Smoked Pork Shoulder

This smoked pork shoulder, aka pork butt, with its simple and soulful dry rub and foolproof instructions, mean no more standing in line ever again for takeout barbecue. Here’s how to make it at home on your smoker.

A whole smoked pork shoulder.

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 potato salad with dill or this creamy coleslaw with cilantro, and whip up a batch of sweet 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.

Smoked Pork Shoulder

A whole smoked pork shoulder.
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.
Jennifer Hill Booker

Prep 1 hr 15 mins
Cook 13 hrs
Total 22 hrs 15 mins
8 servings
757 kcal
4.77 / 17 votes
Print RecipeBuy the Field Peas to Foie Gras cookbook

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  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the Field Peas to Foie Gras cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 757kcal (38%)Carbohydrates: 8g (3%)Protein: 129g (258%)Fat: 20g (31%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 340mg (113%)Sodium: 1150mg (50%)Potassium: 2239mg (64%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 3g (3%)Vitamin A: 245IU (5%)Vitamin C: 5mg (6%)Calcium: 69mg (7%)Iron: 6mg (33%)

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.

Originally published April 23, 2017


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  1. Ok..i am new to not have a smoker..but hate to cook outdoors! I am such a New Yorker!! even having a home and outdoors for 40 years ..loll…my question…can i cook this in an indoor smoker..i do not have one, but thinking about the Demeyere smoker…
    So for someone new to smoking, am i making a mistake cooking inside..or should i start with this more simple method, and jump into an inexpensive outdoor model and then when more confident …go big or go home~ LOL any help or advice appreciated!

    1. Peg, I lived in tiny apartments with galley kitchens on the East Coast for nearly 25 years so I understand your hesitation. I started smoking with a Cameron’s Stovetop Smoker. I found that it worked amazingly with anything I could fit in it. For items such as a pork shoulder, which are sort of bulky, I simply used several sheets of heavy-duty foil to fashion my own top to the smoker, being certain to overlap the edges of the sheets of foil and to crimp it underneath the edge of the smoker to keep as much of the smoke as possible inside. You can buy small shreds of any variety wood you like to use with your indoor smoker. I was enthralled with it. The only trick is that even though you don’t see smoke coming out of the smoker, it does impart a smokiness to your home. But then, I was in tiny rental kitchens without ventilation. If you have a proper kitchen with an amazing exhaust fan and a window, you may not encounter this to the degree I did.

      And so in response to your query, I guess what I’m trying to say is it depends on the type of person you are. I know I felt more comfortable starting small and getting comfortable with it that way. And that gives you more time not just to play around with smoking different things and seeing if you really like it, but it also gives you time to learn what you like to smoke, which in turn makes it easier to decide which type of large smoker you’d like to invest in, as there are a zillion kinds. But again, keep in mind, ventilation is huge here. I would be at the gym and smell smoke and wonder, oh my gosh, is the gym on fire? And then I would remember I smoked a pork shoulder the night before and I would sniff my just-laundered t-shirt from a couple days before and realize the smoke had infiltrated it.

      Good luck!

      1. Hi Renee,
        Thank you so much for your prompt and helpful answer!! Per your advice and support, I will embark on a smoking adventure! BTW, i lived in homes with a backyard, but NEVER cooked outdoors. My husband manned the grill, and i was never seen in the backyard! outdoor cooking is not something i have a passion for! ‘
        But i like this indoor stovetop smoking idea that you advocate!! Again, THANK YOU!

        1. You’re so very welcome, peg! I wonder, because I keep thinking about the smoke permeating your house, if your grill is one of those that has electric burners on it? If so, you could use that as your stovetop to escape the smoke. Otherwise, yes, I do think it’s a little more like dipping one’s toes in the water to test the temperature. Looking forward to hearing how your smoking adventure goes!

          1. Renee, my husband would not know how to use an electric burner! Only kidding, but no, our grill does not have that option. I do have a fairly powerful vent over our range, so i am thinking this will prevent the smell permeating the house! Will keep you abreast, you are so kind!

          2. oh one more funny, after so many fights with overdone meat on the grill, we barely grill anymore, We sous vide, and then sear for a minute or two!! no more fights, no outdoors!

  2. 5 stars
    So I came across this recipe last night and just happened to have a 7 -pound pork shoulder on my block. I rubbed it around 8pm, wrapped in plastic, and took it out at 4am. Hit the rec tec at 5am at 225°. Although it still looked plenty juicy I got nervous and foil wrapped it at 7.5 hours with a tiny bit of apple juice. Continued 1.5 hours, removed foil, and gave it another 30-45 mins. Amazing… thanks so much for the recipe! Will be doing this again for sure 😉

  3. I do a smoked Boston Butt at least twice a year. ALWAYS apply the rub and let it permeate overnight. In the morning, I put it in my gas grill set low (225) with wood chips over a low flame on the other side of the grill from the meat and slow smoke it for 4 hours. Then I bring it inside and put in roaster with foil cover and continue to cook it another 3 to 4 hours until it falls off the bone. Then I put roaster with foil still on in big paper bag and close it and let rest for an hour. It always comes out perfect and I can’t tell the difference from smoking it all day on the grill like I used to. This takes way less work.

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