Apple Cider Brined Smoked Pulled Pork is a bone in pork roast that gets soaked in a sweet and salty apple cider brine overnight, covered it in the best dry rub, and smoked to perfection on the grill.
The meat is so tender that it shreds effortlessly and the flavor is unreal!
Why this recipe works:
Nothing says summer like some outstanding Apple Cider Brine Smoked Pulled Pork. This meat is so tender from the brine and flavorful from the dry rub and slow cooking.
Pulled pork is the best, wouldn't you agree? Its so good.
This is one of my favorite pork dinner recipes. Because this recipe is so flavorful, no additional sauces are needed, but if you love a really good homemade BBQ sauce, both my Whiskey BBQ Sauce and my Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce are fantastic on pulled pork.
We have a Traeger and I love it. A lot. I use apple wood when I cook pork. But this will work on any grill as long as you can somewhat control the temperature and use a trusted meat thermometer to know when your meat is done.
How to make cider brined pulled pork:
- First, I rinse pork roast under cold running water. In large oven bag or airtight container, combine apple cider, water, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and salt. Mix until sugar and salt have dissolved. Add pork roast, cover, and refrigerate (overnight is best).
- After your roast is done soaking in its overnight brine, make my popular dry rub. You will remove the roast from the brine and cover the entire roast with all of the dry rub. Save the brine mixture for the cooking process.
- Preheat the grill to 225 degrees F. Set the roast on the grill with the fat side up and cook at this temperature for 3 hours. After each full hour, mop the roast with a generous amount of the brine. The remaining brine should be discarded.
- After the first three hours of cooking at 225 F, you will place the roast on a heavy duty aluminum foil boat or disposable aluminum baking dish, increase the temperature to 250 F, and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 140 F. Once done, transfer the roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes while the temperature continues to increase. Be sure to reserve all those cooking juices!
- A roast this size will take a total of 5-6 hours to cook.
- Use forks to shred the meat, separating it from the chunks of fat and the bone. Once shredded, transfer to a dish and cover with the flavorful cooking liquid.
- A bone-in roast with some fat on the outside is recommended as it will give you the most tender moist shredded pork. You will need pork shoulder or pork butt in order to make pulled pork. A tenderloin or loin roast will not work.
- Using a large oven bag like the kind you would use to roast a turkey is great for the brine. If you are able to squeeze out all of the air, the entire roast will be covered in the brine.
- Unfiltered apple cider is fantastic in this recipe and adds a ton of flavor.
- I did not use apple cider vinegar in this recipe, however you could add a small amount to the brine and it will tenderize the meat even more!
- Although 145 degrees Fahrenheit is the standard for most pork roasts, when roasting a pork shoulder or pork butt to make pulled pork, it’s also possible to roast/smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be more optimal for pulling.
If you're cooking a large pork shoulder roast, chances are you're going to have some leftover pulled pork. After you've had your fill of pulled pork sandwiches, here are a few recipe ideas on how to use up the rest of all of that tasty tender pulled pork.
- Pulled Pork Nachos
- Cuban Pork Sandwich
- BBQ Pulled Pork Loaded Sweet Potato Fries
- BBQ Pulled Pork Quesadillas
- Pulled Pork Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce
- Pulled Pork Rigatoni
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Apple Cider Barbecue Pulled Pork
- 4-7 pound pork roast (pork shoulder or pork butt, bone-in recommended)
- 4 cups apple cider (I used Trader Joe's unfiltered Honey Crisp Apple Cider)
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- Rinse pork roast under cold running water. In large oven bag or airtight container, combine apple cider, water, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and salt. Mix until sugar and salt have dissolved. Add pork, cover, and refrigerate (overnight is best).
- When you're ready to cook your pork, preheat grill to 225 degrees F. If you have a meat injector, take some of the brine and inject it into the roast (this step is optional). Remove the roast from the brine mixture but save it for the cooking process.
- Mix the dry rub and generously cover your roast using all of it.
- Put the roast on the grill with the fat side up and cook for 3 hours. After each full hour, use a silicon brush to mop the brine liquid onto the roast to keep it moist. You can discard the brine after the first 3 hours of roasting.
- Use an aluminium foil pan or make a boat out of heavy duty aluminum foil and place the roast on top. Increase the temperature to 250 degrees F and roast until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F, about 5-6 hours total.
- Transfer the roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. This will allow the meat to get to the ideal final temperature of 145F. Transfer any of the cooking juices in your foil to a measuring cup. When the meat is cool enough to handle, separate the tender meat from the bone and fat. Spoon off any fat that has risen to the top of the cooking liquid or use one of those measuring cups that pours from the bottom. Moisten shredded meat with cooking liquid.
- Serve with soft buns and your favorite sauce along with your favorite sides for a complete meal!
This recipe was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated with more helpful information and cooking tips. Don't worry - I didn't change the recipe!