Smoked Pork Butt (Pork Shoulder)

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So full of flavor and tender, this Smoked Pork Butt is cooked long and slow for the most amazing smoked pork shoulder ever. Try it today.

close up of smoked pork butt

This is the perfect pork recipe for potluck dinners or even barbecues. And, it’s also a great starter for your favorite pulled pork meal whether that’s baked potatoes or macaroni and cheese.

And, by changing up the barbecue sauce or the dry rub that you use, you can customize the flavor to almost any meal. Try each of the flavors to find your favorite smoked pork shoulder recipe.

Barbecue Rub in a clear bowl

Smoked Pork Butt

This smoked pork recipe is one of my favorites. It makes quite a bit of pork so once you’re done with dinner, you can easily use the leftovers in your favorite sandwiches or as a topper for potatoes.

Is pork shoulder the same as pork butt?

Both pork shoulder and pork butt come from the shoulder of the pig. The butt comes from higher on the foreleg than the shoulder.

They are both relatively tough and fatty. So, they are typically cooked by roasting, stewing, or smoking. But, the cuts are slightly different.

I have used the butt portion in this recipe. But, you could substitute the shoulder if that’s what you have. They’ll both cook the same way and turn out tender and full of flavor.

seasoning rubbed on pork

Should you wrap a pork shoulder when smoking?

When smoking pulled pork, I believe that the meat comes out moister when you wrap it in aluminum foil toward the end of the cooking time. But, this is something that many pitmasters disagree on.

If you would prefer not to wrap it in aluminum foil when you make smoked pork butt, you can skip this step and see how it turns out. If it’s too dry, just use the foil next time you make it.

How to make a smoked pork shoulder

  • The night before, you will want to prepare the meat and apply the dry rub so it gets the most flavor possible.
  • The next morning, you will prepare your barbecue and then cook the meat.
  • I like to spray it with pineapple juice throughout the cooking process. It helps to keep the meat moist and it adds the most amazing flavor to the pork.
  • When your smoked pork butt reaches temperature X, you will want to wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil and allow it to rest.
  • Then, just shred the meat and serve.
brush pineapple juice on pork

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brushing pinepple juice on pork

Ingredient substitutions

  • I’ve spritzed this with pineapple juice to keep the meat moist. But, you can also add a bit of bourbon to the juice for a nice flavor combination. 
  • If you would prefer not to make your own barbecue sauce, you can use your favorite bottled variety. Or, you may want to try my Jack Daniel’s Double Kick Barbecue Sauce for a different flavor.
  • This smoked pork butt recipe uses traditional sugar or brown sugar. But, if you are hoping to cut the carbs, you can easily use a sugar substitute instead.

Tips for smoking a pork shoulder

  • Trim the fat before smoking it
  • Apply the rub or seasoning well
  • Improve the flavor with wood chips
  • Always use a meat thermometer
  • Test for doneness rather than cooking by time.
taking temperature of pork

How should I store leftover smoked pork butt?

If you have leftovers of this recipe, you can refrigerate them for up to 4 days. Just be sure to store them in an airtight container.

You can freeze your pulled pork if you think that you won’t finish this all in time. But, you want to make sure that you don’t reheat it more than once. If you reheat it too often or for too long, it will lose its tenderness.

smoking pulled pork

More smoker recipes

Smoked baked beans is the first of our smoker recipes! These tender beans with bacon are the perfect side dish! Make this recipe using any smoker.

Making a smoked baked potato is one of the easiest smoker recipes around! This recipe is a must-make; you’ll love the flavor of smoked potatoes!

Smoked corn on the cob has amazing flavor, unlike any other corn you’ve eaten before! Put away the Instant Pot and make this smoker recipe!

Enjoy!

With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Smoked Pork Butt (Pork Shoulder)

smoked pork butt, close up

Smoked Pork Butt (Pork Shoulder)

Donna Elick
So full of flavor and tender, this Smoked Pork Butt is cooked long and slow for the most amazing smoked pork shoulder ever. Try it today.
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 hrs
Rest Time 45 mins
Total Time 13 hrs
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Smoker
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

  • 8 pounds pork shoulder bone-in or pork butt
  • 3 cups pineapple juice

Rub Recipe

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (really important, do not use the fine salt)
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste

Instructions
 

To make the rub

  • In a mason jar, combine all spices together. Put the lid on and shake the living tar our of it.
  • Keep leftovers in an airtight container. If you live in a humid climate: put a small cracker in the mix. It prevents from caking (forming clumps).

Night before the cook

  • The night before unpack your pork.
  • With a paper towel, tap dry
  • Sprinkle the rub on all surfaces. *NOTE* Make sure to rub so the seasoning stick to it.
  • Transfer to a clean large plate or a baking sheet that will fit in your fridge. Wrap with plastic. Put in the fridge overnight.
  • Because we are smoking tomorrow with MESQUITE, I soak some of the mesquite wood chips into water overnight. We are using a Large Green Egg for this recipe; it is an 18 inch grill and we soak about 3 to 4 pieces 3×2 inches.

Morning of cook

  • Prepare the barbecue (indirect heat method) with charcoal and 2 large dry pieces of mesquite (or whatever smoking wood you want, 4 x 3 inches). I placed them at 10 and 2 o’clock (12 o’clock being the back side of the Egg). The soaked wood hunks will go on once the fire is established, 15 to 20 minutes. For the Big Green Egg we have the ConvEGGtor with feet up. If you want to save some time in the morning, you can prep your charcoal the night before, just wait until the morning to put the soaked wood hunks.
  • Time to light the BBQ and heat up to 200-degree F.
  • Cook at this temp for 2 hours (this is when we get the best smoke but not too much so doesn’t over power the taste of the meat)
  • Once you reach the temperature put your pork shoulder in the middle of the grille (fat side up) and close for 4 hours. (NO PEEKING). This first 4 hours are crucial for the smoking process. This is when we get the best smoke but not too much so it doesn’t overpower the taste of the meat.
  • Your patience has paid off, it’s time to moisten with pineapple juice. If you have a spray bottle just spray the juice on it. If you don’t pour some juice in a bowl and gently mop it on.You will repeat this step every hour until the cook is complete.*NOTE* If you are brushing the pineapple juice on, some of the rub may fall off, no worries, just add more.
  • At the 5-hour mark, increase your temperature to 250°F, which is also a great time to check the temperature of the meat. Ours was 160°F, this will vary with different BBQ and size of the meat.
  • At the 9-hour mark, you will see a crack forming on the fat cap. This is a sign you are getting close.
  • At the 10-hour mark, we had that dark chocolate, red color and the temperature was 185°F.
  • Once it reaches a nice amber, deep color, you are getting very close.
  • At the 12-hour mark, we took it off the grill. It was 195°F and felt like jello.
  • Place the pork on a large plate or jelly roll pan, cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 45 minutes.
  • Before shredding, remove the bone.
  • With 2 forks or the barbecue claws, have fun shredding and don’t forget to taste the fruit of your labor!
  • Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Donna’s Notes

We smoked with mesquite wood chips because we wanted more of a campfire type smoke. You could smoke with any of your favorite smoking chips as the pork is very forgiving for smoking flavors.
Cayenne pepper can be adjusted to taste or eliminated completely.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 686cal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 73g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 247mg | Sodium: 5005mg | Sugar: 30g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 5mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Close up Smoked Pork Butt (Pork Shoulder)

Originally published March 2021

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    You present an interesting techneque using a Green Egg. I use a reverse flow Shirley cabinet stick burner and habe partisipated in many competitions (Memphis in May and KCBS). Just a few comments from the competitive side. Never ever soak your wood. All it does is provide smoldering wood and bitter smoke. Since wood needs to reach at least 500 degrees to burn clean it has to boil out the water and will smolder before is burns as a fuel. Also while it is important to use kosher salt in any pork it pulls put moisture the longer it is on the meat. In our competion butt we apply the rub 2 to 3 hours prior to putting it on the smoker, you will know it is ready when you have a moist sheen on the meat as the salt has sweated into the rub. Finally, injecting. While putting your salt rub on your butt the night before can dry out the meat injecting will provide moisture and flavor. This can be done the night before. There are many injection recipies on the web. Pinapple is good, in the south we use a combination of apple juice, cider vinager, phosphates and other spices. The spritz should reflect your injection. In the end, prepare to what fits your taste, enjoy the process. And enjoy the lipsmacks of those eating your efforts. Be carefull, BBQ can an obsession. Just my thoughts.

    1. Thom, thank you so much for your expert level feedback! As a relative beginner to the wonderful world of all things smoking, this information is appreciated very much!!

      TSRI Team member,
      Becca

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