Pulled Pork Better than Restaurants
I have been to many BBQ restaurants with very average smoked pork butt and pulled pork. It blows my mind, as it is such an easy task to pull off at home. I make this smoked pork butt a lot. It is perfect for large gatherings for all the right reasons. Reasons important to your guests, such as juicy and flavorful. Reasons important to you, such as the ability to serve 15 people with one piece of meat at a reasonable price. Either way you look at it, this is a great way to build rich flavors that everyone will love. If you like to learn with videos, you can watch a full video of this smoked pork butt recipe below from start to finish.
Smoked Pork Butt Video on the Big Green Egg
Picking out the Best Pork Butt
First, we need to talk about pork butts. Pork butt and pork shoulder are referring to the same cut of meat. You can find them boneless and bone-in. For best results always go with bone-in, which enhances flavor and keeps the pork moist. Feel free to try boneless, but it is not the same.
In the average grocery store, you want to buy a bone-in pork shoulder/butt between 6 and 10 pounds. It may say pork shoulder blade or boston butt. This just depends where you are at. Just ask the butcher if you are not sure. I prefer the cuts of meat in the 8-10 lb range so you have leftovers if possible.
Preparing Your Pork Butt for Maximum Flavor
In order to build flavor and tenderness, we are going to inject the pork butt with a marinade, season it with a lot of rub, and then smoke it for 10 hours or more.
First we want to trim up the pork butt. You will usually find a thick fat cap on top. I like to trim this down so you have less than 1/4″ of fat on top. I find boning knives work best for this task, slicing through the meat more easily than a chef’s knife. This is the knife I have used for for over 4 years. I like the semi-flexible version.
After trimming the fat off your pork butt, you want to end up with some areas with a little more than 1/4″ and other areas with less than 1/4″ of fat. You want the end result to look something like this, below…
LAfter trimming, add a lot of rub to all sides of the pork butt. The bigger the piece of meat and the longer the smoke, the more rub I use. You want to use several tablespoons for each pork butt. The pork butt self regulates this, as the rub will stop sticking when the pork is fully saturated with rub.
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Download my Free Everyday BBQ Rub Recipe E-book
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Injecting the Pork Butt with Marinade
The next step is injecting the pork butt with a marinade. My Favorite Meat Injectors: Cajun Deluxe Marinade Injector or Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Meat Injector. I own both and use the cajun deluxe injector for chicken and more delicate tasks. I also find the cajun deluxe works well with pork butts. However, I do like to use the larger stainless model because it allows the granules of the Rub to pass through the injection needle without clogging.
I use a simple marinade containing BBQ rub, butter, vegetable oil, and apple cider vinegar. After rubbing, use a meat injector to inject 3-5 tablespoons of marinade into the meatiest parts of the pork butt. If you do not have a meat injector, skip this part for now. After you get an injector, give it another try.
Smoking the Pork Butt
After injecting, you are ready to smoke. Heat the smoker up to 250 degrees and place a chunk of apple wood on the smoker. Place your pork butts on and let the smoking begin. I use my Big Green Egg for this and I only add one chunk of wood every hour for the first 4 hours. After that, it is just the lump charcoal doing the smoking for the rest of the smoke. By not adding wood throughout the process, the meat does not get over smoked.
S&S Tip: If you are smoking overnight or during the day and cannot watch the smoker, smoke it for the first 4 hours and then transfer the pork butt to an uncovered pan in the oven at 250 degrees.
S&S Tip: If you find the pork is not cooking fast enough or you are running short of time, wrap it in foil tightly and place it back on the smoker. Up the temperature to 300 degrees and check after an hour for tenderness.
Check your pork butts at 8 hours, but they will probably need 10. You can check internal temperature, which should read about 200 degrees when done, but I usually go with looks and feel. When done, the bark will start to crack apart, revealing the pork. And if you stick a fork in it and pry, the meat should give in very easily. You can also use the finger test. If you can poke the pork butt and your finger can easily sink 1/2″ or so into the pork, it is probably done.
If you are just getting the hang of smoking meat and grilling, internal temperature is the sure fire way to tell if the meat is done. ThermoPro makes my favorite “value” temperature monitors that monitor both meat and smoker temperature. This is my favorite wireless meat probe / smoker monitor for the money. Check the pork butt in multiple locations for 200 F, and it should be about right.
When it reaches this point, wrap it in foil and remove it from the heat to rest for an hour. After resting, transfer to a pan and rip apart the meat with a pair of forks or a set of meat claws. Remove the bone and any large pieces of fat that did not render out. Then you are ready to serve the pulled pork with buns and all the fixins.
I served these to the masses at Art in the Garden, which is a local art show we hold at our garden center. I got so into it, I forgot to take final pictures of the pulled pork…. guess I will just have to do it again! We sold out in about an hour, so I think they turned out OK. Give this recipe a try and let me know how it turns out. If you like this recipe, I also recommend checking out my Smoked Brisket Recipe too… its a winner just like this one! If you are a green egg fanatic, you may want to take a look at my Green Egg Grill Table Plans, which are a lot of fun to build and use.
Smoked Pork Butt
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 6 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons BBQ Rub
BBQ Rub - 4 Tablespoons or more of the following mix
- 12 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Seasoned Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Celery Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Lemon Pepper Mix
- 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
- 2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
- 4 Tablespoons Sweet Smoked Paprika
- 2 Tablespoons Ancho Chile
- 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Cumin
- 2 teaspoons Oregano
- 2 teaspoons Thyme
- 2 teaspoons Rosemary
- 2 teaspoons Cayenne
- 2 teaspoons Mustard Powder
- Trim excess fat from pork butt
Apply rub all over the pork butt. All areas should be well covered. Use at least 4 Tablespoons. You want a thick coating, but not so much it is "caking" on the pork.
- Add all marinade ingredients to a microwavable container and melt together. Let cool until it is only warm. Stir vigorously before injecting.
Inject pork with the meat injector in the meatiest parts of the pork. Try to avoid the bone. Generally you cannot over inject the meat, but be gentle as the marinade might shoot back at you... its happened to me a few times.
- Apply more rub after injecting if needed.
- Heat smoker to 250 degrees with a heat shield between the meat and the heat source.
- Add one chunk of apple wood to fire and place pork butt on the smoker.
- Add a chunk of wood every hour for the first 4 hours.
- Maintain 250 degrees. Check the pork butt at 8 hours, but expect 10 hours to be needed depending on pork butt size and smoking conditions.
- The pork butt "bark" will start to crack when it becomes ready to eat. Check the tenderness with a fork when you think it is ready. The meat should easily move and separate when you probe it with a fork. Final internal temperature should be over 200 degrees.
- Remove from heat, wrap with foil, and let rest for 1 hour before serving
Pull apart meat with two forks or meat claws and serve with buns, bbq sauce, and fixins.
You can finish this in the oven as well. Just maintain the 250 degrees after placing the pork butt in a baking pan.
Want all of my Amazing BBQ Rubs that will take your Backyard BBQ to the Next Level? Download my favorite Everyday BBQ Rub Recipes below….
20 thoughts on “Amazing Smoked Pork Butt the First Time”
Nice site Keegan! Clean and crisp… Thanks
Thanks joey… I appreciate the kind words
Could you season a and inject the night before?
Sure, I’ve done that before. It comes out great either way. I am usually short on time, so it happens that morning. Let me know how you like it!
Tried it yesterday and it was awesome!!! Put rub the night before and wrapped in plastic overnight then injected in the morning. Smoked in my MB 30 with traeger oak pellets in a Amazen pellet tray. Excellent flavor!
What size do you suggest. I have a boneless pork shoulder that I plan on using. No where do state what size or weight you use. I see from the pics that you have two smaller.
I plan to smoke this and a turkey breast at the same time. Any advice you can give I would appreciate it.
Hi Nancy… I usually shoot for a pork shoulder in the 8-9 lb range. I prefer bone-in for smoking. You can still use the boneless, but next time try to find a bone-in pork shoulder. I think the 8 lb and larger ones stay more moist, but you can go smaller. For the 8 lb’ers I usually plan on 10-12 hours to reach 200 F, if smoking around 250. Just wrap it with foil for the last few hours if you need to speed it up. You can let it rest for a few hour too if needed in foil, in a cooler. The turkey breast will not take long, so mainly plan around the pork shoulder and place the turkey breast on a few hours before the pork shoulder is done. If you let me know exactly what you are working with, we can come up with a better game plan. Also, what type of smoker. Happy thanksgiving!
Perfect, we are usimg the old style charcoal smoker. Thanks for this info.
Great video on YouTube on Smoked Pork Butt. I will be using your tips and subscribing. Continued success.
Thanks Trent… I appreciate the support!
Hey- I am using an electric smoker. I have 2, 9 pound bone in butts. Do I need to smoke the butts for around 10 hours or will I need to double the cooking time? I guess what I am trying to figure out is if you have a smoker full of meat is it based on time or hours? Thanks
Hi there… you should not need to double the time for two butts. You might find it takes a little longer to smoke two… but if it holds temp at 250, the total time should be close to 10 hours. When smoking these large cuts of meat, I always try to have an extra hour or two built in, just in case you do need more time. Sometimes you will find it cooks faster or slower depending on the cut of meat and circumstances that day. So… I would plan on 12 hours and if it gets close to finishing in 10, you can always throw them in a pan, cover with foil and put them in the oven at 190 to keep them warm until dinner time. Good luck with your cook… Keegan
Thank you, used your recipe several times
and the pork always turns out great. One silly
question: with the plate setter in place
how do you add a lump of wood during the
first 4 hours? My fires seem to always burn
from the center out. Rarely does a lump of wood
smoke it just dries out on the outside
of the plate setter.
Thanks for the question Jerry. I swapped out the plate setter for an adjustable setup that holds a ceramic stone for indirect grilling/smoking. I found the plate setter to be a big pain in the ass, so I purchased a setup from The Ceramic Grill Store. This is the one I have. You lose a little space, but so much easier to use… https://ceramicgrillstore.com/collections/big-green-egg-large-accessories-by-ceramic-grill-store/products/large-adjustable-rig-r-and-b-combo-bge
GAWD this looks so good! I will be trying it in the morning. My son–who lives far away mixes a lot of cornstarch in his rub (ratio of 1/2 to one). I am too scared to try it because I can hardly find any mention of it on the web. I have used it on steaks to get a blacker crust. Have you heard anything? Another question also. I read where to only fill up water tray on my electricc smoker 1/3 to 1/2 full so it won’t get too moist inside. This isn’t right is it?
Well…I followed all. I did inject and season the night before. Cut off a lot of fat. My FIRST smoke. I used an electric smoker…Everything ran great…about 238 degrees for 7 1/2 hours. Took out at 187 degrees.
Used a popular butt rub with a lot of brown sugar and paprika. I could not tell the difference in my pork butt and the one at the local barbeque spot. Maybe I was expecting too much? Heck, I couldn’t even taste the hickory smoke, the paprika,the brown sugar or anything. I guess “first smokes” are not supposed to do great-But don’t know what to do different. Buy some new taste buds? lol
Hi Charles, I cannot recommend the corn starch for the long smoking recipes like this one. What type of smoker are you using? You mentioned electric, but what type exactly? I would also make the rub in this recipe if you can… and lay it on thick. Other than that, charcoal smokers are the best for flavor. You may need to upgrade your smoker if you want more bold flavors, along with the rub. Best of luck!
Hey Keegan – I have currently had 2 (1 @7lb and 1 @8lb) butts on almost 8 hours at 250. Butt 1 is 184 and Butt 2 is at 180. Have leave in meat probes in and FireBoard is holding the temp.
Do I really need to check them at 8 hr mark if there not yet at 200F internal or can I just push through?
If I do need to check them at 8 hr mark should I spritz?
You can spritz if you want, but it will generally slow down the cooking process a little. Here are your options:
1. Check for tenderness right now and see how they feel. If they are still firm, definitely keep them on longer. If you can poke your finger easily through the bark, then they are most likely done. If not done, keep them on a few more hours.
2. If they are not tender, you can wrap them tightly in foil or place them in a pan and wrap it tightly. This option will bring them up to temp faster if you are in a hurry. They can be done in as little as 1 hour.
Thank you Sir! Your recipes have helped make cooks on the Egg a lot simpler. I did all the work early this morning then set it and forget it. Went on 2 hours away for a hike at Tallulah Falls/Gorge and made it back just in time to check the butts!
No rush here – all the time in the world. I’ll probably just check for tenderness and let it ride if needed.
Thanks again…have a good weekend!