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How to Smoke a Pork Butt

These easy step-by-step instructions on smoking a pork butts will make anyone a pit master, almost as good as Aaron Franklin.  This tutorial explains each step and takes the mystery out of BBQ.  Whether you have an offset or electric smoker or just your kitchen oven, you can easily make Texas-style BBQ at home.

 
Sliced pork butt on cutting board.

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Smoking a pork butt is essentially the same as smoking ribs.

I use the same great tasting Texas dry rub and smoke using the same method.  Chimney starters and charcoal is how I get my BBQ started, then I add my fruit wood and hickory on it.  You could use mesquite but I will usually mix a sweeter wood with it as mesquite by itself can be bitter.  Check out my post on how to smoke ribs to see how I use a chimney starter.

What is a pork butt?

Well, it’s not the butt.

It’s actually the shoulder of the animal.

The shoulder has two parts; the upper, thicker part of the front leg where the shoulder blade is located, and the lower, thinner part of the shoulder that is usually boneless.  The upper part is referred to as the pork butt or boston butt.  The lower part is called the picnic shoulder.

The butt has more connective tissue and fat marbling.  This part gets a lot of action and has strong flavor.  If cooked long enough, until 180-190F internal temp, the roast pulls apart easily.  This makes it a great choice for pulled pork or carnitas.

There is something called the stall in long, low heat BBQ-ing.  It’s where the internal temp stays at 145F for a long time before increasing.  The connective tissue is breaking down at this time.  If the pull-apart characteristic is important to you, keep cooking past the stall until you have reached at least 180F.  Otherwise you can just slice the meat or chop it really well and only you will no the difference.  I will keep your secret, promise.

Slathering on mustard and vinegar.
Sprinkling on the rub.

How to smoke pork butts.

  1. Light your charcoal (see this post).  While you are waiting for the charcoal to be ready, prepare your meat.
  2. Brush your roast with the slather (vinegar and mustard).
  3. Spread the dry rub on, using your fingers to caress the meat.
  4. Dump the charcoal into the fire chamber, add your wood.
  5. Close the firedoor, chamber door, make sure both the chimney and venting door are wide open.
  6. Wait ten minutes, the fire will burn hot and your grates will heat up.
  7. Scrub your grates with a BBQ cleaning brush, oil the grates with a paper towel and tongs.
  8. Add a pan of water.  You can use a tin pie plate or aluminum pan.
  9. Place your roast, fattier side toward the heat and close the doors.  Set the chimney and venting door to half open.
  10. Maintain your heat between 225F-300F, with the ideal temperature 275F.  To increase the heat, add more wood and/or open chimney and venting door wide open.  Don’t add more charcoal unless you ignite it first, otherwise your meat will turn black.
  11. After 2 hours, pour pineapple juice on the roast and wrap well in aluminum foil, cook for 4-6 hours at 275F.  For best results, cook until your meat is at least 180F-200F. This will assure tender, pull apart meat. At this point you may finish in your kitchen oven.  You can just set the oven at 275F and set your timer.  You won’t have to tend a fire anymore and you’ll save wood.  After you wrap the roast, it won’t absorb anymore smoke.
  12. Remove aluminum foil and brush BBQ sauce on and cook uncovered for 30 minutes at 275F.
  13. Remove roast and let rest for 15 minutes to allow the juices to re-distribute.
  14. Shred, chop or slice as desired.
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Two pork roasts resting on rack.
Two pork roasts in the smoker.
Finished pork butt.
Pouring pineapple juice on top and wrapping in foil.
159F on thermometer.
Two cooked roasts resting on cutting board.
A finished pork but with some BBQ sauce on it.

Leftover Pulled Pork

If you need idea on what to do with this magnificent piece of BBQ, the Tipsy Texan is my favorite sandwich of all time!

Every heard of a Sandwich Cubano?  It uses two types of pork and would go great with this BBQ smoked pork.

BBQ sandwich on a cutting board.

I hope this article was helpful and motivates you to dive into the wonder world of low and slow BBQ-ing.  Embrace  your inner Texan and start smoking.

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A finished pork but with some BBQ sauce on it.

How to Smoke a Pork Butt

Yield: 20
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 9 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 45 minutes

These easy step-by-step instructions on how to smoke pork shoulder roasts will make anyone a pit master, almost as good as Aaron Franklin.  This tutorial explains each step and takes the mystery out of BBQ.  Whether you have an offset or electric smoker or just your kitchen oven, you can easily make Texas-style BBQ at home.

Ingredients

Slather Ratio 1:1

  • 1/4 cup of mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Rub Ratio 2:1

  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 1/8 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 Tbs cumin
  • 1/2 Tbs paprika
  • 1/2 Tbs onion powder
  • 1/2 Tbs garlic powder

Wood 

  • Any variety from hickory, apple, oak, pecan, cherry, peach, mesquite (when blended with other wood, don't use alone).

Meat

  • 7 lb pork shoulder

Instructions

  1. Light your charcoal (see this post).  While you are waiting for the charcoal to be ready, prepare your meat.
  2. Brush your roast with the slather (vinegar and mustard).
  3. Spread the dry rub on, using your fingers to caress the meat.
  4. Dump the charcoal into the fire chamber, add your wood.
  5. Close the firedoor, chamber door, make sure both the chimney and venting door are wide open.
  6. Wait ten minutes, the fire will burn hot and your grates will heat up.
  7. Scrub your grates with a BBQ cleaning brush, oil the grates with a paper towel and tongs.
  8. Add a pan of water.  You can use a tin pie plate or aluminum pan.
  9. Place your roast, fattier side toward the heat and close the doors.  Set the chimney and venting door to half open.
  10. Maintain your heat between 225F-300F, with the ideal temperature 275F.  To increase the heat, add more wood and/or open chimney and venting door wide open.  Don't add more charcoal unless you ignite it first, otherwise your meat will turn black.
  11. After 2 hours, pour pineapple juice on the roast and wrap well in aluminum foil, cook for 4-6 hours at 275F.  At this point you may finish in your kitchen oven.  You can just set the oven at 275F and set your timer.  You won't have to tend a fire anymore and you'll save wood.  After you wrap the roast, it won't absorb anymore smoke.
  12. Remove aluminum foil and brush BBQ sauce on and cook uncovered for 30 minutes at 275F.
  13. Remove roast and let rest for 15 minutes to allow the juices to re-distribute.
  14. Shred, chop or slice as desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 481Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 822mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 37g

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