Prepare to be amazed by the incredible tenderness and smoky flavor of this mouthwatering Smoked Pork Butt. This recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd.
» You might also like the 5 Best Traeger Grill Review for 2023.
Smoked Pork Butt is an experience you don’t want to miss. The combination of flavors, the tenderness of the meat, and the satisfaction of creating a dish that will be the talk of the BBQ —it’s all worth it.
Not only is this Smoked Pork Butt a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, but it’s versatile. Serve it as the star of the show, accompanied by your favorite barbecue sides, or shred it and pile it high on buns for the most mouthwatering sandwiches you’ve ever tasted.
We love smoking pork butt (or pork shoulder) because it’s so flavorful and can be used so many different ways. Seriously, check out our smoked pulled pork, smoked pulled pork tacos, and pulled pork nachos.
Why Is Pork Butt Great for the Smoker?
Pork Butt lends well to various flavors and seasonings. It readily absorbs the smoky flavors from the wood chips or pellets used in the smoker, allowing you to infuse it with your preferred hardwood smoke flavor, such as hickory, apple, or mesquite.
Its high-fat content and marbling make it incredibly flavorful and juicy when smoked. As the pork butt cooks slowly over the low heat of the smoker, the fat renders and bastes the meat, resulting in a succulent and tender end product that practically melts in your mouth, which is delicious.
What Pellets to Use for the Smoker?
You’ll also need pellets for your smoker, if you’ve got a pellet grill like we do. Pellets come in many different types that you can choose from. I like to use hickory wood, or cherry wood pellets for mine. They also have a bourbon wood pellet that’s very good. My friend Todd swears by the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey pellets.
What is Pork Butt?
Contrary to what its name suggests, pork butt is not actually from the behind of the pig. Instead, it is a cut of meat from the upper shoulder area, the same area as the pork shoulder, except it has more marbling and fat than pork shoulder.
Pork butt is a well-marbled and flavorful cut, thanks to its higher fat content compared to other cuts of pork. This fat plays a crucial role when it comes to smoking or slow cooking.
As the pork butt undergoes the low and slow cooking process, the fat slowly renders, basting the meat and infusing it with incredible juiciness and flavor. This makes it ideal for smoking, as the fat helps keep the meat moist and prevents it from drying out.
- Pork Butt – Pork Butt comes in a lot of sizes. Get one that suits your needs. It will take more or less time on the smoker depending on the size so it’s important to use a meat thermometer. You can also use pork shoulder for this recipe. It’s interchangeable.
- Mustard – Use a ground mustard or our delicious Carolina Gold Sauce
- Pork Dry Rub – See our recipe for pork dry rub here, or use any store-bought you like.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Use any vinegar you have on hand.
- Smoker – I use a Z Grills 700 series smoker for most of my smoking, though I also have a Traeger grill. You can use whatever smoker you have – they all work the same.
- Wood pellets – There are many types of pellets available. If you’ve already got pellets in your smoker, use whatever you have. I really like Hickory pellets for chicken.
- Meat thermometer – Many smokers have a thermometer built in, but if yours doesn’t, get an instant-read thermometer. I love this Thermapen.
What Temperature Should Pork Butt Be Smoked At?
When it comes to smoking a pork butt, maintaining a consistently low and slow temperature is key to achieving tender and flavorful results. The recommended smoking temperature for pork butt is 225°F.
Keep in mind that smoking a pork butt is a slow and patient process. It can take several hours, typically ranging from 1.5 to 2 hours per pound of meat, to reach the desired internal temperature. The target internal temperature for a fully cooked and tender pork butt is generally around 195°F to 205°F.
How Long Does It Take to Smoke Pork Butt?
The smoking time for a pork butt can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the cut, the consistency of the temperature, and the desired level of tenderness. As a general guideline, you can expect to allocate around 1.5 to 2 hours of smoking time per pound of pork butt.
To determine when the pork butt is done, use a reliable meat thermometer and monitor the internal temperature, which should be around 195°F to 205°F. Plan accordingly and allow yourself enough time to enjoy the process and achieve that perfect smoky, tender, and flavorful result.
What Smokers We Use
Did you know that Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill? The Pro Series 22 is the one most people choose because it’s compact, yet has plenty of space for cooking. You can use any type of wood pellets you like. See the Traeger Series 22 Grill on Amazon.
How to Smoke Pork Butt
Take the pork butt out of the refrigerator 1 hour before smoking. Preheat the smoker to 225° F. Fill the hopper with your preferred pellets. I like to use apple wood.
Rub the pork with the mustard and sprinkle on the dry rub.
Place the pork butt into the aluminum pan, fat side up. Insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Place the pan on the smoker and smoke, without opening the lid, until the meat reaches 145° F.
Pour the apple cider vinegar into the pan and continue smoking until the pork reaches 165° F.
Remove the pork from the smoker and wrap it in butcher paper. Return the pork to the smoker until the meat reaches between 190-202° F (lower for firmer meat, higher for softer meat).
Remove the pork from the smoker and let it rest at room temperature for 40 minutes before shredding.
Thermapen ONE (read our review)
» Reading in one second or less
» Accuracy of ± 0.5°
» 5-year warranty
» Auto-rotate display; motion-sensing
» Insanely long battery life (2000 hrs)
Some Tips for Smoking Pork Butt
- Look for a well-marbled pork butt with a good fat cap for optimal flavor and juiciness.
- Use your choice of wood pellets, chips, or chunks (such as hickory, apple, or mesquite) to add a smoky flavor to the pork butt.
- If using wood chips soak them in water for about 30 minutes before using them to generate more smoke.
- Smoked pork butt makes fantastic leftovers. Store any extra meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it for sandwiches, tacos, or other dishes later on.
Smoked pork butt can typically stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days. Ensure it is tightly wrapped or stored in an airtight container to maintain its quality.
If you want to extend the storage time, you can freeze smoked pork butt. When stored in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag, it can last for 2 to 3 months without significant loss of flavor or quality.
To reheat the smoked pork butt, place it in a baking dish or wrap it in foil and warm it in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 250°F) until it reaches the desired serving temperature. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave.
What to Serve on the Side
For sides, there is an endless array of salads and veggies that would make a good choice. Here are a few of our favorites:
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to smoke a pork butt?
The length of time to smoke a pork butt varies depending on the weight of the pork butt and the cooking temperature, but a general rule of thumb is 1.5 – 2 hours per pound at around 225-250°F (107-121°C).
How long to smoke a pork butt at 225?
When smoking a pork butt at 225°F, it will take about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook. So if you have a 4 pound pork butt, you can expect it to take about 5-8 hours. You might notice that the pork hits a stall around the 160°F mark, and you can choose to use the Texas Crutch method of wrapping in butcher paper to help it overcome and cook faster.
Is it better to smoke a pork shoulder at 225 or 250?
This is a major debate in the smoking community. Many people believe firmly one way or the other. You can choose which works best for you and go with that temperature every time, or maybe you will find that one works better for you during certain occasions, like 225 in the summer and 250 in the winter or when it’s windy.
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Smoked Pork Butt
- 6 pound (3 kg) pork butt or shoulder
- 1/4 cup (59 ml) mustard or Carolina Gold Sauce
- 1/4 cup (59 g) pork dry rub
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) apple cider vinegar
- Take the pork butt out of the refrigerator 1 hour before smoking.
- Preheat smoker to 225° F. Fill the hopper with your preferred pellets. I use apple wood.
- Rub the pork with the mustard and sprinkle on the dry rub.
- Place the pork butt into the aluminum pan, fat side up. Insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
- Place the pan on the smoker and smoke, without opening the lid, until the meat reaches 145° F.
- Pour the apple cider vinegar into the pan and continue smoking until the pork reaches 165° F.
- Remove the pork from the smoker and wrap it in butcher paper. Return the pork to the smoker until the meat reaches between 190-202° F (lower for firmer meat, higher for softer meat).
- Remove the pork from the smoker and let it rest at room temperature for 40 minutes before shredding.
🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite recipes at A Food Lover’s Kitchen, Instant Pot recipes over at A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, air fryer recipes at Air Fry Anytime, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!
Angie is a dedicated grilling aficionado who has experimented with a wide variety of techniques, equipment, and ingredients, to discover the endless possibilities of flavors and textures that grilling can achieve.