Smoked Pork Butt: Recipes, Secrets and Best Dishes

Smoky, tender, and bursting with flavor, smoked pork butt recipes are a classic for us BBQ buffs. Made from tough yet juicy and marbled pig shoulder cuts, this BBQ recipe is great for pulled pork used in sandwiches or as a pizza topping.  

My experience making pulled pork and other pork butt dishes has shown smoking pork butt requires a great deal of patience and precision. Plus you need a deep understanding of the cooking process.

So, in this article, I’ll show you around the world of pork butt smoking. We’ll start with my favorite way to smoke pork butt. Then we’ll see the techniques that work, flavors, and secrets behind a well-smoked pork butt.

Smoked Pork Butt Recipe: How to Make Smoked Pulled Pork?

Juicy, succulent, and downright delicious, this recipe takes pulled pork sandwiches to a new level. Next, you’ll find out how to smoke a pork butt and even make it into your sandwiches. 

Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork

Ingredients for Smoked Pulled Pork


  • 1 boneless pork butt (around 4-5 pounds)
  • 2 tbsps paprika
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, for some extra heat)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 hamburger buns

Tools Needed

  • Wood smoker or charcoal grill
  • Charcoal or wood chips for smoking
  • Meat thermometer
  • Insulated container 
  • Aluminum foil
  • Mixing bowl
  • Tongs
  • Forks or meat claws


Step 1: Prepare the Pork Butt

Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a mixing bowl. I’m talking about all the paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using). Mix well to create a flavorful rub.

Now put your pork butt meat on a clean surface and generously apply the rub all over, massaging it into the meat. Make sure to cover the entire surface.

  • Bone-in pork butt is a good option for this recipe because the bone marrow adds moisture and flavor to the meat as it cooks. But you’d need to debone before pulling the meat.
  • Shoulder pork is also fine for making pulled pork. Both are easy to alternate because they’ve got similar characteristics and are adjacent to each other in the pig’s shoulder.

Step 2: Set up the Smoker

Preheat your smoker or grill to a temperature of 225°F (107°C). An offset grill like the Char-Broil 12201570-A1 or a kettle grill like Weber Original is perfect for smoking this meat. Both allow you to use charcoal and wood chips to generate smoke for that signature smoke flavor.

To keep the meat moisturized for the pulled pork quality, add some liquid in a disposable aluminum pan and place in the smoking chamber. For some added flavor, this can be apple cider vinegar, apple juice, or even wine.

Step 3: Smoke the Pork Butt

Place the seasoned pork butt directly on the smoker rack. Close the lid and let it smoke for 1.5 to 2 hours per pound of meat. That means for our 5-pound pork butt, we’re looking at 7.5 to 10 hours of smoking time. Make sure the grill maintains a consistent internal temperature throughout the smoking process.

Step 4: Get That Temperature Check

Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the pork butt. But avoid hitting the bone. USDA recommends 145 degrees as the minimum safe internal temperature for Boston butt and other pork meats. 

But we’re looking for that sweet spot when the internal temperature hits 195°F (90°C). This is when the meat gets all tender enough for pulled pork. 

Step 5: Wrap and Rest

Now, take that smoking hot pork butt out of the smoker and give it a tight, cozy wrap in aluminum foil. This helps keep all the juice locked in. 

Then, let it rest for about an hour. Pop it in a cooler or insulated container like a Cambro Go Box to let the flavors mingle and do their thing.

Smoked Pork Butt

Step 6: Shred the Pork Butt

It’s time to get hands-on! Unwrap that rested pork butt and grab two forks or some meat claws like the Bear Paws Claws

Let loose and shred that meat! Toss out any excess fat and bone, and you’ll be left with tender, melt-in-your-mouth strands of pulled pork.

Step 7: Slather on that BBQ Sauce

Alright, now comes the saucy part! Grab a big mixing bowl and toss your shredded pork in your favorite BBQ sauce. 

Give it a good mix until every piece is coated with finger-licking goodness. Add as much or as little sauce as you like, depending on how wild you want your taste buds to get.

Step 8: Assemble the Sandwiches

It’s time to toast those buns. Throw them on the grill or pop them in the toaster – we want them warm and toasty. Once they’re ready, load up the bottom half of each bun with a mountain of that tender pulled pork.

Step 9: Serve and Enjoy 

Alright, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – it’s chow time! Serve up those pulled pork sandwiches with all your favorite sides like coleslaw, pickles, or maybe some zesty potato salad. Get creative and make it your delicious combo.

Go ahead, enjoy every bite – you’ve earned it!

Other Popular Recipes or Dishes for Smoked Pork Butt?

Pulled pork has many different uses, which are useful to various recipes. Some famous recipes include sandwiches, tacos, BBQ pork nachos, pork sliders, and pork chilis. It is also possible to use it for topping on pizzas in pasta to add flavor. Here are some ideas to get this done:

Pulled Pork Tacos

Load warm tortillas with the shredded butt, fresh salsa, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime for a delicious taco experience.

Pulled Pork Taco Sandwich Wrap

BBQ Pork Nachos

You could also have crispy tortilla chips loaded with delicious pulled pork. Then add some gooey melted cheese and a good drizzle of tangy BBQ sauce. 

Toss on some jalapeños and your favorite toppings, and you’ve got a plate of yummy BBQ Pork Nachos.

Pulled Pork BBQ Nachos

Smoked Pork Fried Rice

Who says you can’t rock the wok with your leftover pulled pork butt? You can toss in those flavorful porky bits with cooked rice, mixed veggies, and soy sauce and scramble in some eggs for a mouthwatering twist on classic fried rice. 

Fried Rice with Pork and Vegetables

Pork Sliders

Slap some tender smoked pork butt between slider buns. Then add some creamy coleslaw, zesty pickles, and a dollop of tangy barbecue sauce.  

These are perfect for snacking, partying, or satisfying your craving for BBQ on a bun.

Homemade Pulled Pork Sliders

Pork Chili

Do you want to take your chili game to the next level? Throw in some chunks of smoking hot pork butt along with beans, tomatoes, spices, and whatever else tickles your taste buds. Trust me, that smoky depth will blow your mind and have you coming back. 

Spicy Pork Chili

Smoked Pork Pizza

You can also get wild and crazy with your toppings by slapping on some sliced or diced pork butts. 

Combine it with your fave cheese, veggies, and sauce for a pizza experience.

Delicious Smoked Pork Pizza

Pasta with Smoked Pork

Who says pasta has to be boring? Time to amp up that flavor with some chopped or shredded pork butt. Add it into dishes like carbonara, creamy Alfredo, or spicy Arrabbiata for a rich and smoky twist that’ll have you sayin’ “Mamma Mia!”

Pasta Cabonara with Sliced Smoked Pork

What’s the Difference Between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder? 

I need to clear up the confusion between “pork butt” and “pork shoulder”! Some people tend to use both terms interchangeably. I’ve seen pork butt also called pork shoulder. But there’s a difference!

Pork Butt

Don’t be fooled by the name. Pork butt, also called Boston butt, doesn’t actually come from the pig’s backside. Quite the opposite! 

The pork butt is taken from the upper part of the shoulder, near the shoulder blade. It’s got some nice marbling and collagen. This means it’s perfect for slow-cooking methods like smoking and braising. 

Pork Shoulder

Now, the pork shoulder, or picnic shoulder or picnic roast, as it’s also known, hangs out below the pork butt. It has a leaner vibe than the butt and a slightly different texture. 

It is suitable for slow cooking methods and is often used in similar dishes as pork butt, such as pulled pork or braised pork.

While both cuts are delicious and can be used interchangeably in many recipes, pork butt tends to have slightly more fat and collagen. So it results in a juicier and more flavorful result, which is why it’s the best choice for pulled pork dishes. 

What Makes Pork Butt (or Shoulder) Good for BBQ?

Pork butt, or shoulder, is highly regarded in the world of BBQ for several reasons.

Tough Muscle, Tasty Flavors 

Firstly, Pork butt is the muscle used by the pigs for their muscle work and is, therefore, hard in texture but has intense flavors. Its great nutritional value comes from the dense connective tissue it contains. During long slow cooking, collagen breaks out in gelatin. This gelatin makes for tasty, hard meat. 

Marbling and Savory Fat

Pork butts have a generous amount of marbling and savory fat. This fat adds richness and depth of flavor to the meat during the cooking process, contributing to its delicious taste.

BBQ on a Budget

Pork butt is a relatively affordable cut compared to other options. So it’s accessible for BBQ enthusiasts on a budget. It is readily available in most places, making it a convenient choice for large gatherings and events.

How Do I Store Leftover Pulled Pork?

Storing leftover pulled pork butt is essential to keep that smoky deliciousness intact for future enjoyment. Proper storage helps maintain its flavor, texture, and safety. Here’s how to handle my porky leftovers:

  • Cool it down: Allow the smoked pork butt to cool down to room temperature before storing. Avoid leaving it at room temperature for over 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Divide and conquer: If you have a large amount of leftover smoked pulled pork butt, divide it into smaller portions for easier storage and reheating.
  • Refrigerate: Wrap the smoked pulled pork tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil or place it in airtight containers. Refrigerate promptly within 2 hours of cooking. Ensure your refrigerator is set at 40°F (4°C) or below to keep the meat safe.
  • Use it within a few days: For the best quality, consume the leftover smoked pork butt within 3 to 4 days of refrigeration. If you can’t finish it all, consider freezing it for longer storage.
  • Freezing option: If you want to keep your smoked pork butt longer, freezing is the way to go. Use freezer-safe, airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. Label and date the containers for easy identification.
  • Thaw safely: When ready to enjoy your frozen smoked pork, thaw it safely. Transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly overnight. Alternatively, you can use the microwave’s defrost setting for quicker thawing.
Pulled Pork Meat with Chili Sauce

How Do I Reheat Leftover Smoked Pork Butt?

Reheating leftover smoked pork butt is a breeze. But, you need to use gentle methods like low and slow cooking to avoid drying it out.

Here are a few methods you can choose from, depending on your preference:

Crock Pot/Slow Cooker

For the crock pot/slow cooker method, throw the shredded meats and any saved juices into the pot. Set it to low heat, and let it heat for two to four hours. Just give it a good stir now and then to spread the heat evenly.

Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

If you’re Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker savvy, transfer the shredded pork butt and those juices into it. Set it to “Warm” or “Low,” or use the “Steam” button and let it slowly warm up for five minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the heat spreads around.


Place the desired amount of leftover pork butt in a microwave-safe dish. Cover the dish loosely with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap to help retain moisture.

Heat the pork in short intervals, stirring in between, until it reaches the required internal temperature. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Pork Butt Still Need Spritzing? 

I believe you should spritz your pork butt. I like to do this after the third hour of cooking but in around an hour intervals. But it’s not mandatory like when smoking leaner cuts like beef or pork tenderloin. 

Pork butt is naturally a well-marbled and fatty cut of meat, which means it has built-in moisture and tenderness. This makes spritzing optional rather than mandatory. Some pitmasters prefer not to spritz their pork butt and still achieve fantastic results. That’s fine, as long as they wrap it during smoking. 

If you enjoy spritzing, you can use a combination of apple juice, apple cider vinegar, water, or your preferred basting sauce or mop sauce. Lightly spritz the pork butt every hour or as desired during the smoking process, being careful not to disturb the bark that forms on the surface.

2. Is Pork Butt Healthy for Me?

Pork butt, like any meat, can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced meal plan. 

Pork butt is higher in fat content than leaner pork cuts like tenderloin. A 3-ounce (85g) serving of cooked pork butt contains approximately 16 grams of fat, including 5.9 grams of saturated fat. But what you should note is most of the fat in or on pork butt tend to render away during low and slow smoking. So this is not a biggy, especially if you take this occasionally. If you’re still worried about the fat content, I suggest you do a lot of trimmings on the fat cap before smoking. 

By the way, pork butt is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. A 3-ounce serving has more protein (20 grams) than fat. But watch out. This cut typically has around 73 grams of cholesterol, 24% of the daily required value. Moderation and balance are key when incorporating pork butt into a healthy diet.

Raw Grass Fed Pork Shoulder

3. How Long to Smoke a Pork Shoulder at 225 Degrees?

The smoking time for pork shoulder at 225 degrees Fahrenheit can vary depending on the size and thickness of the meat. As a general guideline, you can estimate around 1.5 to 2 hours per pound of pork. Therefore, shoulder pork weighing 8 pounds may take approximately 12 to 16 hours to smoke at 225 degrees.

4. How Do I Know When Smoked Pork Butt is Done?

Like I always say, it’s always best to measure the meat thermometer for internal heat. For pulled pork, you need to wait till it reaches an internal temperature of 195-210 degrees (95 – 96°C). When the meat reaches the desired internal temperature, it should be easy to shred before being taken out of the smoker.

5. Is It Better to Smoke a Pork Shoulder at 225 or 250?

When smoking this cut, the lower it is, the better. 225 is what I like to go for, although it will result in a longer cooking time. But you’re getting incredibly tender and juicy smoked pork shoulder. It allows for a more gradual collagen breakdown, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture. On the other hand, smoking at 250°F offers a faster cooking time and may yield slightly firmer meat with a more pronounced smoke flavor.


Smoked pork butt is the stuff BBQ dreams are made of! Whether you’re stacking sandwiches high or creating some pizza toppings, there’s no better meat or cooking technique for these than smoked pulled pork.

Sure, the low-and-slow smoking process might take some patience and finesse, but it’s worth the effort. From preparing the pork cut to the type of grill to use up to the point where you’re shredding it, I’ve laid out the secrets for success.

Now it’s your turn to experiment, and I’d like to see what you’ve got. So grab your tongs, fire up your smoker, and create your own BBQ masterpiece.