Pulled Pork Internal Temp 101: Everything You Need to Know

pulled pork internal temp

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As a passionate BBQ lover, I’ve relished pulled pork countless times. It’s a well-loved classic that is renowned for its deliciousness – and for a good reason! Nonetheless, as any experienced pitmaster can attest to, attaining succulent and savory pulled pork doesn’t simply hinge on cooking it low and slow. Nailing the internal temperature is also key in nailing perfect pulled pork!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What is the ideal pulled pork internal temp?
  • What is the best cut for pulled pork?
  • How to shred pulled pork?
  • And much more!

What is Pulled Pork?

Originating from the Southern United States, Pulled Pork is a scrumptious BBQ dish that requires slow-cooking of pork shoulder or butt along with an array of seasonings. When ready, you can effortlessly separate the succulent meat into thinly shredded pieces with even a single fork – hence why this delightful meal earned its namesake, “Pulled Pork.”

Pulled pork has been an iconic part of American BBQ culture, with distinct variations in flavor and preparation across the country. In North Carolina, pulled pork is most commonly served with a tart vinegar-based sauce, while Memphis usually opts for dry rub seasoning.

juicy shredded pulled pork

No matter which region you’re from or what recipe you choose to follow, the key to achieving melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness lies within low and slow cooking until the meat becomes splendidly tenderized and flavorful!

Not only does pulled pork make an amazing main course, but its versatility means it can be included in many other dishes. For example, use it as the base for sandwiches, tacos, and burritos; top off your pizza with it or create loaded fries; add some to casseroles and chili – even whip up a hearty breakfast hash! With so many possibilities, there’s no excuse not to try pulled pork today.

Read more >> Brisket vs. Pulled pork the ultimate showdown.

Pulled Pork Internal Temp.

Achieving the perfect pulled pork requires precise internal temperatures. If you reach the perfect pulled pork internal temp, it will be perfectly safe to consume and incredibly tender and scrumptious! On the other hand, if you overcook or undercook your pork, it can become dry and tough – which makes for an unappealing meal.

Pulled pork from pork shoulder

When it comes to pulled pork, the most optimal temperature range is between 195°F and 205°F. Your meat will be succulent and easy to shred at this point because the collagen and connective tissues have been broken down.

It’s also crucial to remember that once you remove it from the heat source, the internal temp can rise by 5-10 degrees, so make sure to pull off when it has reached your desired temps!

For the most accurate way to measure your pulled pork internal temp, a meat thermometer is your best bet. You only need to insert it into the thickest part of the flesh for an exact reading. But if that’s not available, no worries! If you don’t have a meat thermometer handy, no worries–you can use a fork to test for its readiness. Once the meat pulls apart without requiring any effort, it’s probably cooked through!

Can you overcook pulled pork?

Pulled pork is a fan favorite, but if cooked wrong can end up dry and flavorless. To ensure the best results, cook your pulled pork between 190-205°F (88-96°C). This temperature allows for connective tissues to break down enough to make it tender. Be careful not to exceed this range as too high of heat or an extended cooking time will lead muscle fibers breaking down too much, resulting in stringy meat that lacks moisture.

Moreover, if pork is overcooked, it can lose the juicy flavors and mouth-watering texture that makes it such a delicious food. To ensure your pork roast meets the recommended internal temperature and retains its flavor, using a thermometer to check the cooked temperatures is essential; also, keep an eye on cooking times so as not to overcook your precious dish!

Read more >> When to wrap pork butt?

What is the Best Cut for Pulled Pork?

Without question, pork shoulder—also known as pork butt—is the best cut for pulled pork. Sure, other cuts, such as a loin, might do in a pinch, but nothing beats that succulent and juicy texture of slow-cooked shoulder meat.

smoked pork shoulder

Pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat with plenty of fat and collagen, making it ideal for slow cooking. The long cooking process breaks down pork shoulder’s fat and connective tissues, resulting in an incredibly tender and deeply flavorful morsel.

Tips and tricks

  • When selecting the ideal pork shoulder, look for one marbled with high-quality fat and plenty of connective tissue. This will guarantee its moisture and flavor remain intact during the long cooking time. Pork loin may be leaner than shoulder but can easily dry out during preparation – thereby risking undesirable texture or flavor as a result.
  • Though pork shoulder requires a longer cooking time than pork loin, its succulent, savory taste is worth every minute of effort. With pulled pork made from Pork Shoulder, you can make BBQ sandwiches, tacos, and any other dish that calls for delicious pulled meat. So don’t be intimidated by its lengthier cooking process: in the end, your tastebuds will thank you!
  • The best cut to use is a well-marbled pork shoulder or butt to achieve the most succulent pulled pork. Its abundance of connective tissue guarantees that your results will be full of flavor and tenderness. Although you can also use leaner cuts such as loin, they are unlikely to yield similarly juicy and flavorful dishes as pork shoulder meat.

How to Shred Pulled Pork?

Shredding pulled pork is a must to ensure maximum flavor and ease of portioning. It not only assists in separating the meat but also evenly distributes its mouthwatering taste throughout the dish for an ultimately delightful result. Here are some pro tips to help make your shredded pulled pork experience even more successful:

Let the Meat Rest: A mandatory rest period of 20-30 minutes is essential after the pork has been cooked to perfection. This will allow the succulent juices to spread throughout, making shredding easier.

Use Two Forks: If you’re looking for a simple yet effective way to shred pulled pork, consider using two forks. Grip one in each hand and gently pull the meat apart – it should come apart easily if cooked just right! With this two-fork method, you can enjoy your succulent pulled pork without too much hassle.

how to shred pulled pork

Use Meat Claws: Make meal prep easier with meat claws! These convenient tools are perfect for shredding pork and other types of meat. Simply grip the meat tight and pull in opposite directions – it’s that easy!

Remove Any Excess Fat: Trimming away any excess fat that didn’t melt during cooking is beneficial before shredding the pork. This not only facilitates shredding but also improves the overall healthiness of your final dish!

What to Serve with Pulled Pork?

Enjoying pulled pork as part of your meal is a fantastic way to tantalize your taste buds. To create the ultimate dining experience, here are several palate-pleasing sides that perfectly accompany this succulent dish:

Coleslaw: A fresh, cool coleslaw is the perfect companion to your pulled pork. With its crisp texture and crunchy cabbage, it’s sure to bring out the mouthwatering smokiness of the pork.

Cornbread: Cornbread is a timeless side dish that complements pulled pork perfectly. The sweet, crumbly texture of the cornbread beautifully balances out the richness of the pork, creating an unbeatable combination.

Baked Beans: Baked beans are a delicious and hearty side dish that perfectly accompanies pulled pork. The natural sweetness of the baked beans brings out an extra burst of flavor in the smoky pork, creating a truly mouthwatering combo!

mac and cheese pulled pork

Mac and Cheese: Indulge yourself with a creamy and cheesy side dish of mac and cheese – an ideal side dish to pulled pork.

Roasted Vegetables: To contrast, the succulent richness of the pork, roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, or carrots make an incredibly nutritious and delicious complement.

Pickles: For a delectable complement to the succulent pulled pork, try adding some tangy and crisp pickles on the side.

Don’t let your imagination be limited when it comes to crafting meals with pulled pork! Transform this classic Southern staple into creative tacos, sandwiches, or even nachos. With the variety of pulled pork options available, you’ll never run out of delicious meal ideas. Dare to get creative and embrace the multitude of mouthwatering recipes waiting for you.

What to Do with Leftover Pulled Pork?

Transform your leftover pulled pork into something special and new! This delicious and versatile dish lends itself well to many exciting recipes, so why not take advantage of the opportunity? Here are a few creative ideas for what you can do with that amazing left-over pulled pork:

pulled pork sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Transform your leftovers into a delicious and effortless sandwich! Reheat the pulled pork, stuff it between two slices of bread or roll it with some tasty toppings – there you have it – one savory meal ready in no time.

Pulled Pork Tacos: Transform your leftover pulled pork into delectable tacos by simply heating it, adding a sprinkle of taco seasoning, and then topping it with cheese, salsa, and avocado in a warm tortilla. It’s an easy yet delicious way to make the most out of leftovers!

Pulled Pork Pizza: Elevate your pizza night with pulled pork! All you need to do is spread some savory barbecue sauce on a crust, add in the succulent pulled pork, and top it off with cheese and other toppings of your choice. Get ready for an irresistible combination that will leave everyone asking for more!

Pulled Pork Nachos: Indulge in a delectable and fulfilling dish of nachos by layering some tortilla chips with savory pulled pork, melted cheese, succulent beans, and your preferred toppings.

Pulled Pork Soup: Transform your pulled pork leftovers into an appetizing and nourishing soup! For a flavorful blend, mix the shredded meat with some broth, veggies, beans, or grains to create a comforting dish that will leave you feeling satisfied.

Pulled Pork Fried Rice: Transform your leftovers into savory, protein-packed fried rice. Sauté your desired vegetables, then add cooked rice and leftover pulled pork before seasoning with soy sauce and other spices to kick the flavor up a notch!

Make the most of your leftover pulled pork and spice up your meals – explore new recipes that feature this delicious ingredient!

Read more >> How long can cooked pork sit out?

How long is pulled pork good for in the fridge?

Taking the necessary steps to store pulled pork in your refrigerator safely is essential for avoiding foodborne illness. When kept properly sealed and refrigerated, it will last up to four days – but if you’re concerned that the pork wasn’t stored correctly or left out at room temperature too long, discard it immediately. For longer-term storage, freezing is an option; leftover pulled pork can be placed in a freezer-safe container and frozen for up to three months!

Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that freezing can have a negative effect on the taste and tenderness of the meat. When reheating pulled pork, check its internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption. It’s always wise to use your best judgment when consuming leftovers like pulled pork – if in doubt, discard it!

How to Reheat Pulled Pork?

There are a few choices for reheating pulled pork, one being incredibly simple. Put the pork into a microwave-safe dish and cover it. Pop it into your microwave on high for about thirty seconds to one minute before stirring and repeating until it reaches the desired heat!

You can heat pulled pork in a saucepan on medium heat with just enough water or broth to cover the bottom. Stir occasionally until it is heated through. Alternatively, place the pork into an oven-safe dish and bake at 325°F while covered by foil for 10-15 minutes, ensuring the internal temperature reaches 165°F to ensure food safety. Whichever method you choose will provide delicious results!

reheating pulled pork


As a BBQ enthusiast, I’m sure you will find this guide to pulled pork internal temperature incredibly useful. It is essential that we cook our meat to the optimal internal temperature for safe consumption and maximum flavor. Additionally, knowing what type of cut to use, how to shred it properly, and great accompaniments will ensure your pulled pork stands out!

And don’t let your leftover pulled pork go to waste – get creative and cook up various exciting dishes! With these hints, you can make delicious and satisfying meals using the leftovers that will leave everyone begging for more. Get ready to amaze your family and friends with hearty pulled pork creations; bon appétit!


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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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