Pulled Pork: Everything You Need To Know

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 4, 2022

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Pulled pork is a popular dish in the U.S. that consists of pork that is slowly cooked in a smoker or barbecue. It is often served in a bun with a sauce, and it is so popular that it has become a staple in many people’s diets.

Pulled pork is a dish made from pork that is cooked slowly over a low heat and shredded or “pulled” when it is tender. It is most often associated with the American South and is a popular weekend family meal.

It’s so popular that it has become a staple in many people’s diets. So let’s look at the history and some of the different ways it can be served.

What is pulled pork

What is Pulled Pork?

The Basics

Pulled pork is a classic American dish that’s been around for centuries. It’s made from slow-cooked pork shoulder that’s been shredded into small pieces. The pork is usually cooked in a flavorful sauce, such as a barbecue sauce, making it tender and juicy. It’s a great dish to serve at parties, cookouts, or any other gathering.

The History

Pulled pork has been around for centuries, with its roots in the American South. It was traditionally cooked in a large pot over an open fire, and served with a variety of sides. Over the years, the dish has evolved and is now cooked in a variety of ways, including in a slow cooker or smoker.

The Taste

Pulled pork is a delicious dish that’s full of flavor. The slow-cooked pork is tender and juicy, and the sauce adds a delicious smoky flavor. It’s a great dish to serve at any gathering, and it’s sure to be a hit with everyone. So if you’re looking for a tasty dish that’s sure to please, look no further than pulled pork!

A Guide to Pulled Pork Around the World


Ah, the Carolinas. Home of sweet tea, hush puppies, and of course, pulled pork. This style of pulled pork is all about the sauce. It’s usually a spicy, thin, vinegar-based sauce that can be as simple as vinegar and cayenne pepper. But if you’re feeling fancy, you can add a tomato-base to the mix.


Yee-haw! Texas-style pulled pork is all about the sweet stuff. We’re talking molasses-based sauces with brown sugar, honey, or all three. It’s a real treat for the taste buds.


Let’s not forget the Mexican-style pulled pork. We’re talking carnitas, slow cooked pulled pork that is fried in lard after shredding. This style is all about the spices, with very little sauce. But when you stuff it into a tortilla with guacamole, pico de gallo, and slather it with salsa negra hot sauce made from roasted black chilies, you’ll be in pulled pork heaven.

What’s the Deal with Pulled Pork?

What is Pulled Pork?

If you’ve ever been to a BBQ joint, you’ve probably seen pulled pork on the menu. But what is it exactly? Well, it’s a dish made from a butt roast that’s been smoked for hours and then shredded into thin pieces. It’s tender, juicy, and full of flavor.

How Do You Make It?

Making pulled pork is pretty easy. All you need is a butt roast, some spices, and a smoker. Rub the spices into the roast, then place it in the smoker for several hours. Once it’s cooked, use your hands, a pair of forks, or meat claws to shred it into thin pieces. Voila! You’ve got yourself some delicious pulled pork.

What’s the Best Way to Serve It?

Pulled pork is great on its own, but it’s even better when served with some sides. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Coleslaw
  • Baked beans
  • Cornbread
  • Potato salad
  • Mac and cheese
  • Pickles

So if you’re looking for a delicious, easy-to-make dish, you can’t go wrong with pulled pork. Just remember to pull, not chop!

The Secret to Perfect Pulled Pork: Low and Slow

The Cut

When it comes to making pulled pork, pork butt roast is the way to go. Not only is it one of the most affordable cuts of pork, but it’s also enough to feed a small army.

The Method

The key to getting the perfect pulled pork isn’t in the sauce – it’s in the cooking method. Low and slow is the name of the game when it comes to making the most delicious pulled pork.

The Recipe

If you want to make the perfect smoked pork butt, here’s what you need to do:

  • Preheat your smoker or grill to 225°F
  • Rub the pork butt with your favorite rub
  • Smoke the pork for 8-10 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 195°F
  • Let the pork rest for an hour
  • Pull the pork apart with two forks
  • Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce and sides

Cooking Delicious Pulled Pork at Home

The Oven Method

Ready to get your hands dirty? Here’s how to make the most tender, juicy, and perfectly cooked Pulled Pork right in your own oven.

  • Rub your pork with a combination of spices and seasonings, then pop it in the oven.
  • Let it slow-roast for a few hours, and your kitchen will be filled with the most mouth-watering aroma.
  • When it’s done, you can shred it with two forks and enjoy the deliciousness.

The Slow Cooker Method

If you’re looking for an easier way to make Pulled Pork, the slow cooker is your friend.

  • Start by seasoning your pork and adding it to the slow cooker.
  • Pour in some liquid, like broth or beer, and let it cook for several hours.
  • When it’s done, you can shred it with a fork and enjoy the juicy, tender pork.

The Instant Pot Method

If you’re short on time, the Instant Pot is the way to go.

  • Start by seasoning your pork and adding it to the Instant Pot.
  • Pour in some liquid, like broth or beer, and let it cook for just a few minutes.
  • When it’s done, you can shred it with a fork and enjoy the succulent pork.

Tantalizing Texas-Style Pulled Pork

The Perfect Combination of Flavor and Texture

If you’re looking for a meal that’ll tantalize your taste buds and have your mouth watering, then you’ve come to the right place! Texas-style pulled pork is the perfect combination of flavor and texture, and it’s sure to become a family favorite.

This simple, smoked pork shoulder/butt is cooked low and slow to create the most tender, flavorful pulled pork you’ve ever tasted. It’s melt-in-your-mouth good!

The Perfect Meal for Any Occasion

Texas-style pulled pork is the perfect meal for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting a backyard BBQ or just looking for a delicious dinner, this pulled pork is sure to please. It’s easy to make, and you can customize it to fit your taste.

Here are some of the benefits of making Texas-style pulled pork:

  • It’s easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients.
  • It’s full of flavor and sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
  • It’s a great way to feed a crowd without breaking the bank.
  • It’s versatile and can be served with a variety of sides.
  • It’s sure to become a family favorite.

How to Make the Most Delicious Pulled Pork

Smoking the Roast

If you want to make the absolute best pulled pork, you gotta smoke that pork! It’s the most traditional way to get that juicy, tender, deliciousness. We’ve got a video on our YouTube channel that shows you every step of the process. We used our Big Green Egg, but you can use a barbecue if you don’t have a smoker. The key is to keep the temperature low and slow. Wrapping the roast in foil will help keep the moisture in and make the meat fall-apart tender.

Oven Roasting

If the weather isn’t cooperating with outdoor cooking, you can still make pulled pork in your kitchen. Slow roast the pork butt in lots of sauce and seasonings in the oven. If you want to make it even easier, a slow cooker is the way to go. Slow cooking in barbecue sauce and seasonings will give your roast the perfect texture and tenderness. Plus, it’s super convenient!

The Perfect Seasoning

When it comes to seasoning your pulled pork, everyone has their own special way. Here are some of our favorite ingredients to use:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Brown sugar
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper

Mix and match these ingredients to create your own unique flavor. And don’t forget to add lots of BBQ sauce!

Where Does Pulled Pork Come From?

The Shoulder of a Pig

Pulled pork comes from the shoulder of a pig, which is split into two roasts. The Boston Butt and Picnic Roast are the two most popular cuts for pulled pork. The Boston Butt is the preferred choice because of its tender, moist, and delicious qualities that make it easy to shred.

Why is it Called Pork Butt?

Back in Colonial America, pork was an inexpensive meat. Butchers would pack the cheaper cuts into barrels, which were called “butts”. Over time, the name “pork butt” stuck. So, even though the front legs are where the butts come from, that’s why it’s called that. The hind legs are where we get hams.

What’s the Difference Between a Picnic Roast and a Butt Roast?

The picnic roast comes from the lower foreleg of the pig and is made up of long, lean muscles with little fat. When cooked, this cut tends to dry out easily and doesn’t provide a very tender bite. The butt roast, on the other hand, is the top part of the shoulder and has a lot more fat. This makes it tender, moist, and perfect for pulled pork.

So, the next time you’re wondering where pulled pork comes from, you’ll know it’s the shoulder of a pig. And if someone asks why it’s called pork butt, you can tell them the story of how it got its name. Lastly, you’ll know the difference between a picnic roast and a butt roast, so you can pick the right cut for your pulled pork.

How Much Pulled Pork Do I Need for a Party?

Calculating the Amount of Pork Needed

Planning a party and not sure how much pulled pork you need? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a simple calculation that’ll help you figure out the amount of pork you’ll need to feed your guests:

  • Multiply the number of guests by 0.33 (or ⅓ of a pound of meat per serving).
  • Multiply that number by 2, since the meat will cook down by 50%.

For example, if you want enough pulled pork to feed 50 guests:

  • 50 x 0.33 = 16.5 lbs cooked pulled pork needed
  • 16.5 x 2 = 33 pounds raw pork butt needed

Other Factors to Consider

When calculating how much pork you’ll need, there are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • The age of your guests – young kids may not eat as much as adults.
  • How the pork is being served – if it’s the main dish with lighter sides, you’ll need more than if it’s served in sandwiches or tacos, or with heartier sides.

Storing and Freezing Instructions

Once you’ve cooked up all that pork, here’s how to store and freeze it:

  • To store: Put leftover pulled pork in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • To freeze: Pulled pork can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Reheating Pulled Pork

When you’re ready to enjoy your pork again, here’s how to reheat it:

  • Oven: Preheat oven to 250°F. Add the pork and leftover juices to an oven safe container (add water, apple juice or broth to the meat if it’s too dry). Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through to 165°F.
  • Slow cooker: Add the pork and leftover juices to slow cooker (add additional liquid if needed – apple juice, broth or water – to keep is moist). Turn to warm setting or LOW and cook until warmed through to 165°F.
  • Microwave: Add the pork and leftover juices to a microwave safe bowl (add additional liquid if needed – apple juice, broth or water – to keep is moist). Place a damp paper towel over the meat and heat in one minute increments until warmed through to 165°F.

Serving Suggestions

Once your pork is all warmed up, here are some delicious ways to serve it:

  • Pulled pork sandwiches
  • Nachos
  • In tamales, tacos, burritos, or quesadillas
  • Stirred into baked beans
  • Served with a green salad, fruit, baked beans, potato salad, chips, veggies and dip.

Now that you know how much pork you need and how to store and reheat it, you’re ready to throw an epic pulled pork party!

What Cut of Meat Should I Use for Pulled Pork?

The Best Cut for Pulled Pork

When it comes to making pulled pork, the pork shoulder is the way to go. But don’t be fooled – it’s not actually called that at the grocery store. It’s actually called a Pork Butt.

Breaking Down the Pork Shoulder

A whole pork shoulder can be broken down into two sections:

  • The top is the Boston butt, which is labeled as pork butt at the store.
  • The lower part is called the picnic roast.

Picking the Perfect Cut

When you’re picking out your pork butt, try to find one with the bone still in it. That bone adds flavor and helps the meat cook more evenly. Plus, it’s just more fun to pull apart!

So, when you’re ready to make your pulled pork, grab yourself a pork butt and get ready to have a delicious meal.


Pulled Pork Vs Brisket

Pulled pork and brisket are two of the most popular meats to cook at a BBQ party. While they both come from different animals – a pig and a steer respectively – they both require low and slow cooking methods, like smoking, to make them irresistibly delicious. However, there are some key differences between them. Pulled pork is generally more affordable than brisket, and it’s much easier to prepare. Brisket, on the other hand, is more expensive and requires more work to save if it turns out dry. Plus, pork shoulder will shrink less than brisket during cooking. So, if you’re looking for an affordable and easy-to-prepare meat for your next BBQ, pulled pork is the way to go. But if you’re looking for something a bit more special, you can’t go wrong with brisket.

Pulled Pork Vs Carnitas

Pulled pork and carnitas are two delicious dishes that have a lot in common, but there are some key differences between them. Pulled pork is made from pork shoulder that has been cooked slowly until it can be easily shredded. Carnitas, on the other hand, is a Mexican-style version of pulled pork that is usually seasoned with Mexican spices or just salt. The main difference between the two is the seasoning, as carnitas has a more distinct flavor than pulled pork. Additionally, carnitas is usually served with a variety of toppings, such as cilantro, onions, and salsa, while pulled pork is usually served with a barbecue sauce. Both dishes are delicious, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more flavor, carnitas is the way to go.


Pulled pork is an incredibly delicious and versatile dish that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Whether you’re smoking it, barbecuing it, or slow-roasting it in the oven, you’re sure to get a tender, juicy, and flavorful meal. So, don’t be a PORK-HEAD and give pulled pork a try!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.