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Smoked Pork Shoulder Not Shredding? (Here’s Why)

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Smoking can be a highly time-consuming procedure, taking up to 20 hours at times! After all that time, the last thing you want to deal with are problems with your pork shoulder.

At the end of a smoke, the cut may become tough and unable to shred. That may be the last thing you want to see after a 16-hour smoke. But, fortunately for you, we have all the information necessary in the event that this unfortunate incident occurs.

Why is My Pork Shoulder Not Shredding? 


Undercooked pork shoulder is frequently the cause of its toughness and inability to shred. Pork can be undercooked and yet safe to eat if it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or higher. However, just because the pork is safe to consume does not imply it’s finished.

The reason for smoking pork for so long is to breakdown the tissues and fats within. The process breaks down these tissues and muscle fibers, allowing you to easily pull apart and shred the pork.

Many beginner smokers believe that simply increasing the heat will cause their meat to smoke faster, thus allowing them to pull the pork off earlier. However, the science will not allow for this shortcut. The fibers require time to breakdown properly.


Overcooking the pork might have the same negative consequences. 

Another rookie mistake is cranking up the heat during the stall in the hopes of speeding things up. However, this risks overcooking (or smoking) the pork shoulder. The meat might grow dry and tough, making it extremely difficult to shred. Overcooking is more perilous than undercooking. Undercooked pork shoulder can be returned to the smoker for a little bit longer. But there’s not much you can do if your meat is already tough and overcooked.

The good news is that it is difficult to overcook pork shoulder. It normally has enough fat and tissue to help preserve and keep it moist, so you can usually toss it back to the smoker. 

Has it Properly Rested? 

Before shredding pork shoulder, it should be rested for at least 15 minutes to an hour. Resting pork is one of the most crucial processes because it allows all of those lovely juices and rendered fats to redistribute throughout the pork shoulder. This is how you achieve that melty, soft texture that shreds so effortlessly. 

Are You Using the Correct Cut? 

You wouldn’t believe the number of culinary blunders that occur as a result of using the incorrect cut of meat.

Meats that are best for smoking are usually fatty cuts with a lot of tissue. When smoked, however, these fats and connective fibres dissolve into the meat, making it moist and succulent.

Cuts like pork loin are relatively lean and less fatty, so they can easily be overdone and dried up in a smoker, which make them a bad choice for pulled pork.

It lacks the layer of marbling that enhances the meat and keeps it from drying out.

Pork shoulder and pork butt are the best cuts for pulled pork (misleadingly located above the pork shoulder).

It May be Cooking Too Fast

Sometimes the internal temperature reaches its target before the fats have had a chance to break down.

This is usually a problem with smaller cuts of pork, although it has been known to happen with larger portions as well.

More often than not, monitoring temperature rather than time is more important when smoking foods.

You pay attention to the thermometer rather than the timer. Smaller cuts of pork, on the other hand, sometimes necessitate a fine balance of both.

How Can I Prevent This? 

Use a Quality Thermometer

Let’s get right to the point here, and don’t be scared to invest in a high-quality meat thermometer. Smoking is a time-consuming procedure that necessitates precise temperature monitoring.

Toss it Back to The Smoker

Don’t be alarmed if your pork is undercooked and not shredding. Simply return it to the smoker for a few more minutes.

Allow the shoulder to warm up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit before resting for 35-45 minutes (even if it already rested before, let it rest again).

 Crock Pot 

If your pork shoulder happens to be overcooked, don’t worry; you still have options. You can place it in a crock pot for a short period of time as long as its internal temperature is ready.

Add chicken stock (or any other type of cooking fluid) and simmer on low for an hour or two. When you’re finished, it should be ready to shred.

What Temp Does Pulled Pork Fall Apart? 

The pork shoulder isn’t ready to break apart until the internal temperature reaches at least 195 degrees (F). However, you should aim for an interior temperature of 200-205 degrees (F).

This ensures that all of the fats and tissues have been broken down entirely.

Final Thoughts

It can be intimidating to devote 20 hours or more to something just to have it turn out wrong in the end. But don’t worry if your pork is tugging; you still have options.

Any mistake you make has been made a thousand times before by someone else, and fortunately, we can learn from their mistakes. Any of these options will assist you in navigating this issue. Perfect practice makes perfect.