Pulled Pork (or Pork Butt) on the Grill

Tired of dry, tough pulled pork sandwiches? This moist and tender pulled pork, made from the pork butt cut, is surprisingly easy to accomplish with some simple guidelines.

A great alternative or accompaniment to burgers when you're feeding a crowd, this smoked pulled pork will show off your grill skills and leave your guests raving.

This recipe adds extra moisture with a light and zippy vinegar sauce (North Carolina-style!), but the quantity can be adjusted according to your tastes.

Plan ahead: You will need to allow your meat to sit overnight with the rub, and allow for 6-9 hours cooking time.

This quantity will feed a crowd!

Supplies needed: 

  • BBQ Blend wood pellets for your pellet grill (or your preferred wood chips/chunks for your smoker)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small spray bottle for "spritzing" meat while cooking
  • Towels

Ingredients for the seasoning rub:

  • 10 tablespoons paprika (you can mix mild and hot paprika, if you choose)
  • 8 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt 

Ingredients for the pulled pork:

  • Seasoning rub (recipe above)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 16-20 lbs pork butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast), with "fat cap" layer still intact
  •  Vinegar sauce (recipe follows)


1. Unwrap and dry off pork butt pieces (my local meat market generally packages two large pieces together). Discard wrappings.

2. With the fat layer facing up and using a sharp boning knife, trim the fat to approximately 1/4" thickness, and trim off any dangling fat or meat pieces.

3. Mix together the seasoning rub ingredients in a bowl.

4. With meat on large baking sheets and fat caps down, shake an even layer (but not too thick) of seasoning rub over the meat.

Bowl of pulled porkBowl of pulled pork

5. Turn fat caps up and season the remaining meat. You will likely have plenty of rub leftover.

6. Cover meat with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and allow to sit in refrigerator overnight (or approximately 8 hours).

7. When ready to cook, set up your grill for indirect heat. If using a charcoal grill, preheat the grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a wood pellet grill, set temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. When grill is heated, unwrap meat and place pieces (fat cap up) over the indirect heat area. Close the lid.

9. Every couple of hours, quickly spray meat with combination of apple juice and cider vinegar, and check internal meat temperature. Add extra charcoal, wood chunks or pellet, if necessary. Cook until meat reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit, as read on digital meat thermometer.

10. When you notice the fat cap cracking or splitting during one of your checks, briefly remove the meat from the grill to wrap in aluminum foil. Take care to fold over any seams so that juices cannot leak out of the foil. Return meat to the grill, same side up.

11. When meat reads as 205 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from grill and wrap (still in foil) in a clean, thick towel to retain heat.

12. Allow meat to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

13. While waiting, prepare Vinegar Sauce (recipe follows).

14. When meat has rested, unwrap and begin to "pull" the meat apart, wearing heat-resistant gloves. Discard any skin, bones, and large pieces of fat, and place meat in large bowl.

15. Use fingers to break meat into smaller pieces. Meat should be very tender, with minimal work required to separate into shreds.

16. Stir in approximately 1-2 cups of the vinegar sauce, more or less to taste. You can serve additional sauce on the side for guests who like more.

17. Meat can be mounded onto large buns for pulled pork sandwiches.

Vinegar Sauce:

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1.5 cups water

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix desired amount into pulled pork after cooking.

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