Crazy-Good Barbecued Pulled Pork

Everywhere I look online lately, I’m tempted and delighted by Thanksgiving recipes. But Thanksgiving is just one day. One awesome, delicious day… but one day, nonetheless.

There are 364 other days this year on which we need to eat.

For your consideration: Crazy-Good Barbecued Pulled Pork. This tasty hunk o’ meat will feed you through many delicious meals and snacks with minimal effort. Y’all know how much I love it when the magic of heat and time do all the work! (I smoke mine on a gas grill. I am not a BBQ purist; I’m a pragmatist.)



Crazy-Good Barbecued Pulled Pork

Serves a lot | Prep 10 minutes | Smoke 2 hours | Oven 2-3 hours | Whole30 compliant when you omit sugar

  • 4-5 boneless or bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt (basically, a big ol’ hunk of fatty pork)

  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (optional: omit for Whole30)

  • 2 tablespoons ground paprika

  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 4 cups wood chips


Season the butt. (Heh, I said ‘butt.’) Mix all the spices together and massage the blend all over the pork; be sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies. Amuse yourself by saying, “Wanna pat the butt?” or I’m massaging the butt!” or “This butt massaging sure feels good!” When you’re finished, it will look something like this.

Bonus points if you cover the meat in spice blend, then wrap it tightly in plastic, and refrigerate it overnight. This is not required, but the flavor is even better if you take the time for this extra step.



Smoke it, baby. Place the wood chips in a deep bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for 15 minutes, then drain off the water. Place the damp wood chips on a large piece of aluminum foil in a thin layer. Fold the foil to make a packet, then poke a few holes in the packet so smoke can escape. Place the packet on the primary burner of your gas grill, turn all the burners to high, and preheat with the lid down. After about 15 minutes, the wood chips will start to smoke. Rejoice!


Place the butt. (Heh. I said ‘butt’ again.) When the grill is hot and the chips are smokin’, turn the primary burner to medium and shut off the other burners. Place the pork on the cool part of the grill, close the lid, and let it smoke for about 2 hours. You want a dark, rosy crust, like this:


The Big Finish. Preheat your oven to 325F. When the pork is done smoking, place it in a roasting pan, wrap it tightly with foil, and roast in the oven for 2 to 3 hours, until you can insert a fork and remove it with no resistance. Now you need to be patient just a little bit longer: take the pork out of the oven and let the butt rest (Rest your butt!), still covered in the foil, for 30 minutes.


Dig in! It’s done. You may now pull off big hunks with your hands and shove them directly into your face – not that I have ever done that. You can also shred the pork with your hands or two forks so the crusty, crunchy outer bits mix into the tender, juicy inner bits. This is sublime, people. Sublime!


Tasty Ideas

We usually eat it just as it is, with some vegetables alongside. It’s also delicious:

  • — piled on a salad

  • — tossed with cubes of avocado, diced onion, and a squeeze of lime juice

  • — diced and made into paleo egg foo yung

  • — stir-fried with cooked spaghetti squash

  • — made into hash with cubed sweet potatoes (add cumin and thyme)

Vinegar-y BBQ Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups | Prep 5 minutes |Whole30 compliant when you omit sweetener

This slightly-acidic sauce is the perfect partner for the luscious, fatty pork.

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup Kickass Ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey (omit for Whole30)

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Place all the ingredients in a 1-quart Ball jar and shake it like you mean it.


Shred the pork and douse with some of the sauce. CRAZY GOOD!

Print this recipe
Walnut-Crusted Pork Chops With Baked Apples

Some things just belong together! Simon Le Bon and John Taylor. Black eyeliner and stompy black boots. Sunbutter and 85% dark chocolate. Pork and apples. I'm currently...

Read More
5-Spice Slow-Cooker Pork Ribs

I don't know what's gotten into me this week, but I've been on a serious Asian food kick. My poor cumin has been languishing in...

Read More


  • girlblake says:

    OMG, I'm so hungry and this looks amazing!!! I can't wait to try this. And I will have no shame about grabbing fistfuls of pork butt and shoveling them into my mouth, thank you very much.

  • Diana says:

    Hi Mel-
    I don't have a gas grill but LOVE pulled pork…what would your cooking recs be sans grill?? Thank you! Love your blog!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Blake –> Dave and I made this for New Year's Eve with sweet potato home fries on the side. It was SO good. And the leftovers really can't be beat.

    Diana –> I'm not sure how you could do this without a grill because of the smoking step. I think you could skip the smoking part… just rub the butt (heh) with the spice rub, then either roast it in the oven or put it in a slow cooker. The oven will make it crustier than the crock pot. I will also check with my BBQ-master friend at work and see if he has any ideas for alternative smoking methods.

  • Cheryl says:

    you can create your own smoker – roasting pan, perforated rack and tight fitting lid. You'll have to heat the wood to get it smoking, get the roast in the pan, and seal it tight. i suggest a couple of layers of aluminum foil then put into a slow oven (325 – no higher).

  • Lydia says:

    This sounds amazing. A friend gave me a gas grill this summer and I (shamefully) haven't fired it up once. Your recipe might provide adequate inspiration. Thank you!

  • AllieNic says:

    I literally JUST made pulled pork in my slow cooker…I hadn't even thought to make it on the grill! A lot less sauce and probably a lot more pork flavor goodness! Thanks for sharing!

  • Matt F says:

    Damn!! For not being a BBQ purist, that is one nice looking butt you got there! I happen to have a Big Green Egg so I get to smoke my butts for 24 hrs. I am going to try our rub, I've been wanting to make my own for some time now so I don't have to get all the anti-caking agents and other additives from my favorite Butt Rub.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Butt rub! If you're not doing super-duper strict paleo, you would not be wrong to add 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the rub ingredients above. I've made it with and without the sugar — both are ridiculously delicious. Hope you like it!

  • Matt F says:

    Bad Byron's Butt Rub to be exact. I don't think he adds sugar to his and I usually like to save any sugar for my brisket (I use Goode Co Brisket Rub from Houston for that). I find that apple wood or my new favorite Guava add a nice hint of sweetness. I like Black Pepper with my pork because it reminds me of the pork roasts my Grandma used to make. Mmmmmm now I'm hungry.

  • Roni says:

    This pulled pork gives the Georgia Pig a run for their money, honey!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, super Mommy! I'm glad you liked it. Wish I'd been there to eat the crunchy bits with my fingers! Love you!

  • Jim Turpin says:

    Made this last weekend, it was amazing. Thanks!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Jim! Glad you liked it! I made it last weekend, too … and I have two fun new recipes for the leftovers that I'll be sharing soon. Thanks for dropping a note!

  • Tim says:

    Hey! I love your blog, recipes and growing community!

    While smoked IS better, using the oven isn’t bad at all if you don’t have a grill or smoker. Also, the lower the temperature and the longer you can cook it the better. I had my 6lb. butt in the oven for 6.5 hours at 300, and it came out great, and otherwise following the recipe above.

  • sallyT says:

    We made this yesterday. Two teenagers later and it was gone before dinner tonight! Awesome. Thanks Mel!

  • Steve D says:

    Hi, Mel,

    I did this recipe for Thanksgiving, and it was a huge hit. I’m not a big fan of Turkey, so every Thanksgiving is a bit of a struggle to find something interesting and different that will stand up to the holidays. This did the trick, and the leftovers have been legendary. We made a pulled pork hash the next morning, carnitas for dinner the next night, and plenty of sandwiches and snacks in between. I think this might be our new tradition for the holidays!

    • Mel says:

      Right on! Thanks for letting me know… I love that you liked it this much. And I’m with you: the leftovers are awesome. Try some in paleo egg foo yong some time. DELISH!

  • Joni says:

    SO pleased to find a BBQ recipe without sugar , plus to read all the great reviews. Shaing link with DH right now.
    YUM! Thank you!

  • Sarah says:

    holy guacamole! pullin’ at my southern heart strings! fabulous recipe! popped it in the oven and it turned out magnificently!

  • Kim says:

    Would this recipe or the Chinese BBQ pork recipe from your book work with a pork loin? That’s all I have on hand and this cooking thing is a new experience for me!

    • Mel says:

      Definitely don’t use pork loin for this one; it’s way too lean. It will turn into leather, for sure.

      You can either:
      (1) use the spice rub above
      (2) use the marinade from the Chinese BBQ pork

      The roast the pork: Preheat oven to 400F. Place pork loin in a roasting pan with the FAT SIDE DOWN at 400F for 30 minutes, then flip it fat side UP and roast another 25-30 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

      If you’re using the Chinese BBQ pork recipe, during the last 15 minutes of roasting, brush it frequently with the Chinese BBQ glaze.

      That should work!

      • Kim says:

        Thanks so much!! I’m going to try that tonight.

        By the way, I absolutely love your book. I went from eating complete crap to my first Whole 30 two weeks ago and would never have been able to do it without your awesome cookbook!!

  • Rach says:

    Hi Mel, my shoulder came with the skin still on. Do you take the skin off before the rub? It looks like it from the pics but I can’t quite be sure.
    BTW received well fed on Wednesday! Thanks so much. Made wonderful cauli pilaf and best chicken ever already! Got to say, you are my hero!

    • Mel says:

      Skin? Like, pig skin? Or is it a thick layer of fat?

      If it’s fat, you can use a sharp knife to trim it to be thinner. If it’s skin, um… remove it? I’ve never seen it with the skin on.

      Glad you’re enjoying Well Fed. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Rach says:

    Thanks Mel,
    I’m in the UK, so things are a little different over here. yep it had its skin (as in pig skin) on. I left it on and it was actually very good. The layer of fat underneath the skin was not so thick so it was melted by the end of the cooking process and the skin was nice and crunchy – kind of like when cooking a pork belly but smoked and spicy 🙂
    All good!

  • Ellen says:

    Recipe sounds real good. Can I use my Cameron stove top smoker for the pork? I don’t have a gas grill.

  • Ludona H. Smith says:

    I’m always on the lookout for spice rubs. This looks wonderful. I’ve tried something similar to this in the crockpot and add no liquid, just the rubbed butt. We had 2, 19 year old Mormon missionaries over who finished it off and have asked me several times since if I’m fixing it again!
    I liked the oven smoking instructions in an earlier comment. Thanks. We can’t have a barbecuer at our condos.

  • Kimberly says:

    I’ve rubbed the butt, the wood chips are getting ready to smoke and we are having a feast tonight!

  • Kimberly says:

    just waiting for the wood chips to start smoking!

  • liese says:

    Is the Foil Finish essential? The reason i ask is i have a HUGE cast iron pot w/lid. I can fit a turkey in that sucker!
    was wondering if i can use this instead or is the foil in the oven important.

    • Mel says:

      The cast iron pot should work great! The foil isn’t important — but keeping the meat covered is essential, so your pot+lid should work even better than the foil.

  • liese says:

    just realized~! There’s no garlic… i love garlic…lol

  • kimberly says:

    I’ve got this smoking away as I type. So glad I pinnned this recipe. Can’t wait for dinner!!!! We had it in July and wanted to try it again.

  • Esperanza says:

    I found your website last night and picked this recipe to make today. It was awesome! I smoked the meat with the branches I trimmed off my cherry tree last year. I was especially impressed with how juicy and tender the pork was. We had pulled pork at a local BBQ place last weekend. This was even better than theirs! Definitely putting this on the rotation. Served it with the fous cous. Nice combo.

    • Mel says:

      Glad you liked it — and I love that you used your own wood to smoke it. How cool is that?! This is our go-to whenever we have to feed a large bunch of people — so easy, so good. YAY!

  • Leora says:

    I’m wondering if this recipe would work with a rotisserie style gas grill. Wondering if you would still need the oven step. What do you think?

  • Ashley T. says:

    Served this yesterday at our Derby party. I was nervous trying out a new recipe for a crowd of people, but everyone loved it. I typically cook my butt in the crock pot, but this is my new go to. Thanks for sharing!

  • ashley2 says:

    Amazing! My dad thinks himself to be a BBQ master… My husband thought this one kicked his butt! Nice job! About to make it for the third time.

  • Karen Dunham says:

    Hi Melissa,
    for your Crazy-Good BBQ Roast Pork, do you set it directly on the grill or on something else? Just want to be sure I don’t screw this up…it sounds amazing and who’d want to blow it on a pork roast??? thanks, Karen

  • Wendy says:

    This is now my go-to rub for making smoked pork shoulder. It is super tasty! Thank you!

  • Amy says:

    This is so ridiculously delicious! Even my picky kid will eat it. Makes tons of leftovers that you can use in so many different recipes. Thank you!!!

  • Scott Fitzgerald says:

    I’ve done this many a time before I ever bought a smoker or used the oven. You can cook a 7 pound butt in a crock pot for 6-8 hours. I always put a dry rub on mine and chill it overnight to marinate into the meat.

    I cook/smoke mine until it reaches 185 degrees, then remove it and let it set covered at least half an hour. It will then be about 195 degrees and the bone will pull out like a hot knife through butter. Shred the meat with a couple of forks and you are GOOD TO GO!! Using a side electrical timer or your own crock pots overnight allows you to wake up in the morning to d-vine smells in the house. I usually get about 24 big sandwiches from one of this size. Happy eatin’ ya’all.