1) i’m using cider in the rig in the oven, would you advise covering the pork while it cooks or not really?

    2) what kind of oven setting do you advise? Fan on? fan off?

    thanks very much!

    • Reply Todd Apr 4, 2012 5:00 pm

      Hi Tiffany! I don’t think you’ll taste the cider if you’re using it as the steaming liquid. I’d recommend leaving the pork uncovered so the outside has a chance to crust up and make the “bark”. If you’re cooking the pork at a higher temperature like 300°F (which is quicker but not quite as good) it might get a darker crust and you could cover for part of the cook, but again I’d skip it.

      I don’t turn a fan on, but if you decided to actually smoke some wood chips in your oven (which I’ve done, but it makes your whole place smokey) it probably would make sense to run it.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  2. Reply Tiffany Apr 5, 2012 5:32 am

    Hey Todd, thanks very much for your help! Starting the cooking process now so will let you know what the end result is like later!

  3. Reply Amanda Jul 28, 2012 3:22 am

    Out of curiosity how many people will this serve. Obviously it depends on the weight of the cut, I am just trying to plan accordingly. I need to feed around 20-30 people.
    Thanks Amanda

    • Reply Todd Jul 28, 2012 10:37 am

      If you’re using a bone-in pork shoulder (which I like better), you can usually plan on losing about half the original weight after cooking due to the bone, fat cooking off, moisture loss, etc. 6-8 ounces is a great sandwich size if you’re not serving much else, so for 25 people you’d want to shoot for about 20 pounds of uncooked, bone-in pork butt. Butts are usually 8-12 pounds, so 2 or 3 would probably add up to the right amount.

      I cooked about ten of these for our wedding, actually! We had lots of other food so I did the math differently for that, but it was a big hit. Please let me know how it goes!

  4. Reply Pam Aug 9, 2012 1:13 pm

    I am having a party that starts around 1 pm. Do you think it would be ok to put this in the oven the night and let it cook all night? I obviously wouldn’t be able to check it every couple hours. Let me know what you think!

    • Reply Todd Aug 9, 2012 3:03 pm

      Yeah! I think that would be fine, especially since the temperature is relatively low. I would leave it more in the 225 degree range if you’re doing it that long, so you don’t overcook… you can always raise the temperature once you get up if it’s not quite there.

      • Reply Pam Aug 10, 2012 11:23 am

        Thanks! I would put it in late – like 11 pm and pull it out in the morning. I will let you know how it turns out.

  5. Reply Emily Sep 26, 2012 4:03 pm

    My pulled pork method is fairly similar to yours – the overnight dry rub is key! I was hoping you could elaborate a little more regarding using the wood chips in the oven. Do you put the meat directly on top of the chips? Make a packet from foil? How much wood to use and do you keep it in the whole cook time?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Reply Todd Sep 26, 2012 7:01 pm

      Well I’ll do a disclaimer that it’s probably not a warranty-sanctioned activity, and it’ll also smoke up your house pretty well if you don’t have a good hood fan over your oven.
      What I’ve done, though, is put about a cup of wood chips in a foil packet. Leave the top cracked, or poke holes in it to let the smoke out, and it might not hurt to put them in a little oven safe pan as well.. Your oven won’t be hot enough to get them smoking, so what I’ve done is drizzle the wood chips with oil and then light them, or torch them with a little blowtorch I have. You only need smoke really for the first 30-45 minutes to get some of the flavor, so just check every once in awhile and make sure it’s still smoking.

      A much better idea is just to get it on a cool part of your grill and do some indirect smoking for an hour there, then finish in the oven… a little more reliable and authentic, and a few less smoke alarms and complaining family members. Good luck!

  6. Reply Alan Oct 19, 2012 9:12 am

    Thanks for the great info! I have an electric smoker, but when I crawled out of bed this morning to start it up, I found a dead heating element. With an 8lb pork butt perfectly rubbed 12hrs earlier and a disfunctional smoker, I was all revved up with no place to go. Your tips made me feel better about using my oven as a backup. I’m hoping the overnite rub helps make up for the lack of smoke.

  7. Reply Steve Huff Oct 20, 2012 8:59 pm

    i’m 59. this was my 1st attempt. at pulled pork. i followed your instructions and was amazed. wow. great flavor. i already had my meat before i found your guide.so i had a 6.5 lb pork loin. but it worked. cooked faster though. i cooked at 250 with water in pan beneath the roast. i made rub from things in my cabinet. didn’t have everything you mentioned but most. meat reached 190 in 6.5 hours. i waited 1 hr with it in oven turned off. it pulled apart so easily. was so moist. the crust was great too. am taking a bowl full to a friend’s house tomorrow for help in finishing it all. thank you for sharing how to do this in the oven.

  8. Reply debbie Oct 30, 2012 9:06 am

    Tips good, generally smoke mine but is to
    cold and not practical during the week
    I needed to do the overnight method… however as when I smoke I covered mine in
    mustard not oil before the rub, I also inject mine with some additional flavoring
    before covering with mustard and rub…at
    every class I have been to it has made very clear that the mustard will break down the connective tissue of the tough meat..and you get no taste of it, also seems to help build the BARK…which is my favorite part. I did spend about 2 hours grilling mine with wood chips soaked in water on the grill to get the smokey taste..then oven for the night at 225 turned out almost as good made me rethink the 1200.00 dollars I had spent 2 summers ago on a smoker…

  9. Reply Traci Dec 23, 2012 11:12 pm

    So my dilemma: I have a 16 lb. boneless butt. I need it for pulled pork for tomorrow. It’s mostly still frozen. It’s 15 degrees outside. What’s my options? Oven at what temp., how long, and is frozen start ok? Please help.

    • Reply Todd Dec 24, 2012 4:41 pm

      Traci, sorry I didn’t respond sooner– oven for 8-12 hours uncovered at something like 250 degrees. You can push it to 300 if you’re in a crunch. Probably too late to help you today, but hopefully helpful for the future!

  10. Reply Ron Dec 29, 2012 6:51 am

    Hey guys

    Doing pulled pork the way I do it in the restaurant 20 lbs of pulled pork a deboned an cut into smaller pices, put into a deep pan rubbed with cinnamon capoltele covered with plastic wrap then foil an put in the preheated oven the was set at 160 at 4pm left over night just got up at 6am temp is at 100 internal so I’ll turn the temp up to 300 to finish it off for another 5 hours or do bring the temp up to 190 internal then turning the oven off let stand for 30 to 60 mins uncover pull apart and Sweetbaby rays BBQ sauce and a sweet an spicy sauce also. The pulled pork will be served on a hamburger bun with coleslaw on top of the pulled pork.

  11. Reply Jason Jan 19, 2013 10:00 am

    pork been in for 2 hrs smells great

  12. Reply Amanda Jan 21, 2013 6:06 pm

    the picnic is not from the leg as stated, its the other half of the shoulder.

  13. Reply Helen Jan 24, 2013 3:46 pm

    Hi Todd…..greetings from New Zealand. I saw your recipe and would love to try it out for bbq for 12 people. But I really need your help….!! We work on celsius rather than fahrenheit, kgs instead of pounds…..but can work this out with a conversion table. But I don’t have a lot of time to do a trial so a bit worried about the 5 to 6 hours part…….ie, is there a more accurate calculation as would be worried I could over cook it by an hour….!! Would one hour per pound work….???? Oh and does that change depending on whether it is bone in or without a bone….!! Also how much (in weight) do you allow per person (I can do the conversion) if it is one of four dishes? Can ya tell, I ain’t that confident in the kitchen :( but LOVE your recipe.

    • Reply Todd Jan 24, 2013 9:42 pm

      Hi Helen! Thanks for checking in, and liking the recipe! For a meal with lots of other dishes, you can plan for roughly 4 oz. sandwiches (which is something like 120g or so), and add extra for seconds, etc. If you use a bone-in butt, you’ll lose about half of the original weight between the bone, trimmed fat, and moisture/fat loss during cooking. You can probably just look up a Celsius conversion, but the idea is that you’re cooking a lot lower than you normally would– like in Farenheit, cookies are usually baked around 350 degrees, and this pulled pork should never be above 300 (225-250 is ideal). It’s hard to figure out pounds per hour since it depends on the shape of the meat, bone in vs out, etc… but if you’re worried about time, you can run closer to the 300 degree mark (again, less is better). It’s actually pretty hard to go wrong, so trust your judgment and have fun!

  14. Reply Helen Jan 24, 2013 4:06 pm

    whoops….sorry Todd made a typo…meant the 8-12 hours part.

  15. Reply Micki Jan 29, 2013 4:05 pm


    • Reply Todd Jan 29, 2013 6:43 pm

      Yes, but it won’t really do anything– you won’t taste the flavor on the roast itself. A better bet is to make some kind of wet rub for the meat that involves the liquid smoke, or use it in your final sauce. Good luck!

  16. Reply Spencer Feb 3, 2013 1:02 pm

    I just used this method with a 6.5 lb pork butt with bone. I cooked it at 225 for about six hours then upped the temp to 250 for another six hours and oh my god, it came out kick a–. and the pork the pulls right off the bone. It moist and flavorful. I cooked it to 190 exactly


  17. Reply Jill Feb 20, 2013 4:17 pm

    Hi Todd,

    Could you cook two roasts at the same time (let’s say two 8-lb-ers)? How much would this affect the cooking time?


  18. Reply Mike Feb 21, 2013 12:15 pm

    Hi Todd. Pretty big pulled pork enthusiast. Was just wondering where in the oven do you place the wood chips? Should I soak them first? I have hickory chips and an electric oven. Just wondering best spot. Thanks!

    • Reply Todd Feb 26, 2013 9:37 pm

      haha I wouldn’t recommend doing it. The best solution is to start the pork on a grill using indirect smoking (no heat right below the meat, keep the coals/chips on the other side of the grill) for 30-60 minutes and then finish everything in the oven. My results weren’t reliable enough using chips in the oven to warrant making the house smell smokey all day and risk angry landlords.

  19. Pingback: Budget food/living - Page 25 - London Fixed-gear and Single-speed

  20. Reply Leah Feb 21, 2013 2:32 pm

    Hi there,
    I have been breaking down a pig myself and have been trying various recipes. So glad I was able to find your post in time. I have followed your recipe pretty close other than a few other herbs our family enjoys. I would love to be able to try smoking it outside in my new home-made smoking tee-pee, but I live in Maine and outside we are having quite the storm. So the tee-pee sits and waits for the bacon that is curing in the fridge.
    My question is, you talk about a mixture of juice and vinegar. Could I subsitute the juice for a dark hearty lagar? and add some molasses or honey?
    I am trying to make sure it is on the sweeter side for the boys, but am still learning about cooking. And any hints would greatly appreciated. Thanks

  21. Reply Brian Feb 24, 2013 6:57 am

    I ran across your recipe and am currently giving it a shot!! Thanks for posting !! I’m looking forward to a pulled pork pocket later and plently of leftovers for sandwiches!!! Thanks again

  22. Reply George M. Feb 24, 2013 2:46 pm

    Thank you for the recipe. I had been looking for something better than a slow-cooker to prepare my pulled pork and I reckon I’ve found it! :-)
    I had a 4lb butt roast and set the oven at 225F and after 14 hours the internal temperature was still around 176F. I then turned the oven up to 275F and after another hour the meat was up to 190F. By then it was way past my bedtime so I just let the roast sit in the oven to “rest” for about 8 hours. Hopefully we won’t die after eating it because it was left so long. The morsels I had when picking the meat off were good and moist so I’m looking forward to dinner this evening. Opal the cat loved it too. How do you think a loin would work using this method? Do you think it would be too dry? Anyway, thank you again! :-)

    • Reply Todd Feb 26, 2013 9:40 pm

      That sounds great! I agree that it’s not ideal to leave the meat at room temp that long though. Pork butt is a lot fattier and has more connective tissue than loin, which makes loin much better for quick cooking and way worse for pulled pork. All the fat and collagen that are released in the slow cook at a lot of texture and flavor, and loin turns out feeling dry and less flavorful.

  23. Reply Waje Feb 28, 2013 1:38 am

    Before coming across this site I already applied the rub and wrapped in foil for the night. I have been looking through recipes and am going to try this. Many others recommend searing on top of stove first, what are your thoughts? And if I don’t have large rack to balance on top of pan, can I put meat on rack that fitsinsidepan? I have a 7 pounder, planning dinner for around 6, so thinking to start around 5am, sound about right? Thanks for your input:)

    • Reply Todd Mar 3, 2013 8:41 pm

      Hi Waje– too late to chime in on your dinner, but I tend to skip the searing since the long bake gives plenty of color and texture to the crust already. With something like ribs that gets a similar treatment, I have done a last-minute saucing followed by broiling/searing/grilling to get some nice crust. So– up to you, but I don’t think it needs it.

  24. Reply Waje Feb 28, 2013 12:41 pm

    Well I found a cookie cooling rack and was able to use it. I put the pork butt in the oven at 7:45am at 225, and it is already at 200 on meat thermometer and falling apart! That is wonderful ( I of couse tasted and it was Oh My God delish!!) except dinner isn’t until 5 or 6?? Not sure what to do. Wanted to serve fresh, not reheated like “leftovers”. Pork is resting now….

  25. Reply George M. Mar 2, 2013 2:26 pm

    Hi Todd,
    I’m still alive–and so is the cat! The pulled pork made a very delicious meal! :-) We had it simply rolled in a flour tortilla, with rice and black beans on the side. I’ll take your advice on the loin (I’d tried loin before in a slow-cooker and it ended up really dry) and keep that cut for making pork chops. Thanks again. :-)

  26. Reply Mari-K Mar 7, 2013 5:03 pm

    Any feedback from Pam on August 9, 2012? She was planning on putting it in the oven before bed and letting it cook all night. My husband and I enjoy our pellate smoker, but it is still winter here and a bag of pellates is not the easiest to find at a reasonable price. I have to have a butt cooked for Sunday afternoon and everyone loves our smoked port. I read your set up and I am anxious to try it out but would love to have the meat as fresh as possible. Cooking it overnight Saturday would be perfect if it worked out for Pam. Please let me know.

  27. Reply Alex Mar 9, 2013 3:55 am

    Just put a 5lb pork butt in the oven for a 4pm party tomorrow. Cooking at 225F and used the Memphis Meathead rub. I’ve made this before, but it took an insanely long time (14 hours I think?) to get to 190F. While it was pretty flavorful, it seemed a bit dry. I had a thermometer in the pork, watching it get to 190, but I think it was just placed poorly, and was actually a bit higher. Either way, can’t wait to take this to my brothers 30th bday party. Gonna be serving with two types of slaw, Carolina Kiss & Vinegar sauce and some sort of BBQ sauce (not sure if I will have time to make my own or will have to buy some).

    • Reply Todd Mar 9, 2013 5:45 pm

      Sounds great! Sometimes with a smaller butt like that it can end up a little dry just because there’s more surface area (skin) compared to the volume of the meat — more of the meat is exposed to the air and dries out. Shouldn’t be a huge issue, since that also means it’s more flavorful, and a little sauce to help it out can go a long way. Slaws sound awesome. I want to be at your dinner.

      • Reply Alex Mar 10, 2013 2:53 pm

        I ended up letting it cook overnight at 225 (about 8 hours), then turned it up to 250 when I got up in the morning and let it cook another 4 and a half hours. Took it out when the meat hit 180, and it was amazing. Made The Pioneer Woman’s Jalapeno coleslaw and Booby Flay’s creamy coleslaw. Served on King’s Hawaiian bread and topped with the Carolina Kiss & Vinegar sauce. Everyone loved it, and there was nothing left to bring home. It was by far the best one I’ve done yet.

  28. Reply Jess Mar 21, 2013 8:07 pm

    Omg I tried this tonight, meat is perfect.. I added a little more cayenne to it for a little more spice. The bark is excellent and meat is juicy. Thanks for the step by step detail. I’m definitely doing this every time now.

  29. Reply KRey Mar 27, 2013 8:49 pm

    So happy to have found this recipe. Have now made it three times–it’s a new family favorite.

  30. Reply Sandy Mar 28, 2013 9:15 pm

    I am helping a friend make pulled pork for a wedding of about 250…how many pork butts should I get? I noticed you used 10 for a wedding…how many did that serve? I need lots of help!!! Thanks..Blessings..Sandy

    • Reply Todd Mar 29, 2013 9:30 pm

      Hi! So many factors go into it, so I can’t give you a great answer. Depending how many sides you’re serving, plan on 4-6 ounces of cooked meat per sandwich per person, and plan on your cooked meat weight being about half of your raw (for bone-in butts). I used this site to help me figure out portions for that many people, because it varies a lot: http://www.ellenskitchen.com/

  31. Reply Ian Mar 30, 2013 4:09 am

    UK here! I just found the website, but have just put my pork in the oven (8.00am). I made a rub and let it marinate overnight I the fridge. I added stock and liquid smoke to the bottom off the roasting tin and have the meat covered on a rack above.
    I have the oven on 105 degrees C.
    Am I going majorly wrong anywhere! Planning on eating in about 12 hours.
    Thanks ;0)
    (Oh, it’s an 8 pounder, bone in)

  32. Reply Mark Apr 2, 2013 11:30 am

    Todd – the recipe looks awesome. I am feeding 16 – 18 people this weekend, so will plan on 2 good sized pork butts (no bones). I plan to marinate over night with dry rub and wake up early and throw on the grill for an hour with the wood chips. From there into the oven. My question to you is for two good size pork butts, for how long and at what temperature do you think I should cook in the oven? Assuming I get in by 9am, I have about 10 hours before we’ll be getting ready to eat.


    • Reply Todd Apr 2, 2013 1:00 pm

      I think that’s doable. I can’t tell you exact times, but just keep a thermometer in them and check in every once in awhile. It’ll stall out at 175 for a couple hours, then slowly climb up to 190 where you want it. If you’re getting within a couple hours of dinner and you’re still behind, just turn up the heat closer to 300 or so to get it there — otherwise wait it out.

      Good luck!

  33. Reply Patrick Apr 4, 2013 11:11 am


    Yesterday We served 170 people your pulled pork recipe. We used 10 large pork butts averaging almost 9lbs a piece. We wanted to smoke them but my smoker will only hold 4 pork butts at a time. We covered them in Memphis dust for 8 hours. We smoked them for 2 hours in my propane smoker at 225 degrees. We had to smoke them in 3 seperate batches. As soon as each batch was done We put them in an oven at 225 degrees. We had to use 3 ovens as well. We had to serve at 12:30pm. We started at 7:30pm the night before. At 10am they were still less than 180 degrees so We had to turn up the heat to about 300 degrees. By noon the first batch was 195 degrees. It pulled so nice and it was incredible. The second batch was only 188 degrees but We had to serve it anyway. It still tasted incredible and the outside pulled wonderfully. The center was a little tougher but We mixed both batches together. We served Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce on the side. The guests loved it. I can’t tell you how many compliments we received. As it turned out we didn’t need the last 3 butts so they were able to continue to cook. We should have allowed more time but our fear was they would be done 3 or 4 hours before serving time. Next time we would probably skip the smoking so each batch had equal cook time or just smoke 1 batch and mix it in with the others. Anyway, the recipe was awesome and thank you so much for all the work you put into it.

    • Reply Todd Apr 4, 2013 4:46 pm

      Hey that sounds incredible! Props to you for taking on such a big project, and I’m glad the recipe could be helpful!

  34. Reply Virginia Apr 14, 2013 10:16 pm

    I made the pulled pork today but was in a hurry. So I cooked it in my enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven, covered it with the lid and roasted it for at 300F for 41/2 hrs. Turned out great! Even had a bit of crust. Definitely not the preferred way to cook it but good to know it still tastes great.

  35. Reply Nick Apr 19, 2013 5:55 pm

    It’s been 12 hours about to pull it out to watch it for 30-60 minutes, then pull it. Looking forward to some wonderful pork!

  36. Reply Mary Apr 26, 2013 11:52 am


    What happens if I make this early, freeze (ye gads!), and re-heat 1 week later?


    • Reply Todd Apr 27, 2013 11:28 pm

      It’ll still taste good, but it’s much better fresh. Reheat it in the oven, covered, with a little sauce or water to moisten it.

  37. Reply Dana Apr 29, 2013 12:54 am

    I was so looking forward to trying this! I don’t have a crockpot so I was super excited to see i could make it in the oven. I ended up with a little less than 3lbs of pork to cook. I made up my own version of Memphis dust since I didn’t have all the ingredients posted. I let it sit overnight in the rub. Started to cook at 9:30a (thinking back it was probably way too early for a little roast). I ended up with roast pork. :/ my husband and I loved the flavor but I want to try this again. How many lbs did you use in your recipe? Thanks!

    • Reply Todd Apr 29, 2013 10:44 am

      Hi Dana! If it turned out like roast pork, it probably means you either under-cooked it or used too high of a temperature. Regardless of weight, it won’t pull well until it reaches 190 internal temp, so if you pulled it out at 175 when it “stalls” then it’ll stay firmer. Similarly, if you cook it at too high a temperature (more than 300 degrees) it’ll heat up too quickly without giving enough time for the collagen and muscle to break down, and it’ll stay too chewy that way as well. Keep it low and slow, and don’t give up!

  38. Reply Dana Apr 29, 2013 12:34 pm

    Hi Todd! Thanks for getting back to me! I had it at 225 the whole time, my meat thermometer showed the meat was at 200, even then I still left it in there for an hour more. I will definitely try again! thank u!! looking forward to testing out other recipes on your site!!

  39. Reply Jennifer May 1, 2013 11:54 am

    Todd! This is an EXCELLENT site/forum for those hunting for the highly sought after, yet ever elusive, perfect southern pulled pork! Had you been at my disposal years ago, when I bought my first, and apparently the crappiest smoker on the planet, I would have saved SO much time, money, and precious cuts of meat! Ugh…seriously, you have no idea….but now I have found you at last and I am THRILLED! I am doing a wedding in June for 250. Got them to change the menu from ham and scalloped potatoes to a lighter “down home” summer meal. Pulled pork, slaw, and some kind of potato-veggie kabob. After reading all the posts I am much more confident about being able to pull this off . I will have 2 electric ovens, 1 gas convection oven, a crappy charbroil smoker, and a 3 burner gas Weber grill at my disposal. Any thoughts on the method to attack this? 2hrs of smoking then ovens? Or smoke only some of the meat, providing added flavor but saving time? I am in charge of making meal and recruiting others to help, so I am guessing I will have to do slaw a day in advance and possibly some of the meat…not sure really how to time all of this….??

    • Reply Todd May 1, 2013 12:56 pm

      Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the great feedback, and I hope your event goes well.

      It sounds like you have plenty of oven space for almost anything you want to do. I think either idea would work — I like the thought of smoking all the meat (1 hour is plenty) so it’s even, but if the smoker is your bottleneck it probably would work comparably well to smoke some of the meat and mix all the end results together. Sounds like you have a good sense of all this — and if you get stuck, I still very much recommend amazingribs.com where I got my inspiration in the first place.

      Good luck, and please share your results!


  40. Reply Jennifer May 1, 2013 5:28 pm

    Amazingribs.com is absolutely fabulous! Thank you Todd for this phenomenal resource. I can’t wait to drown myself with all its’ information, articles, and recipes! Geez, talk about BAR-B-QUE, I don’t think there is a topic they miss. I am getting my numbers together for product and an itinerary for prep time. Thanks to your recommendation I am not spending hours perusing other sites. I will keep you posted with the results and definitely use your help if I encounter any hurdles.

  41. Reply Christina May 1, 2013 8:12 pm

    I have a 15 lb pork butt how long about should I cook that for? I haves baby shower Saturday at 5pm and I’m trying to decide if I should start Friday night or Saturday morning. What’s your suggestion?

  42. Reply Peter May 2, 2013 3:27 am

    Hey Todd, looks great, can’t wait to try it. If you didn’t want to use wood chips, could you use liquid smoke to give it that flaour?

    • Reply Todd May 2, 2013 8:13 am

      Hi Peter– liquid smoke would do fine; I don’t think it stands up quite as well to the flavor of meat smoked with wood chips, but it is a good product and gives a nice smoky taste. My advice would be to put a little in whatever sauce you use, and coat the pork lightly with that (rather than using the liquid smoke in a spice rub or something). Don’t bother putting it in the pan with the water under the pork, it won’t transfer flavor that way.

  43. Reply A Texan in the North May 2, 2013 1:28 pm

    Thanks for the method. I used a Texas dry rub, instead of your Memphis one, and the results were spectacular!

  44. Reply Joe May 2, 2013 6:04 pm

    Todd, I’m trying this tomorrow. Should water in pan be heated first?
    Thanks, Joe

  45. Reply schoolbusted May 12, 2013 3:03 pm

    You might want to mention that you may need to replenish the water pan in the oven to maintain the moist atmosphere. My three quarts disappeared within six hours. They’re still cooking, but already smell and look great.

  46. Reply Ann Fratesi May 14, 2013 5:41 pm

    Hi Todd–Would the outcome be just as good if I were to cook the pork in the oven first and then let it smoke on the grill for an hour before pulling and serving? If this would work, should I cook it in the oven until it reaches 190 degrees before putting it on the grill?

    • Reply Todd May 15, 2013 4:04 pm

      Cold, raw meat absorbs the smokey flavor better, so I would do the smoking first before the oven. Putting it on the grill afterwards will mostly just dry it out and won’t leave as much of that settled-in smokey flavor.

  47. Reply Mary May 18, 2013 2:22 am

    Roasted several of these as you instructed, however am using them in a couple days so after roasting I let them cool a little and covered with tin-foil and froze (without pulling or chopping). Was thinking that would keep meat moist when I re-heat it? Question is, when I’m ready to reheat it, should I re-heat whole or chop it cold and then reheat? I can’t really ‘pull it’ when it’s cold…perplexed…help!

    • Reply Todd May 18, 2013 10:02 pm

      I guess reheat it in the foil on a low temp, then pull once it’s warm enough to work with. It might be easier in the future to pull it before freezing.

  48. Reply Sylvie May 20, 2013 1:08 am

    Hi Todd,
    Can’t wait to try this recipe. I have a propane convection oven. Do I still follow the same instructions as a conventional oven? I’m a Canadian who just recently moved to Papua New Guinea due to my husband’s job. So far, the locals have enjoyed my canadian cuisine but I think this pulled pork recipe will be the icing on the cake.

    • Reply Todd May 24, 2013 7:27 pm

      Hi Sylvie,

      If you have the option of turning the convection off, I’d do it that way (less venting of moisture). Otherwise, don’t sweat it! Happy cooking!

  49. Reply Tom May 22, 2013 3:53 pm

    Hi Tod,

    Have a question for you…..

    I am having about 30 to 40 people over for a bbq, and am not sure how much food to make.

    So far, I have decided to make 30 pieces of bbq chicken, 30 pieces of grilled sausage, as well as having 30 hamburgers and hot dogs on hand for those who may want them…..not to mention sides like potatoe salad, cole slaw, macaroni salad, etc..etc..

    However, I also want to do something a little different, and therefore wanted to give your pulled pork a try.

    So, my question to you is, considering all the other food that I will be having, how many pounds of a pulled pork should I make?

    I had bought a 9 pound butt, but I now that I have read your comments about how it is going to shrink down quite a bit, I am thinking that I should buy another one……then again, i am thinking that it will still be enough with everything else that i am having.

    What do you think?….is the 9 pound still sufficient, or should I buy another one?

    Thanks in advance for your replay.

    • Reply Todd May 24, 2013 7:29 pm

      It’s hard to tell — it depends a lot on what your guests like to eat, what’s popular at the party, etc. I’d say just go with your gut — but just for reference, a 9 pound bone-in butt will shrink to about 5 pounds of meat, which will make about 15-20 smallish sandwiches.

      Sounds like quite the party — have fun!

  50. Reply Annabel May 29, 2013 5:14 pm

    I love your blog! And this pulled pork recipe looks so good. I’ve just cooked my meat and like you said, I was sorely tempted to stop the “resting” stage at 30 minutes, but I’m controlling my urge to just dig in, and decided to write you instead to thank you for sharing all the details in getting this done right.

    I particularly love your statement “Cook the pork for the rest of your life”. Every time I read that, it makes me laugh out loud! :)

  51. Reply Jennifer May 31, 2013 8:47 am

    Hi Todd! Today is the big day…oye. After re-reading this I realized I should have rub-a-dub dubbed my pork last night. I have 100 lbs of shoulder in my fridge to prep for the smoker. I am really hoping I can get it rubbed down and the 6hrs before I smoke it will be enough time for flavors to penetrate. I will let you know how everything turns out. Hey, any experience grilling yams? Making a veggie-bob with small red potatoes, sweet onions, corn on the cob, and yams…no sweet potatoes to be found around here. Thinking of par-baking them and then slicing them into thick coins. Skewer will go edge to edge through the skin. I am hoping they hold together through the grilling process….maybe the high sugar content will be in my favor for this. Thoughts?

  52. Reply Adrienne Jun 5, 2013 2:23 pm

    Hi Todd,
    Today is my first official attempt at pulled pork! I’ve followed your recipe and have had the butt in the oven since 9:30 this morning…imagine the delicious smell in my kitchen right now! I will let you know how it turns out. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe and techniques.
    P.S. you are soooo right on about the temperature stalling at 150. I have resisted the temptation to raise the temperature even if it means we’re having dinner at 9pm!

  53. Reply BBQ~Swine Jul 2, 2013 4:59 pm

    Hey what do you think about starting it on the BBQ first so I can get that smokey flavor in the meat for about 30mins. then finish it in the oven I have a 14 Ibs.butt and we are planning to eat around 1 so I planned on putting it on the BBQ about 4ish for 30 mins to smoke then the rest of the time in the oven and pull it out about 1030ish…what do you think..

  54. Reply Faerenach Jul 9, 2013 12:02 pm

    This worked perfectly for me! I sort of cheated and didn’t use a meat thermometre, but rather went for the full 12 hours at 215F with a 4lber. Here’s the adaptation I did:
    Thai-style Pulled Pork

  55. Reply Dana Jul 10, 2013 9:47 pm


    So we have at total of 20lbs worth of butt, however they are about 6- 5lb butts that we want to use to make this, but will that work in the oven all at the same time? and if so how long would it take for them to cook

    • Reply Todd Jul 11, 2013 12:36 pm

      It’s going to vary a little based on the shape/surface area of the meat and the size of your oven, but the instructions above should still hold pretty well. Just set aside a little more time than you need to make sure it’ll get done without any stress!

  56. Reply Dana Jul 10, 2013 9:49 pm

    Oh i forgot to mention the meat is boneless…. thanks!

  57. Reply Isaac Jul 11, 2013 5:27 pm

    Hi there, what is the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit please? I’m starting mine tomorrow. Thanks x

  58. Reply Laura Jul 13, 2013 2:02 am

    This was perfect!!!!!

  59. Reply Rob Jul 14, 2013 10:01 am


    This site is amazing. Thank you Google! for finding this blog!!!!! I am making 6 butts for a golf outing on July 27th and was wondering if you could tell me how the pork tastes after frozen, thawed and reheated? Obviously I am planning on cooking this ahead of time. 6 butts is a lot of cooking and shredding. Also, I planned on cooking two butts at a time, three different instances. If they are similar in weight and shape should the cooking time need to be extended? I am a patient cook, but want to assure myself I have enough time to prepare the feast.

    • Reply Todd Jul 15, 2013 10:28 pm

      I think my preference would be to do them all at once, pretty soon before you eat them. We cooked 10 butts for our wedding and just had a few people with forks go at it for awhile — if you cooked it right, it should fall apart/shred very easily. I think we saved that overnight and reheated; add a little liquid and/or sauce to the container and bring to heat in a low oven.

      If you insist on making it ahead and freezing, it should be fine though. Happy cooking!

  60. Reply Marcia Jul 19, 2013 9:33 am

    Hi Todd,

    I usually do the crockpot method, but I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow for a graduation party. It sounds great! I’m notorious for underestimating time, so I will be starting early. What do I do if the pork is done several hours early?

  61. Reply Henry Jul 23, 2013 9:21 am


    I missed a few steps in my haste to get this going. I often hear that pork ought to be soaked in brine. I had mine soaking for 24 hrs before I found your website. luckily the bark did form and I used the rub recipe you provided. It was great. I can’t wait till next time when I get all the steps in. My wife loved it and has asked for more. Thanks for the posting.

  62. Reply Heather I Jul 23, 2013 11:32 pm

    Great….I’ve survived 7 hours of smelling my 2 pork butts cooking and now your post made my mouth water….I may be up eating pulled pork in the middle of the night!

  63. Reply Robin Aug 5, 2013 1:09 pm

    Okay….looking to figure out cooking time. I am making pulled pork sandwiches for a dinner theater that will serve approximately 120-150 people. So, I’m guessing I need about 10 8# butts\shoulders. I have an school kitchen sized oven at my disposal AND a convection oven. I planned on baking them all one day, cooling them in the fridge overnight and pulling the pork the next day. My main concern is the baking time. Would doing all 10 pieces at one time increase the time by much? And, I’m guessing 8-10hrs pending size of butt\shoulder piece.

  64. Reply Linda M Aug 5, 2013 8:18 pm

    Awesome pulled pork cooked for 7 hours not quite 190 F and the rub is delicious! Thank you for a great recipe :)

  65. Reply Craig Aug 7, 2013 8:59 pm

    Hey Todd! I was tasked by the woman to make pulled pork with no crock pot. I have since deduced that she is evil. However, your little thing on here saved my life!

    I was crunched for time, and I may eat the pork and discover my answer before you can respond: But since I was crunched for time, I bumped the temperature up to about 325 for about 3 hours. What are some easy future ways to tell that pork is done with out worrying it every half hour?

  66. Reply Freddie Jaye Aug 9, 2013 9:47 am

    I, too, have made pulled pork in a crock pot, and the results were kind of bleah. This technique sounds much better, and I have two chunks of pork in the oven now. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  67. Reply Freddie Jaye Aug 21, 2013 8:39 pm

    Suspicions confirmed. This will be my go-to technique for pulled pork from here on. I de-greased the drippings/pen water and used it when I made my barbecue sauce. A major hit all around.

  68. Reply Mills Aug 25, 2013 9:05 pm

    Made this today. OMG. Pulled right apart and had good bark. I think the key is seasoning the meat overnight (Mine was in the fridge for about 17 hours) and then keeping the oven door closed (no peeking).

    I opened the oven at about the 4 hour mark just to insert the thermometer. Cooked a 7 pound pork butt at 235 degrees for about 9.5 hours. I will not change a thing next time. Best pulled pork I ever made. Thank You!

  69. Reply Rich Suriani Aug 26, 2013 11:23 pm


    Not often do i feel defeated but I am honestly telling you that this is the best pork shoulder I have ever tasted. I’ve cooked with a smoker many times….I’ve cooked with an oven but I just can’t get that perfect pull that you have with this. The Rub recipe is out of this world. It’s like you pulled this pork out of your ass!!!!!!

  70. Reply Jessica Sep 16, 2013 10:36 pm

    Hi there,
    Quick question, I probably should have asked earlier when it wasn’t so close to done but oh well… So I made this once before and it turned out amazing, it had the best hard bark on it (which is my favorite part) but now I’m making it again and it’s almost done and it doesn’t have the same bark. It’s got some crunchy parts but others are soft and kind of wet feeling?? I did everything exactly the same, any ideas why this happened and any quick fixes? I was thinking about putting it under the broiler the last few minutes but didn’t know if it would ruin it??
    Thanks for your help, love the website!! : )

  71. Reply Nate Sep 17, 2013 2:42 pm

    Out of all the oven techniques I have read, I like your method the best… open, yet moist. I usually use a smoker but I no longer have a place to use one so I have to resort to the oven.

    I am just going to put the shoulder directly on the oven rack with a water pan below large enough to catch drippings and to provide moisture.

    I am going to start with a wet rub of mustard and liquid smoke followed by a dry rub, then I’ll wrap it up and let it sit overnight.

    Tomorrow’s dinner should be fantastic! Thanks for posting this.

  72. Reply Adam Sep 28, 2013 6:06 pm

    “Once you have your butt, rinse it and trim it of any major areas of visible surface fat. This is less about calories and more about flavor: the fat will mostly melt and run off during cooking, so any spices and whatnot that are rubbed on the surface will go with them. Don’t worry about getting all of it, just trim any big chunks.”

    Worst advice, ever.

  73. Reply Miranda Newton Oct 15, 2013 4:47 pm

    Great instructions. Made my first batch of pulled pork! Took a wee bit longer…more like 14 hours, but was in no hurry so no problem! Thank you!!!!

  74. Reply Modesto joe Dec 14, 2013 11:18 am

    OvenQ.this technique works great,only an overly anal “purist” would complain about ovenQ for someone desiring smoked meat in the Winter lol.

    Liquid smoke, sparingly, and several mops with BBQ sauce the last couple of hour’s will enhance the bark flavoring greatly!

    Smoke on

  75. Reply Laura Jan 18, 2014 6:11 pm

    I just caught a wild boar and I have been searching the web. So far I decided to cook first the shoulder. Most sites say the best way to cook it is to make it pulled pork. Any way my shoulder includes a piece of the arm do I need to remove the arm or can I try your recipe or can I put it in the oven with the whole piece as is.

    • Reply Todd Jan 27, 2014 8:16 am

      Hah amazing. I want to come try that. You can leave the arm on, it just has a slightly different type of muscle/meat and will feel a little drier. That goes for pig as well.

  76. Reply Connie Jan 19, 2014 9:43 pm

    My pork sholder is 8,5 lb .How many hours I have to cook ?

    • Reply Todd Jan 27, 2014 8:16 am

      Follow the temps and you’ll get it! Anywhere between 7-10 hours I would guess, but again it’s more important to just follow the temperatures and procedures written. Good luck!

  77. Reply Markas Feb 7, 2014 2:02 pm

    Enjoyed your recipe through and through…

    Interesting day making it though. I got all involved in multiple things, including burning up some yard debris in the back yard.

    Outdoors, fire spread across the yard, up the wall of the garden shed… enough was going on that I called the fire department. For hours, I was totally dealing with a mess.

    At the end of the day, I dropped into my easy chair…slapped the arms, and yelled to the wife…”The Meat!”

    Jumped up ran to the kitchen… the pork was perfect! Pulled perfectly, had a great crusty exterior….. just awesome

    • Reply Todd Mar 7, 2014 5:06 pm

      haha I am actually laughing at that story, Markas. If you had to pick a food ahead of time to be your reward for a day like that, I feel like pulled pork is a good choice.

  78. Reply Vanessa Apr 1, 2014 6:14 am


    Just found your blog and I have a question for you. We are making pulled pork today. We have done this a few dozen times and each time we disagree on the final temp of the meat. I think it should be closer to the 190 that you state but the man thinks the meat dries out by then and only wants it to be cooked to about (which as you said it cooked but not ideal for pulling) he will be at work today and I am manning (or wo-manning) the oven and was hoping you could help me settle this. Have you experienced the meat being dried out from cooking to 190°?

    Thanks in advance :-)

    • Reply Todd Jun 25, 2014 12:03 pm

      Sorry for the slow response Vanessa; the 190 is correct and will be very moist if you let it get there. Anything below 180 or so will taste very dry because the collagen hasn’t broken down yet. If you cook too quickly it’ll burn the fat and dry out the meat as well. Good luck (very belated but heartfelt)!

  79. Reply Vanessa Apr 1, 2014 6:15 am

    Oops that was supposed to be “to about 165″

  80. Reply cathy Jun 19, 2014 2:51 pm

    I’m cooking a 16 lb pork shoulder in the oven. For pulled pork sandwiches. I’ve made a 5 lb in the past and wrapped it with foil and it came out great. I’m really nervous about cooking such a large piece of meat. That my friends will be eating. HAHA. Whats a ideal temperature & how long should I cook it? Should I wrap it in foil or not? I’m planning on putting it in a roasting pan with water on the bottom. Also, I was thinking about making it a little early and warming it up for guests. How do I avoid it drying out? Thanks!!!

    • Reply Todd Jun 25, 2014 12:09 pm

      Sorry if I caught this too late, but it sounds like you’re on a great track. Wrapping to keep the meat warm is a great idea, you can even wrap it in towels and put it in a cooler in addition to the foil and that will help. Reheating isn’t ideal but it’s still delicious! Add some sauce or vinegar or cooking liquid to the meat and reheat, covered and slowly. Microwave isn’t ideal but even that is fine in a pinch. Good luck!

Leave a Reply