Smoked Pork Butt Recipe

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This Smoked Pork Butt Recipe is the perfect, easy main course for all the summer barbecues and anytime of the year gatherings. Use the BEST dry rub seasoning to help create a nice dark bark, and smoke it all day on low. The pork is fall off the bone, tender, and makes the perfect sandwich!

If you’d rather make a pork butt in your instant pot, try my Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas. Want to use your oven? Make my super simple Slow-Baked Pulled Pork. I’ve got ya covered!

Side shot of a smoked pork butt, with two forks on a platter.

You’d think I would be a pro at smoking pork butt. When our oldest son graduated from high school, we threw a big party and decided to smoked EIGHT pork butts. I was smoking me some butts morning, noon, and night (and throughout the night) the week of the party. In fact, I really couldn’t stomach this tender meat again until only recently. I had my share of it back in the day!

Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder

Pork butt is often called pork shoulder, but they are actually different cuts of meat.

  1. Both come from the shoulder of the pig, but pork shoulder meat extends down to the pig’s front hoofs. The pork butt (also called Boston Butt) comes from the shoulder blades.
  2. Pork shoulder is leaner than pork butt. The butt has more fat marbling throughout, making it a perfect meat to cook slow and steady.
  3. The shoulder has a more triangular shape due to its positioning, while the butt is more rectangular in shape.
  4. Due to the excessive fat make-up of the pork butt, it is an ideal meat to smoke at a low temperature.
A platter of shredded smoked pork butt.

Ingredients needed

  • Pork Butt – I always buy my pork butt at Sam’s Club. They are usually 8-9 pounds, which is a good amount to smoke. Eat some, share some, and freeze some for later!
  • Sugar – You’ll need some granulated sugar to help get the bark nice and dark.
  • Salt – Go with kosher salt, for best results.
  • Pepper – Just a regular black pepper is needed.
  • Paprika – Use a regular paprika or smoked paprika. Either work fine.
  • Cayenne Pepper – For some heat. Add more if you like!
  • Garlic Powder – Adds some garlic flavor, which is nice for almost all meat recipes.
  • Wood Chips or Pellets – Go for an apple flavor, or experiment with whatever you prefer!
Overhead shot of a smoked pork butt on a platter.

Best Dry Rub Seasoning

I’ve been using my brother Dave’s dry rub seasoning for years now. It’s a simple list of ingredients, and I prefer to make a large batch of it and store it in my pantry for all the things.

If you want to make just the right amount for one pork butt, use the measurements in the recipe card below. But if you want to make a large batch, you’ll save yourself time for the next time you’re grilling/smoking!

How to make Smoked Pork Butt

There are literally hundreds of recipes (or more?) for smoked pork butt on the web. Mine is one of the simpler methods, as I only use a dry brine. I’ve tried the wet brines, the apple cider spritzes during the cooking process, and the apple cider soaks afterward. But what I’ve found is that the meat tastes the same.

A good dry rub, cooking it low and slow, wrapping it at the stall point, and then using my reheating method is what I’ve found works best for me. I hope you give this way a try!

  1. Make dry rub seasoning. In a bowl, add the seasoning mixture and combine. I prefer to mix up a large batch of seasoning and store in my pantry for all occasions.
  2. Marinate pork. Add pork to a pan, and generously sprinkle with the dry rub, using your hands to massage it into the pork. Make sure you get all sides of the pork butt, and don’t be shy with the seasonings.
  3. Prep for smoking. About an hour and a half before smoking, take the pork butt out of the refrigerator and set on counter to let it come close to room temp. Putting cold meat on a grill is not recommended.
  4. Prep smoker. Light a grill or smoker to 225 degrees. When regulated, place pork butt on grates, fat side up (or down works fine too). If using a regular grill, add some smoking chips to the grill. Close grill.
  5. Smoke pork butt. Keep the grill/smoker constant at around 225 degrees during the cooking process. When meat registers 160 degrees, wrap it completely with tin foil, and place back on the grill. Continue to cook until meat registers approximately 200-205 degrees. Remove meat.
  6. Let rest. Let the meat rest (while wrapped) for about 20 minutes before shredding. You can also place it in a cooler to keep warm if you need to let it rest for longer than 20 minutes.
  7. Serve. Serve pork in sandwiches, wraps, tortillas, etc. See below for ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do you cook pork butt low and slow? The pork butt, or pork shoulder, has tight connective tissue surrounding the muscles in that area of the pig. That tight tissue makes this cut very well suited for smoking low and slow. If you cooked the pork fast, it wouldn’t allow for the connective fibers and tissues to break down into tender pieces of meat. Cooking low and slow allows these fibers to break down and tenderize. The result is strands of delicious, tender smoked pork!
  • How long does it take to smoke a pork butt? When smoking at 225 degrees (like in this recipe), the pork can take up to two hours per pound. So in this instance, my eight pound pork butt should take about 16 hours. However, every cut of pork is different, and the cook time can vary quite a bit. I recently cooked a 9 pound butt in less time than it took for an 8 pound butt about a month ago.
  • What is “the stall”? Once you cook a few pork butts low and slow, you’ll notice that the meat rises in temperature up to about 150-170 degrees pretty quickly. But then the cooking process will slow significantly and take hours to increase in temperature from 150 degrees to 180 degrees. This phase is called “the stall” and should be expected. Don’t worry. Just keep on smoking the meat, leaving the lid closed, and the meat will eventually keep cooking and will rise in temperature. This is one of the reasons that my recipe instructs you to wrap the smoked pork butt in foil to help shorten the process and push the meat through this stall.
  • How do you arrange a schedule to cook for so long? So you have basically two choices. You can get up early to start the smoke at the crack of dawn (or sooner), or cook it overnight. We’ve done it both ways. If you start the smoke early and it gets done earlier than expected, you can keep the pork wrapped and store it in a cooler for a couple of hours to keep it warm. Cooking it overnight is nice but you’ll want to make sure you put it on close to bedtime. You still want to wrap it when it reaches 160 degrees. Since we have a Memphis smoker, it notifies us when the meat reaches a certain temperature.
  • What is the best way to heat up smoked pork? Hands down, the best way (in my opinion) is to use the method I describe in my Crispy Pork Carnitas. Just simple layer the pork on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, drizzle with some chicken broth, and broil for about 5 minutes (watch it closely!), or until just heated through. The meat will get warm and a little bit crispy, perfect for tacos or sandwiches or just eating with a fork!
  • Can I freeze leftover smoked pork butt? Heck yes! We always have a bag of pork in the freezer, and it’s great for some quick weeknight meals. Just place in a freezer bag and freeze for several months. See below for some delicious ideas for using the leftovers!
Overhead shot of a platter with a smoked pork butt, with two forks shredding part of it.

Ways to serve smoked pork butt:

There are so many ways to enjoy smoked pork butt. Every time we make it, I try something new!

Closeup of some smoked pork butt.

Kitchen Tools Used: (affiliate links)

xoxo ~Sue

Side shot of a smoked pork butt, with two forks on a platter.

Smoked Pork Butt Recipe

This Smoked Pork Butt Recipe is the perfect, easy main course for all the summer barbecues and anytime of the year gatherings. Use the BEST dry rub seasoning to help create a nice dark bark, and smoke it all day on low. The pork is fall off the bone, tender, and makes the perfect sandwich!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pork butt, pulled pork, smoked pork, smoked pork butt recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 hours
Total Time: 14 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 297kcal
Author: Sue Ringsdorf

Ingredients

  • 8 pounds pork butt
  • 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Instructions

  • Mix up the rub by combining the sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Combine well.
  • At least 12 hours before smoking the pork, liberally sprinkle the rub all over the pork butt, using your hands to massage it into the meat. Place the pork in a pan and cover with foil. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 12 hours.
  • About an hour and a half before smoking meat, place it on your kitchen counter to come close to room temp.
  • Light grill or smoker to 225 degrees. Add pellets (if using certain smokers) or wood chips to the grill. When grill is regulated, place pork, fat side up (or down is ok too) on the grates. Close grill and cook, checking temperature periodically. We use probes for our Memphis, but a digital thermometer is also used as it gets close.
  • When meat reaches approximately 160 degrees F, remove and wrap the meat tightly in tin foil. Place the pork back on the grill, and continue cooking.
  • When pork butt reaches 200-205, remove and let rest (wrapped). The meat should rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

FAQs:
  • Why do you cook pork butt low and slow? The pork butt, or pork shoulder, has tight connective tissue surrounding the muscles in that area of the pig. That tight tissue makes this cut very well suited for smoking low and slow. If you cooked the pork fast, it wouldn’t allow for the connective fibers and tissues to break down into tender pieces of meat. Cooking low and slow allows these fibers to break down and tenderize. The result is strands of delicious, tender smoked pork!
  • How long does it take to smoke a pork butt? When smoking at 225 degrees (like in this recipe), the pork can take up to two hours per pound. So in this instance, my eight pound pork butt should take about 16 hours. However, every cut of pork is different, and the cook time can vary quite a bit. I recently cooked a 9 pound butt in less time than it took for an 8 pound butt about a month ago.
  • What is “the stall”? Once you cook a few pork butts low and slow, you’ll notice that the meat rises in temperature up to about 150-170 degrees pretty quickly. But then the cooking process will slow significantly and take hours to increase in temperature from 150 degrees to 180 degrees. This phase is called “the stall” and should be expected. Don’t worry. Just keep on smoking the meat, leaving the lid closed, and the meat will eventually keep cooking and will rise in temperature. This is one of the reasons that my recipe instructs you to wrap the smoked pork butt in foil to help shorten the process and push the meat through this stall.
  • How do you arrange a schedule to cook for so long? So you have basically two choices. You can get up early to start the smoke at the crack of dawn (or sooner), or cook it overnight. We’ve done it both ways. If you start the smoke early and it gets done earlier than expected, you can keep the pork wrapped and store it in a cooler for a couple of hours to keep it warm. Cooking it overnight is nice but you’ll want to make sure you put it on close to bedtime. You still want to wrap it when it reaches 160 degrees. Since we have a Memphis smoker, it notifies us when the meat reaches a certain temperature.
  • What is the best way to heat up smoked pork? Hands down, the best way (in my opinion) is to use the method I describe in my Crispy Pork Carnitas. Just simple layer the pork on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, drizzle with some chicken broth, and bake at 400-425 for about 10 minutes, or until just heated through. The meat will get warm and a little bit crispy, perfect for tacos or sandwiches or just eating with a fork!
  • Can I freeze leftover smoked pork butt? Heck yes! We always have a bag of pork in the freezer, and it’s great for some quick weeknight meals. Just place in a freezer bag and freeze for several months. See below for some delicious ideas for using the leftovers!

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 722mg | Potassium: 655mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 363IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

Tuesday #BBQWeek Recipes

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Be sure to follow our Pinterest board for more summer BBQ ideas. Thank you to Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures and Ellen from Family Around the Table for hosting the event.

One Comment

  1. You make the best pulled pork, hands down!

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