What Is the Best Pork for BBQ? A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Cut

When it comes to barbecuing pork, choosing the right cut of meat is crucial to achieving the perfect flavor and texture. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. In this article, we will explore the best pork cuts for BBQ and what makes them stand out.

Understanding Pork Cuts

Understanding the different pork cuts available can help you make an informed decision and ensure a successful BBQ experience.

Here are some of the most common pork cuts used for BBQ:

  • Shoulder: Also known as pork butt, this is a popular cut for pulled pork. It is a well-marbled, tough cut that benefits from low and slow cooking to break down the connective tissue and develop flavor.
  • Ribs: Pork ribs are a BBQ classic. They can be cut into spare ribs or baby back ribs, with the latter being smaller and more tender. Spare ribs are meatier and have more fat, which can add flavor and moisture during cooking.
  • Loin: This is a lean and tender cut that can be cooked as a roast or cut into chops. It is a versatile cut that can be seasoned and flavored in many ways.
  • Ham: This is a large cut that can be smoked or roasted. It is often cured and served as a holiday ham, but it can also be used for BBQ.
  • Belly: This is the cut used to make bacon. It is a fatty and flavorful cut that can be smoked or roasted. It can also be sliced and used for pork belly burnt ends.

When selecting pork for BBQ, look for cuts with good marbling and a layer of fat that will keep the meat moist during cooking. Consider the cooking method you will be using and choose a cut that is suitable for it.

By understanding the different pork cuts available and their characteristics, you can choose the best cut for your BBQ and create a delicious and memorable meal.

Choosing the Best Pork for BBQ

Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt, is a popular choice for BBQ. It is a tough and fatty cut of meat that requires slow cooking to break down the connective tissue and render the fat. This results in tender and juicy meat that is perfect for pulled pork sandwiches. When selecting a pork shoulder, look for one that is well-marbled with fat and has a good amount of connective tissue.

Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are another popular cut of pork for BBQ. They come from the back of the pig and are smaller and more tender than spare ribs. Baby back ribs are best cooked low and slow to achieve a tender texture and smoky flavor. When selecting baby back ribs, look for ones that are meaty and have a good amount of fat.

Pork Belly

Pork belly is a fatty and flavorful cut of meat that is perfect for BBQ. It is the same cut of meat used to make bacon and has a rich, smoky flavor when cooked on the grill. When selecting pork belly, look for one that has a good amount of fat and a nice layer of meat.

Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is a lean and tender cut of meat that is perfect for BBQ. It is a long and narrow cut of meat that is easy to cook and versatile in flavor. Pork tenderloin is best cooked quickly over high heat to achieve a crispy exterior and juicy interior. When selecting pork tenderloin, look for one that is uniform in size and has a good amount of marbling.

No matter which cut of pork you choose, it is important to select a high-quality piece of meat and cook it with care to achieve the best flavor and texture.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Pork


Marbling refers to the intramuscular fat that runs through the meat. The more marbling a cut has, the more tender and flavorful it will be. Look for pork with a good amount of marbling, but not too much, as excessive fat can lead to flare-ups on the grill.


Freshness is key when it comes to pork. Look for cuts with a bright pink color and avoid any that have a grayish tint or a foul odor. When buying pork, check the sell-by date and try to use it within a day or two of purchase.

Origin of the Pork

The origin of the pork can also play a role in its flavor and texture. Pork from different regions or countries can have varying levels of fat content, tenderness, and flavor. For example, pork from Spain is known for its rich flavor, while pork from Japan is prized for its tenderness.

When selecting pork for BBQ, consider the origin of the pork and do some research to find out which regions are known for producing high-quality pork.

By considering these factors, you can select the best pork for your BBQ and ensure that your guests will be impressed with the flavor and tenderness of your meat.

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