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How Long to Smoke a Pork Shoulder (Pork Butt) at 225F

A comprehensive guide on the art of smoking a pork butt, from how long to smoke a pork shoulder at 225°F to the best seasonings to our tried and true cooking techniques. We walk you through the process step by step, ensuring that your backyard barbecue yields tender, flavorful pulled pork that will impress your guests!

Smoking a pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, requires time, patience, and love for barbecue! The slow and low cooking method transforms this affordable cut of meat into tender, flavorful perfection, making it a favorite among pitmasters and backyard barbecue enthusiasts. If this is your first time, you might be wondering how long to smoke a pork shoulder at 225°F. Let’s break it down!

For the best results, plan for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours of smoking time per pound of pork shoulder at 225°F. For example, if you have a 10-pound pork shoulder, you can estimate the cook time to be around 15 to 20 hours. However, it’s important to remember that these are just estimates, and the actual cooking time of a smoked pork butt may vary based on factors such as the smoker’s temperature stability and outdoor conditions.

The internal temperature of the meat should be around 205°F (96°C), The smoked pork butt should be tender and ready to be enjoyed. To test for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the pork shoulder, avoiding contact with the bone or fat. 

smoking a pork shoulder at 225 F

What is a Pork Shoulder?

A pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, is a cut of meat from the upper part of the front leg of a pig. It’s is a flavorful and versatile cut, typically used for slow cooking methods such as roasting, braising, or smoking.

The Boston butt is often marbled with fat, which helps keep it moist and tender during the cooking process, resulting in succulent and delicious dishes such as pulled pork, carnitas, or braised pork shoulder.

It’s important to note, that this is different from a Picnic Shoulder (Picnic Ham), which comes from the lower part of the shoulder and includes a portion of the upper foreleg. Picnic shoulder is often cured and smoked to make picnic ham. It’s slightly less tender than pork butt but still very flavorful.

what is a boston butt?

The Best Way to Cook a Pork Butt

Smoking is the best way to cook a pork shoulder! The flavor, tenderness, and moisture retention of a smoked pork butt is unmatched. The process of smoking infuses the meat with a rich, smoky taste that’s difficult to replicate with other cooking methods. This slow and low heat cooking method breaks down tough connective tissues and collagen in the meat, ensuring that the pork shoulder remains tender and succulent throughout. 

Unlike high-heat cooking methods that risk drying out the meat, smoking creates a moist cooking environment that seals in natural juices, preserving the pork shoulder’s moisture and flavor. Additionally, smoking offers versatility in flavor customization, allowing cooks to experiment with different rubs, sauces, and wood types to achieve their desired taste. 

Once the pork shoulder is in the smoker, the cooking process requires minimal work, allowing you to relax and enjoy the experience. The end result is a rich, mahogany-colored bark on the exterior and tender, mouthwatering meat.

dry rub for pork butt

Picking a Dry Rub for Pork Butt

A dry rub for smoked pulled pork often includes a combination of spices and seasonings that complement the natural flavor of the pork. Here are some ingredients we recommend:

  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds sweetness and helps to caramelize the exterior of the meat as it cooks. It also aids in creating a delicious bark on the pork shoulder.
  • Kosher Salt: Salt is essential for seasoning the pork shoulder and enhancing its natural flavor. It helps to penetrate the meat and distribute the other spices evenly throughout.
  • Black Pepper: Black pepper adds a bold, spicy kick, balancing out the sweetness of the brown sugar and adding depth of flavor to the pork shoulder.
  • Granulated Garlic: Garlic powder brings savory notes, enhancing the overall flavor profile of the pork shoulder.

Feel free to use our basic Soul Dust soul food seasoning recipe or customize your own signature dry rub recipe to suit your taste preferences.

Mop Sauce

A mop sauce is a thin, flavorful liquid used to baste meat while it’s cooking, typically during low and slow methods such as smoking or barbecuing. It’s applied with a mop or brush and helps keep the meat moist while adding additional layers of flavor.

Mop sauces can vary widely in their ingredients, but we typically use apple cider vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and hot sauce.

Mop sauces are often used for meats like pork shoulder, brisket, or ribs to enhance tenderness and flavor throughout the cooking process.

BBQ spRITZ IS anOTHER oPTION

An apple cider vinegar and water spritz is another simple yet effective technique used to keep the surface of the pork shoulder moist during the smoking process. Also, the spritz aids in the formation of the coveted bark on the exterior of the pork shoulder.

The acidity from the apple cider vinegar helps break down proteins on the meat’s surface, promoting bark development and enhancing texture. Some people like to use apple juice because sugars in the apple juice caramelize during the smoking process.

The apple cider vinegar and water mixture is also said to help regulate the cooking temperature by evaporating upon contact with the hot surface of the meat, thus preventing it from cooking too quickly and ensuring even cooking and optimal tenderness. 

Simply combine equal parts water and ACV in a spray bottle and generously spritz the pork shoulder every hour or so during the smoking process. With this spritz, you can elevate the taste, texture, and overall quality of your smoked pork shoulder.

pulled pork

Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe at 225°F

Follow these instructions for smoking a pork shoulder at 225°F to achieve tender, flavorful results. Slow and low cooking allows the pork to develop a delicious smoky flavor while becoming incredibly tender and juicy!

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Begin by selecting a high-quality pork shoulder from your trusted butcher or grocery store. Aim for a pork shoulder weighing between 7 to 10 pounds for optimal results. Before cooking, place the pork butt in a foil pan and allow the pork shoulder to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes to ensure even cooking.
  2. Next, apply yellow mustard as a binder, then season the pork shoulder generously with your favorite dry rub or seasoning blend. Whether you prefer a classic barbecue rub or a more adventurous flavor profile, be sure to coat the entire surface of the meat.
  3. Properly setting up your smoker is crucial for maintaining a consistent cooking temperature and infusing the pork shoulder with a delicious smoky flavor. Start by preheating your smoker to 225°F (107°C). Whether you’re using an electric smoker, pellet grill, or offset smoker, aim to achieve a stable smoker temperature range throughout the cooking process.
  4. Once the smoker is preheated, add your preferred wood to the firebox or smoker box. Popular wood choices for smoking pork shoulder include hickory, apple, cherry, and oak.
  5. With the smoker preheated and the pork shoulder seasoned, it’s time to begin the smoking process. Place the pork shoulder on the smoker grate, fat cap side up, to allow the rendered fat to baste the meat as it cooks. Optional: Add a mop sauce or spritz your meat every 30 to 45 minutes if desired*.

Note: Once the pork shoulder is in the smoker, resist the temptation to constantly open the smoker lid. Each time you open the lid, you risk losing heat and smoke, which can prolong the cooking time and affect the final result. Instead, trust in the process and maintain a consistent temperature of 225°F (107°C) throughout the smoking session.

Resting and Serving

Once the pork shoulder reaches the desired internal temperature, carefully remove it from the smoker and transfer it to a clean cutting board or serving platter. Tent the pork shoulder loosely with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for about 20-30 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, ensuring a moist and flavorful final product.

Estimating the Smoking Time

As mentioned earlier, the smoking time for a pork shoulder at 225°F (107°C) can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the pork shoulder, the smoker’s temperature stability, outdoor conditions, and the desired level of tenderness. As a general rule of thumb, we plan for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours of smoking time per pound of meat.

To calculate the estimated smoking time, multiply the weight of the pork shoulder (in pounds) by the average smoking time per pound (in hours). For example, if you’re smoking an 8-pound Boston butt, the estimated smoking time would be 12 to 16 hours.

Conversion Chart for Smoking a Pork Shoulder

How long it takes to smoke a pork shoulder at temperatures ranging from 225-250°F (107-121°C).

Tip: How to Cook it Faster

You can cook a pork shoulder faster by increasing the heat and wrapping it in foil after you have achieved the desired color and bark.

Carefully remove the pork shoulder from the smoker and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Then, increase the temperature of your smoker to 275°F (135°C). Place the foil-wrapped pork butt back on the grill grates and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 205°F (96°C) and the meat is tender and easily shreddable.

The higher temperature and the foil will help the pork shoulder cook faster without sacrificing tenderness.

To smoke pork shoulder at a higher temperature for a faster cooking time, check out our Best Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork recipe.

smoked pulled pork

Summary

Smoking a pork shoulder requires patience, attention to detail, and a passion for barbecue. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can achieve the best pulled pork in your backyard. Our pork shoulder recipe is perfect for novice pitmasters and barbecue enthusiasts alike. So grab your barbecue sauce and a Boston butt and get cooking!

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Smoked Pork Shoulder (Pork Butt)

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15-20 hours
  • Total Time: 15-20 hours
  • Yield: 1016 servings 1x
  • Category: main course
  • Method: smoker
  • Cuisine: southern, barbecue

Description

A comprehensive guide on the art of smoking a pork butt, from how long to smoke a pork shoulder at 225°F to the best seasonings to our tried and true cooking techniques. 


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. Place the pork butt in a foil pan and allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes to ensure even cooking.
  2. Next, apply yellow mustard as a binder, then season generously with your favorite dry rub or seasoning blend. Be sure to coat the entire surface of the meat.
  3. Preheat your smoker to 225°F (107°C). Whether you’re using an electric smoker, pellet grill, or offset smoker, aim to achieve a stable smoker temperature range throughout the cooking process.
  4. Once the smoker is preheated, add your preferred wood to the firebox or smoker box (hickory, apple, cherry, oak, etc.
  5. Place the pork shoulder on the smoker grate, fat cap side up, to allow the rendered fat to baste the meat as it cooks. 
  6. Once pork shoulder reaches the desired internal temperature (around 205°F (96°C)), carefully remove it from the smoker and transfer it to a clean cutting board or serving platter.
  7. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for about 20-30 minutes. 

Notes

You can cook a pork shoulder faster by increasing the heat and wrapping it in foil after you have achieved the desired color and bark. Carefully remove the pork shoulder from the smoker and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Then, increase the temperature of your smoker to 275°F (135°C). Place the foil-wrapped pork butt back on the grill grates and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 205°F (96°C) and the meat is tender and easily shreddable

Keywords: how long to smoke pork shoulder, pork butt, boston butt, pulled pork

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