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smoker series

Smoking a boneless pork shoulder, aka pork butt, is the second-easiest thing to smoke aside from chicken wings. It is forgiving and can feed many people when you are on a budget, and the flavor train can be mind-blowing. Who doesn’t like pulled pork sandwiches, or pulled pork by itself with a side of pulled pork?  Throw in some onion, slaw, and baked beans, and you have a classic backyard meal everyone can enjoy. 

Pulled pork sandwich on a brioche bun with pickles

As with most meat, there is a value to low and slow cooks on the smoker. However, the minor differences between a hot and fast cook are, in my opinion, not worth the time and effort. I LOVE to roll smoke on my grills/smokers, but the days of babysitting during the cooks are long gone for me – thankfully. There’s no real standout benefit to low and slow when smoking pulled pork. So this recipe contemplates a hot and fast cook – roughly 5-6 hours. 

Traditional barbecue pulled pork. Slow cooked pulled pork shoulder. Juicy pork meat cooked in a smoker by low and slow.

It is always entertaining when I see people display obvious abhorrence when they learn I am smoking a boneless pork butt. As counterintuitive as it sounds, it is a cut of meat that actually comes from the upper shoulder of a pig, which is sometimes called a shoulder roast or a blade roast — or blade roast with the bone removed. How it became called a pork butt is an interesting read, as there are several opinions. I do not care what it is called, I just know it is fantastic. 

You Will Need: 

  1. Digital meat thermometer
  2. Disposable aluminum pan
  3. Disposable gloves are great if available
  4. BBQ paper, aka pink butcher paper or aluminum foil
  5. Large tongs or meatforks. 
  6. Grill gloves
  7. Fuel source
  8. Large cutting board
  9. Spray bottle or BBQ spritzer
  10. Sharp knife


  1. Pork butt. A good rule of thumb is 3/4 to 1 lb. of cooked meat per person. A 10-12 lb. roast will feed 10 people nicely for a backyard BBQ. Leftovers are killer! 
  2. Yellow mustard for binder
  3. Your favorite BBQ rub. Doing two butts?  Try two different rubs to mix up the flavor profiles for your guests. You can never go wrong with simple SPG (salt, pepper, garlic)
  4. Cranberry and apple juice


  1. Trim off the fat cap to less than 1/2 inch thick
  2. Place the roast in the aluminum pan and slather all sides with mustard
  3. Generously coat the entire brisket with dry rub. You may think you are way over seasoning. You are not!
  4. Cover with foil and let sit in the fridge for about an hour

Cooking Steps: 

  1. Preheat the smoker to 300° F.
  2. Add real mesquite or pecan wood chunks to the firebox if using a non-pellet grill
  3. Place the pork butt on the smoker and cook to an internal temperature of 165° F. Approx 5-7 hours, but cook to internal temperature and not time. Make that meat thermometer work for you 
  4. Spritz the entire roast with the cranberry and apple juice mixture every 30 minutes
  5. Pull roast, give it one more good spritz, and double wrap in BBQ paper or foil
  6. Place back on the smoker. Flip every 30 minutes and cook to an internal temperature of 205° F

pork shoulder

  1. Pull roast from the smoker. Allow it to rest wrapped on the countertop for a minimum of 1 hour, 2 hours works even better. The temperature will rise another 5-10° during the rest, and the rendered fat will seep into the muscle fibers, making it juicy. Don’t skip the resting part!
  2. The pork butt is ready to shred and serve. I recommend you use cotton gloves covered with nitrile gloves, as that roast is going to be HOT
  3. Once shredded I give the meat one last sprinkle of rub and a spritz of juice before serving

Pulled pork tastes amazing fresh off of the grill/smoker, and even better the next day, that is if there is any left!  This recipe will definitely make you a hero among your guests, and you do not have to tell them how easy it actually was to make. Roll that smoke and make your guests smile! 

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Smoker Series: How to Smoke Chicken Wings
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