There are many factors to consider when making pulled pork, from the type of meat to the sauce. But one of the most important decisions is what kind of wood to use for smoking.
Different woods impart different flavors, so it's important to choose wisely.
In this blog post, we'll discuss the best woods for smoked pulled pork and why they work well. We'll also provide tips on how to select the right wood for your needs. So read on to learn more!
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What is the best wood to use for pulled pork?
Typically, when you cook meat, it means that you will be using a barbecue grill as the cooking surface. However, if you have forgotten to bring your barbecue grill with you or do not have one at all, then sticking with other cooking equipment can work as well.
The most popular choices of wood for barbecuing or smoking are wood chips and wood pellets as they are easy to use and provide even heat distribution.
Wood chips are made from sawdust that has been compressed into small chunks and dried in a kiln under high pressure; the result is a freshly-cut piece of hardwood that can be burned for hours without the need for cleaning up ashes.
The wood chips that you buy usually have an adequate moisture content, which means that you do not have to add extra water to the barbecue.
Wood pellets are made from sawdust produced in a lumber mill. The process of making wood pellets is similar to that of making wood chips except that the sawdust is compressed into a mold before it is dried.
The end result is a clean and odorless piece of hardwood that can be burned for hours with minimal care. Once they are burned, the ashes can be disposed of with your regular garbage.
The best advantage of using wood pellets is the convenience of having a single piece of wood that can be burned for hours without the need for keeping an eye on it. In addition, wood pellets do not require seasoning and do not leave behind a mess after you have finished using them.
The best ingredient for cooking pulled pork is oak. It turns out that the flavor of this wood has a rich smoky essence that can be used in dishes such as barbecue sauces and marinades.
A good tip given by barbecuers is to soak oak chips in water beforehand before adding them to your pulled pork.
This would allow you to easily break off small chunks of the chips after they are burned, thus making it easier for you to mix them into your sauce before using them along with other ingredients.
Oak is the best wood to use for cooking pulled pork as it has a sweeter flavor than hickory, and it is easy to cut into pieces of appropriate sizes. In addition, it does not need to be seasoned before making use of it as all you need to do is add wood chips to your cooking.
If you like your pulled pork spicy and savory, then hickory would be then hickory would be the best wood pulled pork for you. This type of wood has a strong aroma that can penetrate deep into the meat, thus flavoring everything from the outside in.
Hickory offers the best ratio of heat to smoke because it releases more heat than other hardwoods, while still maintaining its gentle flavor as compared to oak. Because of its mild heat, hickory can be used by beginners in preparing barbecue meat without fear that the food will become too hot for them.
Also, hickory is relatively easy to cut when compared to oak. Hickory burns faster than oak and requires only about 3 hours for a whole hog to be smoked using a pit or oven.
Although hickory does have a strong smoke flavor, this flavor is not overwhelming or overwhelming and it uplifts the taste of the food that you are cooking.
However, because of the strong flavor and smell that it produces, hickory may not be the best wood for beginners or those who do not want to add too much smoke to their food.
How to prepare the pork shoulder for smoking
This method of smoking uses a rack instead of placing food directly on the barbecue grill.
Do not use the same racks that you use for roasting meats, as these racks are too large for slow cooking and will make it hard to pull the meat easily.
The shoulder is a small package made up of several muscles connected together at various points. The shoulder is the part of a pig that cuts across the ribs and back and contains many individual muscles or slabs.
The shoulder can be cooked in several different ways, including baking, grilling, or in a smoker.
Because this cut of pork is small enough to fit into your oven or smoker, it is usually called "chops" or "chucks.
This technique lets you cook a lot faster than the traditional method of slow cooking on a smoker while retaining most of the moister.
To prepare pork shoulder:
The first thing that you need to do is to remove the skin and excess fat using a knife. When you are finished cutting away any visible fat, set it aside. The next step is to season it with salt and rub it into the meat using your hands.
You can add other seasonings at this point depending on your preferences or what is in your pantries, such as pepper or herbs. Place the seasoned pork shoulder in a roasting pan or in an aluminum foil packet that you have prepared beforehand with some water and cayenne pepper.
Bake the shoulder at 350 °F for around 3 hours, making sure to check and baste the pork every 30 minutes after you have placed it in the oven.
Pork shoulder is a very versatile cut of meat that can be used to make many different dishes as it has enough fat and meat to yield 8 ounces of meat per pound.
This type of pork has a lot of flavors and can be used in many different preparations, especially since it is now easy to buy pre-cooked chops that you can add to your roasting pan or smoker without having to impart much work on yourself.
To use your pork shoulder in a smoker:
You will need to trim the fat and skin from the meat after it has been cooked. Since this cut of pork is small, you can also roast it directly on the barbecue grill. Seasoning the pork should be enough, but if you do not want to add any other kinds of seasonings, then using some salt and pepper would do fine.
Pork shoulder should be browned before being placed in a smoker as this will result in more flavor in your meat.
The best way to brown your meat is to cut two large chunks of bacon into five pieces each and lay them over the surface of your meat as close as possible without touching one another.
Place the pork shoulder in your smoker and allow the smoke to cook your meat, turning it often so that all sides can get some of the benefits of the smoke.
Be careful when cooking with pork shoulder as it has a large amount of fat, which can easily melt onto your smoker and cause a mess.
To prevent this from happening, make sure that you have some foil or parchment paper in your smoker so that you do not have to deal with melting grease on your food or clean up after there is already a mess on your plate.
The best smoker temperature and time settings for pulled pork
If you are a beginner, then you can find your favorite recipes in the list below. Although it is very hard to perfect pulled pork, these recipes should be enough to get you started.
Although some of the recommendations above are for small batches, you will probably want to make larger batches as pork shoulder is a large cut of meat that can result in too much smoke for most smokers.
You can always make two cuts of food at once: one cut with a smaller amount of pork shoulder and one with an amount that allows the smoke to permeate through more of the meat. If you and other people are interested in making larger batches, then try to add more wood chips to the smoker but do not overfill your smoker.
If you have a bigger smoker, or if you have a regular barbecue grill, then this method would apply. If you are using a stove-top smoker or if grilling on your conventional barbecue grill, then make sure that you follow the recommendations above when figuring out how much wood chips to use.
Make sure to test your meat before serving it. You want your meat to pull easily from the bone and not be too wet or mushy when done. In order for this to happen, be sure not to overcook your pork shoulder.
How to sauce the pulled pork for the perfect bite
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (optional)
Other: (see note)
Recipe for pulled pork:
- 4 to 6 pounds of pork shoulder. Cut the shoulder into 4 to 6 pieces each.
- Place in a roasting pan and cover in foil.
- Mix the chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, and onion together in a bowl and pour over your shoulder.
- Add the juice of 2 fresh limes or 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
- Top with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.
- Place in your smoker or barbecue and smoke for 6 to 8 hours, until the meat pulls away easily.
- This recipe will yield approximately 4 to 6 pounds of pulled pork.
Recipe Variation: If you want to make a little indulgence while smoking, add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne to the brown sugar and chili powder mixture.
How many hours do I need to cook pulled pork?
You can find instructions for how long you need to smoke pork shoulder on the smoker manufacturer's instructions, but here are some general guidelines.
If you do not have a digital thermometer, then check the temperature of your meat every hour. If you have a digital thermometer, then adjust accordingly. The most important factor is to make sure that your meat reaches 160°F and stays there for 4 hours.
What temperature setting is best for smoking pulled pork?
Since this cut of meat takes a long time to cook, it should be placed at around 200–250 °F.
I had to cook my meat for a long time before it came up to temperature, what happened?
Unlike most meats, pork shoulder could need up to 16 hours for smoking at around 200 °F. You should check your meat every 30 minutes and make sure that it reaches the required temperature of 160°F in 4 hours or more. If it takes more time than that, then you should check whether the heat is too low and whether you have enough wood chips.
Why do I have to cover my meat?
Pork shoulder can produce a lot of liquid while it is cooking, which can result in your meat being too wet. Covering the top will help keep the moisture in and result in your pork shoulder being dry enough that you would not be able to take it off the bone.
What changes do I make when using my small smokers, like my stove-top smoker or a mini-barbecue grill?
Since the surface area of these small smokers and grills is smaller, you will need to use more wood chips than recommended on your smoker's instructions or on a typical outdoor barbecue. You can use more wood chips, but be careful not to use too many as this could cause your meat to be too wet.
I have some extra pork shoulder that did not fit in my smoker, how can I deal with this situation?
If you have some extra pork shoulder that did not fit in your smoker, then you can still make pulled pork. The best way to do this is using an oven or a conventional barbecue grill. Preheat the oven to 300°F before putting the meat in and making sure that there is enough space for moisture to vent from the crockpot or from between the grates of the barbecue grill.
The best wood for pulled pork is apple, cherry, or pecan. Hickory and oak are also good options.
If you’re looking for a smoky flavor, mesquite is the way to go.
These woods will all give your meat a beautiful smokey flavor that will make it irresistible.
Have you tried smoking your pork with one of these woods? What was the outcome? Let us know in the comments below!