Pit Barrel Cooker pulled pork shoulder

Use your Pit Barrel Cooker to make a succulent smoked pulled pork shoulder recipe made with a fantastic sugar-free BBQ rub. This could be your new go-to pulled pork recipe.

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Spices on a plate
Spices for the sugar-free rub.

For the spice rub, I am using

Smoked paprika, to add color along with some smoky flavor.

Swerve, is an artificial sweetener that does not spike blood sugar. If that’s not a concern for you then use raw sugar.

Cacao powder, I am using 100% cacao powder.

Chili powder, for a bit of spice.

Salt, I used Himalayan pink salt but any salt will work

Garlic powder

Dried oregano 

Black pepper

Ground Cumin

Seasoned boneless pork sholder on a tray.

Today I used a boneless pork shoulder also called pork butt. For me, pork butt bone-in or boneless is the best cut of pork for making pulled pork. This one is boneless since that is what was on sale at Costco.

Use some paper towels to pat the pork dry then apply the spice mixture to the meat. Some people will spread a thin layer of mustard before adding the spices but I have never done that.

Charcoal in the pit barrel cooker basket.

After seasoning the meat it is time to get the fire started. First I fill the coal basket up with charcoal. Since this is a long cook I remove some from one side and add them to my chimney. If it was a regular cook I take them from the middle.

A Charcoal chimney on a grill with a fire starter

Then I place a fire starter on the grate, place the chimney on top and light the fire starter.

A Charcoal chimney on a grill with burning charcoal.

After about then minutes I have a good flame. Then I place the coal basket into the pit barrel and dump the burning charcoal into the empty side. Place the gate into the barrel setup my temperature probes. Add the rebar, return the lid (but leave it slightly ajar) and adjust the damper to almost closed.

Let the fire burn for about ten minutes Place a thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat and place it on the grate of the barrel. Close the lid and adjust the barrel temperature to between 225F to 275F. 250F is my target but depending upon weather conditions I will take what I can get.

You want to cook until the internal temperature of the pork roast is 205F (96C). This took me just over 10 hours. After seven hours my barrel temperature started falling off even with the damper full open. So at that point, I added more burning charcoal.

For extra cook time, You can just bring the pork inside and use your oven.

Once the pork reached 205F I removed it from the cooker and tented it with aluminum foil and let it rest for thirty minutes. If you need to hold it longer wrap it with aluminum foil and place it into a small ice chest (no ice of course). This will keep it hot without overcooking it. In fact, some pit masters do this so that it will continue to get even more tender without drying out.

After resting it is time to shred. If your want to add BBQ sauce now is a good time.

You might also be interested in my Pit Barrel beef brisket or chuck roast recipes

Closeup of pulled pork. This is a pin for Pinterest.

If you enjoyed the recipe then please share it with your friends.

Perhaps you will also like these recipes smoked chuck roast or smoked chicken leg quarters.

Cooked pulled pork on a tray.

Pit Barrel Cooker Pulled Pork

Juicy and tender pulled pork made with boneless butt cooked in a Pit Barrel Cooker with a sugar-free rub. Perfect for a low carb or keto diet.
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 11 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pit barrel cooker, pulled pork
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 376kcal
Author: James Strange


  • 9 pounds Pork shoulder boneless boston butt

Spice rub

  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Swerve Or sweetener of choice
  • 1 Tablespoon Cacao powder Pure
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt I used pink
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano Dried
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Ground


  • Trip your pork roast of excess fat.
    9 pounds Pork shoulder
  • Mix all ingredients for the spice rub.
    1 Tablespoon Smoked paprika, 1 Tablespoon Swerve, 1 Tablespoon Cacao powder, 1 Tablespoon Chili powder, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Oregano, 1 teaspoon Black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • Evenly distribute the spice rub onto the pork roast.
  • Start a fire and preheat the cooker.
  • Place the pork roast onto the grate, and inset probe into the thickest part of the roast.
  • Place the lid onto the cooker and maintain the temperature of the cooker from 225F to 274F.
  • Cook until the internal temperature is 205F (approximately 10 hours).
  • Remove the roast from the cooker and cover with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Pull the pork into shreds and serve.


Calories: 376kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 436mg | Potassium: 899mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 603IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @james_strange_eats or tag #james_strange_eats
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5 stars
This rub is spectacular! I used it to smoke a pork loin in my pellet grill and holy cow! (pig?) it turned out great! We loved the flavor!

5 stars
This was so tender and smoky! Can’t wait to make again.

5 stars
Love this recipe! So smokey and delicious!

5 stars
Great high protein recipe. Full of flavor and perfect for meal prep.

5 stars
This was mouth watering! EVERYONE loved it and I think it was the best pulled pork I have ever had in my life. I will never use a different recipe than this. Seriously it was SPOT ON!

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