Pulled Pork at 190°F: Achieving Tenderness and Flavor

Pulled pork is a beloved barbecue delicacy, renowned for its tender texture and smoky flavor. While the ideal internal temperature for pulled pork is a topic of debate among barbecue enthusiasts, cooking it to 190°F offers a unique balance of tenderness and juiciness.

Understanding the Pull Temperature

The “pull temperature” refers to the internal temperature at which the pork is ready to be pulled apart into succulent shreds. For pulled pork, this temperature typically ranges between 180°F and 205°F.

Advantages of Pulling at 190°F

Pulling pork at 190°F offers several advantages:

  • Tenderness: At 190°F, the pork has reached a point where the collagen and connective tissues have broken down, resulting in a tender and easily pulled texture.

  • Juiciness: Cooking the pork to 190°F ensures that it retains its natural juices, preventing it from becoming dry or overcooked.

  • Flavor: The slightly lower temperature allows the pork to absorb more smoke flavor, enhancing its overall taste profile.

How to Pull Pork at 190°F

To pull pork at 190°F, follow these steps:

  1. Smoke the pork: Smoke the pork shoulder or butt at a temperature of 225°F to 250°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F. This process can take several hours, depending on the size of the pork cut.

  2. Wrap the pork: Once the pork reaches 150°F, wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper to prevent it from drying out. Continue smoking until the internal temperature reaches 190°F.

  3. Let the pork rest: Remove the pork from the smoker and let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes before pulling. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful meat.

  4. Pull the pork: Use two forks or bear claws to shred the pork into bite-sized pieces. Remove any excess fat or bones.

  5. Serve: Serve the pulled pork immediately with your favorite barbecue sauce and sides.

Comparison to Pulling at 205°F

While pulling pork at 190°F offers a tender and juicy result, pulling at 205°F can lead to an even more tender texture. However, it is important to note that cooking the pork to a higher temperature increases the risk of overcooking and dryness.

Pulling pork at 190°F is an ideal choice for those seeking a balance of tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. By following the steps outlined above, you can achieve perfectly pulled pork that will delight your taste buds and leave your guests craving more.

How to Smoke Pork Butt / How to Make Pulled Pork Recipe


Is it better to pull pork at 195 or 205?

The USDA recommends that pork is cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C) for food safety. But every griller worth their salt knows that cuts rich in collagen, like pork butt, need to be brought to much higher temperatures (195-205°F [91-96°C]) to properly break down the connective tissues.

What is the lowest temperature to pull pork?

It’s best to cook these cuts of meat to at least 170°F, but not beyond 210°F to avoid drying them out. The sweet spot is between 200°F and 205°F for pulled pork and between 180°F and 195°F for ribs.

Can you shred pork at 180 degrees?

More than likely at 180 degrees you will have sliced pork, not pulled. Temps. typically above 190 will give you pulled pork, however do not be dependent on the temperature but rather feel. One way I check if the pork is finished is by pulling on the bone.

Is pork safe to eat 190?

The required internal temp for pulled pork is the same as the shoulders. To cook pulled pork, shoulders are slowly cooked at 190°F (87°C). Unlike other pork cuts, pork shoulder must be allowed to rest for at least 30 minutes before it can be pulled apart.

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