Mastering Hot-And-Fast Pulled Pork: Tips and Tricks


The hot-and-fast style of barbecue has become popular trend in recent years. And for good reason. Pitmasters have discovered a way to speed up the cooking process while still achieving delicious results. Despite its drawbacks, hot-and-fast barbecue is a great option for those who need a pork butt in under 4 hours. In this article, I’ll show you how to cook a hot-and-fast style pork butt, so you can enjoy a flavorful pulled pork in half the time.

The hot-and-fast method of barbecue involves cooking meat at high temperatures for a shorter period of time. To cook hot-and-fast pork, set the smoker temperature between 350°F to 400°F and place the meat in the smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. Wrap the pork in foil and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 200°F. For smokier meat, start the pork at a lower temperature for 2-3 hours before increasing the temperature and wrapping it in foil. Make sure to use a thermometer to track the internal temperature, and make necessary adjustments to cooking time.

Key Points

  • Hot-and-fast BBQ style is a trend that allows for quick, delicious barbecue
  • To cook hot-and-fast pork, set smoker temperature to 350°F to 400°F and place meat in smoker until it reaches 160°F internal temperature
  • Wrap pork in foil and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 200°F
  • Test for tenderness using a toothpick or thermometer probe
  • Allow pork to rest before serving
  • To add smoke flavor, start the pork shoulder at a lower temperature for 2-3 hours before increasing the temperature and wrapping it in foil
  • Look for pork shoulder with a good amount of fat and marbling, and place thicker side towards the heat source
  • Hot-and-fast pulled pork has less smoke flavor and may be drier than low-and-slow cooked pork
  • Hot-and-fast method can save time but may sacrifice some traditional BBQ characteristics
  • Use a thermometer to track internal temperature and make necessary adjustments to cooking time
  • Keep a journal to record successful cooking techniques and variations

4 Hour Pulled Pork Recipe: Step By Step

StepDescription
1Fire up your smoker and stabilize the temperature at 350°F to 400°F
2Use a thermometer probe in the smoker to track temperature and place a thermometer in the meat to track internal temperature
3Place meat in smoker and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F
4Wrap pork butt in thick aluminum foil (optional, but will take longer without wrap and have more smoke flavor)
5Smoke pork butt until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F
6Test for tenderness using a toothpick or thermometer probe
7Allow pork butt to rest

Start Low-n-Slow, Finish Hot-n-Fast

Another technique for cooking hot-and-fast pork is to start the pork shoulder at a lower temperature of around 250°F and leave it in the smoker for 2-3 hours to allow the bark to form. This initial low-temperature phase will also give the pork time to absorb some smoke flavor. After 2 hours, the temperature can be increased to 350°F to 400°F and the pork can be wrapped in foil. This method combines the benefits of low-and-slow cooking with the convenience of hot-and-fast cooking. It allows for a flavorful and tender final product while still reducing the overall cook time. As always, it is important to experiment and track your cooking methods in a journal to see what works and what doesn’t. If you have a thermometer with graphing capabilities, you can analyze the cook data to identify any areas for improvement.

  • Start the pork shoulder at a lower temperature of around 250°F
  • Leave it in the smoker for 2-3 hours to allow the bark to form and for the pork to absorb smoke flavor
  • Increase the temperature to 350°F to 400°F and wrap the pork in foil
  • This method combines the benefits of low-and-slow cooking with the convenience of hot-and-fast cooking
  • Allows for a flavorful and tender final product while still reducing the overall cook time
  • Experiment and track cooking methods in a journal to see what works and what doesn’t
  • Use a thermometer with graphing capabilities to analyze cook data and identify areas for improvement

The Pros and Cons of Hot-and-Fast Pulled Pork: A Comparison

A standard low-and-slow cooked pork shoulder or pork butt will typically take around 8 to 10 hours to cook in a smoker, especially if it is cooked at low temperatures in the range of 220°F to 250°F. In contrast, a hot-and-fast pork shoulder can be cooked in just a few hours when cooked at higher temperatures of around 350°F to 400°F. While the hot-and-fast method can save time, it does have some drawbacks compared to low-and-slow cooking. You may notice differences in the final product, such as less smoke flavor and a potentially drier texture. Despite these differences, hot-and-fast cooking can still be a convenient option for those who are short on time or want to enjoy barbecue without the long cooking process.

ProsCons
Quick cook timeLess smoke flavor
Can be cooked indoorsPork may be less tender
Can still be deliciousLess bark
ConvenientSmall smoke ring

1. Less Smoke Flavor

One of the main differences between hot-and-fast and low-and-slow cooked pork is the amount of smoke flavor that is imparted on the meat. A hot-and-fast pulled pork butt will absorb less smoke in the smoker, resulting in less smoke flavor compared to a slow-smoked pork butt which spends several hours in smoke. This is because a hot-and-fast pork butt will have a total cook time of only 3 to 4 hours, with half of that time spent wrapped in foil. In contrast, a low-and-slow pork butt will typically sit on the smoker for 4 to 5 hours before being wrapped, allowing for 4 to 5 hours of smoke absorption. While it may be tempting to skip the wrap in order to increase smoke flavor, wrapping is important for a hot-and-fast pork shoulder because it helps to speed up the cook.

2. The Pork Will Be Less Tender

One of the main differences between hot-and-fast and low-and-slow cooked pork is the level of tenderness achieved in the final product. A slow-cooked pork shoulder will typically be more tender than a hot-and-fast pork butt because it has more time to break down the collagen and fat, making the meat more tender. Pork shoulder contains a lot of fat and connective tissue, and the only way to effectively break it down is through slow cooking. In contrast, a hot-and-fast pork shoulder may not have as much time to break down the collagen, resulting in less tender meat. However, it is still possible to achieve a tender hot-and-fast pork butt by getting everything else right, such as proper temperature control, wrapping, and allowing the meat to rest.

3. Less Bark

The bark is an important part of a smoked pork shoulder because it adds flavor and texture to the final product. When making a low-and-slow roast, pitmasters typically spend a lot of time nurturing the bark during the first stage of the cook to ensure it is firm and flavorful. The bark is created by a combination of dehydrated meat, dry rub, smoke, and fat. However, when smoking a pork shoulder using the hot-and-fast method, you may not achieve the same level of bark that you would with low-and-slow cooking. This is because the hot-and-fast method does not allow as much time for the bark to develop and may result in a less flavorful and less firm final product. Despite this, hot-and-fast pork can still be a delicious and convenient option for those who are short on time or want to enjoy barbecue without the long cooking process.

4. Small Smoke Ring

A smoke ring is a pinkish-red layer that forms just under the surface of the meat when it is cooked in a smoker. It is created by the interaction of smoke and the nitrogen compounds found in the meat. You may notice that a hot-and-fast cooked pork shoulder has a less prominent smoke ring compared to a low-and-slow cooked pork shoulder. This is because the hot-and-fast method allows for less time in the smoke, resulting in a less pronounced smoke ring. A low-and-slow pork shoulder, on the other hand, will have more time in the smoke, resulting in a more prominent smoke ring. However, the smoke ring does not affect the taste of the meat and is primarily a visual feature.

How to Choose the Best Pork Butt for Hot-and-Fast Cooking

  • Buy a pork shoulder with a nice money muscle, as this is the most flavorful part of the pork butt.
  • Look for a pork shoulder with a decent amount of fat and marbling, as this will help the meat survive the hot-and-fast cook. Marbling will help keep the meat moist and prevent it from drying out. Fat will also shield the pork from the heat.
  • Buy a pork butt that contains a bone. This will help the pork stay moist, but it will also serve as a useful tool when trying to do a tenderness test. If you want to tell if a pork butt has reached the perfect temperature or tenderness, twist the bone, and if it looks like it can almost fall off, then the pork has reached the perfect tenderness.

The Science of Hot-and-Fast BBQ: Where to Place Your Pork on the Smoker

It is important to properly position the pork shoulder on the smoker to ensure even cooking and optimal results. To do this, always place the thicker side of the pork shoulder towards the heat source. This will allow the heat to evenly penetrate the meat and cook it thoroughly. If you are using an offset smoker, place the fatty, thicker side of the pork shoulder towards the heat. This will allow the fat to render and add flavor to the meat. If you have a charcoal smoker with the heat source below, place the pork shoulder fat side down. This will help to shield the meat from the direct heat and keep it moist. Remember to always direct the pork fat side towards the heat to ensure even cooking and optimal results.

The Cons of Hot-and-Fast Pulled Pork

A standard low-and-slow cooked pork shoulder or pork butt will typically take around 8 to 10 hours to cook in a smoker, especially if it is cooked at low temperatures in the range of 220°F to 250°F. In contrast, a hot-and-fast pork shoulder can be cooked in just a few hours when cooked at higher temperatures of around 350°F to 400°F. While the hot-and-fast method can save time, it does have some drawbacks compared to low-and-slow cooking. You may notice differences in the final product, such as less smoke flavor and a potentially drier texture. Despite these differences, hot-and-fast cooking can still be a convenient option for those who are short on time or want to enjoy barbecue without the long cooking process.

How To Trim a Pork Butt

It is important to properly prepare your pork butt before cooking to ensure the best possible results. To do this, you should first trim any excess fat from the pork butt. This will help to reduce the overall fat content of the final product and allow the smoke to better penetrate the meat. Next, you should remove the skin, also known as the rind. The rind will not allow the smoke to penetrate the meat and will not add any flavor. Instead, it will become tough and unpleasant to eat. You should leave about 1/4 inch of fat on the top of the pork butt, as this will help to keep the meat moist during cooking. Finally, be sure to remove any disgusting blood clots or any other inedible matter that will not render during the cooking process.

Use a Good Thermometer

Using a leave-in meat thermometer when cooking hot-and-fast brisket or pork butt is important because it allows you to accurately monitor the internal temperature of the meat as it cooks. For more info, check out my thermometer guide.

Injecting the Butt

Cooking pork at high temperatures can cause the meat to dry out and lose moisture. To help prevent this, it is a good idea to inject the pork with a flavorful liquid such as stock, broth, or marinade. This will help to replace some of the fluid that is lost during the cooking process and keep the meat moist and flavorful. A popular option for injecting pork is butcher barbecue, which is a type of marinade that is specifically designed for use in meat injectors. By injecting the pork with a flavorful liquid, you can help to enhance the overall taste and moisture content of the final product. It is important to be careful not to overdo it with the injection, as too much liquid can cause the meat to become soggy. For more information, check out this article: “Injecting Pork Butt: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques”

If you don’t have a meat injectors, you can get one for about $30 on Amazon: Simple Meat Injectors.

Pre-Brine Your Pork Butt

Brine is a solution of salt, water, and sometimes other flavorings that is used to soak meat before cooking. Brining is a useful method for helping pork survive a hot-and-fast cook because it helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful. When the pork is brined, the salt helps to draw moisture into the meat and keep it there during the cooking process. This can be especially helpful when cooking at high temperatures, as the heat can cause the meat to dry out. Brining can be as simple as rubbing salt into the meat the night before cooking, or it can involve soaking the meat in a more complex brine solution. In addition to helping to keep the meat moist, brining can also give the pork an enormous flavor boost. The salt helps to enhance the natural flavors of the meat and can create a more delicious and satisfying final product.

The Rub

Apply the barbecue rub to the pork; just be careful with the salt and sugar content. If you’ve pre-brined the pork, just don’t double salt the roast; otherwise, you’ll ruin it. Be careful with sugar and rubs, as sugar burns and will turn your pork black, so just hold back a little or use a sugar such as a turbine with a high heat threshold.

If you want a good rub recipe, check out this article. This is a very generic, well-rounded, all-round barbecue rub you can use on anything, and you can add and subtract ingredients. If you want a pre-made rub, I recommend Harry Soo’s Slap Yo Daddy rub, or Malcolm Reed’s Killer Hogs rub.  

Standard Barbecue Rub

Standard Barbecue Rub

I found this great rub recipe through How To BBQ Right. I use this recipe and alter it slightly depending on what I'm cooking. Made by the guys at Townsend Spice & Supply: https://townsendspice.com/

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • - ½ Cup Paprika
  • - ½ Cup Salt
  • - ½ Cup Sugar
  • - ½ Cup Granulated Garlic
  • - ¼ Cup Granulated Onion
  • - ¼ Cup Chili
  • - ¼ Cup Cumin
  • - 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • - 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
  • - 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
  2. Store rub in rub shakers

Slather with a Binder

Applying a binder to the pork butt before adding the rub can help the rub to stick to the meat and create a more even and cohesive bark. A bark is the crispy outer layer that forms on the surface of the meat when it is cooked in a smoker. It is created by the combination of the rub, smoke, and natural juices of the meat. By using a binder, you can help to ensure that the rub sticks to the pork butt evenly and creates a more cohesive bark that is less patchy. A binder can also help to add moisture to the pork butt, which can be especially useful when cooking at high temperatures. Some common binders include yellow mustard and olive oil, but you can also use a bit of water if you prefer. Using a binder can help to improve the overall appearance and flavor of the final product.

Resting

Cooking meat at high temperatures can be risky because it can easily dry out if not done properly. That is why techniques like resting and wrapping are so important when using the hot-and-fast method. Allowing the pork to rest for a period of time after cooking will give the muscles a chance to relax and reabsorb some of the moisture that was lost during the cooking process. This can help to keep the meat moist and flavorful. If you slice or shred the pork too soon after cooking, you risk losing all of the precious juices on the cutting board, which can result in a drier and less flavorful final product. It is generally recommended to allow the pork to rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing or shredding it, depending on the size of the roast. This will give the meat time to reabsorb moisture and ensure the best possible results. “Rest Pork Butt How Long? The Science Behind The Barbecue”

Holding

Holding is a technique that allows you to keep cooked meat warm and safe to eat while you prepare other dishes or wait for guests to arrive. To hold pork that has been cooked using the hot-and-fast method, you will need to wrap the meat in aluminum foil and place it in a dry cooler where it will stay hot for several hours. Inserting a thermometer probe into the pork will help you to monitor the internal temperature and ensure that the meat remains safe to eat. As long as the meat’s temperature does not drop below 140° F, it will be safe to eat. Holding is a useful technique if you are cooking the pork for dinner or lunch and want to have it ready at a specific time. For example, you can fire up the smoker in the morning and have the pork ready to serve by lunchtime. This allows you to plan ahead and ensure that everything is ready when you need it.

Experiment With Hot-and-Fast

While it is possible to achieve delicious pulled pork using the hot-and-fast cooking method, it is important to note that this method is not necessarily about achieving perfection. Instead, the goal of hot-and-fast cooking is to produce a tasty and flavorful meal in a shorter amount of time. While the final product may not be as tender or have as much smoke flavor as a slow-cooked pork shoulder, it can still be a delicious and satisfying meal if you take care to use quality ingredients and follow proper cooking techniques. Some of the things you can do to ensure that your hot-and-fast pulled pork is as good as it can be include spritzing or mopping the meat to keep it moist, injecting it with broth or marinade to add flavor and moisture, wrapping it in foil to help it cook faster and retain moisture, brining it to help it hold onto moisture during the cooking process, and using a dry rub to add flavor and help create a flavorful bark. By following these steps and using quality meat, you can produce a tasty and satisfying hot-and-fast pulled pork that is sure to be a hit with your guests.

More articles:

” How Does Aaron Franklin Smoke Pork Butt?”

My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.

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