carolina style bbq recipe

Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

Barbecue has many interpretations or “styles” across the U.S. and we could argue all day about which one is the best. If you ask me, I’m a fan of them all.

This week I’m sharing with you my take on the Carolina Style of Barbecue. When I think of Carolina Style, pulled pork is the first thing that pops into my mind.

Smoking a whole hog is an art form for these folks and they’ve been perfecting it for many years. The Carolina style also varies depending on what part of the state you’re in but that’s a whole different argument. For me Carolina Style Pulled Pork has to have 3 things: It has to be pork, has to be slow smoked over hickory, and it has to have a tangy, vinegar sauce.

Whole Hog is the pitmaster’s choice when it comes to pork in this region, but for the average guy, it’s not the most viable option. That’s why we are doing this style of Barbecue at home using a Pork Butt (Boston Butt roast).

First you need to source a Pork Butt from your local grocery store or warehouse club. Look for one in the 8-10lbs range preferably bone-in.

Remove the pork butt from the cryovac packaging and rinse under cool water. Pat the outside dry with paper towels and place in a large platter or pan.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

For Carolina Style Pulled Pork we only use one seasoning on the pork……Salt. That’s it…no sugar or bbq rub at all…just salt.

Coat the outside everywhere with a good layer of Kosher salt (you’ll about ½ cup at least) and let the pork butt hang out until you fire up the smoker. It doesn’t hurt to even do this the night before you plan to cook. Just take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to smoking.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

Set your smoker up for a good long, Low-and-Slow cook. You want it to run in the 250 degree range for 8-10 hours for this Carolina Style Pulled Pork. For fuel I start with a good base of charcoal and I use chunks of Hickory wood for the smoke. I add the Hickory to the coal as needed for the first 5 hours.

Once your pit has stabilized in the 250 range, add 2 chunks of the wood and place the pork butt Fat Side Up on the cooking grate. Close the lid and kick back for a while because good bbq takes time.

The fat will render down over the top of the butt as it cooks but in Carolina the pitmasters also use a Vinegar based sauce for extra moisture. It’s the combination of Hickory smoke, salt, and this vinegar moppin’ sauce on the pork that really makes Carolina Style Pulled Pork.

Here’s my recipe for the Carolina Style Pulled Pork Vinegar Sauce

– 1 quart Apple Cider Vinegar
– 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
– 2 Tablespoons Crushed Red Pepper flakes
– 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper Ground

Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl and let the sauce rest for at least 2 hours. Overnight is recommended.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

Once the Carolina Style Pulled Pork has smoked for 2 hours take a peak and see how the outside is looking. If it looks a little dry go ahead and mop or drizzle the top of the butt with the vinegar sauce.

Repeat this process every couple of hours until the pork butt hits 200 degrees internal. It will take in the neighborhood of 8-10 hours for the pork butt to fully cook but don’t rush it.

Once you can stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the butt away from the bone and it feel really soft, it’s done. You should see temps around 198-200 degrees on the dial.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

Remove the Carolina Style Pulled Pork from the smoker and place on a platter. Don’t plan on tearing it apart right at this moment.

Large cuts of meat need to rest for a few minutes, so cover the platter in aluminum foil and let it hang out on the table for 20-30 minutes. It won’t hurt to place it in a dry cooler with a couple old towels for up to 2-3 hours.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

After the pork butt has rested, remove the blade bone and shred the meat by hand for a pulled texture or you can also chop it to a finer consistency like they do in Carolina joints. I prefer it pulled with bits of the crunchy bark mixed throughout.

Carolina Style Pulled Pork

Last but not least finish off the pile of Carolina Style Pulled Pork deliciousness with a good dose of the Vinegar Sauce. The acidity balances out the flavor of the pork and the peppers add just enough heat to let you know it’s there.

Toss the pork a little by hand and get ready to eat. The only thing you need is a bun and some coleslaw.

If you really want to taste authentic smoked pork, give this Carolina Style Pulled Pork recipe a try.

Malcom Reed
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Carolina Style Pulled Pork

Comments 4

  1. Hey Malcom!

    Just watching your Carolina style Pulled pork Recipe video. Love it! . I would love to try this and this may be a silly question. But I’m using a yoder pellet smoker and I was curious about not wrapping on this particular smoke. Some of your other pork recipes calls for wrapping it at about the 160 mark to not give it an over smoked flavor. Since I cant add or takeaway wood chips or chunks on the pellet smoker do you suggest wrapping for this particular recipe then? Or will that screw everything up?

    Thanks for everythng you do! Really enjoy it!

    1. Post
      Author

      You don’t have to wrap shoulders – regardless of the smoker. The main reason I like to wrap shoulders is to push it through the stall. If you don’t wrap, just hold back on the smoke at the end and expect it to take about 2 hours longer (depending on the size of your smoker). And don’t get worried when it stalls out… just hold the temps steady and it will come through.

  2. Hi Malcom,
    I tried your Carolina Style Pulled Pork, and also followed your recipe for the smoked beans. We had never had the Carolina Style with the Apple Cider Vinegar based sauce before, so I wasn’t sure what I would end up with. What a great tangy taste with a little bit of heat from the crushed red peppers! The pulled pork with your version of the vinegar sauce is just amazing, and your smoked beans recipe was excellent, too. The leftovers didn’t last long either, because every time my wife and I walk by the frig, we have to reach in for a quick pinch of that pork. It is like candy! I can’t stay away from it!!
    You are doing an awesome job with your BBQ and this website. I wish I was your neighbor!
    Thanks!!

  3. Thanks for the recipe! I’m cooking it on a great lazy stormy spring Sunday. Far west central Alabama (Sumter county) is a bbq hot spot. All the very small towns have clubs that cook whole hogs. All they ever put on the meat is salt. Lots of salt. The sauce is a vinegar ketchup based sauce. A real strong influence in this area from the Carolina style! I know this video is old but just wanted to comment. I’m a big Malcolm reed fan!!

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