Pork Shoulder Recipe

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Pulled Pork ShoulderThis is my pork shoulder recipe from bringing home a pork shoulder to preparing it with a rub to smoking it up delicious. Now you must understand that an actual pork shoulder is very big and most of us usually only smoke a pork butt or a pork picnic roast which is the two parts of an actual pork shoulder.

I Prefer the bone in pork butt which normally runs about 8 pounds or so. They say the meat is sweeter when it cooks with the bone in and I happen to agree.

When I get ready to do my favorite pork shoulder recipe which is basically a nice pork butt rubbed down real good with my own proprietary rub recipe and smoked with a good dose of oak and some apricot or peach or some other fruit wood, I like to find a piece of meat that has lots of good fat marbling.

This keeps the meat moist in the smoker and guarantees some excellent flavor.


Apply the Rub with Mustard

I always rub the pork shoulder down with a light layer of French's yellow mustard to help the rub to stick better throughout the smoke and apply about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of my special rub to the outside of the meat being careful to massage it into every nick and cranny.

Note: the mustard will lose its flavor during the smoking and will only leave a nice brown crust so you need not worry that your pork will taste like mustard.. it won't.


Smoke the Pork Shoulder

Prepare the smoker as you normally would to maintain a 225 degree temperature and lay the pork shoulder right on the grate for the long smoke.


How Long Does it Take?

Pork shoulder cook time can be figured at approximately 1.5 hours per pound so a 8 pound shoulder will require about 12 hours in the smoker. If you are using propane, electric or charcoal then you can stop smoking it when it reaches about 140 degrees since it should be suitably smoked at that point.. feel free to keep smoking if you are a seasoned smoker and know how to do it without oversmoking the meat.

I have a buddy who only leaves the shoulder in the smoker until it reaches the 140 degree mark and then wraps it in heavy duty foil and finishes it off in the oven for convenience. And that is fine if you need the convenience.

Use My Rub & Sauce Recipes on Pulled Pork.. AWESOME!!

Note: My amazing "Jeff's Naked Rib Rub" recipe is the 2nd most important investment you can make.. 2nd only to your smoker itself.

If you are serious about smoking then you need this rub recipe and you need it now.

Stop procrastinating and order it now to use with this pork shoulder recipe. (If it is not the best rub you have ever tasted let me know within 30 days of purchase and I will refund your money 100% and that is a deal you just can't beat!)

Here's a couple of testimonies that I've received from very happy customers:

Jeff, All I can say is, WOW!!!!
I have been reading your news letters for over a year and I Just now purchased your rub recipe. I have used it on steak and chicken legs on the grill so far. Both times I have people say that it was the best steak or chicken they had ever had. I can't wait to smoke something with it. Great job, you are THE MAN!!!! ~ Chris


I purchased your rub recipe and have delighted friends and family with its great flavor. When they ask me for the recipe, I tell them to go to your site and purchase. Something this awesome deserves compensation to the inventor!!! Thanks for all of the smoking tips! ~ Gary


You get the point so what are you waiting on.. order the amazing recipes now!


I am big on doing the entire cook time in the smoker but I understand the need for convenience sometimes.


200 Degrees.. Not a Moment Sooner

When the pork shoulder reaches about 205 degrees, pull it from the smoker and bring it into the house for a resting period. I like to let it rest for 45 minutes or better before I pull it to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.


Pull the Pork

I then use two forks to pull the meat apart into chunks.. be sure and add in the brown bark for added flavor and it makes the finished product look really good.. I have to say that because I have seen folks discard the outside bark thinking it is burnt or something. It is the best part.

This pork shoulder recipe is a winner and will get you rave reviews every time.

To make sandwiches I have a page that tells exactly how to do it Carolina style.. Click here to check it out


Need a digital meat thermometer? For an inexpensive, single probe meat thermometer, I recommend the Taylor .. get it here. I also recommend the Maverick ET-732 if you are looking for a dual probe, remote thermometer that will keep you informed of the temperature of both smoker and meat with a range of up to 300 feet.

My Big Mistake

Update: "My big mistake with a pork shoulder".. read how my big mistake turned out to be the best pork shoulder recipe I have ever tasted and I tell you exactly how I did it so you can.. err.. repeat my mistake.

Free Smoking Meat Newsletter

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  1. James says

    I just purchased a Great Smokey Mountain series electric smoker, it’s the 32 inch model. I have always smoked on a offset wood burning pit and tried the electric for the first time today. It must be because of it being new but I did a 8lb butt and it turned out tough. Pulled it at 200 deg rested it for an hour. Been doing this a long time and never had one tough. Any insite on this would be helpful. Thanks

    • Doug Weaver says

      I had a Bradley smoker for 4 yrs, before it got destroyed by the ice storm last year. Now I have a Masterbuilt electric smoker. I have had juicy boston butts with both electric smokers. It might be the meat you used.

  2. Greg B. says

    Do any of you brine the butt before smoking? I brine almost everything anymore. It just comes out so moist and tender!

    • Doug Weaver says

      You can brine it if you like or inject it. I just apply a great rub and let it sit over night. The pork is always moist and delicious.

  3. william says

    good conversations. my issue is that i prefer left over pulled pork to be at room temperature. how long do you think that i could leave left over pork shoulder at room temp before having to refrigerate it. thanks

    • Doug Weaver says

      I smoke a Boston Butt for Christmas and Thanksgiving. We leave it out for a couple of hours without any problem.

  4. Tom Smith says

    I’m going to smoke 5 butts @ about 7.5 lbs each how much extra time should I give it?
    I’m using a propane smoker so I should have no problem holding 200-225 deg.

    • Doug Weaver says

      Normal cooking time for that size is about 15 hrs. You will need to rotate the butts to get even cooking. I cooked two and I didn’t rotate them and one took over 20 hours. Keep a thermometor in one and rotate it through out the cooking time to ensure each one is heating the same.

  5. Ron says

    As this will be my first experience smoking two 8 LB butts, is 12 hours enough time or does it need to be longer? Thanks In advance–Ron

  6. michael says

    Jeff, i started with a 7 pound boneless pork butt, and due to time constraints, I cut it in half and wrapped both pieces in foil. They look like two large chocolate kisses. I cut the pork in half, in theory of cutting the smoke time in half. I pealed open the top of the foil to let smoke in. Plan on closing the foil for the last 2 of the 4 hour projected smoke……Will this do the trick?
    Vertical wood smoker, using pecan. 250/275 degrees

  7. Jaime says

    Hello Jeff, I am from México and live in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, i am breeding European Wild Boar, and I already smoked a whole boar with your rub recepy, and let me tell You, it was exquisite!!! Delicious.
    The boar meat is very flavor and tender, try it !!

  8. Jason says

    I am doing the pork butt on Father’s Day. Should I do the mustard and rub the night before or before it goes on the smoker?


  9. Ken K says

    I am doing my first shoulder for pulled pork.  How often do I need to check the water tray over the 10-12 hours.  I think that opening the smoker to check the water level will extend the cook time due to the heat loss.  I live in Minnesota, -1F right now…

    Any info will be of great help.





    • James says

      Depending on your smokers set up I tend to check mine every 2 hours or a little sooner. Another way to tell is the smoke will change in smell, like burnt grease. Well in fact that’s exactly what it is, your water ran out and you are now burning the drippings. Take note of when this happens and you will know when to check. One more hint, add a second water tray on the bottom rack using an appropriately sized chaffing tray, this will usually double your time between checks.

  10. Jann says

    We love your detailed instructions – thank you!  A question about the Pork Butt recipe.  We use a Bradley Smoker and one thing we notice is we are unable to get a smoke ring on the Pork Butt.  Is that because of the Bradley Smoker smoke process or is it harder to get a smoke ring on a Pork Butt (as compared to brisket, for example).

    • Doug Weaver says

      I use to have a Bradley before we had an ice storm and the top of a pine tree snapped of and crushed it. I never had a problem getting a smoke ring when I smoked the Boston Butt. I always smoked the entire cooking process, 12 -15 hours. it never was oversmoked. Just keep trying it. The butts always came out juicey.

  11. Brandon says

    Jeff, I'm going to smoke 2 Boston butts this weekend. The problem is that I have to smoke them the day before because of my work schedule. My question is, how should I heat it up the next day and keep it from drying out? 

    Please help me out. 


  12. JACKIE says

    How many do you feel one would feed if we use it as sandwiches? I have a count of about 12-15ppl. You think one 8lb will do?

    • says

      With an 8 lb pork butt, you can expect it to yield about 60% of it’s original weight or about 4.8 lbs of useable meat. If you make sandwiches using 1/3 lb (approximately 5 oz) of meat on each one, it will be enough for about 14-15 sandwiches.

      I assume you will want folks to be able to have more than 1 sandwich so I would go with 2 pork butts.

      There’s nothing worse than running out of food when you have hungry guests. If you have extra, you can always send home doggie bags or you can freeze it and use it later;-)

  13. Joe says



    I have made many of your recipies before and I always seemed to "read over" the mustard on the meat. Well I tried it on my bone-in butt this past weekend and I wanted to say that WOW! it makes a difference. I used to prepare my meat the night before or even 24 hours prior and let sit with just rub directly on the meat, covered in the refrigerator until I was ready to place it on the smoker. This time I forgot to rub it the night before and when I got up I needed to get it quickly rubbed as the chimney was getting the coals ready. I am sold on mustard now prior to rubbing. I make a mean rub but this was a little pull of heaven. Since there are alot of things that I changed maybe it was not the mustard completely but I will always let my meat sit out to almost room temp and use mustard before rubbing and putting it on the smoker. Next Brisket Nachos…

  14. Brandon says

    Should the meat thermometer be placed in the meat before you start cooking it or just when you think it’s about done? My concern is that it won’t read correctly if its inside the grill while its hot.


    • says

      It depends on what themometer you are using. I use a remote thermometer such as the Maverick ET-732 on many occasions and it has a probe attached to a long braided metal cable. This can stay in the meat while it cooks and is able to handle smoker temperatures easily.

      With this type of thermometer, I usually place the probe in the meat from the start on things that do not require long cook times such as chicken, steaks, etc.

      On brisket and pork butt, I can easily wait about 4 hours before inserting the probe since I know that it will take much longer than that to finish.

      For a 3 second reading, you might like the Super-fast Thermapen and then you don’t have to mess with the probes and the wires. Just depends on your cooking style.

      Many of the other plastic thermometer are not designed to be left in and I recommend you read the instructions that came with the unit before subjecting it to high temperatures.

      • Brandon says

        My thermometer is built into my smoker. It gives a digital read out on the remote and the panel of the grill. With that said I guess it's fine to just leave it in from start to finish. The instruction didn't really speak much about the themometer. Thanks for the help. 

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