How to Smoke a Pork Butt For Delicious Pulled Pork
The pork butt, commonly referred to as Boston Butt, is an underutilized cut of meat that produces delicious smokey pulled pork dishes. When slow cooked for long hours it produces tender, juicy and flavorful strips of meat with subtle undertones of smokey BBQ flavor.
Prep takes time, but the wait will pay off! It’s worth your while!
Pork butt is an ideal cut to slow-smoke because of its connective tissues, which soften over time and less bone structure compared to most cuts of pork. A traditional smoker or pellet grill works for this recipe – just ensure the temperature control system can maintain 225 degrees throughout. I personally prefer using either hickory or apple wood for smoking – however you could experiment with different flavors too!
Alternatively, if your day will be busy on the day you plan on making this meal, pre-making it can save both time and effort while still enjoying its delightful flavors. Just add it all to foil pans before refrigerating overnight for best results. This way you won’t miss any flavor of this satisfying meal!
Before beginning the smoking process, remove any extra silver skin or hard pieces of fat (the soft fat will render down easily during smoking), then generously coat your pork in your favorite BBQ rub (I personally like adding sugar for flavor but this step is optional); alternatively you could substitute brown sugar with liquid sweeteners like Swerve to decrease carb intake.
Once ready to begin smoking your pork butt, place it fat side up onto your smoker. While you have the option of wrapping or not, I prefer leaving mine unwrapped as this allows it to baste itself during smoking. For an accurate reading from your thermometer insertion should occur into shoulder joint.
Smoke the pork until it reaches fork-tender, roughly 6 hours. Every hour or so, check the internal temperature, and once it reaches 195 to 204 degrees remove from the smoker and let rest before pulling apart easily when done. Feel free to add sauces for flavor but try not oversaturating this incredible cut of meat!
Pork butts are cut from the shoulder area, usually 6-8 pounds in weight. Although tough in nature, when slow smoked they become tender with intense flavor. For optimal results we suggest brining before smoking – this process helps break down connective tissue to produce tender meat that melts in your mouth! For best results we suggest using a wood pellet smoker such as Traeger but this recipe can also be made on charcoal grill or barrel smoker.
Add some flair to your brine by including a dry rub for extra flavor! While this step is optional, adding one will give your pulled pork an additional dimension in terms of taste and crust. We suggest using a shaker style spice container when applying this dry rub; this ensures more even coverage and prevents any clumping of spices which could sweat into what may resemble wet glaze.
Monitor your temperatures throughout the smoking process, and aim for a steady 225 degrees. If temperatures dip below this, add additional coal or wood pellets such as hickory or apple wood pellets until temperatures return up. When finished, pull and rest the pork butt for 30-60 minutes for succulent and flavorful pulled pork that you will be proud to present as part of any dish you serve up!
If you’re hosting a large gathering, plan ahead by making the pork butt ahead of time and wrapping it tightly in butcher paper before placing it in an empty cooler – this way your guests can quickly devour it upon arriving!
Once the pork has completely cooled, you can shred it using two forks, two barbecue claws or gloved hands. Feel free to apply sauce if desired but be wary not to oversauce the meat as the tender shredded pork should easily crumble under pressure from forks or claws.
No matter if you use your smoker or oven, creating delicious pulled pork requires the perfect rub. Mixing in salt, sugar and paprika helps bring out its natural flavors while adding depth. A dry rub can also add spice and depth; just be aware that it takes time and patience! Additionally, try including cayenne pepper for an added bit of heat or garlic for added savory notes in your rub for optimal results.
Scoring a pork butt means creating a shallow crosshatch pattern with your knife blade, just enough to expose its meat beneath. This will enable your spices to penetrate the fat cap and reach its meat core more effectively, before using your dry rub to season the entire pork butt liberally – then allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes to set its flavorful coating!
After your pork has been properly seasoned, it’s time to put it on your smoker. Set your smoker to between 235 and 300 degrees and allow it to cook undisturbed for approximately 3 hours – after about 2 hours start spritzing it with liquid such as water, 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, or beer for added smokiness.
Spraying pork to keep it from drying out and cracking is one way to preserve its bark. Purists might argue this destroys it, but my experience shows otherwise. Use your fingertips to touch the bark – if it sticks back onto itself when touched then this indicates the bark hasn’t set completely yet.
Once the pork reaches approximately 160 degrees in its thickest part, remove from the grill and cover it with heavy-duty foil. Next, lightly spray it again without overdoing it. Finally, wrap tightly with foil as this will keep it warm while you shred it – then unwrap when ready to enjoy with Alabama white or mustard-based bbq sauce for optimal results!
As this recipe requires long hours of smoking, planning ahead is key to success. To ease your way, brine and rub the pork butt the night before and refrigerate to allow its seasonings to penetrate deep within its fibers and begin working their magic. When ready, remove it from the fridge the morning of smoking to allow its temperature to return back down before placing on your pit or rack – this allows smoke to billow around it and begin doing its thing too!
Once your smoker reaches 225 degrees, you can add your pork butt and plenty of hickory or fruit pellets for optimal cooking results. An 8-10lb butt should take about 12 hours, until it reaches fork tender. Be sure to rotate every hour during smoking process while spraying it with apple juice every few times as this will add extra flavor while helping retain moisture levels during this process.
Once the pork butt has reached an optimal internal temperature and the smoking process is well under way (you’ll know it has reached tenderness when its shoulder blade bone starts pushing itself out), remove from the smoker and allow to rest in its packaging for at least an hour before returning it to the smoker. Resting helps redistribute muscle fibers more evenly across its surface area and release more of that delicious moisture that makes up its delicious taste!
As with anything, use only high quality aluminum foil when wrapping your pork butt. Cheaper versions tend to tear easily and ruin the process, while butcher paper works just as well, though may not prevent smoke leaking out as easily. Once your pork butt has rested fully, remove from its wrapper using either a meat claw or pair of forks and shred into thin strands before serving on buns with your favorite BBQ sauce!