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Jun 7, 2010 04:41 PM

Pulled Pork - can I use tenderloin instead of shoulder?

Well the title pretty much says it all. My mother phoned me and asked if I would make pulled pork on their new barbecue for a small family gathering this coming weekend. Normally I make this with shoulder (aka butt) but she told me that she went to Costco and got a "huge" pork tenderloin for me to use.

Normally I would either smoke the roast for 8 hours or roast it in the oven for about 6. I use a dry rub, no brine, and "baste" with apple juice in a spray bottle.

Having only ever made pulled pork with the butt, I don't even know if this is possible. Can I just use my same recipe and swap the cuts? Would you make any significant changes to the procedure to avoid the tenderloin drying out?

If it won't work (or won't work well) I'll need to go out and buy some pork shoulder, which is plenty cheap anyways.

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  1. not a good idea...its too lean and will be exceedingly dry. The tenderloin is best to just put on the grill for 30 mins, depending on size and eating it like filet mignon.... don't try to make pulled pork with it, it needs fat to be good

    6 Replies
    1. re: momoftwo

      And if your mom's "tenderloin" is a huge one from Costco, it's not tenderloin at all - it's just boneless loin, which is insanely lean and not particularly tender. I get those because they sell there for under $2/lb; I mostly cut schnitzels from them, plus maybe a roast that I'll lard heavily and brine as well, just to make it edible. All the sauce in the world isn't gonna make pulled pork out of this critter.

      1. re: Will Owen

        I've found boneless loin to be incredibly tender, brine or no brine. I never cook it past 135 though.

        1. re: Will Owen

          That's what I initially thought but Costco bundles 4 tenderloins together in one pack so maybe she thinks it is just one huge one. I agree about those pork loins--takes a lot of doctoring to make it moist.

          1. re: sparkareno

            Ask her to take a picture of what she has and email it to you.

            Tenderloin won't pull.

            1. re: 512window

              Why do you day that? Lean chicken breast pulls, and so does tenderloin. Separates into long strands along the grain, right?

        2. Sure ... but you're gonna need LOTS of BBQ sauce.

          1. Get some pork shoulder instead. The pork loin, which is what I also think the cut is, won't work well and that makes it not worth the effort.

            1. Agree with everyone else. Tenderloin is probably one of the worst cut for barbecue because it is extremely lean.

              1. Hmmm... maybe if you go with a molecular gastronomy theme for your pulled pork. How about powdered pulled pork? ;)

                In all seriousness, I agree with everyone else here. Tenderloin is going to be way too dry to benefit from a good smoking.