Smoked pulled pork made from pork butt is a lot easier than most folks realize and although it does take more than 14 hours to produce at normal smoking temperatures, it can be done in almost any smoker and made to taste great regardless of skill level.

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Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14-16 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 205°F
  • Recommended Wood: Apple
What You'll Need

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recipe-ad-rubOne of the most coveted parts of the smoked pork butt is that crispy, dark crust on the outside that tastes like little bits of heaven when it's mixed in with the succulent and tender pulled pork. My rub creates this award winning crust on smoked pulled pork like no other!

promise you'll love my dry rub/seasoning recipe and my barbecue sauce recipe or you don't pay!

Reasons to buy: Support the newsletter and the website | Own “the recipes” | Get the email newsletter 100% AD FREE from now on | Includes the Texas style rub recipe

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Step 1: Unwrap and Rinse

Remove the pork butt from the packaging and rinse it under cold water.

Pat dry with a paper towel.

I recommend placing it in a pan during the seasoning process to make cleanup really easy.

2015-IMG_7415

Step 2: Brush Dressing onto Meat

Normally I use yellow mustard to help the rub to stick since it works so well however, you can use almost anything and to prove that, I am using zesty Italian dressing on this pork butt and it works like a charm.

Pour the dressing over the top of the meat.

2015-IMG_7418

Use a basting brush to make sure the meat is coated well with the dressing.

2015-IMG_7419

Step 3: Apply Rub

Sprinkle my Jeff's naked rib rub (purchase recipes here) onto all sides of the meat making sure you have good coverage.

Be generous to create a nice crispy bark on the outside during the cooking process.

2015-IMG_7420

It is now ready for the smoker.

Step 4: Smoke

Set up your smoker for indirect heat maintaining about 225-240°F for about 14-16 hours.

When you are ready, place the pork butt directly on the grate.

I like to place a pan on a lower rack if I can to catch the juices that drip down. If your smoker is configured to allow for this, it's a great idea.

I used apple wood to impart a really wonderful flavor into the pork but you can use almost any smoking wood that you have available.

I recommend keeping the smoke flowing for at least 6 to 8 hours if you are using charcoal, electric or gas smokers.

If your smoker has a water pan, use it.

Let the pork butt smoke out in the open grate for the entire time or you can place it in a pan once it reaches about 160°F covered with foil to help it get done a little faster.

I opted to not cover this one but left it directly on the grate with a pan under it for the entire time.

Here is the pork butt at 160°F:

2015-IMG_7426

When it reaches 205°F, it should be fall apart tender and can be removed from the smoker.

Those not familiar with pork butts always wonder why it's so dark. The rub gets darker and darker as it cooks and this is what you usually want when you are making pulled pork.

If you wrap the meat at 160°F it will not end up quite as dark however it will also be soft on the outside rather than crispy.

2015-IMG_7429

Let it sit with foil tented over it for about an hour to cool before attempting to pull/shred the meat.

 

Step 5: Pull and Remove Fat

When you are ready, slide the bone out of the meat.

Separate the meat into pieces removing any pieces of fat as you go.

I generally use my hands only but some folks like to use large forks or special tools for this process such as bear paws.

2015-IMG_7437

Step 6: Serve

You can serve the pulled pork piled high on a bun as a traditional pulled pork sandwich or use your imagination and let it run wild.

Next week, I'll be featuring beer can burgers stuffed with some of this pulled pork.

Until then.. Enjoy!

Notes:
  • There is no shame in finishing a long cook such as this in the home oven. If you are having trouble maintaining the temperature of your smoker, let it stay in the smoker for at least 6 hours if possible then move it to a pan and place it in the oven at 240°F for the remainder of the time. It will still turn out very tender and tasty and you'll be a lot less frustrated 😉
  • I get a lot of questions about why you need to cook pork butts to such a high temperature.. lean pork is done and ready to eat at 145°F however, the pork butt as well as the rest of the pork shoulder is a tough hunk of meat that is not very lean and it takes lots of time to make it tender. Tender pulled pork is achieved by allowing it to cook to a very high internal temperature. Because of all the fat embedded in the meat, it handles it very well and will end up tender and juicy.

Get the Digital Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce


jeffs-rub-framed-250x169 jeffs-sauce-framed-250x169
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!

If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.

Read these recent testimonies:

Love the sauce and rub
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! ~Peter S.
I tried the rub on a beef
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
Love the original rib rub
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
 Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.


You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"

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Printable Recipe

4.4 from 5 reviews
Tasty and Tender Smoked Pulled Pork
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Smoked pulled pork made from pork butt is a lot easier than most folks realize and although it does take more than 14 hours to produce at normal smoking temperatures, it can be done in almost any smoker and made to taste great regardless of skill level.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
Instructions
Step 1: Unwrap and Rinse
  1. Remove the pork butt from the packaging and rinse it under cold water.
  2. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. I recommend placing it in a pan during the seasoning process to make cleanup really easy.
Step 2: Brush Dressing onto Meat
  1. Normally I use yellow mustard to help the rub to stick since it works so well however, you can use almost anything and to prove that, I am using zesty Italian dressing on this pork butt and it works like a charm.
  2. Pour the dressing over the top of the meat.
  3. Use a basting brush to make sure the meat is coated well with the dressing.
Step 3: Apply Rub
  1. Sprinkle my Jeff’s naked rib rub onto all sides of the meat making sure you have good coverage.
  2. Be generous to create a nice crispy bark on the outside during the cooking process.
  3. It is now ready for the smoker.
Step 4: Smoke
  1. Set up your smoker for indirect heat maintaining about 225-240°F for about 14-16 hours.
  2. When you are ready, place the pork butt directly on the grate.
  3. I like to place a pan on a lower rack if I can to catch the juices that drip down. If your smoker is configured to allow for this, it’s a great idea.
  4. I used apple wood to impart a really wonderful flavor into the pork but you can use almost any smoking wood that you have available.
  5. I recommend keeping the smoke flowing for at least 6 to 8 hours if you are using charcoal, electric or gas smokers.
  6. If your smoker has a water pan, use it.
  7. Let the pork butt smoke out in the open grate for the entire time or you can place it in a pan once it reaches about 160°F covered with foil to help it get done a little faster.
  8. I opted to not cover this one but left it directly on the grate with a pan under it for the entire time.
  9. When it reaches 205°F, it should be fall apart tender and can be removed from the smoker.
  10. Those not familiar with pork butts always wonder why it’s so dark. The rub gets darker and darker as it cooks and this is what you usually want when you are making pulled pork.
  11. If you wrap the meat at 160°F it will not end up quite as dark however it will also be soft on the outside rather than crispy.
  12. Let it sit with foil tented over it for about an hour to cool before attempting to pull/shred the meat.
Step 5: Pull and Remove Fat
  1. When you are ready, slide the bone out of the meat.
  2. Separate the meat into pieces removing any pieces of fat as you go.
  3. I generally use my hands only but some folks like to use large forks or special tools for this process such as bear paws.
Step 6: Serve
  1. You can serve the pulled pork piled high on a bun as a traditional pulled pork sandwich or use your imagination and let it run wild.
 

About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

24 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Joe November 29, 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    This morning I started smoking 20lbs of pork for 36 inner-city kids. I used your rub cutting back on salt and spice (its for kids). Smoked it for 5 hours and finished it in 3 crock pots for control (used and American Test Kitchen recipe to finish it). I have a Brinkman electric smoker which I modified a bit (probably time to upgrade). Turned our great. Will serve it with your fantastic BBQ sauce.

  2. Lee October 3, 2016 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Made this recipe this last weekend and every one really enjoyed it. I finished the pork in the oven. I noticed that it was totally stalled at 199 degrees. After being there for 20 minutes I finally took it out to rest and the results were very good. Here in Colorado Springs, 199 degrees is the boiling temperature for water. Would I had an issue if I waited for it to reach 205? Would it have dried out?

  3. Michael September 22, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Meant to finish the comment—going to take a whole “stick” of Bologna, marinate it overnight, then smoke it for a few hours—then cut slices and grill a few minutes on each side for “fried boloney”—got that from one of Andrew Zimmer’s shows about places he goes and experiences their great foods.

  4. Michael September 22, 2016 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Since I now live mostly full time in Central Florida—in one of the largest 55+ Adult Communities—I first bought one of those propane box smokers from one of the big box home improvement centers—but I could never really get the sort of results that I like for my meat. Back “up north” in Ohio, we have a family lake house and in my yard there–I have one of those Texas barrel smoker that you use charcoal and or wood to do the smoking and heat. I got pretty good with it–but it is a lot of work and where I live now—no way I could have one. A few months ago, I picked up a close out Green Mountain Grill Electric Pellet Smoker/Grill at a local hardware store–the one without the new smartphone app. I am glad I got this one–since the smoker has the electronic controller unit–that is eazy-peazy turn on, let it go through start up, then set the cooking temp and meat probe then go–didn’t really need that app. I have now run enough meat through it now, that I have come up with a process that works for me with some kick butt results–loved by everyone who has tasted my meats including pulled pork, beef brisket, beef and pork ribs, chicken and fish. I use your recipe for doing most of that, making my own rubs and sauces. I am going to use your suggestion of using mustard on the Boston Butt—made ribs using your recipe calling for basting with mustard–man-those were great. I know it will be good on Boston Butt and Brisket too. I have modified my cooking time and temp though–because cooking at the temps you say—even over the long time—I don’t quite get enough good bark to form–so I upped the temp to around 300 and reduce the cooking time–I can make wonderfully barky, tasty and moist pulled pork or beef that way. Since they don’t provide a water pan for this unit–even when I load it up-I use a “tin can” filled with water. I have one more thing I am gonna try–got this from one of Andrew Zimmer’s shows—for

  5. Bill Parker February 5, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Jeff, when I do my pork butts, I usually do them for about 5 hours on the smoker, then in the oven for about 5-7 hours more at 225 degrees. After I shred the pork, I take your rub and sprinkle that in with the meat and work it in with my hands. Then I pour some of the fat drippings in with it so it is moist. Best pulled pork ever.

  6. Clete December 24, 2015 at 9:51 am - Reply

    Jeff, When you smoke a pork butt do you smoke one with bone in or no bone.

    PS- I think your rub is the best.

    Merry Christmas

    Thanks clete

  7. Scott Bullerdick December 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Jeff,

    I tried the process to a tee and it came out extremely dry. I had a water pan the entire time and took it out at 200, let it rest for 45 minutes and was still dry.

    • Bill Parker February 5, 2016 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Try to catch as much of the drippings that you can. After you shred the pork, pour some of the drippings back into the pork, and sprinkle some of Jeff’s rub in with it also. Great flavor and real moist.

  8. Nathan October 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    I am planning on using this but on a venison roast. Any precautions since venison is more of a lean meat? Still a 200 degree internal temperature?

  9. Tom August 19, 2015 at 9:41 am - Reply

    Jeff,

    Is the pork moist? do you recommend injecting it at all?

  10. Tom August 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Jeff,

    Do you recommend injecting the pork butt at all? if so what do you recommend? I am concerned that the meat will dry after cooking for so long?

  11. Don Manalla July 2, 2015 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Hey Jeff, love your book and news letter…that said I have 2 butts in electric smoker I’m at 10 hrs. they are both@ 5lbs. stuck at 164 for the last 2 hrs. Really would like to finish them without foil. is this normal I usually use the foil wrap….also that slaw dressing is awesome. 1 more question do you recommend spritzing the butts and if so what to use

  12. don rehberg June 29, 2015 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    If I finish the butt in the oven, do I wrap it in foil or leave “naked”?

  13. Tim June 9, 2015 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Can I smoke three 8lb butts at same time?

  14. Marc May 29, 2015 at 7:10 am - Reply

    A rookie question: I’m about to do my first 10-lb pork butt. Given the long smoking time can I do half the time one day and half the next? I realize the total time might end up being a little longer, but it will keep me from having to get up at 4:00 am.

    • John King May 31, 2015 at 5:52 am - Reply

      In a word, NO.

      The goal is to reach an internal temperature of around 200 degrees and that can’t be done in less time and all progress is lost if you take it out at the half-way point and start over the next day. In fact, taking out half-way and trying to refrigerate it may result in the meat remaining in the “danger zone” temperature-wise too long to be safe to eat!

      I’ve been smoking pork buts in the 8-10 lb range for years and rarely have to go beyond 12 hours… I usually plan to eat ribs on the day of smoke (6 hours or so) and pull the pork for later. When doing so, I will leave the butt on while we eat and then take it off and place in a 300 degree oven until the temp gets where I want it. Let it rest an hour and then PULL IT BEFORE IT COOLS ANY FURTHER. If you don’t pull it while it’s hot, it will be a bear to pull!

  15. trey rose May 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    It says surges 10-12. But how many lbs should the butt be? Won’t that effect time cooked? What size did you use in this recipe?

  16. JMG May 28, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Only thing I do any different is I will inject apple juice into the butt. Also I don’t rub mustard or dressing but just put the rub on, seems to work okay. Nothing wrong with mustard or dressing though.

  17. James M. May 28, 2015 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Only thing I do any different is I will inject apple juice into the butt. Also I don’t rub mustard or dressing but just put the rub on, seems to work okay. Nothing wrong with mustard or dressing though.

  18. Rick Bagley May 28, 2015 at 8:34 am - Reply

    one thing I did not see was how many lbs. is that •Pork butt ?

  19. John King May 28, 2015 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Interesting tip about the mustard/dressing before applying the rub, I’ve been doing pulled pork for about 12 years and I’ve never tried that. I usually just apply the rub and I’ve never had any issue with getting it to stick, but I’ll have to try it the next time. One odd thing about butts is that they tend to “stall” during the cooking process, which no one seems able to explain… they may sit a couple of hours with little temp increase and then suddenly resume the normal climb.

    For those attempting this for the first time, please don’t make the rookie mistake after a long cook of deciding to put the finished butt in the fridge and deal with the pulling the next day, it needs to be pulled while still hot or it will be much harder to do! Get it hot, let it rest, wear a good pair of frying gloves a pull away, you will be amazed how easy it will come apart! Don’t forget to sample while you pull, the flavor is AMAZING! 🙂

  20. Betty May 28, 2015 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Jeff, what is the weight of the pork butt that you used for this?
    I struggle with length of time in smoker by weight.
    Thanks,
    Betty

    • Jeff Phillips June 3, 2015 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      This one was around 8 lbs I think but the weight of pork butts usually stay between 6-9 lbs.

      I know that everyone says 1.5 hours per pound for brisket, pork butt, etc. but in my experience, thickness is a more important factor than weigh where total cook time is concerned.

      With pork butts, I always figure on 14 hours of total cook time at 240 °F and then I give myself a 3-4 hour padding in case it takes longer. If it gets done in 14 hours or so, you just wrap it in foil and hold it in a warm oven or in an empty ice chest for 3-4 hours or until you are ready to let it cool down for pulling.

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