How to cook pulled pork on a gas grill? Not all of us have smokers. There are a lot of gas grills out there. Shouldn’t we have pulled pork too? I say, yes. Pulled pork for all and with a little planning, it is not that hard. Just plan enough time.
Editor’s Note: Originally Posted July 15, 2012. This recipe has been one of the more popular recipes on the site and is way overdue for a facelift. I have re-edited the text and added more useful information. Photos have been re-edited and a few taken from other recipes to clarify things. Please enjoy learning how to do pulled pork on your gas grill
I consider three things as the “holy grails” of BBQ. Brisket, baby back ribs and pulled pork from pork butt. And all three can be done on your gas grill with a little care. But pulled pork from pork butt is my absolute favorite.
Yep, I could live on pulled pork.
Notes on Pulled Pork on a Gas Grill
What is Pork Butt?
Like many cuts of meat, there are multiple names about the same thing. Pork butt and Boston butt are the same. Pork shoulder is the thinner area of this cut but is commonly cooked and used the same as the butt. It has a bit less marbling and less fat and is usually not separated from the butt.
If you are wondering, butt means thick, so that is why the term “butt” is used. Lastly, the picnic ham and picnic shoulder are not the same as this cut.
So what do you need?
1) Pork butt. Here I’m using a 4 1/2 pound Boston butt. This method should be fine for up to 8 pounds and maybe more. Of course, the cooking time increases.
2) A gas grill with a lot of gas. I have natural gas, so I’m good to go. If you are on a tank, start with a full one.
3) A rub. Whatever rub “yanks your chain” as they say. The rub should have some sugar, salt, and various spices. Some cooks will rub it on the day before and refrigerate (I did since I had this planned), but others rub on an hour before the cooking, and I believe this is good also.
4) Some method of smoking. I have a smoking box built-in my new grill. On my old grill, I used a cast iron smoking box. You could use an aluminum foil pack of wood chips.
5) A way to watch the temperature of the grill surface. I now use my ThermaQ Blue from Themoworks, which you will find in My Shop.
6) Time… lots of time. I took 11 hours on the grill then a 2-hour rest before we ate.
NEED HELP WITH THE GRILL?
Other Common Questions
What rub to use?
Use the rub of your choice. Look around, and you will find thousands of variations, all of which will work. There are many commercial rubs, also.
Here is a simple rub from my 8:3:1:1 rub post and I included it in the recipe
- 8 T (1/2 cup) Brown sugar
- 3 T Kosher salt
- 1 T chili powder
- 1 t black pepper
- 1 t onion powder
- 1 t garlic powder
Should I inject the pork butt?
I don’t, but you can add flavors and moisture with an injection. But pork butt is very moist, and I want it to taste like pork butt.
Fat Pad Up or Down for pork butt?
Per many experts, it doesn’t matter. You are not melting the fat into the pork. You are melting the connective tissue and fat in the meat.
Should I soak the wood chips?
Tradition says yes, but most experts day not it is not needed. Some will say it prevents the wood from catching on fire and that they smoke longer. I have become convinced it doesn’t matter, so I have removed that from the process.
What final internal temperature for pulled pork?
This is dangerous territory I going into since there are many strong opinions. I go for 195-200 minimum, but I prefer 200-205. And I see 208 or 210 argued as the absolute best. Lower will be a bit moister, but a bit less tender and higher is less moist but a bit more tender. I can’t tell the difference much. I like the middle ground.
How long to cook pork butt?
The general consensus is 1 1/2 to 2 hours per pound at 250 degrees, but it always seems to take me a bit longer. You are cooking to a final internal temperature, not by time.
If you have a time-critical cook, do it the day before and reheat. Or do it early. The wrapping before shredding can be as little as 30 minutes, and I have left it for 4 hours wrapped well in a cooler with great results. That gives you a big buffer of time.
What is “the stall” and what should I do about it?
“The Stall” happens when the fibers of the meat contract when nearing the “well done” zone of 150 to 160 degrees. This occurs with both beef and pork and continues to about 180°F when the meat fibers start to relax.
Water is forced out of the cells as they contract, then evaporate which will slow the cooking not to mention remove some moisture. It may last only minutes or several hours. But the temperature will not seem to move.
Most home grillers, including me, will just let the stall occur and continue through it. However, you can do a technique called the “Texas Crunch,” which involves wrapping the meat tightly to prevent evaporation.
If you want to know more about this technique, please see How to Cook a Brisket on a Gas Grill where I have an extensive discussion of the Texas Crunch.
Do I Have to Use a Grill/Smoker for Pulled Pork from Pork Butt?
No. Check out the oven and crock pot recipes.
Start with about a cup of the rub of your choice. I used a variation from an 8:3:1:1 rub.
Jump in with your hands and apply the rib. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight if you can.
Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking. This means the meat is not over direct heat. You will see a pan under the pork to catch any drippings. This is on the indirect heat side. The other side has a pan of water over the direct heat. Adjust the burners to get a steady 250 degrees.
Add the meat to the indirect side. I went with fat side up.
Start your smoke. Here I added chips to my smoke box. You can you also apply smoke with a separate smoker box or an aluminum foil pouch with slots.
Cook at approximately 250 degrees until 190 minimum in all locations. 195 to 200 is good. I prefer 200 to 205. It took me 11 hours.
Remove from the grill and wrap tightly in double sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap in towels and / or place in a small cooler for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Hand shred with a couple of forks. The bone should come out clean.
Pulled Pork on a Gas Grill – Not That Hard
- 4-5 pounds Pork Shoulder - AKA pork butt
- 1 cup rub of your choice or 8:3:1:1
- 3-4 cups wood chips - type of your choice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Start with about a cup of the rub of your choice. Jump in with your hands and apply the rib. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight if you can.
- Soak some wood chips. I used hickory. Try to get at least one hour but overnight is OK. The moist chips should smoke longer.
- Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking. This means the meat is not over direct heat. Place a pan under the grill grate on the indirect heat side. On the other side place a pan of water over the direct heat. Adjust the burners to get a steady 250 degrees
- Add the meat to the indirect side. I went with fat side up. Start your smoke. I added chips to my built in smoke box. You can you also apply smoke with a separate smoker box or an aluminum foil pouch with slots.
- Cook at approximately 250 degrees until 190 minimum in all locations. 195 to 200 is better. It took me 11 hours.
- Remove from the grill and wrap tightly in double sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place in a cooler for 2 hours.
- Hand shred with a couple of forks. The bone should come out clean.
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Nutrition is for one serving. Number of servings is stated above and is my estimate of normal serving size for this recipe.
All nutritional information are estimates and may vary from your actual results. This is home cooking, and there are many variables. To taste ingredients such as salt will be my estimate of the average used.
If you like this recipe or find it useful, the pleasure of a nice 4 or 5 rating would be greatly appreciated.
Originally Posted July 15, 2012