This easy pulled pork recipe is made right in the oven — no smoker or grill required! This recipe is especially great in the winter when grilling and outdoor smokers may not be feasible. This recipe has the same great taste of pulled pork right from the oven.
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Can I make pulled pork in the oven?
Absolutely! As the name suggests, this Oven Pulled Pork is slowly roasted right in your oven! It’s so easy, too!
Obviously, not everyone has the luxury of owning a gas grill or smoker, some apartment communities even ban them from the home cook. Maybe your BBQ grill is stored away for winter or are burried under a foot of snow, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy delicious pulled pork!
You can also repare one in your crockpot, but I prefer the flavor of the pork butt (shoulder) when it’s slow roasted in the oven when I can’t use my electric smoker.
Just look at that bark (crust)! Yum.
What is the best cut of meat for pulled pork?
A pulled pork can be made from any fatty pork roast. For me, the best roast is the shoulder since it’s high in fat and connective tissue making it the most flavorful part of the pig. The pork shoulder is typically cut into two parts, the Boston butt and the picnic roast.
You will most often find it labeled as pork shoulder, pork butt, or pork picnic shoulder roast.
How do I get the Smoky flavor when I cook pulled pork in the oven?
Since this pulled pork is prepared the oven, wood chips just are not feasible, instead, we incorporate some smoky spices to give a smoky flavor.
What ingredients are needed for oven pulled pork?
- BONE-IN Pork Butt, Boston butt, or pork shoulder, or Picnic Shoulder — any size
For the Dry Rub:
- Chili powder – regular or hot may be used.
- Smoked paprika – regular or sweet paprika may be substituted.
- Black pepper – freshly cracked tastes best but ground black mustard may be substituted.
- Dry mustard – omit if you do not have dry mustard. Alternatively, you could rub the roast with 2 tbsp prepared mustard before sprinkling on the dry rub over it.
- Kosher salt – I use Kosher salt but table salt may be substituted
- Ground cumin – optional.
- Brown sugar – this adds a touch of sweetness to the rub
- Roasted garlic powder – regular garlic powder may be substituted
- Onion powder – this may be omitted if you don’t have any on hand. I’d double up on the garlic in this case.
- Ancho chile pepper powder – I enjoy the smoky flavor
How Do I cook a Smoked Pork Butt in the Oven?
After blending the spices together and massaging them into the meat, place the pork butt with the fat cap side up. Placing the fat cap on keeps the meat juicy and creates an outer bark (crust). The finished meat will not have a pink smoke ring just under the bark like a traditionally smoked pork butt. However, the flavors are comparable.
I like to use a roasting pan with a roasting rack. The rack keeps the meat up out of the pan and allows the heat to circulate around the entire pork butt just like in a regular smoker or BBQ grill.
About halfway through the process, I start lightly basting the pork butt with a vinegar-based sauce popular in the Eastern Carolina’s – Carolina Mopping Sauce. I received many compliments on how juicy our pulled pork came out; everyone was very happy with it, and I was certainly proud.
Expert Cooking Tips:
- In order to be tender, a pork shoulder/butt must be cooked to an internal temperature of 190-195°F to break down the collagen in the meat.
- The low and slow method of cooking at 225-250°F in the oven is ideal for this, providing gentle heat over many hours, allowing the collagen to make its transition.
- While some moisture is lost as the meat reaches these high internal temps, the melting collagen keeps the meat moist and juicy.
- For best results, I always use a remote digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat away from the bone to keep track of the temperature as it roasts.
- For sliced pork, cook to 180-185°F.
- For pulled pork, cook to 190-195°F.
How long does it take to cook a pork butt to 180-195 degrees F?
- As an estimate, figure about 1.5 – 2 hours per pound based on the trimmed weight of an individual roast. For example, when cooking two individual roasts weighing 8 pounds each after trimming, the total cooking time for both roasts should be 12 – 16 hours.
- Remember, this is only an estimate—it may take more or even less time, depending on the thickness of the pork butt, the amount of connective tissue that needs to be converted to gelatin, the temperature of the oven, and the several times you open the oven for checking and basting.
Oven Pulled Pork
- 1 fresh BONE-IN pork butt , Boston butt or pork shoulder, about 5 pounds in size [See Note 1]
- For the Dry Rub: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. After blending the spices together, massage them into the meat, shake off any excess. Place the pork butt on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan with the fat cap side up.
- To Cook the Meat: Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Insert a remote digital thermometer into the fattest part of the roast but away from the bone. Roast uncovered so the outer crust will form a bark. Covering the roast causes the spices to become caked.
- After about half of your cooking time is complete, start basting the meat. I use a vinegar based sauce and I do that about once an hour until the meat is fully cooked.
- Some Guidelines: In order to be pulled, a pork butt must be cooked to an internal temperature of 195-205°F to break down the collagen in the meat.
FOR PULLED PORK: cook to 195-205°FIf you prefer sliced pork sandwiches as in some restaurants, you may cook the pork butt to a lower internal temperature. This endpoint can be used if you are running short on time or prefer sliced pork.
FOR SLICED PORK: cook to 180-185°F
- How long will it take to cook a pork butt? As a rough estimate, figure 1-1/2 to 2 hours per pound based on the trimmed weight of an individual roast. For example, when cooking a roast weighing 8 pounds after trimming, the total cooking will be around 12-16 hours.
- Remember, this is only an estimate—it may take more or less time, depending on the temperature of the butt at the start (fresh from the refrigerator or brought to room temperature), thickness of the pork butt, the amount of connective tissue that needs to be converted to gelatin, the temperature of the oven, and the number of times you open the oven for checking and basting (which lets the heat out.
- When the meat finishes cooking, remove it from the oven and tent with foil for 15-20 minutes to allow it to rest and the juices redistribute before slicing or pulling the pork butt.
- Substitute a Beef Brisket or Chuck Roast in place of the pork
- If you cannot find roasted garlic powder, regular garlic powder may be substituted.
- Ancho chile powder has a subtle heat and smoky flavor. Ancho chiles are smoked dried poblano peppers.
- Nutrition is calculated based on the recipe as written. The addition or omission of ingredients will alter the nutritional information.
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