Smoked BBQ Pork Shoulder on the Kamado

Here I'll show you how to make a fantastic pork shoulder with surprisingly little effort. That's the beauty of having one of these well insulated kamado grills.
First thing I do, the night before I'm going to cook, is to inject the meat with some flavor. It doesn't take anything fancy. You can either use a metal or plastic based syringe. The only real difference is long term durability. For the marinade/injection mix up the following over medium heat:
  • 32 oz Apple Juice
  • 8 oz Distilled White Vinegar
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
Try not to boil, we are just trying to dissolve everything. Remove from heat and let cool. This is more than enough for the 6 pounds of  shoulders that I buy, but you can easily double or even quadruple this recipe and keep refrigerated for a year. Make sure to pour some into a separate bowl so you don't contaminate the main batch from the needle touching the uncooked pork.
Trim any excess fat off the pork shoulder and place in an aluminum pan. This is necessary as some of the injection will leak out over time. Now that the marinade has cooled we can begin making injections all over the shoulder. Every inch or so in all possible directions. You can't put too much in as any excess will drain on it's own. Lightly wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least a couple of hours. I generally do this the night before and wake up early to start the cook.
Start getting your grill up to 250. I generally mix up both chunks and chips of either Hickory or Mesquite with the lump hardwood charcoal. Be sure to use the heat deflector plate so we can cook over indirect heat. I like to leave all vents open until I get a reading on the dome of 270. Then close the bottom vent to about an inch or two being open and slide the main part of the top vent over and leave the daisy wheel hole open for now. I will slowly be fine tuning those daisy wheel holes in order to maintain the 250 temp. I can't give a hard and fast rule as it all depends on placement of the grill, how many fresh coals, how much wood, how much wind, etc. etc. Please check out my post for managing vents.
Now that the grill is up to temp we can take the shoulder out of the pan and place directly onto the rack. Let this go for the next 3 hours. No need to peek. Just watch the temp and adjust the daisy wheel as necessary to keep the temp at 250. The more open the holes, the more oxygen, the higher the temp. The more closed, the less oxygen, the lower the temp.
After three hours is up, get a new pan ready and pour in some apple juice. Place the pork in the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Place back into smoker and cook until internal temp is 205. Depending on the size of meat, this can be anywhere from 2 hours to 5. For the pictures here, they were only in for 2 hours after the original 3 for a total of 5 hours. But these were relatively small pork shoulders, the supermarket wasn't as stocked as I would have liked...
After you hit a 205 internal temperature on the pork, remove the foil and coat the pork with your favorite BBQ sauce. Close both vents fully so we are not adding any more heat. In effect, we will be resting the meat for the next hour.

Once the hour is up, take out pork shoulder, grab some bear claws, and break down the pork into pulled pieces/chunks. One of the best ways to make sure that your pork stays juicy is to heat up some Magic Vinegar Sauce in the microwave and drench the pork right after it gets pulled. Use 50% water & 50% concentrated magic sauce. This is also an awesome way to make sure your reheated leftovers taste nearly as good as the fresh batch. I highly recommend topping a pulled pork sandwich with a dab of coleslaw. I've  always loved the mayo/BBQ combination and the coleslaw also provides a much needed crunch for texture.


  1. Hi. Thanks so much for this post. I made pulled pork. My butcher did not have pork shoulder so I used pork neck. Turned out amazing. I also used apple cider instead of apple juice


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