Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Thank you BBQ Gods! This was my best BBQ pulled pork yet…it was moist, tender and melted in my mouth. I finally made pulled pork I’m proud of and it was a result of one thing I added to my recipe…the injection.

I’ve tried the mustard slather and I’ve tried the mopping, but the pork shoulder was still dry on the inside. There was no change in my pork with or without mustard. In addition, mopping the meat eliminated a perfectly good bark, it turns out mushy instead. I no longer do either of those things…it is a waste of time. My new approach is to inject flavor directly into the meat and let it marinate for a day or two.

Is my butt too big?

Essentially, I took the same approach I did with the Smoke Cuban Pork.

I start with a traditional flavor pairing for pork…apples. Actually, I’m using apple cider which is bountiful towards the end of summer and into the fall. To compliment not only the flavors, but the season too, I added a pumpkin spiced rub:

1 tbsp Pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp Brown sugar
1 tbsp Granulated garlic
1 tsp Paprika
Black and white pepper

 The Injection

  • 2 cups Apple Cider
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Spiced Rub


  1. Boil the ingredients in a sauce pan until the rub dissolves. Let it cool.
  2. Fill the needle and start injecting the liquid into the meat.
  3. Place the pork in the refrigerator up to 48 hours, I marinated it for about 36 hours.

The Rub

Use any kind of rub you want, I recommend a sugar based rub so it caramelizes on the meat and the surface will get a deep dark mahogany bark. I opted for:

  • Penzey’s BBQ 3000
  • Penzey’s Cajun Rub


  1. Mix both rubs together until blended.
  2. Remove the pork shoulder from the fridge and gently start applying the rub. Don’t push out injection!
  3. Let the shoulder sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes or until the rub looks wet, like a glaze.
  4. Setup the smoker for 225 degrees, I used up the last of my cherry wood.
  5. Place the shoulder on the grill.
  6. Cook until internal temp reaches 200 degrees.
  7. Remove pork from the grill and cover with a sheet of foil for about an hour or until it cools enough to handle.

Apple cider injected shoulder on the left.

I pulled the butt right at 197 degrees, a total cook time of 11 hours. I only peaked at it once and that was to pull the Cuban pork. This bad boy was done, I loosened the bone up and it came right out!

The meat was still hot, but I couldn’t wait any longer so I put the smoked pork in a 2 gallon zip lock back….just like did with the Cuban pork and smashed the heck out of it with my heavy cast iron skillet until succulent shreds of pork are achieved.

I was 2 for 2 on pork butts, this was just as tender, moist and delicious as the Cuban pork. Even after eating a legendary Cuban pork sandwich, I snacked on the pulled pork until I hit the food wall.

I wouldn’t change anything about this recipe, I just hope I can repeat the results…one of the toughest skills to achieve in BBQ is consistency.

10 thoughts on “Apple Cider Pulled Pork

    • If you’re doing the Hot and Fast method, I recommend that you wrap in foil at 160 degrees with a little liquid until tender. You will lose the bark flavor, otherwise it should be the same. I have a method that is still under development that will show how to cook pulled pork in 3 hours!

    • Hey, it’s been about 3 years and was wondering if you ever developed the 3 hours method of cooking good pulled pork. I am cooking another apple cider butt and saw my old comments.

  1. Looks like a winner. Do you add any sauce after you pull? I use some Tennessee Red after I pull. Adds some moisture and a little bite to the flavor profile.

  2. Just an FYI. I got up at 2 AM this morning and smoked your Apple Cider Pulled Pork and your Smoked Cuban Pork for a pot luck we had at work. I used the Hot and Fast method for both butts using a combo of apple and cherry wood. That pork disappeared faster then a snowball would in a blast furnace. All I know is that when I grow up I want to be just like you. Those recipes were outstanding and I would have never thought of doing that to those two butts in a million years. Thanks. I’m a big fan and look forward to trying more of your stuff out. Keep up the good work.

    • Wow! I appreciate the praise. I can’t take any credit…it was all you, you cooked it. I can relate to how good it feels to get compliments from folks who just ate great Q that you cooked. Glad to know that your pot luck pork butts were a big hit. Excellent job!

  3. Pingback: Recent Grilling Session | Major League Grilling

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