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The Very Best Pulled Pork

An easy way to make a crowd of 50 plus (or just your family) very happy!

You really have to try this pulled pork recipe. It’s one of those recipes that you’ll turn to over and over.  And every time you serve it, your family and friends will love it.  (Be prepared for recipe requests.)   It’s really flavorful, very moist and melt in your mouth tender.  It freezes incredibly well, and it re-heats beautifully…  Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.   It will quickly join your list of favorite recipes.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

It’s easy.  Here’s how.

Let’s start with the meat.   You’ll want about  4 pounds of raw whole Boston Butt for every 10 servings.  This cut of meat comes from the upper part of the front shoulder of the pig and should contain the blade bone.  It’s sometimes called a Pork Butt Roast.  The Pork Butt Roast is one of the easiest cuts of pork to cook and it is also one of the least expensive to buy.   It’s also incredibly tender.  A 6 – 7 pound Boston Butt will easily make 3 – 4 meals of leftovers and the kids in the crowd love it!

I like to get a roast with a bone in it and a fat layer on one side – but that’s not necessary.   A boneless roast is just fine too.  They will both cook in the same amount of time.  The cooking time is simply based on the size of the roast. It should look like this…

Fresh Pork Shoulder Blade Boston Butt Roast

Pulled Pork
This pork shoulder is almost 7 pounds and that’s a good thing.   You’ll either want to get one large roast like this one (if you’re serving a smaller group) so you have lots of leftovers (if you serve this to company I guarantee your guests are going to want some to take home) or, better yet, get several roasts and freeze the shredded pork.

In addition to your roast, you’ll also find these items helpful – although certainly not mandatory:

1 or 2 Gallon Freezer Bags to hold the roasts while they brine.

If your roasts are larger (7-8 pounds) or you’re buying one or more large cuts of meat and cutting them into several 7-8 pound pieces, then go with the 2 Gallon Freezer Bags.

While you don’t strictly need the thermometer, it’s one of the most handy tools I have in my kitchen.  You’re going to be cooking the roast overnight and the alarm will notify you when the roast has reached the required temperature.   You’ll find you use this thermometer a lot whenever you’re cooking meat.  It’s one of my must-have kitchen tools.

Now let’s get started.

You’ll make this pulled pork recipe over several days.  You can do it in 3 simple steps.  The process is the same regardless of the amount you’re making.  By the way, if this is the first thing (or one of the first things) you’re cooking for a large group of people, I totally get how intimidating it can be.  I was pretty anxious the first time I cooked for a really large group (230) too.  One of the best aspects of this recipe is it is VERY FORGIVING.  You probably won’t use all of the brine (no problem), you may not be able to brine as long as you’d like (ok), it may take your roast(s) a longer or shorter time to cook (no biggie, as long as you wait to remove them until they are fall apart tender).

With this recipe, it’s all good.  In fact, this is the recipe I fine tuned for that first group of 230.  I’ve been using it on a regular basis ever since.  It’s a true winner.

As long as you start 2 nights before you want to serve, you’ll  be fine.  My Game Plan is designed to finish your roast sometime in the MORNING of the day you want to serve it (freeing your oven up for last minute dishes) like my mom’s fantastic Baked Beans recipe.  Just save the cooking liquid and start re-heating the pulled pork 60 minutes (it will actually take less than this) before you’re ready to serve, adding the juice as necessary to keep it nice and moist.   When it’s hot, reduce heat to low and cover with foil.   Done this way there are no last minute surprises or rush, since it will hold moist and delicious for several hours in a slow cooker on LOW or a 200 degree oven.   And YOU will be a rock star.

Aloha Dreams

Welcome to Aloha Dreams!

I'm so glad you dropped by.  I'm Betsy.  Here you'll find my favorite fabulous, trusted recipes - everything from delicious, quick meals for your family to wonderful classics made easy.

I'm also here to help you with large group recipes from 20 to 200.  So next opportunity you get to cook for a large group - Say 'Yes!'  Then relax. I've got your back.

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Step #1 – Brine the pork

Brining Pork

At its most basic, a brine is simply salt water.  The salt in the brine forces the liquid out of the brine solution and into the meat, making the meat juicier. The salted liquid also breaks down the connective tissue in the meat making it more tender. If you stopped there, you would be ahead of most people.  But why stop now?  Let’s use that fluid moving from the salt solution into the meat to carry flavor, such as apple cider.  We’ll even include a couple tablespoons of the dry rub seasonings to flavor it further!

You’ll mix all your brine ingredients, put the roast in a freezer bag and pour in the brine.  Then refrigerate the roast at least 12 hours and preferably 24.  NOTE:  This recipe makes a lot of brine just in case you’re cooking a lot of roasts.  You will very likely have some extra.  You can simply discard any you do not use.  Just as long as the roast is covered in the brine, you’re fine.  No need to replenish the brine and you don’t need to use all of it.

Why Brine Pork?

      Because Brining makes meat:

      Juicer!

      More Tender!

      More Flavorful!

Here’s what it looks like before putting multiple roasts in the fridge to brine overnight.

Brining Pulled Pork

In case you’ve ever wondered how much pulled pork is required to serve 230, this is it.  (And if you have, you’re MY kind of cook!)  But unless you’re fixing it for 230 (and if you are, it’s actually very easy – just see my Pulled Pork for a Crowd instructions at the end of this post), you’ll only have 1 of these roasts (to serve your family) in 1 bag in 1 roasting pan.  Just refrigerate your roast while it’s brining for at least 12 hours and, if possible, 24 hours.  Situate the bag in the refrigerator so that the shoulder is completely covered in the brine while it rests.

Step #2 – Flavorful Dry Rub

All great recipes are built on layers of flavor.  It’s one of the main differences between a good recipe and a great recipe.   You’ve added the first layer of flavor with your brine.   Your next step is a dry rub which will add your next layer of fabulous flavor.

While you’re at it, you really might want to consider fixing 2 or 3 roasts.  It will hardly take any more time, the pork freezes beautifully and you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE pulling out a packet of this delicious shredded goodness for quick, delicious meals later on!   (Jeff is strongly lobbying for Pulled Pork Nachos as we speak.) (He’ll probably get them.)

Once your roast is done brining, remove it from the brine solution and place in your roasting pan.  Pat it dry and spread your dry rub over the entire surface of your roast, covering thoroughly.   See how much I have on the 2 roasts in the image below?  That’s not enough.  You want to cover the entire surface with no meat showing if possible.

Dry Rub for Pulled Pork

Step # 3 – Cook Low & Slow

Your pork shoulder is laced with both flavorful fat and connective collagen tissue. When cooked low and slow, the fat and collagens melt, and the muscle fibers are made tender, making your meat moist, and succulent. This process takes 8 to 12 hours or more.  You’ll do this in a 225 degree F oven.  (Yep, 225 degrees).

Oven Cooked Pulled Pork

And you will only have 1 pan with 1 roast (or 2-3 if you go with my earlier suggestion to make some extra and freeze it – which you’ll totally thank me for!)  Your shoulder should take between 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook.   If you are cooking multiple roasts, it will probably take closer to the 2 hour range.  Let me give you an example:  I’ve cooked this recipe multiple times with anywhere between 4 – 6 (7.5 – 8 pound) roasts in a large disposable aluminum roasting pan and 2 of these ‘full’ pans in 1 oven.  Since each of the roasts were large and I had a ‘full’ oven, it took about 2 hours per pound, or about 16 hours total cook time (8 pound roast x 2 hours/pound = 16 hours cook time) for all the roasts to be fall apart tender.  This is probably about the maximum you’d do in 1 (30″ non-convection) oven.

Your Pulled Pork Game Plan

Here’s the best way to do it.

Two nights before you want to finish

Make the dry rub and the brine solution.  Brine the roast(s) overnight and all the next day in the refrigerator.

One night before you want to finish

Remove the roast from the brine, pat dry, cover with dry rub and cook overnight for approximately 10 – 16 hours depending on the size and number of roasts you’re cooking.  Set a digital thermometer for 200 degrees and once the internal temperature of the roast reaches that point, you’re done.  If you don’t have a digital thermometer, you’re done when the pulled pork is fall-apart tender when shredded with a fork.   NOTE: It’s also a good idea to set an alarm to alert you at the 12 hour mark in case your oven is designed to turn off after 12 hours.

When the thermometer alarm goes off

At this point your shoulder has reached 200 degrees.  Turn off the oven and leave in the thermometer.  Your pan should have plenty of wonderful cooking juices in the bottom.  If not, add 1 cup of water and cover the pan to retain the moisture while your roast is resting.   Let your roast rest in the oven for about 2 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees. When it hits 170 you can remove the roast from the oven.  All we’re doing with this step is letting it cool down to make it easier to shred.

      Shred, add in some of the cooking juice (reserving the rest for re-heating and holding) and you’re done!

Pulled Pork

This picture should really be titled “Yet another reason why I LOVE my husband.”  Once your pork shoulder has hit the 170 degree internal temperature mark, it’s ready to shred.  If you don’t have heat resistant gloves, you may want to let it cool a little bit more before shredding.

Final Secret!

Now here’s the final secret to fabulous pulled pork.  See that wonderful, flavorful cooking juice in the roasting pan with the pork?

Pulled Pork

That comes from the fat on and in the pork shoulder.  When your pork comes out of the oven you’ll have plenty of that of juicy goodness. You’ll want to pour that juice into a fat separator, pour off the juice and KEEP EVERY BIT OF IT.  If you’re freezing your pork for later use you’ll mix some of the juice in with each portion and freeze the remainder to add as you’re re-heating and holding your pork for serving.  If you’re serving all your pork immediately after making it, mix in enough juice so your pork is juicy and moist.

Pulled Pork Recipes

My suggestions to help your recipes turn out right every time…

(I’ve included these affiliate links for your convenience.  Click here for my full disclosure policy.)

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It will only take you seconds to get this sleek Bluetooth thermometer up and running.  It reports accurate readings on your smart phone up to 100 - 150 feet from its base.   From the moment your meat is placed in the oven (or grill) to the second it reaches the perfect temperature, the iGrill has your back.  Insert the temperature probe(s) into your meat and track the doneness of your food from your smart phone on the Weber iGrill app, without having to lift the lid.   It comes with 2 probes and you can order 2 more, for a total of 4!  And you can use it for everything including chicken, steak, burgers, pork roasts.  You'll love it for baking chicken because you'll know exactly when the chicken is done so it doesn’t get dried out.  It's the reason my dishes come out at just the right degree of done-ness time after time!

Hot Food Gloves

Alright, granted these look a lot like Dr. Nefario’s creepy lab gloves…

Hot Food Gloves

…but….these gloves really are THE BOMB!  They do a great job protecting your hands while you’re shredding hot pulled pork or chicken.  They’re even better when you’re working with hot meat on your smoker or barbecue!   You will feel like a real pit master with these gloves.   A soft jersey cotton liner double coated in neoprene with a full 14″ length protects your forearms from battle scars.  They utilize a waterproof design that is resistant to staining, grease and flames.  These gloves can easily manage messy BBQ sessions, grabbing or preparing hot food in the kitchen or on the BBQ all while keeping your hands safe and dry.  They’re easy to clean too.  You’ll love these gloves so much you’ll want to give them as Christmas presents to all your grilling friends and relatives!

Aluminum Roasting Pan

These aluminum roasting pans are convenient and great for baking, serving and transporting foods.  Use them once for easy no mess clean up, or with a little care you can use them multiple times. They come in a case of 12. I always keep a stack of these in my pantry.

Hot Food Gloves

Pour your liquid into the separator and watch the fat rise to the top while everything else settles to the bottom.  Once the gravy has settled, remove the strainer and the stopper and pour out perfect gravy; a shield prevents the gravy from spilling over the top of the separator instead of through the spout.  This heat-resistant fat separator has measurement markings for increased convenience and a non-slip handle for a comfortable, firm grip.  You’ll love it.

Pin for Later.

Breakfast Tacos

Or Make Now.

Is your mouth watering yet ??

Me too.  Let’s get started!

Easy Pulled Pork for 50

Here’s the recipe for Pulled Pork for 50.  You can also scroll down below this to see the family-sized version.  Below that is information on pulled pork for even larger crowds.

5 from 8 votes
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Best Ever Pulled Pork for 50
This is adapted from a dynamite recipe on the blog KevinandAmanda.com
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 50 servings
Author: Betsy Edwards
Ingredients
  • 20 pounds Boston Butt or pork shoulder (bone-in preferred with a layer of fat on it) Boneless is ok too.
For the Pulled Pork Dry Rub
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder
  • 2 cups brown sugar
For the Pulled Pork Brine
  • 2 cups table salt
  • 5 quarts water
  • 1 quart cider vinegar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup garlic rough chopped (Buy in the jar!)
Instructions
Two nights before serving (Or up to 2 months earlier if you’re going to freeze it)
  1. Make the dry rub and the brine solution.
For the Dry Rub
  1. In a medium container with a lid, combine all ingredients for the rub. Mix well, cover and set aside.
For the Brine Solution
  1. In a large bowl, add the salt, water and cider vinegar, stirring thoroughly until most all of the salt is dissolved. When the salt is completely, or mostly dissolved, add the brown sugar, bay leaves (don't crush the bay leaves), garlic and 1/2 cup of the dry rub mix (we'll use the rest later). Stir well to combine.

  2. Place the pork roast in a 1 gallon freezer bags. Pour the brine solution into the bag until the shoulder is completely covered. Close the bags and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 (preferred).

The next night
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 225 F degrees.
  2. Remove the pork roasts from brine solution, pat dry with paper towels, place in several large roasting pans, leaving 1 inch clearance on all sides of the roast to accommodate the cooking juices which will accumulate. Press the dry rub onto the surface of the roasts, pressing it so it will adhere to the surface. Generously coat all sides and under any flaps with the rub.

  3. When done make sure the fat layer on the pork roasts is on the TOP.  Insert a digital probe thermometer into the thickest part of one of the shoulders, but not touching the bone. Place the roasting pans, uncovered, in the 225 F degree oven on the middle rack if possible.

  4. Monitor the temperature throughout cooking. Do not remove roasts from the oven until the center of the pork roasts reaches 200 F degrees. The internal temperature should reach at least 200 F degrees to get that tender, falling apart shredded meat. Don’t worry about the long cooking time. They will still be juicy and flavorful because of the brining. Cooking at 225 F degrees, your shoulders will take between 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook. An 8 lb. pork roast will take about 13 hours.

  5. When the pork roasts' internal temperature reaches 200 F degrees, turn off the oven, leaving the roasts in the oven and the thermometer in the roast. Your pan should have plenty of wonderful cooking juices in the bottom. If not, add 1 cup of water and cover the pan to retain the moisture while your roast is resting.

  6. Let the roasts cool (for approximately 2 hours) to an internal temperature of 170 F degrees before removing from the oven.

  7. When the temperature drops to 170 degrees, remove the roasts from the oven. Place the roasts on a large, clean work surface and remove any remaining fat from the top. Pour the juices from the roasting pans into a fat separator cup to strain and reserve the juices.

  8. Shred the roasts with two forks, it will pull apart very easily. Discard the bone. Add back in some of the defatted pan juices. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT to taste and sprinkle with kosher salt as you go.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: Can be made to this point and refrigerated up to 3 days prior or frozen for up to 3 months.
  1. Transfer shredded pork to 2-gallon freezer bags and refrigerate or freeze. Freeze remaining pan juice separately. You'll use it later when you re-warm the pork.
  2. To re-warm pork
  3. If frozen, thaw pork and juice over night in refrigerator.  Then re-warm in a 350 degree oven for about 15 -30 minutes. Add in reserved pan juices as necessary to achieve desired level of moisture.

For Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter for every 2 buns and baste the cut side of buns with the butter. Sauté the buns on a griddle over medium temperature until golden brown. Set aside, covered.
  2. Mix pulled pork with your favorite barbecue sauce. Serve on toasted buns with cole slaw.

Family-sized Pulled Pork Recipe

5 from 8 votes
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Best Ever Pulled Pork

This is adapted from a dynamite recipe on the blog KevinandAmanda.com 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 to 20 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 (4 - 7 pound) Boston Butt or pork shoulder (bone-in with a layer of fat on it) Boneless is ok too
For the Pulled Pork Dry Rub
  • 2 teaspoons ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
For the Pulled Pork Brine
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 2 tablespoons garlic rough chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of the dry rub mix
Instructions
Two nights before serving (Or up to 2 months earlier if you’re going to freeze it)
  1. Make the dry rub and the brine solution.

For the Dry Rub
  1. In a medium container with a lid, combine all ingredients for the rub.  Mix well, cover and set aside.

For the Brine Solution
  1. In a large bowl, add the salt, water and cider vinegar, stirring thoroughly until most all of the salt is dissolved. When the salt is completely, or mostly dissolved, add the brown sugar, bay leaves (don't crush the bay leaves), garlic and 2 tablespoons of the dry rub (we'll use the rest later).  Stir well to combine.

  2. Place the pork roast in a 1 gallon freezer bag or in a large container. Pour the brine solution into the bag until the shoulder is completely covered. Close the bag or cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 (preferred).

The next night
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 225 F degrees.

  2. Remove the pork roast from brine solution, pat dry with paper towels, place in a large roasting pan, leaving 1 inch clearance on all sides of the roast to accommodate the cooking juices which will accumulate. Press the dry rub onto the surface of the roast, pressing it so it will adhere to the surface. Generously coat all sides and under any flaps with the rub.  

  3. When done make sure the fat layer on the pork roast is on the TOP.  Insert a digital probe thermometer into the thickest part of the shoulder, but not touching the bone. Place the roasting pan, uncovered, in the 225 F degree oven on the middle rack.

  4. Monitor the temperature throughout cooking. Do not remove roast from the oven until the center of the pork roast reaches 200 F degrees. The internal temperature should reach at least 200 F degrees to get that tender, falling apart shredded meat. Don’t worry about the long cooking time. It will still be juicy and flavorful because of the brining.  Cooking at 225 F degrees, your shoulder will take between 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook.  My 8 lb. pork roast took 13 hours.

  5. When the pork roast's internal temperature reaches 200 F degrees, turn off the oven, leaving the roast in the oven and the thermometer in the roast.  Your pan should have plenty of wonderful cooking juices in the bottom. If not, add 1 cup of water and cover the pan to retain the moisture while your roast is resting.  

  6. Let the roast cool (for approximately 2 hours) to an internal temperature of 170 F degrees before removing from the oven.

  7. When the temperature drops to 170 degrees, remove the roast from the oven.  Place the roast on a large, clean work surface and remove any remaining fat from the top. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a fat separator cup to strain and reserve the juices.

  8. Shred the roast with two forks, it will pull apart very easily. Discard the bone. Add back in some of the defatted pan juices.   IT’S VERY IMPORTANT to taste and sprinkle with kosher salt as you go.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: Can be made to this point and refrigerated up to 3 days prior or frozen for up to 3 months.
  1. Transfer shredded pork to 2-gallon freezer bags and refrigerate or freeze.  Freeze remaining pan juice separately.  You'll use it later when you re-warm the pork.

To re-warm pork
  1. If frozen, thaw pork and juice over night in refrigerator.  Then re-warm in a 350 degree oven for about 10 - 20 minutes.   Add in reserved pan juices as necessary to achieve desired level of moisture.

For Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter for every 2 buns and baste the cut side of buns with the butter.  Sauté the buns on a griddle over medium temperature until golden brown.  Set aside, covered.

  2. Mix pulled pork with your favorite barbecue sauce.  Serve on toasted buns  with cole slaw.

Fabulous Recipes using your Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork with Hawaiian Coleslaw

Barbecue Pulled Pork Casserole

My Hawaiian coleslaw will take your pulled pork sandwich to a whole new level.  You’ll love it!

Loaded Barbecue Pulled Pork Potato Casserole – Coming Soon!

Barbecue Pulled Pork Casserole

This Loaded Barbeque Pulled Pork Potato Casserole is a guaranteed huge hit at your next barbecue or family dinner! It’s a wonderful, easy to make, crowd-pleasing recipe. Comfort food doesn’t get much better!

Pulled Pork Nachos – Coming Soon!

Pulled Pork Nachos

These Pulled Pork Nachos will become your new game day or weekend favorite.  So easy and so good.

More Information on Easy Pulled Pork for Large Groups

So you’ve said “Yes!”   “I’ll be happy to be in charge of the main dish for the family reunion / church activity / party / company picnic / girl’s camp / fill-in-the-blank”.   Good for you!!!   Now what??  You need an easy, no-fail recipe that can be made in advance, re-heat well that every one will love.  You want a proven winner.  Well I have your answer.

Pulled Pork sandwiches.

My pulled pork is a great make ahead, terrific tasting choice.  The pulled pork freezes beautifully up to 3 months.  (At 6 months, it’s definitely freezer burned.  Don’t ask me how I know.  Sigh.)  It reheats wonderfully and holds very well.  It’s also a VERY cost effective main dish because a little shredded pork goes a long way on a sandwich, as you’ll find out below.  In short, pulled pork sandwiches using this pulled pork recipe are my ALL TIME, GO-TO FAVORITE large group main dish choice.

Pulled Pork Nachos

Make it yourself – or assign it out.

When it comes to cooking your pulled pork for a large group, you have several options: 1) You can cook it ALL yourself, or 2) You can assign it out to volunteers to make in smaller batch sizes to meet your needs.

I have cooked up to 250 servings myself, which is about the most you can process effectively in one session, and that’s assuming you have 2 ovens. It’s a bit of a trudge, and most of the time involved is inactive, but it’s certainly do-able.  However, if you have limited bandwidth or you’re in charge of the entire meal, I’d assign it out.  Just send your volunteers a link to this page.

How much pork will my guests eat??

One of the biggest questions on your mind is undoubtedly ‘how much raw pork should I buy to effectively serve my guests??’   At least that’s the one that caused me to lose the most sleep the first several times I fixed this for a large group.   A more detailed answer to that question is below. The short answer is your guests will eat between 2.5 to 5 ounces of cooked pulled pork each.  That’s a large variance!

The last large group pulled pork meal I fixed for 230 people, averaged 2.5 ounces of cooked pulled pork meat (in pulled pork sandwiches) per person. You’re likely to average 2.5 ounces if:  1) your pulled pork is served as a sandwich filling in regular smallish sized hamburger buns, 2) you use smallish tongs for serving the pork and, 3) it’s the last item on a buffet of at least 4-5 other items.  If that’s the case, your budget’s tight and you don’t want any leftovers, you can get by with that much.

However, that’s not what I would plan on.   Many of your guests (and me) will take up to 4 or so ounces.  To be safe, I would plan on 4 ounces cooked meat per person and you will have leftovers.

How do I know how much raw pork to buy ??

If you’re cooking for large group of people, this is a very legitimate question. Too much and you’re over budget, too little and people go home hungry (Not on my watch!).   When I first started cooking for large groups, these were the kinds of questions that kept me from going back to sleep at 2:00 AM (I really need a hobby!).

This is how much raw pork I purchased for a Youth Conference dinner for 230 people.

Pulled Pork for a Crowd

Then I started second guessing myself and went out got 2 more 7 pound roasts.  And guess what?  (If you said I didn’t need the additional 2 roasts, reward yourself with a virtual vacation!)

After doing this more times than I can count, I now have a simple and proven formula:

How to Calculate the Amount of Raw Pork to Purchase

Here’s a safe and proven formula you’ll want to use to calculate how much RAW pork butt (also known as Boston Butt) you’ll need to buy. DISCLAIMER… I tend to calculate my pulled pork amounts slightly on the high side.  I would always rather have leftovers than run out of food.   BUT, you can never know for sure how people are going to eat, so don’t be surprised when your 30 Cub Scouts eat more than 30 high school football players.  Or if it’s a hot day, and they’ve had several large meals earlier, don’t be surprised if your 30 high school football players don’t pig out.

Rule #1 –  Plan for 1 pound of finished pulled pork feeding 4 people.

1/4 of a pound (4 ounces) is a nice size serving on a plate or bun.  (Actual consumption will likely be closer to 2.5 – 3 ounces, but 4 ounces is a safe number to use.)

Rule #2 – expect 65% yield when cooking pulled pork.

65% yield means that if you start with a 10 pound raw pork butt you will end up with 6.5 pounds of pulled pork.

Sample Calculation

Based on our two simple rules we can calculate how much pulled pork we’ll need for 100 people.

100 people/4 servings per lb = 25 lbs of finished pulled pork.

25 lbs of finished pulled pork / .65 (65% yield) = 38.5 pounds of raw pork required.

Adjustments to the Rules

Who are your Guests?

If you are feeding a group of kids or seniors adjust the equation to 5 people per pound (or 3.2 ounces each).  If you are feeding big eaters like athletes or fireman adjust to 3 people per pound (or 5.3 ounces each).

Are you are serving other meats?

If you are serving other main dishes in addition to the pulled pork you can reduce your amount to cook by 1/3.

Leftover Pulled Pork

My goal is to always have some leftover pulled pork.  That way we know everybody got as much to eat as they wanted.  You can keep the extra and freeze it.

Your Large Group Shopping List

Serving: 1 sandwich
4 ounces cooked pork per sandwich
2550100
Boston butt pork10 pounds raw pork butt
(which is 160 ounces)
20 pounds raw pork butt
(which is 330 ounces)
40 pounds raw pork butt
(which is 640 ounces)
These calculations assume 35% shrinkage of raw meat.(25/4 = 6.25) (6.25/.65 = 9.6 pounds or 154 ounces. Round up to 160 ounces.)(50/4 = 12.5) (12.5/.65 = 19.2 pounds or 307 ounces. Round up to 320 ounces.)(100/4 = 25) (25/.65 = 38.5 pounds or 616 ounces. Round up to 640 ounces.)
(To give you a rough idea, 154 ounces works out to 2 roasts of 4.75 pounds each)(To give you a rough idea, 307 ounces works out to 4 roasts of 4.8 pounds each)(To give you a rough idea, 616 ounces works out to 8 roasts of 4.81 pounds each)
Buns3055105
Butter (basting)1/2 pound1 pound2 pounds
½ tablespoon/bun(2 sticks)(4 sticks)(8 sticks)
Barbeque Sauce (2 ounces per serving)25 servings = 50 ounces50 servings = 100 ounces100 servings = 200 ounces
(.75 gallon)(1 and ½ gallons + 6 ounces)
For the Dry Rub2550100
ground pepper1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
ground cumin2 tablespoons¼ cup½ cup
onion powder2 tablespoons¼ cup½ cup
chili powder2 tablespoons¼ cup½ cup
Kosher salt2 tablespoons¼ cup½ cup
paprika2 tablespoons¼ cup½ cup
garlic powder4 tablespoons½ cup½ cup
brown sugar1 cup2 cups4 cup
For the Brine2550100
table salt1 cup2 cups4 cups
water2 quarts5 quarts10 quarts
cider vinegar2 cups1 quarts2 quarts
brown sugar1 cup2 cups4 cups
bay leaves4 bay leaves8 bay leaves16 bay leaves
Garlic, rough chopped (BUY IN THE JAR!)¼ cup½ cup1 cup

29 Comments

  1. Deb

    Help, I’m confused! I am making two boneless roasts of 5.5 lbs each. They are together in a 225 degree oven right now and have been for 3 hours. The digital thermometer (first time using) indicates that they are already 135 and 118 degrees! That seems very quick to me, as I thought they’d take 8-10 hours to reach 200 degrees. I did brine them for 31 hours instead of 24 hours; will that make them cook faster? I fear taking them out too early or leaving them in too long. This is my first time making. Advice please, Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Hi Deb, sorry I didn’t see this earlier in the day. I’ve been traveling. Good news – just open the oven and see if they are fall apart, fork tender. Once they are, then they are done. I’m not sure why they cooked faster, I’ve never brined one for more than 24 hours. But as soon as they are fall apart tender, you can turn off the oven and when they cool down, you can shred them. Please let me know how it turns out. Best wishes – Betsy

      Reply
  2. Tina Reed

    I can’t tell you enough how very much we LOVE this pulled pork recipe! I also want to express my appreciation for all that you have included here – the scaling for 50 servings, the freezing and reheating instructions and everything! I made this for our daughter’s wedding and it was a huge success! Having all the pork in the freezer beforehand was SO wonderful. Even at the reception, I was thinking of how much I appreciated the fact that you shared this and made it accessible. THANKS!!!
    (Delicious on sandwiches, but it makes out of this world loaded pulled pork nachos, too )

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      I am so glad this Pulled Pork for a Large Group recipe was helpful to you. I’ll be posting lots of fantastic, tested group recipes in the months ahead. I hope you’ll check in from time to time, or whenever you have a family reunion, grad party, baby shower, luau, etc. that you need a killer recipe for. Best wishes – Betsy

      Reply
  3. Anna

    Hi! this pulled pork for a crowd recipe looks amazing! If you’re making a smaller roast can you cook it on low in a large crock pot instead of the oven? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Hi Anna,
      Yes you can. Brine the pork, put the rub on it and then pour 3/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or all water) in the slow cooker. Place the rub-covered roast, fat side up, in the slow cooker and cook, covered, on low for about 8 hours or until it’s falling apart tender. Stop back and let me know how you like it! Best wishes – Betsy

      Reply
  4. Janis

    I have a retirement party to host in 3 days, approx. 70 people but a potluck. I meant to follow this recipe exactly but when I went to buy the boneless pork butt, they only had ~15 lbs. roasts. So, now I have 28 lbs. The ‘butts’ are in brine right now, using 8 1-gallon freezer bags. My question is the cooking time. You indicate in the recipe that it is 1.5-2 hours per pound, but, since the roast were in 2 pieces and I cut them into 8 pieces, what is the cooking time? It would not be 42 hrs, right?

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Hi Janis,
      Great question. You’re correct, it would not be 42 hours. I’ll clarify this on the post as well. It will still be between 12-14, and more likely 16 hours.

      Sounds like you have 8 pieces of meat, each about 3.75 pounds. If it were me, I’d put 4 pieces of meat in a each of 2 large aluminum roasting pan (that will total 2 pans, 4 pieces each with 8 pieces total). I’d then cook these on 2 racks (1 pan per rack) in 1 oven. This will still take at least 12-14, and more likely 16 hours. I would start the pork cooking early the night before the party. The beauty of this Pulled Pork for a Crowd recipe is that it holds and reheats beautifully. Your roasts should be done early in the morning and you’ll have plenty of time to let them cool and shred them. Just be sure and save the cooking juice. Let me know what your guests think – I’m betting they’ll love it!

      Reply
  5. Marilyn Anderson

    I am making this for the first time for a church event. I had a large excess of brine – is this normal? Should I empty the gallon bags and replace the brine halfway through? Once the 8 lb pork butts were in the gallon bags, there wasn’t much room left for the brine.

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Hi Marilyn
      Thanks for the great question. No need to replace the brine. I generally use 2 gallon bags, so there’s a bit more room, but you’re perfectly fine with 1 gallon. Just so long as the pork is covered, that’s all that matters. Let me know how everything goes! I’d love to hear about it.

      Reply
      • Marilyn Anderson

        Thanks for your response – I left it all alone and it turned out great! I took leftovers to another event later in the day and got rave reviews from both places (a little boy came up to tell me it was the BEST PULLED PORK EVER!!!, which was adorable). I am posting a link to your site on Facebook because so many people asked for the recipe. Thank you again! 🙂

        Reply
        • Betsy Edwards

          I’m so glad you got such rave reviews. And thanks for the link on Facebook! I really appreciate it. Betsy

          Reply
  6. michelle

    WOW! I echo what other’s have been saying. This is by far the best large group dinner I’ve made. We just served it for our final dinner for girl’s camp and they couldn’t get enough. Try her mac salad to. Very, very good., We fed 265 girls and leaders, this was super easy and we will do it again next year. The amount calculation was just right.

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Thanks Michelle! I’m so glad you liked it. Cooking for girls camp is a blast!

      Reply
  7. joan

    OMG! This was the best pulled pork ever. I made it for 50. I had three huge bone-in roasts and this took a lot of time and attention. Maybe next time I won’t be so obsessive. I made the brine and rub on Wed. night. Started the brining Thursday morning. Started the cooking Friday morning. Not sure why but my roasts didn’t hit 200 degrees until almost midnight. I didn’t have a fat separator so I took the cooking liquid and stored it in the fridge. In the morning it was all hard and I skimmed off the fat and put the juice back in the pan, reheated the meat and everyone went crazy. I have never gotten such a reaction. I wouldn’t do anything differently – thank you!!! Ten stars!!!

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      Thank you so much Joan for your great comments. This pulled pork is my favorite large group recipe for all the reasons you mentioned. It’s very forgiving, it doesn’t require much hands-on time, it can be done in advance and it tastes fantastic!

      Reply
  8. Linda Fisher

    I made this following the directions exactly for my sons graduation party yesterday and it was the star of the show. I had plenty to feed 30 adults and teenagers with leftovers for the bonfire later. My family has now demanded that this be on the menu at every big event (next time I’ll make even more to stick some in the freezer). It was not difficult to follow the directions-just plan ahead on the timeline. Hands on time is super easy-I almost felt guilty that something so delicious took such little effort! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply
  9. MK Laurent

    Can I please get the slaw recipe!

    Reply
  10. laura

    Help! I came home with BONELESS pork butt, 16lbs, and feeding 45 people this weekend. Advice on modifying this recipe?? I have it in the brine right now, for overnight.

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      First of all, don’t panic – you’re going to be just fine. The amount of brine and rub are not impacted significantly by the quantity/size of the pork roasts. And the cooking time should NOT be any different either. The boneless pulled pork will taste wonderful. Bone-in might be a very slight bit better, but frankly no one will even know. (In fact, I’m going to put a note in the recipe that boneless is just fine too.) : )

      The first time I worked on this recipe was for a group of 230. I was worried I hadn’t purchased enough meat so I went out and got 2 extra BONELESS pork butt roasts. I cooked them along with the BONE-IN roasts. They all got fall-apart tender at the SAME TIME and I really couldn’t tell much difference (if any) in taste. One of the advantages to cooking these roasts at the lower temperature of 225 degrees is that it’s pretty forgiving regardless. Cooking at 225 F degrees, your shoulders will take between 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook. An 8 pound boneless pork roast should take about 13 hours. I would guess your roasts are in the 4-7 pound range and so will get done in 7 – 10 hours. However, I would plan on 10-13 hours and then you’re safe regardless. If you have a digital thermometer just check the internal temperature and once the internal temperature of the roast reaches 200 degrees, you’re done. If you don’t have a thermometer, then you’ll know it’s done when it falls apart easily with a fork. When it’s done let your roast rest in the oven for about 2 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees – you just want it to cool down so it’s not too hot to shred easily. When it hits 170 you can remove the roast from the oven and shred it. Make sure to save all those cooking juices!!

      Another great feature of this recipe is that it’s a perfect make ahead choice. So leave yourself plenty of time between cooking/shredding and serving. At a minimum try to have the roast cooked and shredded 2-3 hours (and up to 2 days) before serving if possible to avoid any last minute rush. Then just transfer your shredded pork to 2-gallon freezer bags and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (So if you’re serving it Memorial Day, you’re just fine.) About an HOUR before serving, add the reserved pan juices to your shredded pork as necessary to make sure it’s nice and moist, then warm it (covered) in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. It can hold in a low oven (covered), or in a LOW slow cooker (covered) for several hours as well, adding in more juice as desired. I like to add back in quite a bit of it as I like juicy pulled pork!

      I would really love to hear how everything goes and please shout out if I can help! Betsy

      Reply
  11. Keith

    I tried this and the way it was presented on the website made it easy to make. I didn’t have any of the equipment listed but it all worked out and tasted great. I sent lots home and my friends love to pull it out for quick meals, too. I would recommend getting the fat separator though.

    Reply
  12. John Dawson

    We just made this for a church event and EVERYONE loved it. Will use this whenever we need an easy rave recipe. Thank you!

    Reply
  13. Anon

    This was hands down some of the best pulled pork I have ever had. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Betsy Edwards

      I’m so glad you liked it. I think so too!

      Reply
  14. Randall Vaughan

    Wow, you want people to rave about your pulled pork, following this recipe and you will be considered the Chefs Meow! Recently made this for about 40 people and they loved it!

    Reply
  15. Emily Laudie

    I’ve used this recipe a few times and it is perfect! I keep a few bags in the freezer ready to go, and it is flavorful enough it doesn’t necessarily need seasoning. A little BBQ sauce for sandwiches, or a little taco seasoning for tacos or burritos. The hardest part about it is just rearranging the fridge to find space for it while it is brining. The rest is really easy!

    Reply
    • Betsy

      Thanks Emily, I’m so glad you like it! I get a lot of requests for this recipe and it’s a wonderful time-saver for family meals.

      Reply

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