The secret to this smoked pork shoulder is Cherry Coke! The soda injected meat pairs perfectly with homemade bbq rub – making it the most flavorful and juicy pulled pork ever!
Every year when summer begins, I start smoking a pork shoulder about 2-3 times per month. It’s an inexpensive cut of meat that cooks up perfectly in the smoker. There are so many different ways it can be served – we never get tired of it!
This particular pork shoulder recipe comes out super juicy because you inject the meat with Cherry Coke. My flavorful homemade BBQ rub is the perfect blend of spices to compliment the sweet soda flavor.
- Pork Shoulder – You’ll want a bone-in pork shoulder that’s around 10lbs.
- Cherry Coke – You’ll need about 15oz. which will be divided and used during different steps in the recipe. You can substitute a different soda if you’d like.
- BBQ Spice Rub – I use my homemade BBQ Spice Rub for this recipe.
- Onion & Garlic Bulb (optional) – I put an onion and garlic bulb in my water pan for aromatics. This is completely optional, but I do think it adds a little flavor to the meat.
Materials & Tools You’ll Need
- Smoker – I use this electric one.
- Meat Injector – Obviously you will need one of these to inject the soda into the meat. I highly recommend this one.
- Smoking Wood – You will need wood chunks or chips. I like to use chunks since this is a long smoke and they last a while. Cherrywood and other fruitwoods are my favorites for this recipe.
- Disposable Pan & Foil – Once the pork shoulder reaches 165F, you’re going to take it out and wrap it up for the next part of cooking. You’ll want a disposable pan (this one fits well in my smoker) and some aluminum foil.
- Meat Thermometer – You’ll need a thermometer to monitor the meat’s temperature. I like to use this Weber one. It connects to your cellphone via wifi and monitors both the smoker and meat temperature. It will send your phone alerts if the smoker is too hot or cold and when the meat is ready. I have also used this simple thermometer in the past with success.
How To Make
The first step in smoking our pork shoulder is to pre-heat the smoker to get it going at the right temp. Pork is best cooked low and slow, so we’re going to aim to keep the smoker at 225F.
While I preheat the smoker, I like to fill my water pan. I generally just use water, though some people like to use beer or apple juice. I add half of a sliced onion & garlic bulb to the water pan for aromatics. I also add the wood chunks at this time.
Now prepare the pork shoulder. Start by injecting it with Cherry Coke. I like to inject the meat about every 2-3″ across the top.
A good technique is to push the needle into the meat at a 45-degree angle, then pull it out about halfway before injected the soda. Some of the soda will likely come out of the top of the hole, so do not be worried when that happens.
After you’ve injected the meat, pour a little soda over the top. We’re going to use that to help make our rub stick.
Sprinkle the rub on, then use your hands to distribute it – covering the entire pork shoulder.
Place the pork on smoker rack or grate, ideally right in the middle of your smoker. I monitor the meat’s temperature from the beginning of the smoke to the end, so I go ahead and insert my thermometer probe at this time.
Take out at 160F and place in a disposable pan. Every pork shoulder cooks differently, so I can’t say how long exactly it will take, but generally 5 – 6 hours.
Pour more cherry coke all over the top and wrap with foil. Place back in the smoker.
Pork shoulder is technically cooked through at 190F. However, if you’re making pulled pork, you’ll want to cook it all the way until it hits 205F. That’s when the tissues have really disintegrated and the meat is incredibly tender, falling right off the bone. (Again, every pork shoulder cooks differently, but this will likely take 5-6 hours after you wrapped it.)
Remove the foil, let the meat rest for 20 minutes, then use two forks to shred it.
Sides to Serve with Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Smoked Corn on the Cob
- Instant Pot Twice Baked Potato Casserole
- Baked Beans in Mini Bacon Cups
- Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
More Smoker Recipes
- Sweet & Spicy Coffee Rubbed Smoked Chicken
- Smoked Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
- Smoked Pineapple
- Smoked Chicken Wings
Cherry Wood Chunks
1 Garlic Bulb, optional
1/2 of an Onion, optional
1 10-12lb Bone-in Pork Shoulder
1 Cup BBQ Spice Rub
1 1/2 Cups Cherry Coke, divided
Preheat your smoker to 225F. Add the wood chunks, then fill the water pan and add the garlic bulb and 1/2 onion.
Begin preparing your pork shoulder by injecting it with the Cherry Coke. I use about 1/2 cup of the soda and inject it about every 2-3″ across the top of the meat. A good technique is to push the needle all the way in at a 45-degree angle, then back it out about 1/2 way and inject the liquid. (Some of the soda will run out of the top of the hole, this is normal).
Pour about another 1/2 cup of the soda all over the top of the pork shoulder. This will help the rub stick. Sprinkle on the BBQ spice rub and use your hands to make sure the entire piece of meat is covered.
Place the pork shoulder fat side down on your smoker’s middle rack. Monitor its temperature and cook until it reaches 160F.
At that time, remove it from the smoker and place it in a pan that fits your smoker (I use this one). Pour another 1/2 cup of soda all over the top of the pork shoulder. Wrap the top in aluminum foil and place it back in the smoker.
Cook until the pork shoulder reaches 200-205F internally. Remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before shredding with a fork.