Southern Pulled Pork BBQ

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Southern Pulled Pork BBQ means everything to a southerner. Learn how to make tender pulled pork at home which is as southern as it gets.

barbecue sandwich with coleslaw and pickles on a bun
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What is Pulled Pork?

Pulled pork describes the way you pull the meat with two forks as opposed to chopping it into smaller pieces. This made-from-scratch recipe for Southern Pulled Pork BBQ is as delicious as any you’ll find in a restaurant!

There are many ways to prepare barbecue. In these parts, you’ll find opinions about the types of meat and the best sauce to use on every corner. Smoking it over a fire pit for 12 hours is the preferred method, but lots of folks don’t have an expensive smoker. Baking it in an oven is a great alternative to smoking the meat and it has amazing flavor!

If you’ve been afraid to make barbecue before, don’t fret. Baking a pork shoulder in a dutch oven couldn’t be easier. All you need is some time, a nice pork butt, and a really good BBQ rub. If you’ve got those three things, you’re ready to make some magic!

Buying the Pork

My favorite type of meat to use is a Boston Butt (or pork shoulder). For pulled pork, you’ll need about a 5 pound roast. Since there’s a lot of fat in this cut of meat, it yields about 3 pounds of finished product, which serves 6 to 8 people.

Making the Dry Rub

Before you can cook the meat, you’ll need to slather it with a really good dry rub. My favorite recipe uses seasonings you probably have in your spice cabinet at home.

The first three ingredients can be found in most supermarkets in smaller quantities, but I’m providing an affiliate link so you can see what I use. I like steak seasoning because it has a large amount of pepper, burger seasoning for its smoky flavor, and jerk seasoning since it packs a good kick.

dry rub for pork roast in a white bowl with whisk

Preparing the Meat

Remove any wrapping before rubbing the meat with seasoning.

Get in there and slather the dry rub on both sides of the roast with your hands. You should have enough rub to be very generous with your portions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the roast in your handy dutch oven (ad). Add one cup of water and 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke (ad) to the bottom of the pot and cover. Bake for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 275 and cook an additional 2 hours.

pork roast with seasoning in a blue dutch oven

Pulling the Pork

After the roast comes out of the oven, let it rest for about 30 minutes. Then, take two forks and pull the pork away from the fat. It’s okay to leave a little fat in the mix, but it’s best to remove as much as you can.

Place the meat on a cutting board and pile it high. Drizzle a little of the juice from the dutch oven onto the pork. At this point, you can serve it as is, or turn it into chopped pork by using a large butcher knife to cut it into smaller bites.

pulled pork barbecue on a white cutting board

Choosing a Sauce

Some southerners wouldn’t mess up this delicious meat with sauce, but most of them wouldn’t eat a bite without it. In North Carolina, there’s a great debate about which sauce to use. Eastern NC likes a vinegar based sauce, while Western NC prefers a sweet tomato based version.

I’m a sweet-tomato sauce kind of girl. I could make my own, but by the time I get the barbecue out of the oven, I’m ready to eat. Besides, there are so many great barbecue sauces out there, I’m good with using one straight out of the bottle.

My Favorite Sauces…

pulled pork barbecue with coleslaw and pickles on a brioche bun

Serving Suggestions

Down south, there are two basic ways to serve pulled pork…

Depending on my mood and the time of day, I can go either way. But lately, a BBQ sandwich has been hitting the spot.

How do you like your barbecue? Please leave a comment below the recipe card and tell me all about it!

barbecue, baked beans and cornbread on a white plate

Recipe FAQS

What is the best cut of meat for pulled pork?

Pork shoulder or pork butt is the best cut of meat for pulled pork. It has the right amount of fat content to make sure the meat is tender when cooked. Be sure to cook it low and slow to allow the pork to tenderize.

What liquid do you use for pulled pork?

If you use dry rub, all you need is a little bit of water added to the dutch oven before baking. Some folks like to also rub the meat with mustard or bbq sauce before adding a rub, but it’s totally optional.

Do you season pulled pork after pulling?

I like to drizzle the juice from the pork after it’s pulled to keep it moist. Others like to sprinkle extra dry rub on the meat. It’s fun to experiment with your own special techniques!

More BBQ Recipes

Man, it doesn’t get any better than this! If you’re a BBQ lover like me, check out these other great recipes from Quiche My Grits…

Recipe Card

barbecue sandwich with coleslaw and pickles on a bun

Southern Pulled Pork BBQ

Love pulled pork barbecue? Learn how to make tender & juicy pulled pork BBQ at home. It's a southern favorite for game day and cookouts!
4.43 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 430kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

DRY RUB

PORK ROAST

  • 5 lb. Boston Butt pork shoulder roast
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. liquid smoke

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using your hands, generously coat pork roast with dry BBQ spice rub. Work well into the meat.
  • Place pork in a large dutch oven.  Add water and liquid smoke.
  • Cover dutch oven with lid.
  • Roast pork at 350 degrees for 2 hours, checking through the roasting process to ensure there is still enough liquid to prevent scorching.  
  • After 2 hours, reduce heat to 275 degrees, and cook for an additional 2 hours.
  • Remove pork roast from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.  
  • Transfer roast to a cutting board and pull meat with two forks, separating it from the fat.
  • Cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve with your favorite BBQ sauce as a sandwich or a plate.

Notes

  • When serving as a sandwich, add barbecue, sauce, then coleslaw on a brioche bun. Top with pickles if desired.
  • If serving as a plate, add pulled pork with any sides you wish, such as Calico Baked Beans and Southern Cornbread. 

Nutrition

Calories: 430kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 230mg | Potassium: 1076mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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17 Comments

    1. I make my Carolina pork with a vinegar base..more tangy, a little heat, tiny bit of sweet

  1. 5 stars
    This is the best pork barbecue ever-so-tender and tasty! Must have for summer-especially with your calico baked beans. My favorite combo.

  2. 1 star
    Sorry kid but this roast pork with liquid smoke has nothing to do with barbecue. Barbecue is smoked meat plain and simple. Twelve hours or so on a wood fired smoker with real wood to create the smoke. Where did you say you are from?

    1. Hi James. I don’t have a smoker or a wood fire with real wood. This recipe is for those of us who like to bake our barbecue in the oven. It’s a method that’s been used for many years by those who like barbecue but don’t have a grill.

    2. 5 stars
      Mr. Ludlow, some of us can’t afford a smoker. Have you ever tried this recipe? I bake my pork roast all the time. Sometimes I cook it in the crock pot. Both ways make great barbecue. Just because it isn’t smoked for hours over a wood fire doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

  3. 5 stars
    I love this recipe because I don’t have a smoker either. I can’t afford a smoker plus a grill, so the grill won out. And I like using the liquid smoke because it’s only in the juices. It gives a nice aroma as the meat is cooking. If you don’t have expensive smoking equipment, this recipe is great.

    1. Wrap wood chips in aluminum foil, poke holes in the foil, and put the foil pouch on the grill. You’ve just turned your grill into a smoker. Keep replacing the pouch with a new one when wood chips turn to ash. Use applewood chips when smoking pork shoulder.

  4. I am a cook for the American Legion in my hometown. I doubled the recipe and sold out in 3 hours. Will be making this again on Super Bowl Sunday. I prepped it the day before and into the oven by 6:30 am. Absolutely delicious.

    1. Hi Cheryl! You really made my week! That is fantastic! So glad you and your hometown love my pulled pork BBQ!

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