Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pulled Pork

May 17, 2017

Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pulled Pork is one of those recipes for the ages. Classic BBQ low and slow cooking combines with punchy, tongue-tingling flavors to make your mouth real happy!

Bourbon Brown Sugar Pulled Pork

As a food blogger, I’m always on the hunt for products that feel innovative, exciting, and new. When Twist’d Q this Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning to use in a sponsored recipe, I knew it was going on a pork shoulder and into my smoker. They craft this particular seasoning blend with layers of sweet and spice that are basically made for the subtle/savory natural flavors in pork. Perfect meat harmony. I love when that happens!

Pulled Pork Seasoning

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! I’ve already had a few people asking where they can grab a bottle, and it’s sold exclusively in Wal-Mart stores. You can see if there is a store carrying near you HERE. The label got a makeover since I first posted the recipe and video, it looks like this now:

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 the sweet and spicy Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning 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 mmmmmmmmmmmmmm in every single bite!!

Pulled Pork on a smoker

Recipes like this are the ones I come back to over and over again because they are meant for that low and slow BBQ lifestyle, which allows me more opportunities for awesome family experiences. While we were waiting for the pork to finish smoking, I got to hang out on the back deck and kick up my feet while the kiddos played with water balloons in the yard. I could relax and enjoy that sweet smoky smell, knowing that everybody would happily chow down on this meal with no complaints! I hope you all enjoy my Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pulled Pork as much as my family did. This is definitely a repeat recipe around here!

PRO TIPS: The steps in this recipe are easy to follow, but can be made much easier by investing in a good meat 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!

bourbon brown sugar smoked pulled pork
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4.94 from 15 votes

Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pulled Pork

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time11 hrs
Total Time11 hrs 10 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 15 people


  • 1 7-9 lb bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1/4 cup Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning

For the mop sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups bourbon
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning


  • Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F, using hickory, apple, or maple for your wood smoke.
  • Liberally season the pork shoulder on all sides with the Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning. Place on the grill grates and close the lid.
  • Pour all of the ingredients for the mop sauce in a medium saucepan. Bring the mop sauce to a boil and remove from the heat. Set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Sprinkle with an additional tablespoon of the Wicked Sweet Bourbon Seasoning and mix together before serving.


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83 thoughts on “Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked 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: (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.

    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,

  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.

  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…..

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