If smoked pork shoulder isn’t the most rewarding thing you can pull off your smoker, we don’t know what is. Yeah, it’s an all-day affair. But it’s not a difficult affair. Toss the pork on the smoker after breakfast and by dinner, you’ll be moaning over rich, tender pulled pork encased in a crispy, smoky crust. Probably with half the neighborhood clamoring at your backyard gate. Thankfully, the recipe makes plenty.–Angie Zoobkoff

Smoked Pork Shoulder FAQs

What’s the best type of wood to use to smoke pork?

While you can use any available wood chips to smoke your pork shoulder if you have options, here’s what to consider. Wood from fruit trees goes exceptionally well with pork so apple, cherry, peach, or even maple would all be terrific. Some woods are more popular, depending on location. Texas is known for pecan or oak, while hickory is integral to Memphis barbecue.

What should I serve with smoked pork butt?

Toss together a few easy salads, like this crème fraîche potato salad or this creamy coleslaw with cilantro, and whip up a batch of quick cornbread. If you’d like a rich, warm side to go along with it, give this cheesy smoked mac and cheese a try. You won’t be disappointed.

What is a meat stall?

If you are monitoring your temperature closely, you may notice that the internal temperature seems to stop rising once the meat reaches 160°F. This is referred to as the “stall”, where the collagen in the meat begins to break down, giving you that tender meat you’re craving. Just let it do its thing. The stall may last for several hours before the temperature begins to climb again.

This recipe makes a lot of pulled pork. What can I do with the leftovers?

The options for leftover smoked pulled pork are plentiful and so delicious that you may want to make sure you save some just for that purpose. We highly recommend stuffing the leftover pork into BBQ pulled pork tacos or stuffing it into a pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich.

A whole smoked pork shoulder.

Smoked Pork Shoulder

4.74 / 19 votes
When slow-smoking a pork shoulder, you should figure 1 1/2 hours per pound of pork. A 10-pound, bone-in pork shoulder takes a long time to cook, but for the majority of that time it is in the smoker. You can get it started right after breakfast and have it ready in time for dinner.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories757 kcal
Prep Time1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time13 hours
Total Time22 hours 15 minutes


  • Smoker


For the smoked pork shoulder rub

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the pork shoulder

  • One (8-to 10-pound) bone-in pork shoulder (may also be labeled pork butt or Boston butt)
  • Vinegar Barbecue Sauce, (optional)


Make the dry rub

  • In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients.
  • Rub the spice mixture thoroughly over the pork shoulder. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

Smoke the pork shoulder

  • About 1 hour before smoking the pork, unwrap the pork shoulder and let it rest at room temperature.
  • Heat your smoker to 225°F (105°C). This may require several additions of water-soaked wood to keep the smoke going.
  • When the temperature of the smoker has reached a constant 225°F (105°C), place the pork shoulder, fatty side up, on the rack. Close the lid and adjust the vents so the smoke flows freely throughout the smoker.
  • Cook until the meat is exceptionally and sigh-inducingly tender and reaches an internal temperature of 185° to 195°F (85° to 90°C), somewhere between 10 to 14 hours or about 1 1/2 hours per pound of meat. Let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Slice, pull, or chop the pork. Demolish it immediately, doused with Vinegar Barbecue Sauce, if desired.
Field Peas to Foie Gras Cookbook

Adapted From

Field Peas to Foie Gras

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 757 kcalCarbohydrates: 8 gProtein: 129 gFat: 20 gSaturated Fat: 6 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 340 mgSodium: 1150 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Jennifer Hill Booker. Photo © 2014 Deborah Llewellyn. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This smoked pork shoulder recipe is Exhibit A to prove that good things come to those who wait. The flavorful, dark bark on the pork when it comes off the smoker after that 12-hour cooking marathon (low and slow is the way to go!) is so worth the wait.

While the dry spice rub, applied the night before, is fairly standard, with paprika, sugar, cayenne and black peppers, salt, garlic, and onion powder, the addition of sage takes the rub to another plane. We often think of sage in the context of a poultry rub but when added to this pork rub, it adds a certain earthy lemoniness that most every BBQ rub lacks. And that flavor doesn’t get lost. Rather, it comes through in spades and makes for a really “wow” moment with every bite.

We served this smoked pulled pork with our favorite coleslaw, some mac ‘n cheese, and hot sauce. And if you drizzle it with vinegar barbecue sauce, it’s really over the top.

This is pretty much a classic dry-rubbed pulled pork recipe. The spices really permeated the meat and the flavors were readily discerned in the cooked meat.

The rub can be made very quickly—assembled and applied in less than 10 minutes, so there is very little hands-on time with this recipe. I refrigerated the rubbed pork roast for 24 hours. I made this smoked pork butt with a 4-pound pork shoulder so the smoking time was quite a bit less than stated in the recipe, but it still took 6 hours to be completely done. We used hickory wood in the smoker.

The 4-pound roast served 4 with a little leftover for pulled pork sandwiches. We served it in true barbecue fashion with baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Shanghai Fried Noodles

Skip the takeout and make this fast, easy, and oh-so-satisfying bowl of Shanghai noodles, crispy pork belly, and kale.

20 mins

Vietnamese-Style Caramelized Pork

This caramelized pork is sweet, salty, savory, and a little spicy. It’s every bit as good as what you’ll find in your local Vietnamese restaurant and completely doable on a weeknight.

1 hr

4.74 from 19 votes (10 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Started mine this morning at 10:00 am and it’s 10:27 pm, a little over 12 hours and still not quite done. Internal temperature is still only 150. Used a charcoal smoker with a variety of damp hardwood chips. It’s looking fantastic so far and can’t wait to taste it. Just wondering why it’s taking so long as it’s only a 4 lb roast, oh wait I’m in Canada lol!
    Thanks for the shares and stay safe

    1. Laughs! That could be it, Doug! Try to maintain the smoker at 225°F and it will get there. Do let us know how it turns out.

    2. Looks like you have hit the notorious STALL. This is normal. When the collagen breaks down. it cools the meat. At this point what you need to do is wrap it. Put some apple cider or similar in a pan and seal it tightly. This will force the temp up and you’ll be back on the road to eating soon.