Unless you live in the sovereign nation of Texas, smoked pork butt recipes are the quintessential American thing to smoke. It’s easy, delicious, and will give you serious Backyard Pitmaster cred.
For this pork butt recipe, we’re sticking with the basics of smoking. No injections, marinades, or crazy glazes. Just meat, a binder, a homemade rub, and rolling smoke.
If you haven’t smoked a pork butt before, it’s not a short process, it’s an all day event. I like it low and slow You can expect about an hour per lb. When I smoke a pork butt I usually look for one between 8-10 lbs, depending on how many people I’ll be feeding.
Smoked Pork Butt Recipe
A couple of times a year, my local grocery store has a sale on pork butt for .99 per lb. That’s a great deal, and it’s hard to pass up. I’ll pick up two or three and throw them in the freezer to use at a later date. But generally, the pork butts I buy are around $2.30 per lb. Still a bargain for the amount of meat you’re about to cook.
Most of the time, I like to stop by my local butcher shop, Ray’s Fine Meats. I prefer shopping local when I can, and Ray’s is no exception. They know what they’re talking about, they have better cuts of meat, and they’re happy you stopped by. If you haven’t found a local butcher shop near you, do an online search and stop by, you’ll be glad you did.
The main thing you want to look for in a quality pork butt is marbling. Everyone knows that fat is flavor. The more fat marbling throughout the meat, the better your pork butt will be.
PREP-TIME: The Smoker
It’s time to fire up the smoker. I’ve smoked pork butts anywhere between 235° and 275°. As a general rule, I like to run the smoker at 250° for the entire cook.
PREP-TIME: The Pork Butt
When you prep a pork butt, you only need three things. The pork butt, a binder (French’s Mustard), and a rub. Drop the pork butt onto a cookie sheet or butcher block. Squirt on the mustard and smear it all over the pork butt, top, bottom, and sides.
Once you’ve given it a thorough it’s time to shake your rub on. You can use any store bought rub, but I prefer to make my own. Here’s a recipe for Mike Mills “Magic Dust”. Shake on the rub, there’s no need to actually rub it in. Shake it on liberally, covering every part of the butt.
Now, let the rub sweat into the meat for the next 25-30 min. while you’re getting the smoker to stable temperature.
Let’s Smoke A Pork Butt!
Once the smoker is up to temp and the rub has had time to sweat into the butt, it’s time to place it into the smoker. Place the butt on the grates with the fat side down. At this point, you’ve probably already chosen your wood. Fruit woods like apple fo great with pork, but I confess, I use hickory for all of my smokes because I have an ample supply of hickory that I cut from my land. Feel free to use whatever type of wood you have on hand. Personally, I refuse to buy any of the bags of wood chunks from the store. People have been smoking food with the wood they had on their land for hundreds of years, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Hickory and oak make great wood for smoking.
With this smoked pork butt recipe, I’m not concerned with the internal temperature for the first half of the cook. I’m simply maintaining the smoker temp and letting the pores in the meat open and absorb the flavor from the wood.
Pork can take smoke until the meat hits 150-160° so it’s important here to keep the lid closed and hold your fire at 250°-275°.
At the 4 hour mark, it’s time to start monitoring the internal temperature. You can do it with an inexpensive probe thermometer or a more expensive electronic thermometer. As long as you’re getting accurate readings.
By the time you reach the 5 hour mark, the internal temperature should be around 160°, it’s time to wrap your pork butt in aluminum foil. The aluminum foil will keep the moisture from rendering out of the butt, and prevent your butt from taking in too much smoke.
*NOTE- Once you wrap your pork butt, If you’re using a charcoal bed, you can maintain your fire by using charcoal if you’d like. There’s no reason to continue to use your valuable wood.
At this point, maintain the temp on the smoker and wait for your butt to finish cooking. Your internal target temp is 195°
When the target temperature is reached, pull the butt off the smoker and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. You’ll want to get it into a large pan because the foil is full of juice.
After 30 minutes, remove the butt from the foil and pour off the juice.
At 195° pork is easily shredded. I like to use a pair of bear claws. You’ll also want to wear a pair of thick butcher gloves under nitrile gloves because that pork butt is hot.
If you plan to serve the pork immediately, pour some of the juice back with the meat. The pork butt can be saved for later, instead of shredding, keep in large chunks. When reheating, it will have a better texture if you store it this way.