This is the correct way to smoke a pork shoulder with professional results--from the brine, to the rub and sauce, to the rave reviews you will receive. Smoke is the key to breaking down the fat which adds flavor and moisture to the shoulder. Place in a bun with your favorite BBQ sauce.

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Ingredients

20
Original recipe yields 20 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist
BBQ Rub:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Place pork shoulder in a large pot and add enough apple cider to cover. Combine white sugar, brown sugar, salt, paprika, onion powder, black pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix about 1/4 cup sugar rub into cider; reserve remaining rub.

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  • Cover pot and refrigerate for 12 hours.

  • Prepare smoker to about 210 degrees F (99 degrees C). Add enough wood chips to smoker.

  • Pour cider brine into the water pan of the smoker; add onion and about 1/4 cup more sugar rub. Spread remaining rub over pork shoulder. Transfer pork to the center of smoker.

  • Smoke pork until very tender, about 8 hours. Monitor hickory chips and liquid, adding more wood and water, respectively, as needed. Transfer pork to a large platter and cool for 30 minutes before shredding with forks.

Nutrition Facts

442 calories; 32.1 g total fat; 104 mg cholesterol; 2691 mg sodium. 15.2 g carbohydrates; 23.7 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (172)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
09/25/2016
Wonderful! But what to do with left over apple cider marinade? Boil it down by two thirds; add tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, Cayenne pepper and you got a barbecue sauce which is a great match for the meat. Read More
(105)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
06/01/2015
Only reason I didn't like it is I had a 6.5 pound pork shoulder in my smoker for 10 hours at 210 - 220 degrees and it was definitely not done. Probably needs to smoke at 250 degrees for that amount of time... Read More
(47)
228 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 185
  • 4 star values: 28
  • 3 star values: 6
  • 2 star values: 8
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
09/25/2016
Wonderful! But what to do with left over apple cider marinade? Boil it down by two thirds; add tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, Cayenne pepper and you got a barbecue sauce which is a great match for the meat. Read More
(105)
Rating: 5 stars
09/25/2016
Wonderful! But what to do with left over apple cider marinade? Boil it down by two thirds; add tomato paste, garlic powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, Cayenne pepper and you got a barbecue sauce which is a great match for the meat. Read More
(105)
Rating: 5 stars
07/05/2014
Amazing flavor everyone loved it. We ate this on buns with a homemade whiskey BBQ sauce. We used Jack Daniels brand chips (just for the heck of it definitely didn't harm it any.) My only regret - we don't have any left! Read More
(87)
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Rating: 5 stars
12/29/2014
I mixed all ingredients for rub and Apple cider in stew pot. Warmed until sugars & Salt melted cooled this mixture completely. Poured this over the pork Butt in a very large zip lock bag to brine for 48 hours. Took out of bag washed dried and placed in oven for 6 hours at 225 then took to the grill for a 4 hour open pan smoke. This meat fell apart and was SO moist. My friends loved it! Great mix of ingredients for a delicious flavor. Read More
(68)
Rating: 5 stars
02/02/2016
Great flavor. We followed the recipe exactly. The only thing we did differently was, once the pork reached 165 degrees, we pulled it out of the smoker, double wrapped in heavy duty foil, and put it in the oven. We cooked it in the oven another few hours very slowly (at 210 degrees) until it reached 195-200 degrees. It was super tender, moist and delicious. Read More
(62)
Rating: 5 stars
07/18/2016
First, Don't make the same mistake of the only one star review of this recipe and use apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider. Also, a big pork shoulder does take a long time to smoke to the pulled pork stage, so don't blame the recipe if your smoker cooks slower than average. ALWAYS use a thermometer to check how done your meat is. You can always smoke it for a few hours and then finish it in a covered pan or dish in the oven. Recipe as written is great, although I always add a little red pepper to my rubs. (just a personal preference) Read More
(52)
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Rating: 2 stars
06/01/2015
Only reason I didn't like it is I had a 6.5 pound pork shoulder in my smoker for 10 hours at 210 - 220 degrees and it was definitely not done. Probably needs to smoke at 250 degrees for that amount of time... Read More
(47)
Rating: 5 stars
05/17/2015
I have used this recipe twice and loved it! It honestly was the best pulled pork that I have ever had...our dinner guests agreed! The second time I made it, I completely covered the pork with yellow mustard prior to adding the dry rub...this created a wonderful thick bark. Every hour, I used a spray mop mixture of oil and apple cider vinegar (50/50). I also used apple wood chips in the smoker...yum! I promise that you will be thrilled with the results! Read More
(44)
Rating: 4 stars
04/25/2016
I took the original and made a few changes based on comments I read in other reviews and my own ideas. 1. I used a bone in pork shoulder for more flavor. 2. I used apple wood to enhance the flavor. 3. Applied mustard around the shoulder before I put on the rub. 4. Cooked it at the regular temperature for 8 hours, then turned up to 250 for 2 hours. This made it more tender. This was an outstanding receipt with the minor changes I made. Pulled very easy with just a fork. I used a Kansas City type BBQ sauce on the side. One of the best pork shoulders I have made with my smoker. Read More
(38)
Rating: 5 stars
04/12/2015
Used this rub with a 3 lb pork loin in an electric smoker. Best pork loin I've ever had. The apple juice/rub marinated (overnight) seems to have added a subtle sweetness to the meat. That coupled with the sweet and spiciness of the rub makes it almost addictive. Specifics: Rub - added about a teaspoon of chili powder for some spiciness 3 lb pork loin marinated in 1 gallon zip-lock bag containing apple juice and 1/4 cup of the rub. Cooked in electric smoker at about 250-275F for roughly 3 hours (to target internal temp of 145F) Wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil continue cooking for roughly 2.5 hours (to target internal temp of 180F) VERY tender (but doesn't fall apart). Excellent. Read More
(30)