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World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork [+ Video]

97 Reviews

Want to make the best pulled pork from your own kitchen? The key to making this Carolina pulled pork recipe is the brine.

Carolina pulled pork recipe

Creating the Best Pulled Pork Recipe

When I think of BBQ, I can’t help but think of slow and low style, the Carolina way. In order to cook the best pulled pork, it’s 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 allows that pork to literally fall apart. I know, we are all lazy and don’t want to, but trust me, this Carolina pulled pork recipe is so easy your dog could do it.

This recipe may seem like a process, but here’s the deal: you really just plop the pork in the fridge to marinate, and then transfer it to the oven. Although it takes a long time, you’re just going about your everyday life so it’s really not extra work on your part. 

These idea for this pulled pork recipe come from watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Shout out to Guy, who gets to eat for a living! We occasionally watch his show on Netflix at night, and first of all, it makes us so hungry, but we also 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.

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

close up of homemade pulled pork

Carolina Pulled Pork Ingredients

There are three main components to this pulled pork recipe: the brine, the dry rub seasoning, and the homemade bbq sauce. 

For the pulled pork brine, you’ll need water, apple cider, kosher salt, dark brown sugar, some of the dry rub (more on that in a moment), bay leaves, and red pepper flakes.

Note that you’ll be using apple cider, NOT cider vinegar, in the pork shoulder brine. But many of our readers have missed that and added pure vinegar and so we had no choice but to try it since so many of you loved the results. Sure enough, it was great! So we prefer the juice but hey, vinegar is fun too! Apple cider adds a little more flavor without ever tasting like apple, and all you have to do is dump it in.

For the pulled pork seasoning, we like to use a blend of onion powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, kosher salt, pepper, cayenne, dry mustard, cumin, and brown sugar. 

Finally, the homemade bbq sauce is completely optional but our family goes crazy for it. We make our sauce with apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and salt. Of course, you’re welcome to use a store-bought sauce, but if you’re looking for the best pulled pork recipe ever, well, you need to use homemade sauce. 

What’s the Best Pork for Pulled Pork?  

To make the best pulled pork, you’ve got to start with the best 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.

how to make pulled pork in the oven

How to Make Pulled Pork in the Oven

This pulled pork recipe looks lengthy, but each step of this recipe is incredibly easy. Here’s a quick overview of how to make pulled pork in the oven: 

  1. Stir together the pork shoulder brine and let the pork soak in it for 12 to 24 hours. 
  2. Remove the pork from the brine and place it in a large baking dish, then pat it dry with paper towels. 
  3. Rub the pulled pork seasoning all over the meat, saving just a little of the dry rub for later. 
  4. With the fat facing up, bake the pork at a low temperature until it registers 200ºF at the thickest part. 
  5. Turn off the oven and let the pork rest for a couple hours. 
  6. Take the pork out of the oven and remove the fat from the top. Then, shred the meat with two forks. 
  7. Drain half the juices from the pork, then add the remaining dry rub and toss in the homemade bbq sauce.  

How Long to Cook Pulled Pork

If you’re southern, you know this isn’t just a secret but practically a 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 a rock!” 

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.

Can I Make Pulled Pork on a Smoker? 

If you’d rather make smoked pulled pork instead of oven pulled pork, we recommend following our Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe. It gives step-by-step instructions on smoking pulled pork on a Traeger. 

Carolina pulled pork in metal baking dish

How to Prep Carolina Pulled Pork in Advance

Reader Kate says:

“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.”

Great question! We do this ALLLLLLL the time. Go ahead and make this pulled pork recipe, and then you have two choices. Pull it out of the oven and put it 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. 

How to Reheat Pulled Pork

Turn on your oven and set the temperature to 250°F. Then, cover your meat with foil and put it into the 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. ​

best pulled pork sandwich on wooden serving board

Tips to Making the Best Pulled Pork

The key thing to remember when making this pulled pork recipe is to let the meat rest after it’s finished cooking. 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.

Perhaps 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, is to sprinkle a little more of the rub onto 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 won’t believe what a difference it makes! 

You can also use another type of bbq sauce in this pulled pork recipe! Carrian likes a thick, sweet sauce or a Carolina vinegar bbq, and I love this Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce on my homemade pulled pork.

What to Serve with Carolina Pulled Pork

We recommend firing up the grill and making grilled corn to go with this Carolina pulled pork. It is so dang good every time! And just for pure comfort, add a side of Southern macaroni and cheese. A few other pulled pork sides we love are: 

More PORK DINNER RECIPES You Must Try:

 

This pulled pork is the best I've ever had and it's made in the oven! Check out my south carolina husband's secrets for the best pork! ohsweetbasil.com

World's Best Carolina Pulled Pork

4.48 from 97 votes
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 14 hours
Total Time: 1 day 14 hours
Servings: 10
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.

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 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 BBQ Sauce (Optional)

  • 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

Instructions

  • NOTE: 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:

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

For the Brine:

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

For the Sauce:

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

To Cook:

  • Heat the oven to 225 degrees F.
  • Remove the pork from the brine and place in a roasting dish or 9x13" baking pan as long as the sides don't touch the pan.
  • Pat very dry with paper towels.
  • Remove 2 tablespoons of the dry rub to another ziploc and set aside for after it is cooked.
  • Rub the remaining seasoning all over the pork and in any cracks or flaps.
  • With the fat facing up, place the pork in the oven with a meat thermometer.
  • Bake for 12-14 hours or until 200 degrees F 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.
  • 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.
  • Once the meat has rested, remove the fat from the top and using two forks, shred the meat and remove the bone.
  • 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.
  • Serve immediately as is or on buns.
Nutrition Facts
World's Best Carolina Pulled Pork
Amount Per Serving (1.5 cup)
Calories 445 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 136mg45%
Sodium 6886mg299%
Potassium 953mg27%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 31g34%
Protein 43g86%
Vitamin A 280IU6%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 79mg8%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hands down, world's best pulled pork, the easy secrets to make it and it's all done in the oven! ohsweetbasil.com

best pulled pork recipe

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment

377 comments

  • So, so, so GOOD!!! I wasn’t excited about getting up at 4:00am but it was so worth it. The flavor was perfect. Forks were barely needed to shred as it fell apart. I received so many compliments. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. I will be serving this again!

    • Reply
    • That early wake up call is so so hard but worth it every time! I’m so glad it was a hit with your crowd! We can’t get enough of it ourselves!

      • Reply
  • You obviously do not understand “Carolina Pulled Pork”

    • Reply
    • My husband grew up in South Carolina, so we totally understand it! This recipes is the best ever! 🙂

      • Reply
  • Third time making your recipe and it’s my family’s go-to. I LOVE this vinegar sauce compared to the Typical sickly sweet bbq sauces out there – it’s compliments the meat perfectly. We pop the roast in at midnight, go to bed, wake up to the delicious smell, and dinner is ready for the next day without messing up the kitchen. Thank you!!!

    • Reply
    • Isn’t it the best thing ever?! It is a regular in our house as well. Thank you so much for the feedback!

      • Reply
  • Cooking the meat with the dry rub went very well, however the sauce was nasty. too much vinegar. I prefer to make a good ole South Carolina mustard-based sauce. The vinegar over powered the flavor of the meat.

    • Reply
    • We have a great recipe for Carolina mustard sauce too! I love them all! It just depends on what you like best. Thank you for the feedback!

      • Reply
  • This is the first time making this and thank goodness I started to read the reviews again when I realized I made a mistake like another person and used apple cider vinegar for the brine and not apple cider. It had sat in the brine for about 2 hours ….I pulled it out washed it off and started with a new brine. Do you think the vinegar in the two hour time has ruined this?
    Thanks in advance

    • Reply
    • No, it should be fine. And it’s not the end of the world if you use apple cider vinegar. It turns out delicious too. The apple cider just adds more flavor. Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • I have made this recipe, along with serving the Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce, Vinegar Sauce, and the optional BBQ sauce in this recipe. These are amazing recipes, and when serving the pork with all the different sauces the flavors turn the pork into completely unique dish! The flavors are so vastly different, but yet soo soo good! 3 dishes in 1 !

    I do want to ask about the optional BBQ sauce noted above, where there isn’t any black pepper in the ingredients. In comparison to the vinegar sauce, was there a reason why black pepper was committed? For consideration, how much (if any) and what type (fine/fresh ground) would be recommended?

    Thanks again for all the wonderful recipes !!

    • Reply
    • I would do fine ground pepper just to taste. Start with a pinch and go from there. I don’t really do spicy so I wouldn’t add much more.

      • Reply
    • And thank you so much for the support! We love this recipe too!!

      • Reply
  • Hi,
    I bought your book and wanted to try this and it looks delicious. I have never done this kind of cooking before. Do you brine it one day, cook it the next and reheat to serve the next? Is that why you start 2 days before serving? Or are you up cooking in the middle of the night to be able to have a 5pm dinner? Also does it stay reasonably hot when resting even out of the oven? I am concerned because food is not supposed to be kept between 40-139 degrees for more than 2 hrs because it can developer food poisoning. I am wondering if you have information that can help me put the temperature and time in perspective regarding this recipe?
    Beautiful book by the way.
    Thank you for your help.

    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa! If you want to have a 5pm dinner, 2 hours of rest time takes you back to 3pm for pulling it out of the oven. So you are looking at putting it in the oven between 1am and 3am. Then you will want to have it in the brine for at least 24 hours, so you’ll want to put it in the brine late the night before. So let’s say you want dinner at 5pm on Saturday…on Thursday night, put it in the brine around 11pm. Pull it out of the brine on Friday night around 11pm and stick it in the oven. It will cook until around 11am-1pm on Saturday. Let it rest for a couple of hours and then shred it. That will take you until 3-4pm on Saturday. Cover it will foil, and it should stay plenty warm until your 5pm dinner. I hope that makes sense. I can brine for a little longer if needed. You can also always cover it with foil and stick it in the oven on warm until serving. All the hours are flexible and can bend to your schedule. Enjoy!!

      • Reply
    • Do you think a pork loin would work? I made it before with a pork butt and it was excellent!

      • Reply
      • A pork loin won’t work correctly. Pork loins are too lean and won’t shred.

  • This is by far the best pulled pork I’ve ever had, and I’m including some great bbq spots in there. I made it exactly as written, but I didn’t bother with the vinegar sauce on that last step, it was so incredibly perfect on it’s own. The bark on the pork was so scrumptious, I ended up scraping the fat off and then tearing the bark and putting it back in with the shredded meat. I brought this to a party- it was a huge hit. This will be my go to pulled pork recipe for life!

    • Reply
    • Yahoo!! Love to hear this Meghan! We love sure love it!!

      • Reply
  • Excellent recipe!! – but I do have a question on the optional BBQ sauce. You have sauce recipe under “Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce and Vinegar Sauce”, where the eastern vinegar recipe calls for the following:

    For the Vinegar Base BBQ
    • 1 Cup White vinegar
    • 1/4 Cup Ketchup
    • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider
    • 1 1/4 Teaspoon Texas Pete’s Hot sauce or Franks is fine
    • 3 Tablespoons Brown sugar
    • 2 Teaspoons Salt
    • 1 1/4 Teaspoons Crushed red pepper
    • 1 teaspoon Black pepper

    How would this recipe for this dish be in comparison? Was there a reason this was not used in the cooking recipe noted here?

    Thank you !!

    • Reply
    • The recipe listed in the recipe card is a purely vinegar based sauce so it is really runny and delicious for drenching the pork in. The Carolina Vinegar Base Sauce you have listed is more of a traditional bbq sauce with the ketchup in it. It is thicker and also has a little more heat. It is perfect for dipping the pulled pork in and putting on top for a sandwich. We absolutely love both! It just depends on what flavor and style of BBQ sauce you want! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Hi! I’ve made this before and it was so amazing I’m making it for Thanksgiving….we are not traditional people. Haha. My question is, I’m making a 5lb butt and need to check the timeframe due to work schedules. I want to serve at noon Thursday so I’m thinking in brine 5am Wednesday and in the oven at 10pm Wednesday.

    • Reply
    • Hey Kristen! I love non-traditional Thanksgivings! I would start the brine a little earlier so it can brine for 24 hours. Maybe through it in brine late Tuesday night? Otherwise, I think your plan sounds perfect!

      • Reply
  • Hi! Will be making this starting tmw (brining) and then in the oven Friday. As far as the thermometer, is it something that sticks in the meat the whole time it’s cooking? Sounds like a silly question but I just don’t know what’s the ‘right’ thermometer for that is? Can I just check after say 12-14 hrs? And I’ll also be doing 2 at the same time…do I need to rotate sides in the oven 1/2 way through or for a longer time? Both are 7.9 lbs. excited for the end results, thank you for this recipe. 

    • Reply
    • Hey Shar! No, don’t leave the thermometer in the whole time. Just use it to check the temperature after 12 hours and periodically afterward until they reach temperature. You shouldn’t need to rotate the two pork butts, unless your oven has known hot spots, but it will probably take closer to 14 hours for them both to come to temperature. Can’t wait to hear what you think! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • This recipe is amazing.  It’s worth every minute of prep, and makes enough to serve a crowd of people (who will be your new best friends!). 

    Question:  is soaking in the brine for more than 24 hours recommended?  If so, how much longer?  I’m doing the math for how long it would soak before putting it in the oven for the 12-14hrs, and then 2hr resting period, for it to be ready at the proper time 😉

    • Reply
    • Brining for much more than 24 hours isn’t recommended. Brining for too long starts to have an adverse effect on the meat. So glad you enjoy this! It is one of our very favorites!

      • Reply
  • So quick question… I am making a 2lb with no bone because it was on sale, how long would I cook it?

     Love this recipe, I’ve made it a couple times so far and like everyone else is saying rave reviews from all that eat it! Thanks for a wonderful recipe!!! ❤️🥰

    • Reply
    • Hi Georgia! I would go with 6-8 hrs! Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • Can this be made in a crockpot? and if so how long?

    • Reply
    • Hey Alex! Yes this can be done in the crockpot, but we’ve found that it doesn’t do it justice. It is also hard to fit the size of pork butt you need into a crock pot. If you decide to try it, it will cook for the same amount of time.

      • Reply
  • Hello, I will be making this for my kids birthday party this weekend. Can I cook two 7 lbs each at the same time in the oven? I don’t know if I should do one on Friday and the other on Saturday or doing both together. Also is a thermometer actually needed?

    • Reply
    • Yes, you can totally do two at a time. You will just need to cook them for an extra hour or so. The thermometer will be pretty crucial to make sure they both come reach the correct temperature. Enjoy!

      • Reply
  • I have made this once before, and it got RAVE reviews! Our son is getting married, and I would like to serve it at the wedding, but I will need to make ahead and freeze. Any tips on how to freeze and thaw with the best results! Thanks so much for an amazing recipe!!

    • Reply
    • Hi Susan! Congrats on your son getting married! There are sections in the post about making it ahead of time, freezing it, and reheating it. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Reply
  • I have made bar-b-q on several occasions through the decades and always thought it was pretty good.
    Hit and miss sometimes though.
    I made this recipe for the 1st time with a Carolina vinegar based sauce. Well after cooking the pork I thought I had burnt the meat to a crisp! But, after pulling it then tasting it I really had to shake my head to believe I had actually cooked something that tastes better than any restaurant style barbecue I had ever had!
    Thank you so much and yes!!!!!This is the world’s best barbecue recipe.
    FYI… I am cooking the pork to make this recipe again as we speak! Lol
    Ummmm. I can’t wait! 🥰

    • Reply
  • I have me home made barbecue on several occasions through the years kand always thought it was pretty good.
    Hit and miss though.
    I made this recipe for the 1st time with Carolina vinegar based sauce and thought I had burnt the meat to a crisp! But, after tasting it I really had to shake my head to believe I hd actually cooked something that tastes better than any restaurant style barbecue I had ever had!
    Thank you so much and yes!!!!!This is the world’s best barbecue recipe.
    FYI… I am cooking the pork to make this recipe we speak! Lol
    Ummmm. I can’t wait 🥰

    • Reply
    • You have made our day!! Thank you! So glad you love this recipe as much as we do!

      • Reply
  • I’ve tried many different recipes when it comes to pulled pork but I stopped searching for the perfect recipe when I made this three years ago and it’s now my go to. I raise my own pigs on a small scale farm so we eat this often and people ask for my recipe all the time. Thanks! It really is amazing!

    • Reply
    • Yahoo!! Thank you Natalie! You’ve seriously made my day!

      • Reply
  • We love this recipe! This is our third time making it! Today, I put it in the oven as the directions say. Will 11 hours be okay? Will it be cooked through in that amount of time or is there an adjustment I can make for a little less time? Last time I used a crockpot but I want to try the oven today.

    • Reply
    • Hey Liz! 11 hours should be fine. Just check the internal temperature. Make sure it is 200 degrees.

      • Reply
  • If i freeze this after shredding and tossing it with some of the rub, Should I bag in zip locks and pour some of its own juices over it so that it stays tender when thawed and reheated?

    • Reply
  • I read through a page or two of comments, but as there are 335 comments (wow!), I couldn’t read through all of them! I’m sorry if this has been asked and answered already, but you say drizzle some of the vinegar sauce over the meat. How much? And what do I do with the rest? I am planning on making both your mustard sauce and your other vinegar sauce to serve with it. Am I being redundant? Can’t wait to make this for an party at my house for 60!

    • Reply
    • Hey Cici! The vinegar sauce on the meat is optional. The meat doesn’t really need it as it will be plenty juicy, but if you want that added flavor, you can add however much you want. We usually do a quick drizzle over the whole pan. You can make the rest of the sauce available to your guests to use. It will be a different type of sauce from the mustard based bbq sauce and the vinegar based mustard sauce. So you’ll end up having 3 sauces for people to choose from! Enjoy and let us know how it goes!!

      • Reply
  • Can I brine for 36 hours? I was going for 12 and plans changed a day. Keeping it in the fridge for 30-36 hours would work best for the timing now.

    • Reply
    • It can be left in the brine for another 8-10 hours and then just set it in a pan with plastic wrap, not foil. And keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to throw it in the oven. Enjoy!!

      • Reply
  • Making this today for the first time, and I’m loving all the comments! So excited to try it. I just have one question about the “optional” mix to drizzle on after the pork rests. I’m not a huge vinegar fan, so I wanted to know if the purpose of the drizzle is to add to the juiciness of the pork, or to add flavor? And does the combination of the two vinegars overcome the other flavors?

    • Reply
    • If you don’t like vinegar, then I would say skip it! It is plenty juicy without the sauce, it is just to add a different flavor dimension. You could also make it and just offer it on the side for others. You’re going to love this pork!!

      • Reply
      • Thank you so much! I will put it on the side then 🙂 Thank you!

  • Hey! When do you add the optional ingredients? After resting or before cooking? Thanks

    • Reply
    • Hey Michelle! Great questions! Those ingredients are for the vinegar sauce mentioned in step 10. So those are for after the meat rests. Enjoy!!

      • Reply
  • We love this recipe. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Reply
    • Isn’t it so dang good?! Thanks for the feedback Barbara!

      • Reply
  • I just want to confirm that I dont cover it to cook?

    Cant wait to taste it!0

    • Reply
    • Correct! Don’t cover!

      • Reply
  • If you are going to title your recipe “World’s Best Pulled Pork” first don’t give a recipe that calls for brining. Pork Butts and shoulders have so much fat in them you don’t need to brine. Brining is a waste of time and resources.

    Second, in the oven? Really? I get you are sharing a recipe. Heck, it is probably good. But when you claim “world’s best” you better not be using an oven. I smoke my meat and using an oven is an insult.

    A smoker on its worst day trumps the oven every time.

    My point here is be fair with your titles. Don’t fluff it just because.

    • Reply
    • And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
      Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake
      I shake it off, I shake it off

      • Reply
      • LOL! Thanks Amy!

  • This is now my standard recipe for BBQ! I have a method to produce my own apple cider using an instant pot, and a bag of granny smith apples, (among other ingredients) since apple cider is a seasonal item. I also use the brine and rub when bbqing a whole chicken. I totally endorse this recipe, an so do the members of my church.

    • Reply
    • Oh that is so smart! I want to make my own apple cider! So glad you enjoy this!! Thank you for the feedback!

      • Reply
  • I’ve made this twice and it’s absolutely delicious! Everyone loved it! Making it a third time for my nephew’s graduation this weekend!

    • Reply
    • Hurray!! It makes our day to hear that…seriously! Thanks Kelly and congrats to your nephew!!

      • Reply
  • Wow this is a great recipe. Have used exactly as written and adapted to use for the grill. So much flavor both ways! I did want to ask about the mustard based recipe you speak of- couldn’t find it here. I love the vinegar recipe but have always loved the Carolina mustard when available and also love to mix the two… Thank you for such an awesome recipe!

    • Reply
  • My pork butt is in the oven as I type this!!!!
    Born in Raleigh this has always been a favorite. Nothing like it served on a bun with cold slaw and a touch of hot sauce. I opted to use the oven method……Now in hour number five with approximately seven left to go.  The anticipation of this recipe on Easter Sunday seem too far away. Will come back with comments probably Monday. Thanks for sharing

    • Reply
    • I’m dying to hear what you think!!! Not you have me on the edge of my seat and slightly jealous that I didn’t make it for our Easter dinner!

      • Reply
  • Can I do it in my Roaster Oven instead of regular oven? And can I leave the wire rack in it?

    • Reply
    • I’ve never used a roaster oven, so I’m not sure on this.

      • Reply
      • I did it in my roaster oven and it turned out perfect. Going to make it again this weekend.

      • Woop woop!!

  • Cade, I’m with you.  Love boiled peanuts!!  Gonna try the pulled pork next week at the beach buy had to step  in on the boiled peanuts!  Sorry  Carrian. ❤️

    • Reply
    • Haha! To each his own! Enjoy the pulled pork! We would love to hear how it goes!

      • Reply
      • This is my second time making your recipe. It’s great. My Grandchildren love it. 
        However, at 225 degrees it is not getting done in 12 hours. Not even close.  I am cooking 5.5 lbs both times. 
        What temp can I bump it up to for the same results as everyone is getting at 225?
        Thanks
        Debra 

      • Hi Debra! Every oven cooks a little differently. Try cooking it at 250 but I would start checking it at 8 or 9 hours just to be sure it doesn’t get over done. So glad you enjoy it!

  • This recipe sounds great! I was wondering if it ends up being sweet when it’s done? 

    • Reply
    • There is a touch of sweetness but I would definitely call it a savory meal! Enjoy!

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  • What would you recommend as cooking time for doing a 12 pound shoulder or two 6 pound shoulders? I have to make this for about 16-20 people.
    Also I made this last month and it was incredible! Such a good recipe! Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!

    • Reply
    • Technically, if you follow the recipe with an 8 pounder, that will feed 16-20 people. If you do two, just follow the same recipe and instructions. I haven’t tried a 12 pounder, so you’ll just have to test the internal temperature, but 14 hours should be plenty of time I think. Enjoy!!

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  • Ok, I am reading through comments and cannot exactly find my answer. I have apple juice and apple cider vinegar. How much would I use of each to sub for 4 cups apple cider? HELP!

    • Reply
    • Hi Lori! You can use either one and just keep the same measurement – 4 cups. Apple cider vinegar will give you a little tangier flavor. Both will work great! Or you could do half of one and half of the other.

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      • Just as an addendum to this comment…  DO NOT BRINE IN VINEGAR!!!!!  My husband made the brine up the last time we cooked a shoulder and I knew what he had done the moment I tasted the first bite.  He misread the recipe and used apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider.  The result was very, VERY mushy meat.  It tasted ok but wasn’t nearly as appetizing.  We ended up tossing more than half of it as our kids wouldn’t eat it.

      • We’ve had some readers that have really liked it brined in apple cider vinegar, but we prefer the apple cider. Thank you for the feedback!

  • I made this today. All I can say is it is AWESOME!  Thank you. 

    • Reply
    • Yay! We sure love it! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  • I’m planning on making this tomorrow. It looks amazing! But, the recipe doesn’t say to cook it covered or uncovered. How should I cook it?

    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie! It is cooked uncovered. Enjoy!

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      • Thank you! One more question, sorry, i’ve never made this before. Should I baste it with something? The one you made looks amazing, i’m just worried it will dry out.

      • No basting needed! With the fat on top, it will stay plenty moist! Hope you enjoy it!

  • Hello! I made this recipe for my family for Christmas Eve and it put all my anxieties of cooking for family aside because it was AMAZING. Naturally, we heeded your warning of self-shutoff ovens and watched it closely for 8 hours and since it didn’t shut off we thought we were in the clear and went on a family drive. Well apparently it must have shut off shortly after we left and we were eagerly watching the thermometer which was staying right at about 175 degrees. It was getting too close to the serving time and I wanted time for it to rest so I took it out knowing it was passed the temperature at which pork is fully cooked. It was super moist, pulled apart beautifully, and no one got sick so I’m wondering why the 200 degree done mark? I am making this again (and doubling it) this weekend for a crowd of 15 so I figured I would ask the master! Thanks!

    • Reply
    • We have found that 200 degrees is when it shreds the best and is the most tender. It’s safe to eat at 160 degrees. Enjoy this weekend!!

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  • This is hands down my keep going back to recipe. I have received so many compliments even from some family that comes up from the Carolina’s that it is fantastic. I’ve always made it in the crockpot and it comes out great, bone pulls itself out. I usually do a 13lb pork shoulder or if I have a party I have no choice but to make 2 because this is the first food item to go first. I don’t alter with the recipe other than just using the Apple Cider Vinegar vs the apple cider and I had a touch of liquid smoke.

    • Reply
    • Thank you Kristina! We love to hear it! It is always a hit anywhere we take it too! Now I’m craving it!

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    • How long did you have it in the crockpot? 

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  • Has this been tried using a Big Green Egg? I´m trying it for the Super Bowl, any suggestions?

    • Reply
    • We haven’t tried it on a Big Green Egg, but we have tried it on the grill and in a smoker. The oven really is the best!

      • Reply
      • About the Big Green Egg:We’ve done NC pork BBQ in our Big Green Egg in CA, and it is perfect..

      • Thank you for the feedback!!

  • Before I found your great recipe, I already shopped and bought a large pork loin 🙁 but it is about 8lbs with what seems to be a fair amount of fat & marbling. How do you think this will work instead of a pork shoulder / Boston butt? Sounds like an amazing recipe and I’m looking forward to making it this weekend. Thank you!!

    • Reply
    • It will still pull apart and be delicious. It is a different cut so it will have a little different flavor.

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  • Cheney’s- Do you have a reccomendation for making the worlds best carolina pulled pork in a crock pot or insta-pot? Will I get the same results? I want to make it so bad, but am reluctant to leave my oven on all day while I am away at work. I do have weekends off, but my event is planned for a wednesday night and I want it to be as fresh as possible Any pointers? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Reply
    • Ok, leaving your oven on should be totally fine! They are programmed to shut off if anything crazy happens. You could do the crock pot, but it doesn’t do it justice at all. We haven’t tried it in the instant pot yet. Another problem with the crock pot and instant pot is they don’t usually fit the size of pork butt that you need. If you end up doing the crock pot, it will cook for the same amount of time.

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      • Hello!

        I made this last year and it turned out amazing. I am hoping to make it prior to a family vacation, freezing, and reheating in a oven/crockpot. Would you have any recommendations on reheating?
        Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!

      • Hey Will! Yes, there is a section in the post on reheating it. Check that out and if you have questions, let me know! So glad you enjoy it!

    • Just want to say that I made this in the crock pot the other day and it came out great. I make pulled pork in the crock pot a lot, and this was one of the best recipes I’ve used.

      Our work schedules are kinda crazy, so I ended up brining the pork for 12 hours. Used apple cider vingar + water instead of the apple cider. Left it in the crock pot on low for 12 hours; bone basically removed itself for me. I saved some of the liquid and even popped it in the oven for a few minutes afterwards. Also added a little liquid smoke to this; overall it was a hit! The oven prob gives you that nice crust on the outside before you pull it, but it’s still delicious.

      I’ll be making this again over the weekend for a pot luck, but this time I’ll probably use more vinegar in the brine (I only used 1c + 3 c water; I ended up adding more vinegar later cause I didn’t use this sauce). For reference, I used about a 7lb shoulder and it fit perfectly into my crock pot. I do tend to trim a lot of the fat off beforehand when I make it in there & if it is too big you can always trim and add to the sides (which I find can be necessary for a bigger piece of meat).

      • Reply
      • Thank you for this wonderful feedback!! Popping it in the oven after being in the crockpot is totally the key to getting that crusty exterior. Thank you again for leaving a comment!

      • Just a side note, and perhaps im getting into this conversation a little late. But i have prepared this recipe numerous times using all three methods (crock pot, intsant pot, oven). However, i have to advocate for the oven, as the best result. The crock pot comes in at 2nd, with the instant pot at 3. I want to try a smoker with this recipe when i get a chance. However part of the “science” of true barbeque is the process of caramelization (that may be spelled rong lol). In order for that process to occur, you need to allow steam to escape during the heating process. The oven/smoker is an open system, so the sugars caramelize real easy. The crock pot is a closed system, but not totally air tight (for example, my pot has a small hole for a probe, steam can escape). Some caramelization occurs, but not much. The instant pot allows for no caramelization being its a totally closed system, in part using the steam buildup to cook. Don’t get me wrong, the product you will get from the instant pot will be delicious, but not BBQ from a traditional sense.
        I do use the instant pot to create the brine. I will cut up about 6 granny smith apples, a peeled and cut up lemon, a small can of crushed pineapple, kosher salt, the rub, and brown sugar, bay leaves, etc. Add water to the full mark, and pressure cook for 30 min. After the pressure is released, i mash the contents, and strain into the brining container. When the liquid is at room temp (or colder) i add the meat, then add enough water to cover the meat. It has worked phenomenally.
        I hope this was more helpfull than long winded. I just love Bbq, and talking about it.

      • Thank you so much for this feedback!! You have given some excellent tips and you totally nailed it with the oven being the best! We do have a recipe for a smoker when you get a chance to try it!

        https://ohsweetbasil.com/smoke-pulled-pork-on-a-traeger/

  • I really didn’t plan this right. My shoulder has been brined for 24 hours, but I can’t cook it until tomorrow. Can I leave it in the brine or should I remove it and wrap it in foil until tomorrow?

    • Reply
    • It can be left in the brine for another 8-10 hours and then just set it in a pan with plastic wrap, not foil. Enjoy!!

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  • Apple cider the juice, or apple cider vinegar?

    • Reply
    • The juice! Enjoy!

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

    • Reply
    • Hahaha! Thanks, Dave! Bleh…I just can’t get into the boiled peanut thing!

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  • 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?

    • Reply
    • Yes, still make the vinegar sauce and add it to the meat. It keeps it moist and full of flavor. Then the two BBQ sauces can be added as desired! Enjoy!

      • Reply
      • Thank you very much for the feedback! Much appreciated.
        I will be making this the first week in February, and am looking forward to it!

      • Enjoy! We would love to hear how it goes!

      • I made this with 8.3 kg pork shoulder (18.3 pounds), included the vinegar sauce. (this is a must have – the overall flavour was elevated by the addition of the sauce.

        We also made the mustard and vinegar-based sauces, and both were really well received. As we also had some kids, I decided to add the more traditional BBQ sauce from your site.

        The sauces really are so much better after having them in the fridge for a week. do appreciate that resting time.

        I served this on rolls with a crunchy coleslaw.
        All the guests loved the food, which made me an extremely happy hostess.
        Thank you so much for the recipes and advise.

      • Yes, Tanja!! We love to hear this! This is one of our go-to meals to feed a crowd because it is always a hit! So glad you loved the pork and the sauces! Thank you for the wonderful feedback!

  • 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! 🙂

    • Reply
    • Hurray! This is the perfect tailgating food too! It transports so well and feeds a crowd! thank you for taking time to leave a comment! Good luck in your game!!

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

    • Reply
    • Hurray!! We love to hear this! Thanks Amanda! And it’s so easy, right?!

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  • Can you brine for 48 hrs?

    • Reply
    • Hi Robert! It is best not to over brine but if it happened or if its going to make your life easier, it will still be fine! Enjoy!

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

    • Reply
    • Yes! We love to hear that! Now you have me craving it!

      • Reply
      • Do you cook the meat in the brine or by itself with just the rub?

      • By itself with just the rub (see steps 2 and 3 in the “To Cook” section of the instructions).

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

    • Reply
    • I love this recipe!! Tastes great right out of oven! But our party was cancelled due to severe weather. We now need to wait 2 weeks. Question: should i pour some of the juice from the pan over the meat in my ziplock bags to keep it moist?

      • Reply
      • Hi Pam! I’m sorry your party got postponed! Yes, pour a little of the juices over the meat and then freeze in in Ziploc bags. To reheat it, 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.

  • 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?

    • Reply
    • Hi Louisa! Oh man, you’re not going to find a pork butt that small. I would make the full recipe and freeze the leftovers!

      • Reply
  • Hi, is that 225 degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius ?

    • Reply
    • Fahrenheit

      • Reply

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