The Time Science: How Long To Smoke Pork Butt
Novice meat smokers often run into several different issues when they first start cooking, one of the major ones being how long you should actually smoke a piece of meat for. This question can have many answers depending on the type of meat and the cut you're using, so it's not always that easy to answer.
In order to give you a better understanding of how long to smoke a piece of meat, let's go over a recipe for smoked pork butt and explore the topic a little more thoroughly, with plenty of handy tips along the way that'll make your meat contest-caliber delicious. Let's get started.
What You'll Need For This Recipe
To smoke a pork butt using this recipe, you'll need to following ingredients and tools:
When you've gathered your ingredients, you can then begin work on making the meat.
Step 1: Brine the Pork
First, begin by mixing the water, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 cup of salt in a large bucket or container. Mix them together until the solids are dissolved, then place in your meat. Allow your pork to brine for at least four hours but preferably overnight. The brine will be necessary for such a long cooking process, as it will help retain moisture and add extra flavor to your meat.
Step 2: Season the Pork
Once brined, take your pork out of the water and pat it dry with paper towels. Mix together the spices before covering the meat with yellow mustard, then press the spice rub into every part of the meat, applying thoroughly until used up. Allow the meat to sit like this while you proceed to step 3 (additionally, if you're using wood chips instead of chunks, begin soaking them in hot water once this is done).
Step 3: Light the Smoker
Pile charcoal into your smoker, then light it and close the lid. Adjust the air vents and allow the fire to burn for around thirty minutes. Once the charcoal has burnt into coals, add on your wood, fill the water tank, and place on your smoker grate. Adjust the air vents once more to try and attain a temperature of around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Let everything burn for another ten minutes or so to let steam and smoke build up.
Step 4: Smoke the Pork
When your smoker has finished prepping, place your meat onto the roasting rack inside an aluminum baking tray, then and let it smoke. While every piece of meat will be different, the general rule for pork butt is that it will need 90 minutes to smoke for every pound of meat. As such, a 7 pound pork butt like the one in this recipe will take approximately 10 and a half hours to fully cook.
While your meat smokes, pay attention to coal, wood, and water levels, refilling with more as needed. Additionally, continue to adjust the air vents to help maintain the temperature where you want it. To help preserve moisture and flavor the pork, spray it with apple juice, cider, or apple cider vinegar every hour or so for the duration of the smoke. As a general rule, the longer you smoke the meat, the easier it will be to pull apart afterward, but smoke it too long and it will dry out. Maintaining balance is key.
Start checking for temperature around 8 hours into the smoke. Around the 170 degrees Fahrenheit mark, foil the meat to prevent the outside from burning. If it starts to look too browned or blackened before that point, foil it before this. While the temperature of a finished pork butt is generally around 195 degrees Fahrenheit, the best measure of when your roast will be done is to stab it with a fork. If it pulls apart, take it off the heat and place it in a baking tray.
Step 5: Pull the Pork
Once your pork has finished cooking, pull the baking tray off the heat and let it cool to the point it's safe to touch without burning your hands, but not so much that it's gone cold. Remove the rack, then, using two forks, shred the pork into strands using Cave Tools Shredder Rakes and remove the bone from inside it. Mix it with the collected roasting juices that will have come out as the meat cooked and cooled and add in a dash of the apple product you used for spritzing earlier if you like. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Step 6: Serve the Pork
With your pork pulled, you're ready to take on the world. Serve it up however you most like it. By itself, on a bun, or in any number of other ways, you've got some of the most delicious smoked meat you've ever tasted right at your fingertips.
Now you know everything you'll need for smoking the best pork butt of your life. Remember the key for smoking times, as well as the fact that simply testing the meat with a fork is a good indicator of doneness all on its own. Serve this up at your next barbecue and you'll be the talk of the town for years to come.
If you liked this guide, leave a comment down below to let us know what you think, and share any tips you've got on how to smoke pork butt. Don't forget to share (this page and your leftovers) with a friend.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Pork Butt Roast?
When a butcher bones out a pork shoulder, he usually divides it into two different cuts: the picnic roast, and the pork butt roast (also called the Boston Butt). Some people say that this is the better portion of the pork shoulder to smoke because it contains more fat than the picnic roast. If you can’t find a pork butt roast, you may substitute a whole shoulder or a picnic roast for this recipe.
What’s The Best Rub for Pulled Pork?
There are as many recipes for pork rub as there are for barbecue sauce, so this is really up to your personal preference. Almost every recipe uses salt and sugar, but the rest of the spices vary from recipe to recipe. We like using a combination of aromatic spices (like ground mustard, garlic powder, and onion powder) with smoked spices (like cumin and smoked paprika). If you like spice, you can also add black pepper or cayenne pepper.
What Temperature Should You Smoke Pork Butt?
The best temperature to smoke pork butt is 225 to 250 degrees F. This temperature will slowly break down the tough muscle fibers of the pork shoulder so it's as juicy and tender as possible.
How Many Minutes Do You Smoke Pork Butt Per Pound?
The general rule of thumb is to smoke pork roasts for 90 minutes per pound of meat. That means a 5-pound pork butt would take approximately 7 and a half hours.
Why Do You Finish Pork Butt Roasts in Foil?
Many recipes (ours included) instruct you to cover the pork butt roast with foil once it reaches 170 degrees F. While this step isn’t completely necessary for the pork butt to reach its final cooking temperature of 195 degrees F, it will protect the outside from burning, charring, or becoming tough and blackened.