I have smoked many pork butts and I will share here how I do that and all the possible pitfalls.
Although you can use any type of smoker, pellet grill, electric smoker, and even a grill, as long as you have a 2-zone setup for this recipe, I always have a good result with my Ugly Drum Smoker and can do 2 pork butts at the same time.
Updated: September, 2023
First, I will give a short answer on how long to smoke pork, but since it is a time-consuming cook, this will only roughly show how much time you need.
How Long To Smoke A Pork Butt
There are too many variables to give you an exact answer.
To begin a pork butt can weigh between 5 and 10 pounds. So there is a difference in cooking time.
The temperature of the smoker that people use ranges from 225 to 275 degrees and this also has an impact on the time it takes to smoke pork butt.
|Weight/Temperature||5 pound||6 pound||7 pound||8 pound||9 pound||10 pound|
|225 Degrees||7 hours||8 hours||9 hours||10 hours||11 hours||12 hours|
|250 Degrees||6 hours||7 hours||8 hours||9 hours||10 hours||11 hours|
|275 Degrees||5 hours||6 hours||7 hours||8 hours||9 hours||10 hours|
Now you know how much time you roughly need you can add the preparation time to that and have your total time to smoke a pork butt.
My experience is that it always takes a little longer than expected.
Best Way To Smoke A Pork Butt
The best way to smoke a pork butt is low and slow. Although there are also people who prefer fast and hot.
I have had pork butts both ways and, although this is a personal preference, I prefer low and slow over fast and hot.
Did you know that pork is the most popular meat for BBQ?
A pork butt is also known under a few other names. Some of them are pork bone-in shoulder, and Boston butt.
A pork butt is most of the time sold with the bone-in.difference between a Pork butt and a pork shoulder
Although they both come from the shoulder of the pit they come from different parts of the shoulder.
- The pork shoulder comes from the pig’s shoulder above the forelegs.
- The pork butt comes from the Upper part of the pig’s front shoulder.
Difference Between Pork Butt And Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder – less fat
Pork shoulder – usually has skin on
Pork butt – more intramuscular fat
Pork butt – no skin.
Cooking Method For Pork Butt And Pork Shoulder.
Pork butts are most used for pulled pork
Pork shoulder is most used for pork roast.
What Do You Need To Smoke A Pork Butt
- Sharp knife for cutting off some of the fat.
- Aluminum foil to wrap the pork butt,
- Thermometer to check the temperature in the smoker and pork butt internal temperature.
- Smoker. You can even use a grill, but better is a charcoal smoker or a pellet smoker.
- Seasoning and apple juice
Steps To Smoke A Pork Butt
I prefer to have my pork butt trimmed and seasoned the night before I plan on smoking it. The reason is that preparation takes time and I like the give the seasoning time to get into the meat.
- First, I rinse the butt with cold water. The reason I do this is that the butt most of the time is being cut with a bandsaw and this leaves bone particles that I want to remove first.
- The second step is to pat the butt dry with paper towels.
- Cut off some of the fat if it is thick. Make sure to leave at least 1/2 inch/
- The next step (optional but suggested) rub the butt with some olive oil. This will help the seasoning to stick better.
- Rub the seasoning on the butt and don’t be shy. It is a big piece of meat. See my recipe here!
- You can inject the pork butt with a mixture of apple juice and the seasoning you use. I think this will enhance the flavor and the apple juice is a tenderizer.
- Now wrap it in plastic and let it sit overnight so the seasoning has time to get into the meat.
Tip: For large amounts of pepper I recommend using the Mannkitchen pepper cannon.
- Heat up the smoker to about 235 degrees Fahrenheit. (112 degrees Celsius) The reason I heat it up a little higher than my target temperature is that my experience is that the temperature in the grill drops a little when you place a big chunk of meat like a pork butt in it.
- Place the pork butt on the smoker with the fat side up, insert thermometers on the grill grate level, and insert one in the meat. Be careful not to touch the bone this will give a false reading on your thermometer.
- Optional: You can spritz the meat every hour with a mixture of diluted apple juice
- Keep the butt on the grill until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (73 degrees Celsius). This is the time to wrap the pork butt.
- Read my article on when to wrap a pork butt for all ins and outs!
- You can read a more in-depth article about when to wrap a pork butt here. Here is the short version.
- Form a boat shape of aluminum foil
- Remove the meat from the smoker and wrap it in 2 layers of quality aluminum foil. Add the apple juice before wrapping.
- Place the meat back on the smoker and maintain the temperature at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. (107 degrees Celsius)
- Watch the temperature in the meat to reach 203 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (add Celsius)
- Before that happens, you will see that the temperature will stop rising for a period of time. This is called the stall and usually happens around 170 degrees. It is my experience that wrapping the meat will decrease the time that this takes.
- There are many theories about what the stall is and I will write about that later.
- Once the temperature reaches 203 – 205 degrees (95 degrees Celsius)) take the meat off the grill, unwrap it and pour the juices that are in there into a bowl.
- Now pull the meat apart and the easiest way to do this is with a pair of bear claws.
- Add the juices you saved back to the meat to add more moisture. This is not necessary, but I prefer it that way. If you skip this the meat might be a little dry and I don’t like to eat it that way.
Now all you have to do is add the meat to the buns and add all the fixings you like to use. I prefer some Cole slaw and my own BBQ sauce (you can find my recipe here).
Smoked Pork Butt
- 1 Smoker
- 1 bag charcoal briquettes Charcoal starter
- 1 Thermometer 2 probes and wireless
- 1 whole Pork Butt
- 2 Cups Seasoning
- 1 Cup Apple Juice
- 1/2 Cup Olive oil
- Rinse pork butt.
- Pat dry.
- Cut off some fat if it is too thick. But leave at least 1/2 inch.
- Rub with some olive oil.
- Add seasoning.
- Inject pork butt. (optional)
- Wrap in cling wrap.
- Let sit for at least 6 hours but the best is overnight.
- Heat up the smoker to 235 Fahrenheit. (112 degrees Celsius)
- Place the pork butt on the smoker. Fat side up.
- Insert thermometer probes on the grill grate and inside the butt
- Regulate temperature in smoker to 225 Fahrenheit. (107degrees Celsius)
- Smoke till internal temp is 165 Fahrenheit. (73 degrees Celsius)
- Form a boat shape of aluminum foil.
- Wrap the meat in the aluminum foil and add 1 cup of apple juice.
- Place the wrapped pork but on the smoker.
- Wait till the internal temperature is 203 – 205 degrees (95 degrees Celsius)
- Remove meat from the smoker and pour juices in a bowl.
- Shred the meat with forks or a pair of bear claws.
- Add the juices back into the meat.
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?
In general, I use the rule of thumb of about 1/3 pound of prepared pulled pork per person. That is enough for 2 pulled pork sandwiches.
So, with this rule of thumb, it is easy to calculate how much-pulled pork you need for 5, 10, 50, or even 100 people
You can read my post on how much meat to buy per person for a BBQ, to figure out how much you have to order or buy from your butcher.
Pulled Pork Leftovers
To be honest I never had too many leftovers when I smoked a pork butt. All I had to do is ask people if they wanted to take some home and my leftovers were gone.
However, sometimes I had some left and I have some awesome and easy recipes for what to do with leftover pulled pork and I will add links to them here later.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
There are many questions I probably have not answered in this article and I have found some to add to this frequently asked question on how to smoke pork butt.
Q: Do You smoke pork butt fat up or down?
A: When you smoke a pork butt you should put the fat side up.
Q: Do you wrap a pork shoulder in foil when smoking?
A: I do wrap a pork shoulder in aluminum foil after it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. But it is not a necessity.
Q: Should you flip a pork shoulder when smoking?
A: There is no need to flip a pork shoulder when you are smoking. Keep the fat at the top to render through the meat to improve tenderness.
Q: What do you put on a pork shoulder before smoking?
A: Before smoking, you can rub the pork shoulder with some olive oil and your favorite rub.
Q: Why do you put mustard on a pork shoulder?
A: Putting mustard on a pork shoulder will help the seasoning to stick better and add some more flavor.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he is able to find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the about page for Eddie van Aken