This apple infused smoked pulled pork shoulder, smoked over low heat, will result in succulent, easy to shred, pulled pork meat for sandwiches and smoked pulled pork street tacos.
If there are only two things you ever make in your smoker, then I recommend this smoked pulled pork recipe and our beef brisket recipe! Serve either of these up with Creamy Coleslaw (of course!), baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and top off your dinner with a lovely tart Cranberry Pear Pie.
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A couple of weeks ago, we had a get together with my old work colleagues. We served up the smoked pulled pork (and took these pictures!). At the dinner, everyone exclaimed that it was the best pork they’ve ever had. Not just the best pulled pork, but the best pork they’ve ever had, ever! The next day, my friend texted me and said, “I know I told you this, but that was the best pulled pork I’ve had.” (In reference to my hubby, who made the amazing pork that day.)
This recipe could be called smoked Boston butt, but that may be confusing! The Boston butt pork roast is known as pork butt, but comes from the upper part of front shoulder, not the butt. This is somewhat confusing, however it is a staple for a barbecuing pulled pork or smoking pulled pork. It is commonly used for pulled pork because of its high fat content and deliciousness. Look for an 8-10 pound Boston butt roast with a nice fat cap and tied up from your local butcher.
How To Smoke Pork Shoulder
As with most successful smoking projects, source out excellent cuts of meat and use the right type of meat for the recipe. I find that pork shoulder with the bone in (shoulder blade) is the best cut of meat to use for smoked pork shoulder. Boston butt (pork shoulder) really does make the best smoked pulled pork ever.
Prepare your smoker to a temperature of 225F-250F and add 3-4 large chunks of apple wood to the charcoal in the smoker when it has reached 225F. Close the chamber of the smoker. Apple wood is the best wood for smoking pulled pork.
Prepare the Pork Roast
Place your pork shoulder (Boston butt) on a cutting board and trim the fat cap to about 1/4 inch thickness. Next prepare your wet ingredients to infuse the apple flavor and sweet goodness into the pork shoulder.
Place the pork shoulder in a glass dish (like a 4 qt rectangular dish). With a meat skewer, poke holes in the top of the roast (through the fat cap) about every inch almost to the bottom of the roast. Pour the liquid mixture of apple juice over the roast to fill the holes. Save the remaining juice in a bowl in the fridge for later.
Another method is to load up a meat injector syringe and inject the apple juice mixture over each inch of the top of the roast.
Next, cover the top and sides of the pork shoulder roast with yellow mustard. Coat the roast with the rub, pressing the rub into the mustard for best coverage. Don’t tip the roast because you don’t want the apple mixture to spill out of the holes!
Smoke the Pulled Pork
After allowing the meat to rest, place the Boston butt in the smoker. I use a Weber Bullet smoker but other smokers, such as Traeger smokers, are just as effective (and reasonably priced on Amazon). My cousin has a Traeger and absolutely loves it!
Using a digital BBQ thermometer, insert two temperature probes, one for the temperature inside the smoker and the other insert into the center of the Boston butt alongside the bone.
At this point, I like to create as much smoke in the smoker as possible. Open the smoker chamber for a few minutes so the apple wood chunks ignite. Do this every hour for the first 3-5 hours so there is plenty of smoke created and infused into the pork shoulder. This is important because smoke will not penetrate the meat once it’s thoroughly cooked. You want a nice smoke encrusted pork shoulder with some depth of smoke into the meat for a nice apple smoked pulled pork flavor.
How Long To Smoke Pork Shoulder
Maintain a smoker temperature of 225F-250F until the internal temperature of the pork is 160F. Once the smoked pulled pork reaches 160F, remove it from the smoker and close the smoker lid.
Wrap the pork shoulder in heavy duty aluminum foil by first placing it on the foil and shaping the sides of the foil into a boat. Pour the remaining apple juice mixture from the fridge over the Boston butt roast and seal the top of the foil.
Place the roast back into the smoker at a temperature of 225F-250F and insert the internal meat probe. Continue to smoke until the internal temperature reaches 190F, or approximately 3-5 more hours on the smoker. Remove the roast from the smoker and let it stand at room temperature in the foil for at least 30 minutes.
How To Serve Pulled Pork
Smoked Boston butt is made for shredding, so put away the carving knife and fork! Once the pulled pork shoulder has rested in the foil for 30 minutes, remove any excess fat, sinew, and the bone. In a big bowl or on a baking tray, completely shred the pulled pork shoulder with the apple juice and drippings using shredding tongs. You’ll find the shredding tongs we use on Amazon. Honestly, this Boston butt pork roast will be so tender and moist, there is not much effort to shred this apple smoked pulled pork. Use two forks if you do not have shredding tongs. You can even use your electric mixer.
Add your favorite sauce and serve smoked pulled pork tacos on buns with slaw. I prefer putting the BBQ sauce on the side and leave it to each person to add to their shredded pulled pork. We really love Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce (must make!!) or use your favorite barbecue sauce.
Applesauce goes so well with pork, and we love it with this amazing pulled pork.
Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe
- 8 pounds pork shoulder roast bone-in
- 6-8 Tablespoons yellow mustard
- ½ cup unsweetened apple juice
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar light, packed
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar light, packed
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Trim the fat cap on the top of the shoulder roast to no more than ¼ inch thickness.
- In a small bowl, mix together the apple juice, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and sugar.
- Using a metal meat skewer poke several holes half-way through the roast every inch or so into the pork shoulder. (Or use a meat injector syringe.)
- Place the roast on a glass dish and pour the apple juice mixture over roast, covering and filling the holes as much as possible. Place excess apple juice mixture in fridge for later.
- Brush 6-8 Tablespoons of yellow mustard over entire pork roast.
- In a small bowl, combine all rub ingredients. Coat the surface of the roast evenly, pressing it into the mustard coating. Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing it in the smoker.
- Prepare the smoker for cooking between 225F to 250F. When the smoker reaches 225F, add 3 to 4 large apple wood chunks on the hot charcoals.
- Using a remote wireless BBQ thermometer, insert one to monitor the temperature inside the smoker temperature and the second into the middle of the pork roast to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. Set meat internal temperature to 160F.
- Smoke the pork roast fat side up over low heat, keeping the heat in the 225F to 250F range for 5 to 6 hours.
- When the internal reaches 160F, remove the pork roast from smoker and place on heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour the remaining apple juice mixture over the roast and seal shut.
- Return the pork roast to the smoker and insert wireless BBQ thermometer probe into center of meat (alongside the shoulder blade bone) and let cook until the internal temperature reaches 190F (3 to 5 additional hours). Remove from smoker and let rest in the foil for one hour.
- Unwrap the roast and use shredding tongs to shred the meat thoroughly, discarding the bone, sinew or excess fat.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Recipe slightly adapted from Weber’s Greatest Hits