How to make the BEST Smoked Pork Butt in an Outdoor Smoker [Pulled Pork]

This smoked pork butt shoulder is basted with a vinegar-based mopping sauce that brings a kick to all the rich, savory smoked meat. Tender and juicy with a rich, smoky flavor. Your guests will be lining up for more!

Shredded pulled pork in a bowl  topped with pickled red onion and jalapenos.

How to Smoke Pork Shoulder

One thing is for sure: No matter what method you chose to smoke the meat — electric Smoker, charcoal, or wood —  low and slow is the way to go!

There is a lot of inactive cooking time with smoking meats but the end result is well worth the wait.

BBQ pulled pork topped with coleslaw, pickled onions, jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and pickles on a grilled sesame seed bun.

Cooking Times and Temperatures

  • Knowing when the meat has reached the ideal temperature is a must for shredding. Use a Remote Digital Thermometer which allows you to have the thermometer probe in the meat with a remote box with an alarm inside the house. This allows you to easily monitor the smoked pork butt without opening the smoker and releasing the heat and smoke. It’s a must-have for me.
  • For pork shoulder or pork butt, the smoking time usually takes about 2 hours per pound minutes per pound of meat at 225°F.
  • Otherwise, plan on about 60-90 minutes per pound at 250°F.
    • Using a digital cooking thermometer is the best way to monitor the smoking process. 
  • Trim the excess fat off the meat and season liberally with BBQ dry rub.
  • Use the low and slow methodology of cooking and be sure to keep the smoker temperature around 225 – 250 °F.
  • Smoke the Pork Butt until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 190 – 205 °F.
  • Baste the meat. We use a mopping sauce. It’s a spicy vinegar-based sauce that keeps the meat moist during the smoking process. Since we do not wrap the meat during the smoking process, the moping sauce is pretty pivotal in this recipe. If you prefer, you could also spray the meat down with water or apple juice.
  • Let it Rest. After you remove the meat from the smoker, let it rest for 15-20 minutes before shredding. This gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the meat keeping it nice and moist. Juice running out on the cutting board [paid link] makes for dry pulled pork!
A whole pork shoulder resting on a cutting board.

What Wood Chips are best to Smoke Pork shoulders?

No matter which type of wood smoking chips you use, you will end up with a delicious smoked pork shoulder. To give some details about the flavors you can expect if you are not sure which wood to use, I offer these suggestions:

Hickory Wood Smoking Chips – Hickory is second only to Mesquite for delivering a great flavor to the meat. This is the wood of choice for most Southern barbecues.

Cherry Wood Smoking Chips – Cherry wood will still deliver a great smoky flavor but it’s mild and sweet as compared to Mesquite and Hickory.

Apple Wood Smoking Chips – Apple wood has a very light mild, fruity flavor that compliments pork.

Mesquite Wood Smoking Chips – This is the most common chips for smoking dark meats like beef brisket. It delivers a strong smoky flavor to the meat but can be over-powering for pork.

A close up image of BBQ sauce being pours over a pulled pork sandwich.

Bear Paws Shredder Claws make quick work of pulling the meat apart. However,  if you don’t have a set, you can use the two fork method or simply slice the meat.

A shredded smoked pork butt / pork shoulder on a metal tray.

What to Serve with Pulled Pork

Of course, smoked pork is absolutely delicious on its own, in a sandwich or a wrap, and doused with your favorite BBQ sauce, but It’s even tastier when accompanied by delectable side dishes. Give one of my favorite sides a try!

Baked Beans – No family gathering, backyard BBQ, or pot luck is complete without a batch of these tender and creamy baked beans.

Mac n Cheese – Making mac n cheese from scratch is pretty quick seeing as the sauce can be made as the pasta is boiling.

Potato SaladPotato salad is another family favorite that is great in the summertime served alongside pretty much anything you can grill up

Coleslaw – There’s nothing better pairing for rich, pulled pork than a tangy coleslaw salad. It’s amazing.

A close up image of a pulled pork sandwich.

 

Pulled Pork 17

Smoked Pork Shoulder

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
This Smoked Pork is sweet, smoky, and fall-apart tender! BBQ pulled pork is absolutely perfect for sandwiches, wraps, tacos, nachos, and salads.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 16 hrs
Total Time 16 hrs 10 mins
Course Main
Cuisine barbecue & grilling
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 249 kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker (Wood, Electric, or Charcoal)
  • Smoking wood chips
  • remote digital thermometer
  • bear claws – optional

Ingredients
  

  • 5 pound bone-in pork butt or shoulder , larger may be used, see time calculation
  • 1/4 cup Barbecue Dry Rub , homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup Carolina mopping sauce or Apple juice
  • wood chips (apple, cherry, Hickory or pecan); pre-soaked for 1/2 hour before use

Instructions
 

  • Preheat smoker to 225°F to 250°F.
  • Trim the fat cap on the pork butt/shoulder to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Season the pork butt heavily with the dry rub (optional) and place inside the smoker.
  • Add 2 handfuls of wood chips into the cup of the electric smoker or onto the hot coals.
  • Smoke the meat for approximately 1 to 2 hours per pound depending on the temperature of the smoker [see notes below].
  • Replace wood chips for smoke as they run out for an intense smoky flavor.
  • After the first 4 hours, begin spritzing down the meat with Carolina Moping Sauce or Apple juice every two hours.
  • Cook until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 195 °F – 205 °F (pulled pork).
  • Remove from the slow cooker and allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Pull pork apart using two forks or otherwise chop as desired.
  • Serve plain or with your favorite sauce(s).

Notes

  • For pork shoulder or pork butt, the smoking time usually takes about 2 hours per pound minutes per pound of meat at 225°F.
  • Meanwhile, for 250°F, plan on about 60-90 minutes per pound.
  • Nutrition is calculated based on the recipe as written. Additions, omissions, or substitutions will change the calculated values shown. The addition, omission, or substitution of ingredients will alter the nutritional information shown. Nutrition percentages are based on a 2000-calorie diet. The FDA recommends 80 micrograms of vitamin K.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (1/12th of meat)Calories: 249kcalProtein: 35gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 123mgPotassium: 641mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 1mgCalcium: 26mgIron: 2mgZinc: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

21 thoughts on “How to make the BEST Smoked Pork Butt in an Outdoor Smoker [Pulled Pork]”

  1. What’s up, I log on to your blog like every week. Making this smoked pork butt this weekend. Hope it’s as tasty as it looks!

    Reply
  2. Hi! This looks great and I will try it this weekend. FYI, those Scooby Snacks in Texas are called burnt ends, technically Texas bbque is brisket but you get the point. The digital thermometer is a must, too.

    Reply
    • Hi Regi! Thanks for taking the time to come by today and ask about Carolina Mopping sauce. Carolina Mopping sauce is a vinegar based sauce that some people use to baste the meat and others use is in place of BBQ sauce. I have a recipe here — I like it used either way depending my mood or the occasion. http://kitchendreaming.com/carolina-mopping-sauce/ I’m going to link it into the recipe for ease of use and thank you for pointing out that oversight. :)

      Reply
  3. I have so much leftover bbq chicken from a bbq last night… just told my bf about this recipe and we’re totally making it this week

    Reply

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