Virginia Willis Pulled Pork

“I grew up eating home-cooked pork barbecue…there is simply nothing in this world that tastes like pork kissed by fire and bathed in smoke.” -Virginia Willis

Recipe courtesy of Virginia Willis. For more on Virginia, check out her chef page. You can also find her spotlighted in our Lifestyle Magazine.

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  • 4 lbs (1.8 kg) pork butt, on the bone
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) canola oil
  • 1⁄4 cup (55 g) brown sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup (28 g) paprika
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp (18 g) garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp (6 g) black pepper
  • 1 tbsp (6 g) Piment d’Espelette or cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups (.9 L) wood chips, for smoking, soaked in water
  • Mama’s BBQ Sauce, for serving (see below for recipe)


Remove the meat from the refrigerator. Combine the sugar, paprika, salt, garlic salt, black pepper and Piment d’Espelette. Rub the meat with oil and rub liberally with the spice blend. Leave at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Set the EGG for indirect cooking at 275°F/135°C using wood chips for flavor (I use bourbon barrel chips; cherry and hickory would be good, but stay away from mesquite.) Soak the chips in water for at least an hour, then wrap them in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil- wrapped chips on the coals. (Soaked chunks are better for the long cooking time needed for full butts; soaked chips worked fine for the half butt.)

Place the butt in the EGG and cook until the internal temperature is 165°F/74°C; this should take about 5 hours. You want to keep the EGG temperature around 250°F/121°C; the goal is low and slow. Then, remove the hunk of meat and wrap it in a double layer of foil. Return it to the EGG and cook until desired doneness (for sliced pork, cook until the internal temperature reaches 180°F/82°C and for pulled pork, 190°F/88°C.) This will take another 2 to 3 hours.

Remove the meat to a cutting board with a moat (drip groove). Cover it with foil and let it rest for about 20 to 30 minute; the temperature will continue to rise.

Chop the meat with a chef’s knife, or shred using a pair of Big Green Egg Meat Claws, discarding the fat and bones. The meat should fall apart and have a pink, smoky ring.

Place the meat in a bowl and add sauce to taste. Mix well and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Enjoy, slowly!

Serves 6

Mama's Barbecue Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 1⁄2 cups (590 ml) ketchup
  • 2 cups (475 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp (24 g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp (12 g) freshly ground black pepper

Mama's Barbecue Sauce Instructions

Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and simmer until soft and melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until flavors have smoothed and mellowed, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

28 thoughts on “Virginia Willis Pulled Pork”

  1. I agree with other posters the amount of apple cider vinegar in the sauce is too much. I cut it back to 1/4 cup and still had to add more brown sugar to correct the acidity in the sauce.

  2. Recipe doesn’t say whether to put pork butt in solid roasting pan, v-rack, drip pan or what? on top of the convEGGtor plate? Wire rack raised in a drip pan to keep meat above drippings? Guessing you don’t just let drippings just fall onto convEGGtor plate and into egg, but don’t want meat sitting in drippings?

  3. I filled the fire bowl with charcoal. Put the plate and a pan of water on top of it, and then the grate. Adjusted the ports so that I got temp to 275. Put 4 lb. pork on. Fine for about 2 hrs, the m temp started to drop to 225. Could not get it any higher. After 4 1/2 hrs meat done on outside, but not inside. Charcoal was gone. What did I do wrong?

    1. My guess is that you filled the fire bowl which was already partially full of lump. For long low cooks, you can do that only if you first shake out all the ash from the old charcoal and clean out the bottom. Too much ash crowds out the new lump and cuts off airflow at low temps. But that’s just a guess.

      1. I agree with Bill. I’ve run into the same issues and whenever I have long cooks, the temperature is easier to control when you use fresh lump charcoal and have removed any ash from previous cooks.

    2. For low and slow – I try to pick out large lumps – the lower volume to surface ratio ensures that the lump will burn slower and last for full cook – I reserve the smaller chips for grilling hot and fast like searing steaks at 600-700.
      This usually gets me through 6-8 hour cooks for pork butts, ribs, etc. for a brisket which may be 12-14 I sometimes have to add more lump half way through.

  4. I don’t know who Virginia Willis is but “Thank you Virginia Willis “…
    I’ve been cooking this recipe now for the last few bears football game party’s and everybody absolutely says is the best Pulled pork they’ve ever had. She’s made me famous in the community . Love my big green egg .

  5. I made this except I added a couple teaspoons McCormick’s Chipotle Chile Pepper to the rub.
    My family LOVED it and did not want to “mess it up” with barbecue sauce. My husband said, “I am being 100% serious when I say this is the best barbecue I have ever had in my life.” It really was terrific. The flavor was just exactly right! We put a lot of big hunks of hickory in with charcoal.

  6. This was amazing with the barbecue sauce! We made a triple batch to try out a brand new large egg with apple chips for smoke flavor and 14 pounds of pork shoulder. The recipe and the BGE did not disappoint. It had to be the best pulled pork ever. Things got really quiet around the table as our teenagers devoured 3+ sandwiches each.

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  8. Should the foil wrapped wood chips have holes poked in the top of the foil or just loosly wrap them? Seems like if they were tightly wrapped not much smoke would get out. Great sounding recipe & ready to try it!!

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