How To Smoke A Pork Butt In An Electric Smoker
For smoking, most people logically turn to charcoal. But what most people don't know is that electric can work just as well. Despite what preconceptions might tell you, it's easy to get just as good or even better meat from an electric smoker.
Since most recipes are designed with charcoal barbecues in mind, it can be hard to find one that works for an electric unit. As a result, most electric-cooked meats just don't turn out right and pale in comparison to their traditionally smoked relatives. That's why this guide is written specifically for electric smoker owners to help you finally get the delicious barbecue of your dreams.
We'll be using an electric smoker to perfectly cook a Boston pork butt, complete with dry rub and injection. How is cooking on an electric smoker different from a charcoal smoker? What are you going to need to make a delicious pork butt using electricity? All these questions and more are about to be answered, so let's get started.
What You'll Need For This Pork Butt Recipe
Most of what you'll need to smoke a pork butt on an electric smoker will be fairly similar to what you'd use on a charcoal smoker, as the biggest differences come in how you cook the meat itself. For easier reading, we'll break down lists of ingredients and supplies for the injection liquid, a dry rub, and the pork itself separately.
Smoking The Meat
Once you have all your supplies together, you can finally start cooking.
Step 1: Prep the Pork
The perfect barbecue typically begins the night before you actually intend to eat it, at which time you'll be in charge of prepping your meat to allow for maximum flavor potential.
First, trim off an excess fat, silver skin, or unsightly bits attached to your pork to clean it up, saving the trimmings for things like stock later down the line. Next, mix up your spice rub, using some of it while you make your injection liquid in a small saucepan on the stove.
Once the liquid has had a chance to cool, inject it into your pork, cleaning up and discarding any spilled or excess liquid. Patting the outside of your meat dry, rub it in yellow mustard until total coverage is achieved. This helps to add some extra flavor and caramelization to the outside of the meat, as well as provide some extra adhesion for the spices.
Finally, rub on your spice mix, making sure to get it into every part of the meat. Once it's fully coated, move the pork to a baking tray and wrap it with plastic wrap, placing in the fridge overnight to let the flavors develop.
Step 2: Preheat the Smoker
The next morning, take your pork out of the fridge and let it sit out at room temperature to warm up. At the same time, soak your wood chips in hot water to help keep them from burning up too quickly once they hit the heat.
With both of those pieces of the puzzle heating up, it's time to start heating the smoker. Turn it on and set it for 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimal temperature for smoking most meats, though going a bit higher wouldn't hurt this recipe too much. Unlike with a charcoal smoker, the prep work required for getting an electric smoker ready is much less involved, meaning you won't have to do anything else until the temperature is raised.
Once that happens, fill the water tank and place the wood chips into the tray, closing the smoker to allow the steam and smoke to build up. After about ten minutes, you should be ready to smoke.
Step 3: Smoking The Pork
When your smoker has had time to get smokey, stick a meat thermometer inside it at the thickest point and add in your pork butt. Given how hands off cooking with an electric smoker is, you don't need to do much after this. Every hour, check to see if the smoker needs more wood or water and add it as needed, and spray down your pork with a 50:50 mixture of water and apple juice.
Let your pork smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, you should briefly remove the meat from the smoker and place it inside an aluminum baking pan. Fill the pan up with about half an inch of the water and apple juice solution you were spraying it with, then cover the top tightly with aluminum foil before returning it to the heat.
Continue to monitor the wood, water, and meat temperature. Once the pork reaches 195 degrees, it's done.
Step 4: Rest the Pork
Once you hit the 195 degree mark, take out your thermometer and pull the meat out of the smoker. Wrap everything in a clean towel and place that into an iceless cooler. From there, let the meat sit undisturbed for the next hour, during which time it will have a chance to rest.
Meat needs to rest whenever it comes off the heat, since that lets the meat fibers relax and tenderize, as well as retain a lot of their juices. Resting the meat in a sealed pan like this helps to keep it moist, too, as the humidity is retained as the cooking process finishes. Placing it in a cooler will also make sure it stays warm until you're ready to eat.
Step 5: Pull the Pork
After the hour is up, you can finally get to pulling. Open up the pan and remove the bone from inside the pork (it should be nearly falling apart by this point, so taking it out won't be a problem). Using two forks, shred the pork inside the pan, tossing it around in the collected liquids at the bottom to keep it moist and ensure nothing is wasted. You can also use our own Cave Tools Stainless Steel Meat Shredding Claws. Remember to taste the pork to see if it needs any more seasoning, as well, as it's much harder to season things properly after it's already on someone's plate.
When you're done, you should have a respectable pile of pulled pork.
Step 6: Serve the Pork
There are various options for what you can do with a pile of pulled pork meat, but the most obvious would be sandwiches. Grab some hamburger buns or your favorite rolls and dig into some homemade pulled pork sandwiches. Serve alongside toppings like diced onions, coleslaw, barbecue or hot sauce, or anything else you like, and don't even think about forgetting some classic barbecue side dishes like baked beans or mac and cheese. Whatever you pick, you can't go wrong with meat this good.
Whether it's charcoal or electric, you can still smoke a respectable Boston butt and make some great sandwiches out of it. All it takes is a little know how and hard work, and now that you know what to do, it's time to work. The cook time isn't too bad and everyone at your next cookout will surely thank you once they've had a chance to dig into the most delicious pulled pork they've ever eaten, and just imagine the look on their faces once you tell them it came out of an electric smoker.
Did you like this guide? Any tips on using an electric smoker or making pulled pork? Leave a comment down below, and share this recipe with anyone who's been struggling to get used to using an electric smoker. They might thank you with some barbecue, so it's more than worth a shot.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Different Types of Smoker Grills?
We talk about electric smokers in this article, but there are also propane and charcoal smoker grills. They all infuse smoky flavor into your food, and the differences are mainly in the fuel source. Charcoal grills use briquettes or wood, whereas propane and electric smokers use wood chips. Some electric smokers use pellets instead of wood chips.
Are Electric Smokers as Good as Charcoal Smokers?
The answer to this question really comes down to personal preference. The charcoal smoker may have more pure, natural smoke, but the electric smoker is much easier to use. So it really depends on how much money you want to spend on the smoker itself,which fuel you like to use (pellets or briquettes), and how much time you want to spend smoking your meat.
Can You Use Wood Chips in an Electric Smoker?
Some electric smokers just use pellets, while others have wood chip pans. If you want to smoke with wood chips and there isn’t a place for them in your electric smoker, you can use a foil packet. Wrap up your soaked wood chips and poke a few holes in the packet. Place the packet on the hottest part of the smoker and it will begin to smoke when it heats up. This will add extra smoke to your electric smoker.
What Temperature Do You Smoke Pork Butt on an Electric Smoker?
A good general rule of thumb for low-and-slow smoking is to use the 225 degree F smoke setting. On an electric smoker, it is easy to set this specific temperature by turning a dial or entering the number on a keypad. It is worth noting that the temperature will fluctuate, just like on a wood smoker, so it’s not a bad idea to put a grill thermometer inside to know exactly what temperature range you are dealing with.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Pork Shoulder on an Electric Smoker?
It should take about an hour per uncooked pound to smoke a pork shoulder. The best way to smoke a pork shoulder is to remove it when it reaches 165 degrees F and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Then, continue cooking until it reaches 195 degrees F for the juiciest, most shreddable pork.