Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: July 2, 2023

As someone who has been on a carnivore diet for over five years, I've grown very fond of making pulled pork because it’s a pretty versatile dish and pairs well with brioche buns, mashed potatoes, or fresh salad that combine to give a hearty and nutritious meal.

Today, I'll share what pulled pork is and the best meat to prepare this dish. Further down, I'll include tips for buying the best meat for pulled pork.

Let's go straight into it.

Quick Summary

  • The best meats for pulled pork are pork shoulders and Boston butt, as these have good marbling and connective tissue to withstand longer cooking.
  • Pulled pork is pork butt or shoulder that's slow-cooked In a crock pot, shredded manually, and mixed with barbecue sauce.
  • When buying quality meat for pulled pork, buy it fresh with a bright pinkish-red color.

What Is Pulled Pork?

A close-up shot of pulled pork in a sandwich

Pulled pork is shredded pork shoulder or Boston butt BBQ-smoked on low heat. When done, the meat is manually shredded using a fork and combined with a sauce.

Different states have different methods of preparing pulled pork, including dry rubs, spices, and sauces.

Pulled pork is made from specific pork cuts because not all meat cooks and shreds well when cooked.

For a delicious pulled pork meal, you can pair it with the following sides:

  • Potato salad
  • Coleslaw
  • Mac and cheese
  • Vegetable skewers
  • Sweet corn fritters

Best Meat For Pulled Pork

Here are two types of meat that are best for pulled pork.

1. Pork Shoulder

Raw pork shoulder meat on a parchment paper

The shoulder cut, also known as picnic shoulder, is one of the best meats for pulled pork. This meat is derived from a pig's shoulder and front leg sections.

Most pork shoulders weigh about 17 pounds. They come with no fat caps and can comfortably feed a family of around 20 people.

In my experience, this cut yields a soft texture when you cook it for longer.

When you cook pulled pork, ensure you use skinless pork shoulder. You can ask your local butcher to skin the meat for you.

I always prefer to remove the skin at home to bake them with paprika and make some tasty cracklins with a smoky flavor.

2. Pork Butt

A close up shot of raw pork butt meat

Pork butt is another great option for delicious barbecue pulled pork. This cut of meat contains pieces of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper leg and is taken from the thicker region of the pig's shoulder.

Also known as Boston butt, Boston roast, or picnic roast, this semi-tough cut of pork is frequently offered with the fat cap on.

It also has a lot of fat marbling and connective tissue throughout and can withstand hours of cooking.

Apart from grilling and roasting, I love picnic roast because it also works well in braising and stewing, which melts the fat and makes the meat softer.

Read More: Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder

Steps to Preparing Pulled Pork

Pulled pork meat on a wooden board with two forks

The fundamental principle of preparing pulled pork is cooking it low and slow. I’ll share a rundown of the steps to follow when roasting pork shoulder in the oven.

  • Start by preheating the oven to 300°F.
  • Marinate your cold meat (whole pork shoulder or Boston butt) with a spice rub of your choice. I love using olive oil and dried herbs, making pulled pork more flavorful. If you can, do this the previous day and let the meat marinate overnight for the best results.
  • Wrap the meat in aluminum foil and toss it in the oven.
  • To guarantee that all the fibrous tissue softens, cook the pork butt for 4 hours on low or until the internal temperature reaches at least 200°F.
  • Remove and set aside to cool for 45 minutes before shredding with a fork and serving with your favorite BBQ sauce.

"When making pulled pork, you can sear your picnic roast to deepen the overall flavor and get a slightly chewy bark."
- Thomas Keller, Executive Chef 

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Tips for Choosing the Best Meat for Pulled Pork

A close-up shot of pulled pork meat

When it comes to picking the best meat for pulled pork, here are four key things to keep in mind.

  • Check the color: Use visual clues to buy good-quality pork shoulder. Look for pinkish-red or reddish-pink meat that has some marbling. Cuts of meat you should avoid are those with light coloring or fat that has black blotches on it
  • Buy fresh: The best-pulled pork experience starts with fresh meat. When buying meat, avoid the ones that have been frozen for a long time. I always consult the butcher and ask for freshly cut pork meat. Also, buy pork from healthy pigs.
  • Bone-in vs. Boneless: Before you buy pork, ensure you decide what you want. Both work equally fine, but I prefer using bone-in pork meat. The bone helps to hold the meat together during preparation and cooking. 
  • Buy non-enhanced pork meat: Enhanced meat is one that has sodium phosphate or artificial solutions added to it to keep it moist [1]. When purchasing meat for your pulled pork recipe, ensure you read the label and buy the ones with an "all-natural" or "no artificial additives" tag.


What Is the Secret To Tender Pulled Pork?

The secret to tender pulled pork is cooking it low and slow for at least 8 hours on low heat. But if you're using medium-high heat, the cooking process should be 4-5 hours.

How Long Should Pulled Pork Sit Before Shredding?

Pulled pork should sit for 45 minutes before shredding. This time allows the meat to cool and soak in the juices nicely. If you slice immediately, the juice will run out, leaving a lump of dry flesh.

Why Is Pulled Pork Rubbery?

Pulled pork is rubbery if not cooked well. Because this delicacy is prepared using meats that have tough muscle fibers that need prolonged cooking to soften.

What Makes Pulled Pork So Delicious?

Pork shoulder is cooked low and slow to create the popular and adaptable meal called pulled pork. It offers excellent value and is mouthwateringly supple when cooked, essentially falling apart. The results are excellent whether prepared in a regular oven, slow cooker, or Instant Pot.

If you're looking for a place to order pork shoulder cut or Boston butt, ButcherBox is an absolute way to go.

I love ButcherBox because it offers fresh pork meat with an excellent fat-to-meat ratio derived from humanely raised heritage pigs.

And if you're not a fan of pork meat, the best thing is that ButcherBox also offers quality, hormone and antibiotic-free beef, sustainably sourced seafood, and free-range poultry.


  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359096480_New_Strategies_for_Innovative_and_Enhanced_Meat_and_Meat_Products
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