How to Shred Pork (3 Simple Ways to Make Pulled Pork Like a Pitmaster)

Want to know how to shred pork?

When you cook pork slow and low it will just fall apart.

But maybe you’re wondering how to shred it like they do at your favorite BBQ joint.

There are ways to pull pork that are better than others.

I have outlined all the methods below so you can create pitmaster-worthy pulled pork!

 shredding-pork

The 3 Ways to Shred Pork

Pulling pork may seem like a simple process.

But I dare you to say that to a professional pit master!

Cooked meat requires care and control.

Below are the 3 ways I like to shred meat.

easiest-way-to-pull-pork

With Your Hands 

There is something beautiful about getting primal with your food.

After all, it is the true way before fancy kitchen utensils.

Respecting and appreciating the pieces of meat is so important.

– Wait until the meat has rested and is at a temperature you can handle.

– Put on some nitrate cooking gloves.

– Place the pork on a clean chopping board that is big enough.

– Remove the hardened skin or fat cap and set it aside.

– Remove the layer of softer fat.

– Pull apart the pork from the middle to the side in small motions.

– Keep shredding using your fingertips, focusing on the larger hunks of meat.

– Once the meat proteins are at a consistent size, cover them with foil.

– Break apart the fat into the same size as the meat.p

– Mix together evenly.

-Add in remaining juices, cooking liquid, and the softer fat.

– Add a dash of apple cider vinegar.

– Mix again for 2 minutes until consistent.

– Additional sauce can be incorporated at this stage.

– Place in an airtight container until use.

best-way-to-shred-pork

Meat Claws / Forks

The method will be the same as using your hands.

But you are using special meat claws or 2 metal forks.

This will be a bit quicker than using the hands.

As soft tender meat is no problem for metal bear claws!

– Follow the above directions but use claws or forks instead of your fingers.

easy-way-to-pull-pork

Electric Mixer

The shredding method using electric mixers is quick and easy.

Just make sure you have a big enough mixer bowl!

– Remove the skin and fat as per above.

– Fix a general paddle to the mixer.

– Break apart the meat roughly with a fork or your hands.

– Start the mixer on the slowest setting.

– Add a chunk of meat and then the fat.

– Repeat until all the pork has been added.

(You might have to do this more than once for larger portions)

– Follow the above to finish.

Why Should I Shred Pork Meat After Slow Cooking?

Shredding slow-cooked cuts of meat gives you freedom.

Freedom to use this product for pork sandwiches or burritos.

It is also easy to store the leftover meat from such a large cut.

But what’s the best reason for this to be part of your cooking methods?

The taste of course!

An even amount of fat in the meat will take pork dishes to another level.

As well as the chosen sauce for even and further seasoning the meat.

Tip: A standard barbecue sauce will really elevate pulled pork.

how-to-shred-pork-shoulder

Safety Tips for Shredding Meat

Just a quick word on safety for shredding pork.

– Do not shred straight from your cooking device with your hands.

– Be conscious of any bones that can cause choking.

– Sterilize and wipe down surface areas that have been in contact with raw meat.

– Meat claws are sharp!

– Do not leave cooked meat out of the fridge for more than 30 minutes.

– Make sure your chopping board or mixing bowl is secure.

easy-way-to-shred-pork

Shredding Pork Butt – A Summary

– Rest the pork butt for 30 minutes before shredding.

– Shred straight after resting and not when it has completely cooled.

– Maintain an even ratio of fat and meat.

– Maintain an even size ratio for your strips of meat.

– Incorporate as much moisture as possible from the cooking process.

– A cup of sauce will go a long way.

Pork Butt – The Tasty Shredded Meat for Your Fav Recipe

Are you wondering what a pork butt is?

The pork butt is one of the 4 primal cuts but it comes from the pork shoulders instead of the, well, butt.

The pork butt is cut shorter from the shoulder of the animal.

More commonly with the bone out.

Which distinguishes it from bone-in pork shoulders.

FUN FACT: The reason the cut is called butt was that it was the name for the barrels the pork was stored in.

This was during the revolution in the late 1700s in New England.

The pork butt is the perfect meat to cook because it has…

how-to-pull-pork

Uniformed Shape

We sometimes fail to realize the shape has a drastic effect on the cooking process for a quality result.

A pork butt is taken just down from the shoulder.

It is usually quite evenly spherical with dense meat.

Because of the shape, we can control the consistency of the cooking processes.

Or commit a lower and slow temperature to break it down over time.

Which is why it makes great for shredding!

Lean Meat

The shoulder muscle is worked in the animal and this produces a dense protein structure.

Chemical reactions like the Maillard reaction occur better for a longer cooking time.

Fat Marbling

Fat = flavor and texture which we all know by now.

Mainly when it’s covering a juicy pork roast.

After shredding the pulled pork, the fat will help keep up the moisture level.

As well as dispersing all that flavor.

Our Method for Smoking a Pork Butt & Shredding

Ingredients

  • A quality and free-range pork butt
  • Dijon Mustard (for binding the rub
  • Apple juice or apple cider vinegar

Dry Spice Rub

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion & garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Equipment

  • Pellet Smoker with hardwood pellets
  • Meat claw
  • Sharp knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray bottle
  • Container
  • Paper towels
  • Heatproof dish

How to Prep the Pork Butt

Cut off any top silver skin with a sharp knife but leave it on the fat cap

best-way-to-pull-pork

Preparing the Pellet Smoker

– Check that your pellet smoker is clean from the last time it was used.

– Load the wood chips into the hopper and set the temperature to 215°F. If you’re using a Traeger see our recipe for pulled pork here.

Step 1: Adding a Spice Rub to the Pork Butt

– Brush the pork shoulder with Dijon mustard.

– Take the spice rub ingredients and apply them liberally all around the pork butt

– Cover and rest the pork butt for 30 minutes at room temperature.

easiest-way-to-shred-pork

Step 2: Smoking the Pork Butt

– Whisk together apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and raspberry juice in a bowl.

– Add to a spray bottle for spritzing.

– When the smoker is at 215°F, insert a heat-proof tray wrapped in foil.

– Put the pork butt on the tray.

– Check for hot spots and adjust accordingly so the fat cap is facing them.

– Add the meat probe.

– Leave smoking with the lid down.

– Every 60 minutes open and spritz apple cider vinegar or apple juice all over the pork.

– Visually monitor for a nice colored crust and an internal temperature of the pork is around 200°F.

– When the pork is at the correct temperature, wrap it in foil and smoke for a further 3 hours.

-The rough total should be around 8-10 hours.

best-way-to-shred-pulled-pork

Step 3: Resting the Pork Butt

– Remove from smoker when at above temp.

– Keep the foil on and rest for 40 minutes.

Step 4: Let’s Shred the Pork Butt!

– Shred the pork butt to a method above.

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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