How To

Beginner's Guide to Smoking a Pork Butt | Pork Butt Recipe

Pork Butt Recipe

How to smoke a pork butt

When you are new to all things BBQ you can definitely feel overwhelmed by the lingo, times, and temps. Smoking a pork butt (aka a pork shoulder) can feel intimidating just like smoking a brisket, but with the right information and step by step directions you can smoke the perfect pork butt and feel confident that it will taste amazing! We are going to walk you through the Lane's way to make pulled pork with a pork butt.

Jump to Lane's Pork Butt Recipe below.

Make sure you have the time

Smoking a pork butt takes roughly 8 to 10 hours from start to being ready to eat, so don't think you can run to the store when you get off work grab a pork butt and be eating it anytime that night. It's not going to happen! Make sure you have the time from start to finish.  

Picking out the pork butt

  • When you go to the grocery store, butcher shop, or meat market, be sure to know that a pork butt, which is a part of the shoulder, is also known as Boston butt. You might not find anything named a "pork butt." You will most of the time find them labeled as one of the two, either pork shoulder or Boston butt.
  • Bone in vs Boneless - Definitely suggest getting a bone in pork butt, that shoulder bone will keep the meat nice and tight. If you choose a boneless the butcher will have had to cut the bone out leaving the meat kind of flopping around and needing to be tied up. 
  • Try and get an 8 to 10lb pork butt.

    Prepare your pork butt

    1. Trimming - This can be a hot topic in the BBQ world, but for us we like to trim up that thick top fat cap. The reason we trim is because we want that nice bark connected to a nice piece of meat and not connected to a big chunk of fat. We suggest trimming immediately when you pull the butt out of the refrigerator. It is way easier to trim a cold firm piece of fat rather than a gooey slimy piece of fat on a butt that you have left out for 30 minutes. Your trimming doesn't have to be perfect just knock down that layer of fat closer to the meat - For safety, trim away from your body and hands. (see our video below for an example of this) Use a good knife, we suggest a good boning knife.

      trimming the pork butt
    2. Binders - Binders are needed only to help keep the seasoning on the piece of meat, they do not add flavor to your butt. Most of the time the butt has been sitting in some liquid from the butcher and you can season without needing a binder. We like to use olive oil, mustard, or even mayonnaise as a binder. Just rub the pork butt down with your preferred binder, it does not need to be a thick layer. Just enough to hold your rub & seasoning. 

      olive oil on pork butt
    3. Seasoning - Now it's time to season your pork butt to help create a tasty bark. Even though we trimmed the fat cap down/off, we still like to smoke the butt fat cap up. So when you are putting the rub/seasoning on the butt be sure to start with the grate side of meat. Coat the bottom, sides, and top of the pork butt. Don't go light - the better rub layer the better bark you are going to get. Don't get crazy though. 

    Recommended Lane's Rubs for Pork Butt:  

    Setting up your smoker

    This is all about what you have or based on preference. We have smoked on all of them and here are some key takeaways for each.

    • Ceramic - Setup for indirect heat | Make sure your basket is full | Keep an eye on those temps | Add a water pan | Setup wood chunks for lasting smoke
    • Pellet - Make sure your hopper is full of pellets | Great for not needing to manage temp | Great for full consistent smoke
    • Electric - Watch your water pan | Make sure to keep good smoke on it | Great for not needing to manage temp

    What type of wood chunks you use is completely up to you. We prefer Cherry Wood, Apple Wood, or the RecTec Pellet blend.

    How long to smoke your pork butt

    We like to smoke our butts at 275 degrees for about 6 to 7 hours - until the butt internal temp is at about 180. 

    Then you will want to wrap the butt and put it back on the smoker for 1 - 2 hours till the internal temp reaches 205.

    It's not burnt! Ok, so we have had a few comments from people who don't do barbecue saying "Oh lawd, how can you eat that burnt piece of meat?" Let me tell you, it's definitely not burnt. That is called bark, that is where all that great flavor lives! If you are new to BBQ, if it looks burnt but your internal temp is correct don't worry it's going to be perfect. 

    pork butt bark

    Resting the pork butt is important

    Ok, your butt is done cooking, but you have to let it rest in a cooler/oven/counter about an hour or more. The key is making sure it's in a pan just in case any juices want to sneak out. That huge 8 to 10lb behemoth will be screaming hot for a while. If you try to pull it while its that hot you will pay the price.

      Time to pull

      Finally all the hard work is done and it's all downhill from here. It's time to get pulling and get that goodness in your belly. All that good flavor is on the outside of the pork butt, so we like to do a little bit extra to add moisture and flavor throughout the pulled pork. 

      1. Get a large bowl - add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and a 1/2 cup light brown sugar. The apple cider vinegar will help keep the pulled pork moist even for next day leftovers. 
      2. Pull out the shoulder bone, if you followed the process it should just come right out easily. 
      3. If you have them use heat gloves with your food safe gloves.
      4. Start to pull - This is the fun part. Just get your hands in there and break it all apart. You will see just how tender it is and your mouth should be watering. You can chop it up if you'd like, but we just like to roughly pull it apart. 
      5. Be on the look out - for gristle and cartilage - alot of times there is one thick piece of cartilage that is inedible. Get rid of it. 
      6. Season and mix - We like to hit it one more time with some seasoning and mix up all the pulled pork with the apple cider vinegar and brown sugar.

      Sauce and enjoy

      There is no reason to wait any longer. You probably have snuck a few bites by now. So before you make your sandwich/plate you gotta think about sauces. 

      We got all the perfect BBQ sauces for your pork butt, really is up to preference. 

      Lane's BBQ Animals


      Dr. Clikk

      Dr. Clikk

      Hey —
      Thanks very much for all you have done to provide this killer how-to info for rooks like me…Got a MasterBuilt and I’m getting my confidence up with Boston Butt and BabyBack ribs….!
      Will check out your products and recommend to my neighbors on the learning curve !!

      Chip Robison, PHARMD



      Beginner here, followed the detailed directions and it turned out amazing! Thank you!



      Smoked the first one 3 weeks ago and it was delicious. Standing O!



      1st time smoking a butt and it turned out awesome, thanks so much for the video. Also the cider vinegar and brown was a total hit. Thanks again will definitely be doing another one.

      John Conrad

      John Conrad

      Did my first one today! Awesome is all I can say! Love the ACV and brown sugar! Thanks for the video neighbor!

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