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Butterflied Pork Butts in the Smoker

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In this recipe, we'll be looking at creating a butterflied pork butt i.e. a butterflied pork shoulder.

I often remove the bone from  pork butts before smoking them and sometimes I get them from the store with the bone already removed. The boneless aspect of this is not necessary but does give you a lot more flexibility with getting them done faster, creating more bark on the outside and more smoke access. It's a great method and in this recipe I'll show you exactly how I do it.

Be sure to use Jeff's original rub for extra tasty bark.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10-12 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 190°F (88°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory
What You'll Need
Step 1: Butterfly the Butts

I purchased a 2-pack of boneless butts with a total weight of about 15 lbs.

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Set the pork butt(s) on the counter and take a few minutes to become acquainted with the pork butt.

There is a fat cap on the top side (which I trimmed off but you don't have to).

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If you lift up the area where the bone was removed, you'll see that it's well on the way to being butterflied already.

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Use a sharp knife to finish the job by cutting through the meat on the far end and then deeper into the area on the left in the image above.

Here's what it looked like after I continued cutting as described above.. almost done.

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Finish cutting deeper into the pork butt without going all the way through then lay the meat open like a rack of ribs.

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With the meat laid open, I placed it on a pan and rack for seasoning.

Step 2: Seasoning

There is nothing better than Jeff's original rub where pork is concerned. It creates amazing bark and you just can't beat that.

As per usual, I used some yellow mustard on the meat to create a nice “adhesive” for the rub to stick to.

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Apply Jeff's original rub liberally and just leave it sitting there for about 15 minutes.

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I used this time to go get the smoker going but how you use your time is entirely up to you;-)

After about 15 minutes, the rub will have stuck to the meat pretty good and obtained a sort of wet look. Flip the meat over and do the exact same process to the other side.

Looking good and ready to go into the smoker.

By the way: that smaller piece in the front was a piece that came apart from the rest of the meat when I was trimming the fat. No problem at all.. just make sure it gets some mustard and rub as well.

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Step 3: Smoke Time

Setup your smoker for indirect cooking at about 225°F (107°C) using hickory, pecan, apple or whatever smoker wood you have available. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up for some nice humidity in the smoker.

Every smoker is different but in my pellet smoker, it took 11 hours for the meat to reach 190°F (88°C) in the thickest part. I wanted it to be tender but sliceable. If you're interested in pulled pork, just let it go a little longer to an internal temperature of about 207°F (97°C).

Be sure to use a tried and true leave-in meat thermometer so you can monitor the temperature without opening the lid any more often than necessary. I am using the Smoke X by Thermoworks in the image below which is capable of 4 unique inputs. You can read my review of this excellent piece of equipment HERE.

Here it is about 6 hours in after mopping it for the first time.

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You might be thinking that it should have gotten done a lot faster since it was butterflied however, it was around 25°F during the cook, there was snow on the ground with plenty of cold wind. On a nicer day, it may have cooked faster. I also opened the door quite often to snap pictures, apply my rub/butter mop, etc.

I could have wrapped it once it reached about 160°F (71°C) but since I wanted maximum bark, I opted to let it cook open even if it took longer.

See my butter/rub mop recipe at Jeff's Butter and Rub Mop Sauce

Once it reaches its done temperature, bring it into the house to rest.

Step 4: Rest the Meat

I recommend letting the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing it to let the juices settle down a little bit.

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Look at that smoke ring and the juicy meat!

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I sliced mine like ribs but it was really tender even at 190°F (88°C) internal temperature and so I had mostly slices with some pulled meat by default. No complaining on my end!

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Step 5: Serve

Place the meat into a pan or platter depending on how fancy you wanna be and call dinner!

You'll notice that I poured the extra rub butter mop over the top and sprinkled on some of my Texas style rub  for some extra saltiness which I thought it needed.

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These slices were about ½ inch thick and made some amazing sandwiches.  Also good on fajitas, tacos, etc.

Opening these pork butts up probably doubled or tripled the amount of bark and that alone was worth it in my opinion.

In a future recipe, I will use this butterflied pork butt method to stuff the meat with something and then roll it back up, tie it and cook it in the smoker. Feel free to jump the gun and try that option. If you come up with something really good, let me know!

4.7 from 3 votes

Butterflied Pork Butt in the Smoker

Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time10 hours
Total Time10 hours 35 minutes



  • Remove the fat cap with a sharp knife.
  • Find the cavity where the bone was removed, lift up on the area where the bone was attached and finish cutting through the meat so that opens up like a rack of ribs.
  • Apply a thin coat of mustard to the top of the meat then apply Jeff's original rub liberally.
  • Flip the meat over and repeat the mustard and rub on the other side.
  • Leave the meat sitting on the counter for about 15 minutes while the rub adheres to the meat.
  • Set up your smoker for cooking indirect at about 225 . If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
  • Once the smoker is ready, place the meat directly on the grates and let it cook unhindered for about 5-6 hours or until it reaches 160 degrees.
  • Begin mopping the meat every hour with a mixture of melted butter, water and Jeff's original rub as seen at https://www.smoking-meat.com/jeffs-butter-and-rub-mop-sauce
  • When the meat reaches about 190 degrees it is finished and can be removed from the heat.
  • Allow the meat to rest on the counter for about 15 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice the meat into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Place all of the meat into a pan or platter and serve to your guests with sides.
  • Works great as sandwiches, fajitas, tacos, etc.


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Recipe Rating


  1. At the end of the article, you mentioned trying this out but only stuffing it. Did you ever get there? I am attempting to do this and wondering about the timing/temps. My plan is to stuff with an olive spread, similar to muffuletta sandwich spread along with a bourbon cherry sauce to round out the spreads tang.

  2. You talk a lot about if you have a water pan – fill it up.
    Do you do that just one time, or keep filling it when cooking for a long time?

    1. Roger, if I use a water pan, I just keep it full throughout the cook. You don’t always have to keep it full necessarily but when it gets down to a low level, you can refill it.

  3. I love yours love your recipes and can’t wait to try this. I’m cooking for a large crowd. Do you think this would reheat nicely and still he moist? Thanks

    1. Yes, just reheat it in a covered container in the oven or smoker at about 275°F (135°C) until it reaches a good eating temperature and it will be moist and delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Got 2 of these going on the smoker tonight. Was planning for 8 hrs but now I’m scared they want be done in time.

  5. Is there a reason you mentioned 160 was a temp you could have wrapped it at? Is that about when it stops taking smoke? I ask because I generally don’t care for the burnt parts (y’all call it bark).

    1. Cooking at standing smoking temperature of 225-240°F, a whole, non-butterflied butt takes around 14 hours so it stands to reason that a butterflied one will take less. Regardless, it takes what it takes and it’s not done until it reaches an internal temperature of around 205-207 and tender.

        1. I can’t find an incorrect temperature in the instructions. Feel free to explain further where the correction needs to be made.

          I recommend smoking this to only about 190°F (88°C). Of course, if you want to make it a LOT more tender so you can pull it apart like pulled pork, you can go on up to 207°F (97°C) for that.

  6. 5 stars
    One of the best ways I’ve eaten pork

    I may never pull one again and just go for slices and I found the internal temperature was spot on at 190° perfectly rendered fat and moist