Smoked Pork Shoulder

A whole smoked pork shoulder.

This smoked pork shoulder, aka pork butt, with its simple and soulful dry rub and foolproof instructions, mean no more standing in line ever again for takeout ‘cue. Here’s how to make it at home.

A whole smoked pork shoulder.

If smoked pork shoulder isn’t the most rewarding thing you can pull off your smoker, we don’t know what is. Yeah, it’s an all-day affair. But it’s not a difficult affair. Toss the pork on the smoker after breakfast and by dinner, you’ll be moaning over rich, tender pulled pork encased in a crispy, smoky crust. Probably with half the neighborhood clamoring at your backyard gate. Thankfully, the recipe makes plenty.–Angie Zoobkoff


While you can use any available wood chips to smoke your pork shoulder if you have options, here’s what to consider. Wood from fruit trees goes exceptionally well with pork so apple, cherry, peach, or even maple would all be terrific. Some woods are more popular, depending on location. Texas is known for pecan or oak, while hickory is integral to Memphis barbecue.

Smoked Pork Shoulder

A whole smoked pork shoulder.

When slow-smoking a pork shoulder, you should figure 1 1/2 hours per pound of pork. A 10-pound, bone-in pork shoulder takes a long time to cook, but for the majority of that time it is in the smoker. You can get it started right after breakfast and have it ready in time for dinner.

Jennifer Hill Booker

Prep 1 hr 15 mins

Cook 13 hrs

Total 22 hrs 15 mins

For the smoked pork shoulder rub

Make the dry rub

  • In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients.

  • Rub the spice mixture thoroughly over the pork shoulder. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

Smoke the pork shoulder

  • About 1 hour before smoking the pork, unwrap the pork shoulder and let it rest at room temperature.

  • Heat your smoker to 225°F (105°C). This may require several additions of water-soaked wood to keep the smoke going.
  • When the temperature of the smoker has reached a constant 225°F (105°C), place the pork shoulder, fatty side up, on the rack. Close the lid and adjust the vents so the smoke flows freely throughout the smoker.

  • Cook until the meat is exceptionally and sigh-inducingly tender and reaches an internal temperature of 185° to 195°F (85° to 90°C), somewhere between 10 to 14 hours or about 1 1/2 hours per pound of meat. Let the meat rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Slice, pull, or chop the pork. Demolish it immediately, doused with Vinegar Barbecue Sauce, if desired.

Serving: 1portionCalories: 757kcal (38%)Carbohydrates: 8g (3%)Protein: 129g (258%)Fat: 20g (31%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 340mg (113%)Sodium: 1150mg (50%)Potassium: 2239mg (64%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 3g (3%)Vitamin A: 245IU (5%)Vitamin C: 5mg (6%)Calcium: 69mg (7%)Iron: 6mg (33%)

Originally published April 23, 2017

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