World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork


“Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world’s best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.


Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world's best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.

When I think of BBQ I can’t help but think of slow and low style, the Carolina way.  In order to cook the World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork, it is essential that you plan ahead, and spend some time prepping and cooking that delicious meat at those lower temperatures.  This helps bring out all those flavors that melt in your mouth and allow that pork to literally fall apart.  I know, we are all lazy and don’t want to, but trust me, this World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork is so easy your dog could do it.


Carolina BBQ

Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world's best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.


BBQ and South Carolina is a pretty big deal in my life. It better be so tender and juicy you want to bathe in it, but the sides are just as big of a deal.  From fried okra and pickles to boiled peanuts, yup boiled peanuts, there is a lot of tradition that comes with these recipes and some you can even get on the side of the road!


Boiled Peanuts

A lot of people (aka Carrian) don’t like the texture of the boiled peanuts but it’s one of my favorite little snacks while watching some football and eating some BBQ.  If you haven’t tried them you must!  Let me know if you’re a fan or if you side with my wife.


{Carrian interjecting here. Boiled peanuts are not something you can take sides on. They are slimy, smell bad and are just wrong for so many reasons. It’s just a no-go, sorry Cade.}


Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world's best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.


Alright, let’s get to a few secrets that will help you make the best pulled pork recipe ever. This may seem like a process, but here’s the deal, you really just plop it in the fridge and then the oven and while it takes a long time you’re just going about your every day life, so it’s really not extra work on your part. These ideas come from asking questions back in South Carolina and I have to admit, Diners Drive Ins and Dives. Shout out to Guy who gets to eat for a living!


Carrian and I occasionally watch his show on Netflix at night and first of all, it makes us so hungry, but also we feel like we can totally guess when he doesn’t really enjoy something. We wish we could find out what he really thinks are the best and the worst of the places he has tried.


Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world's best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.


World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork

Anyway, I got a little off topic. Here are the secrets to the world’s best Carolina pulled pork.


What Cut of Meat do You Use for Pulled Pork?

Start with the right cut of meat.

Most barbecue restaurants use whole pork shoulders, but they’re rarely available in grocery stores.

If you find a whole shoulder, use it.

Otherwise, we recommend a Boston butt, which is half of the shoulder, the other half being the picnic shoulder.


Brine for Pork

  1. Always brine your pork. One thing I’ve heard over and over again from great chefs is to brine a turkey for better flavor and more tender meat. Carrian and I put it to the test with pork years ago and found that while we already did it for Thanksgiving turkeys it was now a must do for our pork as well.
  2. Apple cider, not cider vinegar though you’ll see in the comments that people are just as big a fan of that, in the brine adds a little more flavor without ever tasting like apple, and all you have to do is dump it in.

What Temperature and How Long to Cook Pulled Pork

  1. If you’re southern you know this isn’t just a secret but practically law in the south, LOW AND SLOW. I always laugh when people tell me they can’t make bbq, “I let it cook for over an hour and it was dry and hard as rock!”. Listen, bbq is very relaxed just like southerners. It wants to hang out all day and while you may think you’re overcooking it, you’re not! Our pork cooks for at least 12 hours. Sometimes more if it’s a bigger butt (I feel like there should be a joke in there). Do not rush it.

The Secret To Pulled Pork

  1. This is definitely a secret I think is often missed, once the meat is done let it rest some more. I told you, it’s lazy. Letting it rest redistributes the juices and because it’s big and cooked for a long time you’re going to want to let it rest longer, like an hour or even two before shredding.
  2. And finally, the biggest secret of all, and one that I cannot claim as my own as this is where Triple D (Diners Drive Ins and Dives) comes in, sprinkle a little more of the rub on the meat before serving. We noticed many bbq joints weren’t just slathering on the sauce, but actually sprinkling that dry rub all over the shredded meat and tossing to let it sink it. You wont believe what a difference it makes.


How do You Reheat Pulled Pork?

Turn On your oven and set the temperature to 250 °F.

Now, cover your meat with foil and put it into oven when it’s ready.

After you put it into your oven, let it heat for 30 minutes or until reaching an internal temperature of 165 °F. ​

That is how to reheat a pulled pork using oven.


Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world's best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.


Carolina BBQ Sauce – Vinegar BBQ Sauce or Mustard BBQ Sauce

Of course I should tell you about the sauces, Carrian like a thick, sweet sauce or a Carolina vinegar bbq, and I love those but I also go for the Carolina mustard sauce. We did a whole Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce and Vinegar Sauce on all of that. In the meantime, invite friends over for the next Gamecocks game, make this pork and think of us!


Carolina Pulled Pork For a Crowd or to Freeze

Reader Kate asks:

“I’m heading up to my cabin and need a dinner for a large crowd a few hours after we arrive, wondering if I can cook the pork and then finish it off in the grill when we arrive? Or if it’s better to do all steps and then reheat it on arrival? Looks delish.”


And here’s our response as we get soooo many emails about this very question.
Great question! We do this ALLLLLLL the time. Go ahead and make it all and then you have two choices. Pull it out of the oven straight into the car and it will rest on the way to the cabin and be ready to eat two hours later, or make it, rest it, cool it and place in freezer bags or to be honest, we use this Foodsaver,  and just suck the air out and freeze pork for use over the next three months. It’s super easy, and tastes perfectly fresh when we reheat. We just place it in the fridge to defrost and then reheat in a large pan with foil in a low oven or stove top with a little oil in the pan and a lid to keep the steam in so it’s juicy. Sorry for the long response, hope that helps!


World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork

World's Best Carolina Pulled Pork

“Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world’s best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.


  • 5-8 pound Pork Butt, bone in and fat pad on top

For the Brine

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 4 Cups Apple Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3 Heaping Tablespoons Dry Rub
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

For the Dry Rub

  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Cayenne Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Dry Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

For the Vinegar Sauce

*this is optional but we love it

  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup to 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 2 Pinches Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt to taste


**This recipe should be started 2 days ahead of time as you need 24 hours in the fridge, 12-14 in the oven and 2 hours of resting.

Prepare the Dry Rub

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a ziploc bag.
  2. Set aside.

For the Brine

  1. In a large stock pot, add the water, apple cider, salt, sugar, 3 tablespoons dry rub, pepper flakes and bay leaves.
  2. Rinse off the pork and add to the pot making sure it is completely covered in the brine and add the lid.
  3. Place in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

For the Sauce

  1. In a glass jar, add the ingredients and place the lid on then shake to combine.
  2. Set aside.

To Cook

  1. Heat the oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Remove the pork from the brine and place in a roasting dish or 9×13″ baking pan as long as the sides don’t touch the pan.
  3. Pat very dry with paper towels.
  4. Remove 2 tablespoons of the dry rub to another ziploc and set aside for after it is cooked.
  5. Rub the remaining seasoning all over the pork and in any cracks or flaps.
  6. With the fat facing up, place the pork in the oven with a meat thermometer.
  7. Bake for 12-14 hours or until 200 degrees registers on the thickest part of the pork with a meat thermometer. *Remember to watch your oven, ours turns off automatically at 12 hours so I have to turn it back on.
  8. At this point you can turn off the oven and leave the pork in there to rest for two hours or if you have more baking to do place foil over the meat and allow to rest on the stove.
  9. Once the meat has rested, remove the fat from the top and using two forks, shred the meat and remove the bone.
  10. Drain half of the juices out and add the remaining dry rub to taste, toss to coat and drizzle a little vinegar sauce over everything.
  11. Serve immediately as is or on buns.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8-10, Serving Size: 1/2 cup

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 428 Calories
  • Total Fat: 23.3g
  • Cholesterol: 114mg
  • Sodium: 349mg
  • Fiber: 0.9g
  • Sugar: 17.2g
  • Protein: 32.7g
All images and text ©Carrian Cheney for Oh Sweet Basil.
Hands down, world's best pulled pork, the easy secrets to make it and it's all done in the oven!

Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? This recipe for the world’s best Carolina pulled pork all starts with a brine.

Carolina BBQ Sauces-Mustard and Vinegar

When you visit the Carolinas you’ll notice there’s either a mustard sauce or a vinegar sauce and you’ll tend to love one over the other. Here are our two favorite recipes.

carolina mustard bbq sauce

Bacon Wrapped Little Smokes with Brown Sugar Rub

Oh how we love these little appetizers wrapped in bacon! And our guests do too!

Tropical Nachos with Pulled Pork and Pina Colada Sauce

Now that you’ve made the pork, what in the world do you plan to do with leftovers? Make nachos of course!

Hawaii's BEST pork nachos with pina colada sauce

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Carrian Cheney

Lover of all things beautiful, good and delicious. Wife, mother, friend, foodie.

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264 comments on “World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork”

  1. This recipe is awesome.    But, c’mon Carrian boiled peanuts are somewhere just this side of heaven.  😄😄😄.     Thanks for the recipe.   

  2. Thanks for the recipe! It looks great!
    If making the Carolina Mustard and Vinegar BBQ Sauces, do you recommend still making and adding the vinegar sauce, or will the 2 BBQ sauces suffice?

  3. OMG! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I made this and took it to our tailgate last month and it was a huge hit. Soft, delicious pulled pork is what I wanted, this is better than I’d hoped! You made it so easy, I felt like a pro BBQ chef! Served it with hoagie rolls and hawaiian sweet rolls and both were so yummy. Followed the directions exactly and was so happy with the result. I am making this again for this weekend’s playoff game. My mouth is watering already. Thanks and GO RAMS! 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this recipe! This was one of the best meals I have ever made!

  5. Can you brine for 48 hrs?

  6. absolutely delicious!!!!!  We used bread and lotus buns….ummmmmmm.  Entire roast was gone with 7 people eating it.  Thank you very much.

  7. Do you use a roasting rack or do you let the shoulder cook sitting on the bottom of the pan in its juices?

  8. Pingback: Crockpot Pulled Pork Recipe - Mum Recipe Section

  9. Hi, I love your recipe! However I was wondering if you knew about how much pork and how long I should cook this for only two people?

  10. Pingback: Crockpot Pulled Pork Recipe – Cuisine Village Menu

  11. Hi, is that 225 degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius ?

  12. Pingback: Crockpot Pulled Pork Recipe – Recipes for Delicious Food

  13. thank you for this recipe im trying out this Monday pork is in the fridge rub is made cant wait to taste it tomorow

  14. I have a gas oven, so does that change the cooking time? I know you said dont rush the brining time but can it soak for a little less time? I’m having people over tomorrow, I should of seen this recipe earlier. haha

    • The gas oven shouldn’t changes anything. I wouldn’t recommend doing less brining time, but it’s not going to turn out bad with a few less hours of brining. It just might not be as tender and juicy. Enjoy!!

  15. Can I boil the pork in apple cider first till soft then roast it. The joint is medium size. Roasting for 12 hours is not an option

  16. Is there a big difference between cooking this in the crock pot vs the oven? Thanks!

    • Yes absolutely! You will want to use the low setting for 12-14 hours. You can throw it in the broiler when it’s done for a few minutes to darken the top if you want. That’s how we like it!

  17. We’re serving your Best Carolina Pulled Pork to guests for dinner tonight. It’s the first time we’ve tried your recipe, and the pork is delicious. We were particularly interested in Reader Kate’s question, which you didn’t specifically answer, because the only thing we missed about the flavor of this otherwise fabulous recipe, is the smoke. Reader Kate asked about finishing the roast on the grill; we had discussed starting on the grill and finishing in the oven, because the grill (ours isn’t a gas grill, so it’s nearly impossible to maintain a low, consistent temperature for 4-6 hrs.) would produce more heat than a 225 degree oven. So how about it–have you ever combined grilling and roasting in this recipe to achieve a smoked barbecue flavor? Thanks. Jane from Georgia

  18. All I have is Apple cider vinegar, if I use a cup then 3 cups of water will the brine be alright. Thanks

    • A lot of our readers have done apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider and have loved it if you want to use 4 cups of apple cider vinegar. Doing 1 cup vinegar and 3 cups water would work too.