Smoked Pork Shoulder Fork Tender Every Time
One of the easiest and most delicious meals you can prepare is a good smoked pork shoulder. I have prepared countless smoked pork butts but every time I pull one off the grill/smoker it’s like Christmas and I am 8 years old.
If you want to impress your friends, have them over for some of the best-smoked BBQ they have ever had.
What’s The Trick?
There isn’t really one but perhaps you have never done this before and it’s a game changer.
The trick is to keep the meat moist while it slowly cooks all day. The best way to do that is to either inject the butt or to brine it.
We usually brine, and you can find an explanation as well as an easy brine recipe here.
In a few words, the meat remains moist while cooking and once done you get the awesome bark and meat that falls apart in your fingers! So, let’s get to it.
Give our Strawberry Shortcake a try for dessert!
Smoked Pork Shoulder Video
Let’s Do This!
So, let’s say I am wanting to fall face first into a plate of pulled pork at 4 pm on Saturday, this is what I am going to do:
Thursday night I will put my pork shoulder in the brine. Also known as pork butt or Boston Butt. Any grocery store should have them, I like to get a couple at a time.
Friday, after about 18-24 hours I am going to pull out the meat from the brine and let it rest for a couple of hours.
In a small bowl combine the dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, paprika, celery salt, cayenne pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper.
The meat will drain some excess brine. I will pat it relatively dry, apply a liberal amount of mustard all over, and apply the dry rub and wrap it up overnight.
The mustard allows the dry rub to adhere better, and the vinegar helps in the cooking process. Some people like to spritz it with apple juice or apple cider vinegar but I don’t find that necessary.
I will also place my wood chips into some water overnight. We smoke with Hickory. You can buy all sorts of wood for smoking from Lowes, Home Depot, or Amazon if you don’t want to get out. Since I put my wood directly on charcoal, I soak it overnight.
After much trial, I have found that using chunks of the unsoaked wood works much better. You want that smoke to start smoking, not waiting until the water evaporates.
Each chunk usually takes about 45 minutes before needing to add more. You just need to keep an eye out and when the smoke stops, toss another chunk in. Pecan or hickory wood is the best to use for this.
The typical 8 pound pork shoulder needs to go for about 12 hours. So I am up at 3:30 am and starting my charcoal.
I want my smoker/grill to be between 225-250 when I put my meat on. It usually takes me about that long to get the temperature regulated.
For those that have just a smoker, this might take you less time. Those with a Weber type grill, you can do the same as well, just put your meat on to the side, smoking it indirectly.
Before placing it on, you may want to add additional rub. Place the meat on the grill, fat side up.
I will smoke the meat for 6 hours. During this time you want to watch your temps, you may need to add more wood or fuel for your fire but do your best to maintain 225-250.
After 6 hours of cook time, I pull the meat and wrap it in craft paper (a tip from my brother-in-law).
Some people want to use foil but the paper allows for some moisture to escape so it won’t end up stewing in its own juices.
In the 11th hour, I usually insert my meat thermometer. You can put yours in whenever. What you’re looking for is an internal temp of 192-195 degrees. In the 11th hour for me, I am usually right at 190.
When the meat is done, pull it off and let it rest for a bit. You will be tempted to tear it apart right there, but it’s really hot, I wouldn’t recommend it.
You may also need to defend the meat from your wife who can strike like a cobra at the smoked ends of the meat. Watch out for that as well.
After about 20 minutes to 30 minutes place the meat it some sort of rectangular pan because the juice will run.
Grab hold of that shoulder bone and watch it slide out. It will still be hot but it will come apart with some meat claws or forks. When it’s cooled down, your fingers work just as well.
Smoked pulled pork HEAVEN! Now all you have to do is decide how to eat this. Personally, I like to toss it on a bun with some pickles and some chow chow. My wife likes adding a touch of barbecue sauce and eating it without the bun. Feel free to use any bbq sauce you like because it’s all good each and every way!
Enjoy, and happy BBQing!
Try our amazing Smoked Chicken Wings!
Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipe
Smoked Pork Shoulder (Butt)
- 8 Lb Pork Shoulder (Butt)
Memphis Dry Rub (makes .5 cup):
- 1/4 cup paprika
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Brine pork shoulder for 18-24 hours
- Pull pork from brine, allow to rest for app. 1-2 hours
- Apply a liberal amount of mustard, coating the entire surface of the meat
- Apply a liberal amount of rub, rubbing or patting it into the meat
- Wrap and leave overnight
- Smoke at 225-250 for 6 hours
- Pull pork from grill, wrap in paper or tin foil. If tinfoil, allow some moisture to escape by not completely sealing it
- Return to grill, continue to cook for 6 hours at 225-250
- Using a meat thermometer, remove cooked meat at 193-195 degrees and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before shredding