Smoking a pork butt is probably one of the most rewarding things to smoke. The smoke flavor combined with a well rounded Smoked Pork Butt seasoning provides a tremendous amount of delicious meat that can be used for pulled pork sandwiches and many other meals.
- 8 pounds Bone-In Pork Butt (also called Pork Shoulder)
- 1 tablespoon Yellow mustard
- 1/8 cup Brown sugar
- 1/4 cup White sugar
- 1/4 cup Paprika
- 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon Garlic powder granules
- 1/2 tablespoon Chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
- 3/4 cups Apple juice
- 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar
- Prep the smoker
Preheat smoker to 250°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside.
- Trim the pork butt
Trim any excess fat or loose ends of pork. You can remove the fat cap completely or trim it down to a thin 1/4” layer.
- Slather with mustard
Rub a thin, even coating of yellow mustard on all sides of the pork.
- Rub your butt
Combine dry rub ingredients and sprinkle a thick, even coating on pork butt on all sides. This can be done the night before by wrapping in plastic wrap and storing in the fridge until ready to smoke.
- Let rub adhere to pork butt
Let the pork shoulder sit out on the counter for 1 hour to let the meat come to room temperature and the rub to adhere well. This will ensure a more even cook.
- Let’s get smoking
Add pork butt to smoker grate and smoke at 250°F until it hits an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part of the shoulder, approximately 4-6 hours.
- Spritz the pork butt
Each hour after the first 3 hours, open up the smoker and spritz pork butt. Make sure your spray bottle is set to spray in a light, even mist and not a direct blast of the liquid. You just want to moisten the pork, not soak it.
- Wrap the pork butt
When the pork reaches 165°F degrees in the thickest part, remove it from the smoker, lay it in the center of 2 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil, spritz heavily one more time with the spray bottle, and then wrap the foil tightly around the pork. You could also put the pork butt in an aluminum pan and cover with aluminum foil.
- Return the pork butt to the smoker
Return the wrapped pork butt to the smoker and smoke at 250°F for approximately 4 more hours. The smoked pork butt is done when the internal temperature is between 200°F-205°F and the meat thermometer slides in & out like a knife slicing through room temperature butter – barely any resistance. I find that this usually occurs around 203°F, but all meat is different.
- Remove pork butt and rest
Remove pork from smoker and keep pork wrapped while it rests for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. You can keep in warmer long bu placing it in an insulated cooler.
- Separate the juices
Unwrap the foil and pour the juices into a gravy separator or bowl until you can see the fat separated from the jus. If you’re not using a fat separator, carefully spoon off the fat from the top of the jus.
- Pull the pork butt
Place the pork butt into a pan and shred into thin strands with your fingers, a pair of forks, tongs, or any other shredding utensil you prefer.
- Pour the juices over the pulled pork butt
Pork the reserved jus into the pan and toss with the shredded pork.
How to Store Leftover Smoked Pork Butt
Store leftover pulled pork for 3 or 4 days after cooking for maximum freshness. Use zip-top bags to store it, squeezing out as much air as possible, or use tin foil to wrap the cooked pork butt before shredding. Air-tight plastic or glass containers work for storage as well. If you won’t be using the rest of the pork butt within 4 days, freeze the shredded pork in freezer bags with as much air squeezed out as possible, for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat Leftover Smoked Pork Butt
There are several ways to reheat pork butt, so feel free to choose the method that is best or easiest for you. For best results, make sure you have saved the juices from the finished smoked pulled pork, as it will help keep it nice and moist during reheating. No matter the method, make sure you bring the temperature of the meat up to 165 F before eating. (You can use an instant-read meat thermometer to check this.)
Use a crockpot or Instant Pot for hands-off reheating. Add the juices and the leftover pulled pork to the crockpot or Instant Pot, and use the lowest setting or the “keep warm” function to bring the meat up to temperature.
You can also reheat the pulled pork in the microwave. Add the juices and pulled pork to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with either a lid or with plastic wrap to retain the moisture in the meat. Reheat on high for 1 to 2 minutes at a time, tossing the meat and checking the temperature in between to bring it to 165 F.
If you aren’t left with much juice but want to reheat the pork butt, use the spritz bottle to spray down the meat before reheating. The apple juice and vinegar mixture will help add some moisture back to the meat when reheating.
Can I Use Boneless Pork Butt?
Pork butt, which actually comes from the shoulder of the pig, is a cut of meat that does really well with long, slow, cooking processes. It does differ from cuts labeled “pork shoulder” because the butt is the thickest part of the shoulder with rich marbling throughout. The intense marbling of pork butt is ideal when you want the meat to fall apart easily. Boneless pork butt can be substituted for bone-in pork butt and is often easier to find in grocery stores and butcher shops, but keep in mind the cooking times can vary when using a cut of meat with no bone. The bone adds flavor and slows down the cooking process, while a boneless cut will cook slightly faster. This might end up making the pulled pork a bit tougher, so try experimenting with dropping the cooking temperature a bit, or adding a pan of water to the smoker to increase the moisture.
Keeping The Smoked Pork Butt Moist
Using a spray bottle is the easiest way to spritz meat while smoking, and can be found in hardware stores, the cleaning supply section of department stores, or even the hair care department. Make sure to wash the spray bottle with soap and water before using it.
Ideas for Serving
You can change the flavors of the rub to suit your needs. This cooking process works extremely well for Mexican carnitas-style pork – all you will need to do is change up the flavors of the rub. The tender meat shreds easily for making the carnitas into tacos and burritos.
Serving pulled pork on sandwiches makes for a great party meal. Use a crockpot or Instant Pot on the “keep warm” setting to keep the pulled pork hot, pile up a stack of good rolls to scoop pulled pork into, and ask your friends to bring sides like chips, mac & cheese, and veggies and dip. Everyone can bring their favorite BBQ sauce to share for the sandwiches!