There are probably a thousand different ways to smoke a pork butt, and at least half of those are pulled pork recipes.
This recipe uses my spicy, vinegary Carolina mop sauce, and it’s up there as one of my all-time favorite ways to make pulled pork.
The tang from the vinegar and the spice from the red pepper come together to build a beautiful bark on your pork butt with a nice heat on the back end.
Barbecue Pulled Pork with Carolina Mop Sauce
Ingredients you’ll need
- Pork Butt – I like to use a bone-in pork butt for this recipe, but you can also use a boneless pork butt. Just keep an eye on your cooking temperatures and times when you skip the bone.
- Binder – This is optional, I used mustard.
- Barbecue Rub – something with a bit of sweetness and spice is perfect for this recipe. I think our Smoke Kitchen Pitmaster’s Pick is a great choice.
- Carolina Vinegar Mop Sauce – I highly recommend my East Carolina Vinegar Mop Sauce recipe for this pulled pork, but you can grab a bottle of store-bought if you absolutely need to… it just won’t taste as good.
Equipment you’ll need
- Smoker – I used the Grilla Grills Alpha for this recipe (AKA: The OG). It’s perfect for smoking pork butts because it holds a consistent temp throughout the entire cook and produces enough smoke to give your pork a delicious, smoky flavor throughout.
- Pellets – any pellets will work because pork is pretty friendly with most woods. I like to use a blend of Oak and Pecan pellets when I’m smoking pork.
- BBQ Basting Mop – Since you’re making a mop sauce, you need something to mop your pork with! I like a simple, medium-sized barbecue mop like this for this recipe, and you should be able to find one at any grocery store or BBQ supply store.
- Instant-read Thermometer – The key to tender, juicy pork is to watch your internal temp. You’re shooting for a final temp between 200°F and 205°F for perfect pulled pork. I like to use the Thermoworks ThermaPen.
How to make Smoked Pulled Pork with Carolina Vinegar Mop Sauce
1. Score and season the pork butt
Start by taking a sharp knife and scoring the fat cap in a criss-cross pattern. I recommend our Smoke Kitchen 6.5” Boning Knife. It’s sharp and flexible, and it’s the perfect tool for scoring and trimming fat from any cut of meat.
Once you’ve scored the fat cap, slather the pork butt in a light layer of yellow mustard as a binder. If you’re not a fan of using binders, just skip this step – it’s all about personal preference.
Then you want to season the pork butt generously with your barbecue rub on all sides. I like to use our Smoke Kitchen Pitmaster’s Pick rub for pulled pork. It’s sweet, salty, and savory and the perfect complement to smoked pork.
Once your pork butt is well-seasoned, you want to let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes or so until the meat starts to sweat.
While letting your pork butt sweat, you can fire up the smoker.
2. Fire up the smoker
I’ve found that smoking pork butt works best around 250°F.
For this recipe, I used my Grilla Grills Alpha. It holds temperature perfectly for long cooks like this one and produces enough smoke to get a great flavor through your pork.
Once your smoker is preheated, you can place your pork butt directly on the grates with the fat cap down and let it smoke.
3. The mop sauce
You don’t need to start mopping your pork for at least 90 minutes, but I like to whip up the batch of mop sauce right after I put my pork on so the flavors can marinate together.
Here’s a link to my mop sauce recipe.
Essentially, you want to mop the pork every 60-90 minutes for the duration of the cooking time.
The cooking time can vary based on the size of the pork butt, but you should anticipate 90 minutes per pound at 250°F.
You’ll know your pork is done when it hits 203°F internal temperature or is probe tender.
After it’s done cooking, let it rest for 30-60 minutes, and then you can shred it and serve it.
If you smoked a bone-in butt, slide the bone out before shredding. You can use shredder claws, but I’ve always found some nitrile gloves work best.
Serve this pulled pork with
BBQ Pulled Pork with Carolina Vinegar Mop Sauce
- Preheat the smoker to 250°F.
- Score the fat on the pork butt, then slather it in yellow mustard for the binder.
- Season the pork evenly on all sides with the BBQ rub.
- Place the pork butt directly on the grates of the smoker with the fat cap down.
- After 90 minutes, begin basting the pork butt with the mop sauce every 60-90 minutes.
- Smoke for 8-10 hours until the internal temperature reaches 203°F.
- Remove from the smoker and let rest for 30-60 minutes, then shred and serve.