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An image of Carolina gold BBQ sauce being poured over pulled pork on a bun.
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4.34 from 6 votes

Smoked Pulled Pork

This Carolina-style Smoked Pulled Pork recipe is made with a pork shoulder (aka Boston butt) in a wood smoker or pellet grill using a homemade, easy barbecue spice rub made from pantry ingredients you already have on hand.  Smoked low and slow with apple, cherry, or hickory wood, and slathered with South Carolina gold mustard BBQ sauce, this recipe makes the best pulled pork sandwiches ever!
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time12 hrs
Additional Time2 hrs
Total Time1 d 14 hrs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 1110kcal
Author: Amy Nash


  • 5-8 pounds pork butt aka Boston butt, pork shoulder, country roast, etc.


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ Tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ Tablespoon dry mustard


  • 8 Cups Water or ½ apple juice and ½ water
  • ½ Cup Kosher Salt
  • ½ Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3 Heaping Tablespoons Dry Rub
  • 2 Bay Leaves


  • Combine all of the rub ingredients in a bowl and stir until evenly distributed.  
  • In a large pot or extra large ziploc bag, combine the brine ingredients (including 3 tablespoons of the dry rub you just made), whisking or stirring for a minute to help the sugar and salt dissolve, then add the pork butt and seal well.  Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. Reserve an additional 2-3 tablespoons of spice rub for sprinkling over the finished pulled pork, if desired.
  • Remove the pork butt from the brine and pat dry. Sprinkle generously with the rub massaging it into the meat.  Let the pork butt sit for 30 to 60 minutes to take some of the chill off before placing on the smoker.
  • Prepare the smoker by heating it and getting the smoke going until the temperature is between 225°F to 250°F.  Smoke for around 1 ½ hours per pound until the internal temperature of the pork butt reaches 195°F to 205°F.  You can spritz the pork with apple juice from a spray bottle once an hour as it is smoking if it's looking dry on the outside, but it's not absolutely necessary. 
  • Once the pork has finished smoking, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for 1-2 hours to redistribute the juices. You can wrap it in foil, then in towels and place it in a cooler to rest. 
  • Pull or shred the smoked pork by hand, with forks, or using meat claws.  Remove any large chunks of fat.  If you have any leftover or reserved pork rub, I like to sprinkle a little over the pulled pork and give it a toss for even more flavor.  You can also toss the pulled pork with some barbecue sauce, if desired, before serving.
  • Serve pulled pork on buttered and toasted buns, or all on its own with your favorite barbecue sides.  


Serving: -5g | Calories: 1110kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 89g | Fat: 72g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 38g | Cholesterol: 330mg | Sodium: 6585mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g