Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt (Smoked Pork Shoulder)

September 27, 2017

My Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt (AKA Smoked Pork Shoulder) is a go-to any time I am looking to feed a hungry crowd and don’t want too much fuss.

Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt

Smoked Pork Butt vs. Smoked Pork Shoulder

Most smoked pork butt recipes call for a bone-in pork shoulder, sometimes also labeled a Boston butt roast or a pork butt. All of these labels are for the exact same cut of pork. None of them actually come from the butt end of the pig (which can definitely be confusing), but from the upper part of the shoulder. The pork butt, or pork shoulder, has many overlapping and hard working muscle groups that are bound together with tight connective tissue.

That tight tissue makes this cut particularly well suited for smoking. It would be very difficult to simply slice and serve a pork shoulder roast that wasn’t cooked low and slow to break down those tight muscles and connective fibers. You’d end up chewing for a long time and not getting anywhere. By using the low and slow process of cooking the meat over a wood fire for a long time, those tissues begins to break down, tenderize, and create amazing strands of super succulent smoked pork shoulder.

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How to Smoke a Pork Butt

The reason I call this smoked pulled pork butt “simple” is because of how little effort it really takes. This recipe doesn’t require any fancy injections, tools, spritzing concoctions, or wrapping to have it come out absolutely perfect every. single. time. All you really need is a good pork shoulder, my famous homemade sweet BBQ rub, good smoke and plenty of time. Once the meat is on the smoker, all you need to do is grab a cool drink and kick your feet up.

This simple smoked pulled pork shoulder is made using old school BBQ techniques and flavors to give you super authentic and extra tasty pulled pork. After seasoning liberally with my BBQ rub, which is a brown sugar base seasoned with smoked paprika, onion, garlic, and a little cayenne, the pork shoulder is set into a smoker with an indirect heat source and plenty of thin blue wood smoke. My favorite woods for making smoked pulled pork has got to be either hickory or apple (or a combination of the two), both are mild enough to complement the pork without overwhelming you with smoke.

Smoked Pork Butt Smoked Pork Shoulder

How Long to Smoke a Pork Butt

I shoot to maintain my smoker temperature at 225 degrees F and can typically plan about 2 hours of cook time per pound of pork. For example, an 8 pound pork shoulder will take about 16 hours from start to finish. Every cut of meat is a little bit different though, so if you want real control over how your meat is cooking.  I’ve had some 8 pound smoked pork butts finish in 12 hours and some 10 pound smoked pork butts take 20 hours to finish.

I recommend a good thermometer (I love an instant read probe thermometer) to keep track of the internal temperature of the meat. You’ll notice a pattern emerge as you start to smoke pork butts more frequently. You will notice your meat rises in temperature up to about 145 degrees F pretty quickly, then the cooking process will slow dramatically and take hours to increase in temperature from 145 degrees F to 165 degrees F. This phase is called the “Stall” and is completely normal. Don’t panic, just let everything keep cooking and eventually the temperature will start to rise again.

How to Smoke a Pork Butt (Smoked Pork Shoulder)

A lot of pitmasters choose to wrap their smoked pork butt in foil or butcher paper at this point to help shorten the process and push their meat through this stall period (you can see how I utilize this technique HERE). For this simple smoked pork butt recipe, I did not wrap at all. Instead, I let the smoke continue to work on the pork shoulder and it helped to develop a really amazing exterior crust on the outside of the meat called “bark.” For those not familiar with the world of BBQ, this outer coating may appear burned, but to those in the know, that dark caramelized bark is absolutely coveted!

The tight connective tissues in your smoked pork shoulder start to break down at 195 degrees F internal temperature. If you like a little more texture to your pork, it’s time to pull it off the smoker! If you want it to be even more fall apart and melt in your mouth tender, you can wait until the internal temperature reaches 201 degrees F. Then all you need to do is let is rest for an hour or so while you prep your favorite side dishes and you’re all set! I like to let my smoked pork butts rest in a covered aluminum pan inside of an insulated cooler, covered with towels. This helps retain the heat and the moisture in the smoked pork shoulder while it rests.

Smoked Pork Shoulder Video

 

Smoked Pulled Pork Butt/Shoulder Recipe

4.58 from 19 votes
Simple Smoked Pulled Pork
Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt/ Shoulder
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
18 hrs
Total Time
18 hrs 15 mins
 
This simple smoked pulled pork recipe only requires a few pantry ingredients and a smoker to achieve those melt-in-your-mouth strands of tender pulled pork.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 16 people
Ingredients
  • 1 8-10 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast AKA Boston butt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup Homemade BBQ Sweet Rub link in recipe notes
  • 1 Tablespoon Homemade BBQ Sweet Rub for later use
Instructions
  1. Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F for indirect smoking.
  2. Remove your roast from the packaging and wipe it down on all sides with paper towels, cleaning off any small bone fragments or extra liquid on the exterior.
  3. Slather the entire exterior of the pork shoulder with the yellow mustard.

  4. Season your pork roast on all sides, top and bottom, with the Homemade BBQ Sweet Rub. Don't worry about rubbing the seasoning into the meat, just be sure it is liberally coated all over.
  5. Place your seasoned roast on the smoker fat side up, preferably in the middle of the grate avoiding any direct hot spots.
  6. Close the lid and smoke the pork until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees F. You can cook to 201 degrees F if you like softer pork. This process can take anywhere between 15-20 hours, depending on the consistency of heat in your smoker and the size of your pork shoulder.

  7. Remove the pork shoulder from the smoker and wrap tightly in foil. Allow the roast to rest for at least an hour before shredding.
  8. Pull apart the shoulder, discarding any chunks of fat or gristle. Sprinkle the roast with an additional tablespoon or so of the Homemade Sweet BBQ Rub. Serve and enjoy!
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62 thoughts on “Simple Smoked Pulled Pork Butt (Smoked Pork Shoulder)

    1. Hey Parker- You don’t need to spritz with apple juice, but it wouldn’t hurt anything either. I kind of like the hands off approach to this pork butt, but you can definitely make it your own!

  1. We’ve made this recipe many times and today I just noticed the yellow mustard ingredient…did you change the recipe recently? Is the mustard important? I’m pretty sure I’ve had success without it in the past. Please help!

  2. What’s the best way to reheat this for the next day’s dinner? I got a late start on this and had to go with plan B for dinner and want to serve this up tomorrow night.

    1. I would let the pork butt rest, then shred. Place the shredded pork into a gallon zip top freezer bag and moisten with any remaining juices. Refrigerate overnight and then reheat tomorrow in a big pot of boiling water. Takes only a few minutes to reheat and keeps it super juicy.

      1. Interested in trying this recipe, but this reheating method sounds strange to me. You dump the pork direct in the water? Won’t you lose flavor in the water, or am I missing something?

        1. You don’t dump the pork into the water. The pork stays in the sealed zip top bag and the whole bag is submerged. All the poor flavor stays in the bag, the water slowly heats the entire contents. Hope that helps clear it up!

          1. I do this a lot with pulled pork and freeze the extra. I usually vacume seal the leftovers and take them camping or on them winter fishing trips on the ice. I love your channel and the fact that you use the grill a lot. I have a Weber and am always looking for something new so thanks.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your receipe for this, you’re a lifesaver!

    We got our 1st pellet grill and a 6.5lb pork shoulder/butt yesterday and today (Mother’s Day) I smoked for my 1st time and knocked it out of the park. Everyone loved it and even took home leftovers!

    I did add just a sprinkle of ginger and cinnamon to the rub and sprayed with fresh pressed apple juice once an hour for the 1st 5, then I let your rub and the smoke do it’s thang the rest of the time.

    I pulled it out at 202°F and I was thrilled to see the almost finished product, the bark was beautiful and the smell was amazing

    I almost got full while clawing/pulling it, haha!

  4. This is our first time smoking a pork shoulder or anything for a long period of time and was wondering how often you add wood chips to the smoker? So excited to try this out as the rub sounds like it is a delicious addition.

    1. Hey Renee, you can add wood chips throughout the entire cook to get the deepest smoke flavor. However, if you want to cut back on the amount of chips used, you can stop adding them when the shoulder gets through the stall at 165 degrees F.

  5. I am using a 3 lb bonless picnic shoulder roast. Does that matter with your directions? Also how long is your recommendations? I think I read about 2 hours per pound?

    1. Picnic shoulders work fine. I would recommend trimming off any excess skin so the rub and smoke can reach the meat. 2 hours per pound is a great starting point, but sometimes even smaller roasts can take a little bit longer, so plan some extra time just to be on the safe side.

  6. I have three 7+ pound pork butts to smoke for a graduation party, would you still just smoke for approximately 14 hours?
    I will put all three on at the same time.

    1. Yep, if you are putting all of them on at the same time and they all weigh the same, you can cook them for about 14 hours. Keep your thermometer handy.

  7. What type of smoker do you use? Can it be done on a small Weber grill without a built-in thermostat? How do I know when it gets to 225 degrees?

    1. I’ve used several types of smokers, this was done on a pellet smoker. You can absolutely smoke on a Weber, but without a built in thermostat, I recommend getting a thermometer you can use to track the temperature inside the smoker.

  8. Hey I’m giving this a try, yes its 12:57 am here in Oklahoma, but I got a late start due to an unexpected water flood..lol! It’s been in my Masterbuilt smoker for 6 hours, long ways to go..

    You were the first recipe that came up in my search and if its complicated I go to the next. You made this simple and the video made it even more simple.. I’ll let you know the outcome at a later date..

  9. Would it be the same cook time (2 hours per pound) for an electric smoker? This would be direct heat as apposed indirect heat

    1. It should be pretty close, I recommend putting it up on a higher shelf to get a little more distance from the heat. If it’s done early, you can always wrap and hold in a cooler for a couple of hours.

  10. I am doing pulled pork for a crowed do you have a formula for how many pounds of pork per person? I heard that you only get a 50% yield of cooked pork is that true?

  11. just took it put of the smoker at 200 , wrapped in foil. this is going to the the longest hour ever as some of the bark /meat stuck the the wrack and it was so delicious. thanks

  12. Thank you, this is very helpful. The first time I smoked a shoulder it was a large piece and took many more hours than I bargained for. My coals completely burned out and had to get a new pile of coals going. Any tip on doing this in order to keep the temp from dropping too much? I use the Kingsford blue bag charcoals.

  13. Hey grill hey I have a question for you I have got a 10 1/2 pound pork butt with a bone but it’s got about a quarter of an inch of fat on it would you trim the bulk of that fat off or would you leave it and it smoke it thank you for your response I figure it’s gonna take me about 20 hours to smoke this bad boy i’ll follow a lot of your recipes

  14. We use an electric smoker any advise is welcome. Every time I smoke anything it doesn’t turn out to well. Any helpful hints?

    1. Butt turned out FANTASTIC. Simple prep and rub, yes, but the flavors were every bit as good as more complex approaches.

      Used a Weber upright water smoker. Total cook time 10.5 hours. Bone came clean out and the meat pulled nicely. Taste and texture was excellent with or without sauce.

      Will definitely use this recipe again!

      1. Family “made” me do another butt this weekend. Used same prep and cooking method as last time (forgot to mention I did not wrap), except I spritzed with apple juice after about hour 6. Turned out as good, if not better, than the first try.

  15. I am excited to see this site and the recipe for the pork butt.
    I don’t have a smoker but a heavy duty grill that I can adjust the temp, can this be cooked that way and if so, is there any difference in the allotted time to cook.

  16. I Love You, Your cooking site has made Me the King of the neighborhood,,,Thank you.
    I don’t do the Mustard thing, even though You can’t taste it,,I use Honey, still “Sticky” and adds some sugar/sweetness to whatever,,Try it.

  17. Got a late start today on smoking a 5 Pound Pork butt, any suggestions or tricks to cook a little faster so that we can have for dinner? Rookie mistake!!!

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