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posted February 27, 2020

Bourbon Brown Sugar 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.

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

Brown sugar pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich in front of a pile of brown sugar pulled pork.

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.
4.98 from 41 votes
Prep Time : 10 mins
Cook Time : 11 hrs
Resting Time : 30 mins
Total Time : 11 hrs 40 mins
Servings : 15 people
Calories : 278kcal



Bourbon & Brown Sugar Mop Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups bourbon
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Hey Grill Hey Signature Sweet Rub


  • 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.


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
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**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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