Do You Have To Pull Pork Right Away? Pulling And Storing Pork


pulled pork

When I first started smoking meat, I started with the pork butt as it was cheap and very forgiving; however, I noticed there wasn’t much information online when it came to pulling and storing pulled pork. To get my questions answered, I headed down to my local BBQ shop and had a talk with the head Pitmaster. Here is everything you need to know about pulling and storing pulled pork.

Do you have to pull pork right away?

Pork does not need to be pulled right away. In fact, you should wait to pull your pork until you are ready to serve it. This will help to keep it fresh and juicy. You can rest your pork butt in a faux Cambro for up to 5 hours or you can store your pork butt whole in the fridge and reheat the following day.

There are two main reasons you should wait to pull your pork butt. First, it gives your pork butt time to rest which has been scientifically proven to enhance flavor and retain meat juice. Second, it will help retain freshness.

If you are planning on serving your pork butt within 8 hours, you can rest and hold your pork butt until its ready to be served. If you are planning on serving the following day, you will have to store it in the fridge. We will go over how to do both of these in this article.

“You should wait to pull or slice your meat until it’s ready to be served. This will make sure its fresh and doesn’t dry out. We will hold our meat whole in Cambro’s and pull before we serve at our venue”.

Owner and pitmaster of Smoked Seduction

What Temperature To Pull Pulled Pork?

For pulled pork, your pork butt should reach an internal temperature of 205° Fahrenheit. This high temperature allows the collagen and fat inside your pork butt to properly render allowing it to fall apart. If you stick a probe into your meat and it goes in like butter, then your pork butt is ready to be pulled.

How Long Do You Let Pork Shoulder Rest Before Pulling?

You should aim to rest your pork butt a minimum of 1-2 hours before pulling it. Resting your pork butt for this amount of time will allow the muscle fibers in the meat to relax and help to redistribute the juices. You can rest your pork butt up to 5 hours or until the internal temperature drops below 140° Fahrenheit.

As mentioned above, many Pitmasters recommend you rest your pork until you are ready to serve. If dinner is in 3 hours, then rest 3 hours. Is dinner in 4 hours and 15 minutes, then rest for 4 hours and 15 minutes. The beauty of pork butts are that they hold really well. Just make sure you are getting at least an hour of resting period before serving. If you are interested in more information on resting pork butt, check out my complete guide.

Resting meat

How Long Can You Wait To Pull Pork?

You can wait up to 5 hours or until the internal temperature of your pork butt drops below 140° Fahrenheit before you have to store of pull your pork butt. Use a faux Cambro to hold the internal temperature above the safety zone until you are ready to pull your pork butt.

Best Way To Shred Pulled Pork?

Once your pork has reached an internal temperature of 205° Fahrenheit, the pork will be tender enough to pull with your hands. It will be hot so grab a pair of gloves to protect from the heat before pulling with your hands; however, the best way to pull pork is to use a set of bear claws.

Bear claws, like these found on Amazon, are made for pulling meat. They are sturdy, strong, and will shred your pork butt with ease. And for easy clean up, make sure to pull your pork in a large tin foil pan.

Pro Tip: Once you have pulled your pork, sprinkle your favorite rub over the pork. Because pork shoulders are so large, the rub and the smoke flavor are not able to penetrate the center. Sprinkling rub can help add more flavor to the pieces of meat that didn’t get hit with rub or smoke to ensure every bite is yummy! This is known as finishing dust at BBQ competitions.

Can You Pull Pork While Its Cold?

While you can pull pork when it is cold, it is very hard. The rendered fat and collagen solidify when cooled making it difficult for the meat to pull apart. It is best to reheat the pork butt in the oven to 140° Fahrenheit, and then pull.

pork butt

Cooking Pork Butts To Be Pulled Another Day

There is a common misconception that you need to cook and pull pork butts the same day. Pork can be cooked and reheated for serving at a later date. While you may sacrifice some quality, it will still turn out some dang good BBQ. A lot of people even prefer reheated pork as it gives the smoke in the meat time to set.

Best Way To Store Pulled Pork Overnight?

If you are planning on storing your pulled pork overnight, it is best to store your pork whole. This will allow your pork to hold its juices and its freshness longer. Wrap it tightly in tin foil and set it in the fridge. If you have already pulled your pork, the best way to store it is in a vacuum seal bag.

How To Reheat Pork In The Oven

  1. Set oven temperature to 250° Fahrenheit.
  2. Wrap your pork butt in tin foil.
  3. Add some juice, water, beef broth or any liquid you like to help add moisture back.
  4. Wrap tightly and reheat until an internal temperature of 140° Fahrenheit.
Pork butt in oven

“When reheating pulled pork, low and slow is the best. Ideally you will want to reheat it in the oven at 250° for a couple hours. Reheating will shock the muscles and lose some moisture but you can add some juice or other liquid to help add more moisture”.

Owner and head pitmaster of smoked seduction

How Long Does It Take To Reheat Pulled Pork?

On average, it takes 2-4 hours to reheat a whole pork butt in the oven at 250° Fahrenheit. For pork that has already been pulled, you can expect it take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on your reheating method. In both cases, you want to reheat to an internal temperature of 140° Fahrenheit.


Other Common Questions

What Is The Difference Between Pulled Pork And Shredded Pork?

There is no difference between shredded pork and pulled pork. While shredded usually refers to meat that has been cooked hot and fast and pulled for meat cooked low and slow, these two terms are essentially the same things and are used interchangeably.

Why Is My Pulled Pork Hard To Pull?

The most common reason your pulled pork is hard to pull is because it didn’t reach a high enough internal temperature. While pork is considered cooked at 145° Fahrenheit, pork needs to reach an internal temperature of 205° Fahrenheit to pull easily.

Michael W.

Half of my family lives in Texas and we would visit them often. As a food lover, naturally I fell in love with smoked meat. Smoked brisket and peach cobbler is a staple around where my family grew up and quickly became a favorite of mine. Unfortunately we didn't have good BBQ where I grew up. After enough years, I finally decided to get a smoker so I didn't have to wait for good BBQ until I went to Texas. Getting into a new hobby can be overwhelming. When I first started smoking meat, there was so much conflicting information and so many different styles and techniques that I didn't know where to start. I started this website to help people BBQ better and learn the ropes by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

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