The most important thing to know about smoking any type of meat is that you should smoke them to temp, not just by time. With that said, the general guideline is 90 minutes of smoking time at 225°F per pound for pork shoulder or butt.
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Basics of Pork Shoulder and Butt
First things first: are a pork shoulder and a pork butt 2 different cuts? Well, they’re often the same cut of meat!
Both terms are frequently used in the U.S. to refer to what’s also known as a Boston butt or a pork blade roast, coming from the upper part of the pig’s front leg.
However, the term “pork shoulder” can sometimes refer to a lower part of the leg, also called a “picnic roast” or “picnic shoulder”.
The Boston butt is marbled with fat and gets incredibly tender when smoked. On the other hand, the picnic roast is a bit leaner and might require a longer cook time.
Regardless of the cut, both are beloved in the BBQ world and make for some tasty, smoky meat.
General Guide on Pork Butt Smoking Time
A good rule of thumb is it takes about 1 to 1.5 hours per pound at 225°F-250°F. But remember, this is just a guideline.
Always use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of your pork butt reaches 195-205°F (90-96°C) – that’s when you know your pork is perfectly cooked and ready to melt in your mouth.
Related: The Best Instant-Read Meat Thermometers
Factors Affecting Smoking Time
When it comes to smoking pork shoulder or butt, several factors can influence the total smoking time. Here are some of the key considerations:
- Size and Thickness of the Meat: As you might guess, a larger, thicker cut of meat takes longer to smoke than a smaller, thinner one. This is because heat needs more time to penetrate deeper into the meat. How much pork you’re smoking can also have an effect
- Desired Level of Doneness: Depending on how well-done you like your pork, the smoking time can vary. Remember, it’s safe to eat pork when its internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C), but for the tender, pull-apart texture we love in smoked pork shoulder and butt, aim for an internal temperature around 195-205°F (90-96°C).
- Type and Temperature of Your Smoker: Different smokers can run hotter or cooler than others, even when set at the same temperature. Know your equipment and adjust accordingly. A lower smoking temperature generally requires a longer smoking time.
- Weather Conditions: Outdoor temperature, wind, and humidity can all affect your smoker’s performance. Cold or windy days may increase your smoking time, as your smoker works harder to maintain the set temperature.
Related: How To Smoke Pulled Pork
Best Temperature for Smoking Pork Shoulder and Butt
Temperature control is a crucial part of the smoking process. For pork shoulder and butt, maintaining a steady smoker temperature around 225-250°F (107-121°C) is ideal.
This “low and slow” method helps to break down the tough fibers in the meat without drying it out, resulting in a tender, juicy piece of pork. Maintaining a consistent temperature also allows for more predictable cooking times, helping you plan better.
Tips and Tricks for Perfectly Smoked Pork Shoulder and Butt
Want to elevate your pork smoking game? Here are some pro tips.
- First, choose the right wood. Fruitwoods like apple and cherry or hardwoods like hickory or oak can add a fantastic smoky flavor to your pork.
- Second, be patient when maintaining a consistent temperature in your smoker, it’s the key to tender, flavorful pork.
- Lastly, don’t be alarmed if your meat’s internal temperature seems to “stall” around 150-170°F (65-76°C). It’s normal, and it’s just the meat’s way of making you work for that succulent result.
Smoking a pork shoulder or butt to perfection is a labor of love, requiring time, patience, and careful temperature control. But the result—mouthwateringly tender, flavorful pork—is absolutely worth it. As you practice, make sure to share your creations with our Facebook community!