Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork

February 27, 2020

Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork is one of those recipes for the ages. Classic BBQ low and slow cooking combines with punchy, tongue-tingling flavors to make for a pulled pork experience unlike any other.

brown sugar pulled pork sandwich on a wooden cutting board

Brown Sugar Pulled Pork

This pulled pork is unlike any pulled pork you’ve had before. Not only is it seasoned with my amazing Signature Sweet Rub (you can buy this delivered to your door from Patio Provisions, or you can make it yourself from my Best Sweet Rub Recipe post, but it’s mopped hourly with a sweet bourbon brown sugar mop sauce.

The layers of sweet and spice in this recipe are made for the subtle/savory natural flavors in pork. It’s perfect meat harmony. I love when that happens!

Recipes like this pulled pork are the ones I come back to over and over again. They’re meant for a low and slow BBQ lifestyle, which allows me opportunities to spend time with my family. While we wait for the pork to finish smoking, I can hang out on the back deck and kick up my feet while the kids play in the yard. It’s a wonderful way to spend lazy weekends with your family or friends.

Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork

I have been so excited to share this recipe with you guys. My husband told me this was the best pulled pork I’ve ever done! It truly is so good. You can eat it as-is, drizzle some extra mop sauce on top, or make it into a tasty BBQ sandwich. If you’re wondering if it’s worth the long smoke time. Trust me. It’s worth it every time.

I kept the process for smoking my pork shoulder (AKA Boston butt) fairly simple with a heavy emphasis on the bourbon and brown sugar flavor profile. The shoulder got a healthy dose of my Best Sweet Rub before hitting the grill for a low and slow smoke bath. I used even more seasoning to enhance the bourbon and apple cider vinegar in the mop sauce (which then turned into the foiling liquid during the second phase.)

From beginning to end, I built up layers of those complementary flavors so that when it was all done and ready to pull there was that mouth-watering sensation of mmm in every single bite!

shredded brown sugar pulled pork on a wooden cutting board

Tips for Making Brown Sugar Pulled Pork

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind before diving into this recipe. You can also scroll down to the video in the recipe card to follow the step-by-step visual instructions for making this amazing pork.

  • Invest in a good meat thermometer. When choosing an instant read thermometer, I strongly recommend the Thermapen MK4 from Thermoworks. The ideal temperature for transferring the pork to the foil pan is 165 degrees F and for ending up tender pulled pork when it is finished is between 201 and 203 degrees F. Keep an eye on your temperature and you’ll have perfect results every time!
  • Save the mop sauce! Don’t dump the remaining mop sauce sitting in your disposable aluminum pan down the drain! Drizzle it over the meat for added moisture and flavor!
  • Don’t forget to rest the meat. Even though you’ve been waiting quite a while to enjoy your pulled pork, make sure to allow it to rest for 30 minutes before shredding and digging in.

shredded bourbon brown sugar pulled pork on a wooden cutting board next to a brown sugar pulled pork sandwich

More Pulled Pork Recipes

Pulled pork is a must-try on the smoker. If you’ve mastered this brown sugar pulled pork, try your hand at my other awesome recipes available here on Hey Grill Hey:

Cider Brined Pulled Pork
Carolina Pulled Pork
Simple Smoked Pulled Pork

Brown Sugar Pulled Pork Recipe

Watch the video below the recipe card and I’ll show you step-by-step how I make this awesome brown sugar pulled pork at home. I’m all about helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. You can check out more of my smoking and grilling recipe videos on YouTubeInstagram, or our Facebook Page.

Need some rubs and sauces to go with this pork? Patio Provisions sells Hey Grill Hey Signature products for a great price. Best of all? We deliver them straight to your door!

Print Recipe
4.94 from 15 votes

Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pulled Pork

Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork is one of those recipes for the ages. Classic BBQ low and slow cooking combines with punchy, tongue-tingling flavors to make for a pulled pork experience unlike any other.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time11 hrs
Resting Time30 mins
Total Time11 hrs 40 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Keyword: Brown Sugar Pulled Pork
Servings: 15 people
Calories: 278kcal

Ingredients

Bourbon & Brown Sugar Mop Sauce

Instructions

  • Fire up the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F, using hickory, apple, or maple for your wood smoke.
  • Prep the pork and get it in the smoke. Liberally season the pork shoulder on all sides with the Sweet Rub. Place the pork on the grill grates and close the lid.
  • Make the mop sauce. While the pork begins to cook, make the bourbon brown sugar mop sauce. Pour all of the ingredients for the mop sauce in a medium saucepan. Bring the mop sauce to a boil while whisking and remove from the heat. Set aside.
  • Smoke the pork. Place the pork on the grill grates and close the lid. Mop the pork shoulder with the mop sauce every hour until the internal temperature of the pork reads 165 degrees F. This should take around 6-7 hours.
  • Braise. Transfer the pork shoulder to a disposable aluminum pan and pour the remaining mop sauce over the top. Cover tightly with foil and return to the smoker.
  • Finish cooking. Continue cooking until the internal temperature of the pork reads between 201-203 degrees F or until the thermometer probe slides into the pork like it's softened butter. This step can take anywhere from 4-6 hours, that's the fun part about BBQ, it's done when it's done.
  • Rest, shred, and serve. Remove from the smoker and allow the pork to rest for at least 30 minutes before shredding, removing the bone, and separating the fat and gristly from the meat. Drizzle some additional braising liquid on the pork as desired.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 110mg | Potassium: 466mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 166IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 2mg

**This post was originally published May 2017. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

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85 thoughts on “Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork

    1. Hey Teresa! The temperature and time settings should be the same in your oven. It won’t taste quite the same as if it’s smoked, but it should still work!

  1. Did 4 of these for our 4th of July BBQ. Absolutely amazing!!! Used apple and oak for the fire. Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. What kind of meat thermometer do you recommend? I want a good one. Also, what kind/brand of bourbon do you use? I spent an hour at the store and what I ended up with tasted awful!

    1. Hey Brad- I have several kinds of thermometers, but my most recommended as far as accuracy and durability is Thermoworks. I have both the Smoke and MK4, one is an instant read and one is a remote probe, you can check them both out here: http://www.thermoworks.com/?tw=HEYGRILLHEY (that’s my affiliate link)
      As far as bourbon, I like to use Jim Beam, I feel like it’s just sweet enough to complement the pork.

  3. You mentioned using foil to cover your shoulder in the second phase, have you ever used the pink butcher paper as you do with your Texas style brisket for extra juice and flavor?

    1. Hey James- I do like using butcher paper on pork occasionally, but it depends on the recipe. For this one, I really wanted to foil the pork with the reduced bourbon mopping liquid to add in the flavor while it finished cooking. If I am just mopping and don’t plan to wrap with additional liquid, I’ll use the paper.

      1. In your answer you say “reduced bourbon”..are you boiling the mop sauce further to reduce before adding to final stage or just the initial boil?
        Also, ever try this with Jack Daniels?

  4. Hi! I’m new to smoking meats and I have an electric smoker. After transferring the pork shoulder to a disposable pan and covering with foil, should I continue adding wood chips to create smoke? Or no, because the smoke won’t get to the meat since it’s covered in the pan? Thanks!

  5. I’ve had this saved for a while and just now getting around to trying it and wondering what your thoughts are on brining in the mop sauce and injecting? Just tried the whiskey peach smoked pulled chicken and it was awesome btw!

      1. So injecting is totally optional and I bet it would be delicious! The only thing I would watch out for is using the rub in the injection. Bigger chunks of spices can easily block off the needles and holes in most injectors.

    1. I used this technique with a cajun butter injection and home made bbq sauce with a cajun spice rub.

      Juciest most flavorful pork i have ever had. I am doing a catering event this weekend for 100+ people, and I will be using this technique. It creates the most beautiful crust. And the pork literally falls apart just sliding your fingers in.

  6. So the rub doesn’t have to be applied with any glue and only needs to be added right before putting in the smoker? I was going to start pretty early in the morning so is it possible to put the rub on the night before? I cannot wait to try this!

  7. Put my roast on the smoker 2 hours ago. I added honey to my mop, and wrapped 2 lbs of bacon around my 8.5 lb pork shoulder. Can’t wait to taste it.

  8. Thank you for this recipe! I have made this twice and its been my favorite receipe on the smoker!!! We are going camping this weekend and I was thinking about making this. Have you ever cooked it before and just reheated? Would you shred before or just keep full?

    1. Hey Marci- I’m so glad you like it!! I cook pork in advance all the time! I recommend shredding and then storing in FREEZER zip top bags or vacuum sealed bags. You can reheat really easily by just submerging the whole bag in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes.

  9. Unfortunately I don’t have a Smoker yet but planning on getting one soon , would it be still good to do this in a Crock Pot either on low or high for several hours ?

  10. Susie! What do you think about doing the brine steps from your “cider brined pulled pork” and then continuing from there with this recipe?
    I literally LOVE this recipe, I commented before asking about injecting and I actually did that and it came out AMAZING by the way!

    1. I’m also wondering if brining it and possibly injecting would be ok in place of basting it every hour, as I plan to cook this while I’m sleeping – for Father’s Day lunch the next day.
      Thoughts?

    2. Hey Jillian! You can brine, then continue on. If you wanted to tie in the flavors a little bit more, I would swap half of the apple cider vinegar in the brine for bourbon. You can inject instead of mop as well. Hope it turns out great!

  11. Great looking recipe. I am going to try it this week end. IF I want “burnt ends” / crispy outer skin. would i just leave it out of the pan?

    1. As far as leaving it out of the pan, you will miss out on some of the awesome flavor from the liquid during that phase, but you could leave it uncovered and then mix in the remaining mop liquid at the end of the smoking process. Just be sure to boil it first. It will also probably take a bit longer to cook uncovered.

  12. It looks delicious, I have to try it.
    My problem is, this kind of seasoning is not available in Hungary where I live.
    Could you help me please, and give me what kind of spices in it? Or a similar rub recipe…
    Thank you,
    Gabor

  13. I just put this in my crockpot on low. I mixed up the liquid ingredients for the mop sauce and put it in the crockpot with the pork. I added a quarter cup of liquid smoke and a half can of coke. I hope it turns out okay!! Any thoughts?

  14. Getting ready try to smoke bourbon brown surgar pork. Living in bourbon country and not finding Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning was a disappointment. So, I am trying Bourbon Smoked Chef’s Blend. That is from Louisville, KY. Hope it works, I never had either. What other seasoning would you recommend?

  15. Was just wondering what time of day you start this. Sounds like it takes a total of 13 -14 hours. We have a Traeger wood pellet grill/smoker, but have never let it run overnight. Thanks!

    1. We have run cooks overnight, and you have to still get up and make sure everything is running and cooking. This one, it depends on what time I want dinner at. I can usually start this early in the morning, around 5-6 and it will be ready in time for dinner.

    1. I haven’t tried this in an instant pot, in fact, I don’t even own one, so I’m not much help there. I have had others try it in slow cookers and it works great, so I would imagine you could do this in an instant pot as well. I would follow the recipe and your manufacturers instructions.

  16. this sounds good ,, where can you buy this rub ?,,,i have been doing pork shoulder ,, brisket and chicken and loin for about 15 years ,,,and this sounds real good ,,,going to have to try it ,,and your times and temps are real close to what i have been doing ,, and learned all of mine the hard way ,,,this is a good post ,, thanks ,,,,the wooff

  17. So I made this last week. Simple question: When you shred the roast, are you supposed to put it back in the sauce that you poured over it when you put it in the pan and covered it with foil? I did but was not sure.

    I(t was even better reheated the next day)

  18. The question I have is when you first start with the roast on the grated. Does it stick to the grates or do u have to do anything to prep the grates? And the what do do you do about the juices that are dripping down? Like do you put a extra pan down low to catch excess juices? Just curious. New here. Thanks.

    1. I’ve never had an issue with the roast sticking to the grates, but if you think yours will stick you can rub your grates with some olive oil. You can place a foil pan under your grates to catch the drippings.

  19. Great recipe! Tried it last night and tasted amazing! Two questions for you. 1) I had alot more bourbon mop sauce left over in my pan than you did. Should I have drained it, or let it soak up in the meat? 2) if you refrigerate leftovers, the fat coagulats on the meat. Do you just reheat the pork instead of eating cold? Any special tips here?

    Love your videos!

    1. I’m so happy you liked this recipe! I wouldn’t worry about the extra mop sauce. To reheat the pork, I usually just leave it in a zip top bag and then submerge in some hot water so all the juices go back into the meat.

  20. Howdy
    I’m smoking three butts today for a party tomorrow
    I’ll put them in a ice chest to rest tonight
    How do I reheat them for lunch tomorrow
    Great recipe
    Can’t wait

    1. I like to shred them and then keep them in a foil pan with their juices and you can bring back up to temperature in the oven. Another method is to shred and put in large zip top bags and then reheat in hot water.

  21. A must try!
    First attempt at pulled pork, this far exceeds anything I have had before! Although I switched the bourbon to an apple bourbon as that was all I had on hand.

  22. Hey Teresa this looks amazing! Going to do two on the egg this weekend.
    One of the things I liked about your brisket recipe (so damn good) was the ability to plan some reserve time (just in case it was slow) by starting early and stashing that towel wrapped puppy in a cooler If it was done early.
    Can I do the same with this pork? Lots of folks showing up and I don’t want them wait too long.
    Thanks!

  23. FYI – Wal-Mart seems to not carry this version of twist’d q in their stores anymore (at least in San Diego). After trying two locations I checked with their customer service and they said I would have to order it on their website.
    Tip: Amazon had it for less and will deliver tomorrow. Sorry Wal-Mart.
    Please update your recipe info to save others from this adventure.

  24. Epic. Totally worth the effort. The pork was so juicy, flavorful, and tender! Been bbqing for a long time but this is the best thing to come out of my egg. Also, the cooler trick made it easy to be ready for company. Thanks for all your help!

  25. Is it possible to divide the cook into 2 parts? Smoke until step 4, then refrigerate overnight and finish the next day?

    1. I don’t think it’d turn out quite right. You’d have to spend just as long as the first day trying to get back up to temperature on the second day.

  26. I have cooked this twice in my oven. I didn’t have bourbon, so I used Wild Turkey American Honey. It was fantastic. It doesn’t have the smoke flavor, but today I will get to smoke it on the grill.

  27. Hey Susie,
    I have a new off set smoker and still new at smoking. Any suggestions with an off set smoker and can I use butcher paper instead of foil.
    Also love watching your videos and recipes!!! KEEP ON SMOKING!!

  28. Our best pork butt yet! We substituted Heygrillhey sweet rub for the Wicked Sweet Bourbon seasoning and it came out fantastic. At some point I reckon I’ll look for some wicked sweet, but Susie’s sweet rub is our go-to. It has never let us down.

  29. This is awesome.. Smoked 3 butts for a party and everybody loved it… will be my new go to pulled pork recipe from now on…. Thanks…..

  30. Made this today and WOW, is it good. Tender juicy pork goodness with some sweetness…then a little heat. Wonderful recipe. Thank you.

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