Smoked Boston Butt for Pulled Pork Recipe

Smoked Boston Butt for Pulled Pork Recipe

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Smoked Boston Butt for Pulled Pork Recipe
3.5 - 198 vote[s]

A Boston Butt is not really the rear end of a hog, as the name implies. This cut is the upper shoulder portion. It is sometimes labeled as a pork shoulder. But, make sure that what you are buying is actually the butt and not the lower portion of the front leg. That cut should be labeled as a picnic roast. The term “butt” refers to the barrels that were used to store the pork shoulder in for transporting purposes before we had sophisticated refrigeration. Why Boston? Boston Butt refers to the way the shoulder was cut and stored in early New England, commonly in Boston where the whole hogs were brought into port and butchered.

This is a tasty cut of the pig, especially when slow cooked in a smoker. This cut is what is generally used to make pulled pork for sandwiches. The size of the shoulder or butt is what makes it a perfect choice for smoking in a Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker. This large piece of meat is a bit difficult to slow braise in a Dutch oven indoors without having to cut it into smaller portions and removing the blade. That said, it certainly can be slow cooked in other ways than smoking. In my opinion, there is no match for the flavor and texture of a smoked butt.

You have the option of buying the butt with either the shoulder blade bone-in or boneless. Bone-in will impart a little more flavor as it cooks. However, it does take a bit longer than a boneless roast. For this recipe, we will use a bone-in butt with much of the fat cap removed. You can have your butcher trim the fat cap down to approximately 1/4 inch of fat still left on the roast for extra flavor and moisture.

Look for around an 8 to 10 pound roast. You will want to start the recipe the day before you smoke the meat by marinating it in mustard, sugar, salt, spices, and herbs. The sugar and salt will act almost as a dry brine. This combination will pull some of the excess moisture out. This is good so that the meat really smokes and doesn’t steam. The day of smoking will be an 8 to 10 hour project that really doesn’t require that much effort on your part. You will just need to tend to the smoker and/or roast about every 60 minutes. Plan on doing some yard work, reading a good book, watching the game, making side dishes, or chilling in your hot tub while the smoker does most of the hard work for you. It is worth a day spent at home for the results achieved.

Smoked Boston Butt Recipe for Pulled Pork

This recipe will serve approximately 10 to 16 people, depending on appetites. Preparation time is approximately 20 minutes for a bone-in roast. Cook time is approximately 8 to 10 hours. This recipe yields sweeter smoked pork, but the apple cider vinegar spritz will help to mellow that a bit.

Equipment needed

  • Masterbuilt Digital Electric smoker
  • Paper towels
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Disposable foil roasting pan large enough to hold the meat (or 2)
  • Plastic wrap or aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
  • Hickory or apple wood chips
  • A spray bottle
  • 2 large forks


  • 8 pound bone-in Boston butt roast
  • 5 TBS jarred yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 TBS sea salt
  • 2 TBS paprika
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS onion powder
  • 2 tsps cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) in a spray bottle
  • Water for drip pan

Total time: 18 hourPrep time: 10 hour – Cook time: 8 hour


1. Place the roast on a clean cutting board. If your roast has skin and/or a fat cap, trim most of the fat off, leaving a 1/4 inch layer for extra flavor. After trimming the fat, rinse the roast under cold running water and pat completely dry with plenty of paper towels. Place the roast inside the disposable pan.

Side note: When working with raw pork, be sure to meticulously clean any surface it comes in contact with, including your hands, the sink, and the cutting board. Toss the paper towels out immediately.

2. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a bowl.

3. Time to get your hands dirty (or wear disposable gloves). Rub the entire roast well with the mustard to coat. Generously apply the dry rub, pressing it into the mustard, to completely cover the butt. The mustard will help to hold the dry rub in place.

4. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours, basically overnight. Anymore than 24 hours is too long, as it will draw too much moisture out of the meat.

5. An hour before you fire up the smoker, remove the roast from the refrigerator so that it can come to almost room temperature. After it has rested for an hour, remove the wrap and pour off any of the accumulated liquid in the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the hickory or apple wood chips to the smoker drawer. Fill the water pan half way. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.

7. Place the roast on the upper rack of the smoker. Thoroughly wash out the disposable pan and place it on the rack below the roast to catch any drippings. Alternatively, use a clean disposable pan, if you have one. If your smoker has a meat thermometer attached, insert it into the roast at one end.

8. While the pork is smoking, make a side of coleslaw, pickled vegetables, or macaroni & cheese. (See suggestions below).

9. Smoke for approximately 8 hours.* Because of the sugar the meat will form a dark caramelized crust. This is delicious crunchy stuff. Replenish the wood chips and liquid approximately every 60 minutes. If you don’t see any smoke coming from the vent, it is time to replenish. At 2 hour intervals spray some ACV on the roast just to moisten it. It is okay to turn the roast over once, but not necessary.

10. At 8 hours, check the internal temperature of the meat with a thermometer. It should read 190 degrees F or even a little higher. If it isn’t quite up to temperature remove the pan of drippings and place the butt inside the pan. Cover this with new aluminum foil and place the roast back in the smoker until it reaches the desired temperature, approximately 1 hour more. The pan and foil will help the meat to retain heat and cook thoroughly.

11. Allow the fully cooked roast to rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes until cool enough to handle and to be able to remove the bone.

12. While the pork is resting, make a BBQ sauce and cut some soft rolls to assemble pulled pork sandwiches.

13. After the pork has cooled enough to touch, place it on a clean cutting board and pull the roast using 2 forks to shred the meat into strands, as shown in this video by eHow.

14. Place the pulled pork (and juices if desired) in a large serving bowl or platter with some tongs for everyone to help themselves. You might want to remove some of the fat from the juices using a fat separator before adding to the pork.

*If using a Masterbuilt charcoal smoker, rotate the meat every hour for more even cooking.

Easy Barbeque Sauce for Pulled Pork Sandwiches


  • 3 cups raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup good quality catsup (ketchup)
  • 4 TBS yellow mustard
  • 4 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 2 tsps cracked black pepper


1. In a 1 or 2 quart saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a low simmer. Cook and stir until the sugar has melted and the sauce has thickened but is still runny. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with your pulled pork. This will store well in the refrigerator if there is any left over.

Ideas for Sides to Accompany your Smoked Boston Butt

Crunchy coleslaw is probably the most popular accompaniment to a pulled pork sandwich. Another popular side is picked vegetables. My nephew once served a giant pulled pork for a holiday dinner with macaroni and cheese muffins that were to die for. Here are some simple recipes you might want to try:

Cabbage and Apple Slaw

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Easy, Kid Friendly Mac & Cheese Muffins

Comments: 15

  1. Denise Lewis - September 16, 2018 at 8:43 pm Reply

    this never said if I leave vent open or closed…this is my first time using it…I am confused.

  2. Steve - October 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm Reply

    Always leave the vent open. Closing it restricts the oxygen and reduces the smoke

  3. Theodore Ralph Culbertson - October 17, 2018 at 11:40 pm Reply

    I smoked a 5 1/3 lb. Butt at 225 degrees. Temp varies due to heating and cooling of smoker as it attempts to maintain set temp. I experienced the stall for several hours at 160 degrees, then a slow March to 195 at which point I removed the butt. Total elapsed time was 15 hours. 10 am to 1 am next morning. What could cause the excessive time? Really not fun.

    • Keck - May 21, 2019 at 8:20 pm Reply

      The moisturizer from your water pan

  4. Ruphus Armstrong - November 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm Reply

    That’s how Barbecue is, Culberson. Just wait until you try your hand at brisket! 😁 They don’t call them pitmasters for nothing!

  5. Silvia Burns - January 31, 2019 at 11:47 pm Reply

    When smoking a butt roast off around 9 pounds do I need to add more charcoal and what about the vents open or close? .we just bought this charcoal smoker and never used one before, would greatly appreciate your help.

  6. Steve - February 16, 2019 at 1:29 am Reply

    I would disagree with the cook time. Pretty much every pork butt smoker recipient calls for 90 min to 2 hours per pound. So an 8 pound pork but should take between 12-15 hours minimum. Mine has been in for 8 hours at 225 and internal temp is still only 147 degrees.

  7. Shane Walker - March 17, 2019 at 5:44 pm Reply

    My 8-9 lbs butts average alittle over 2 hours per pound at 225 (18 hours) but always turn out amazing. I agree that his time must be way off.

  8. Kevin - March 25, 2019 at 9:11 pm Reply

    Can you cook 2 butts at same time in the electric smoker?

    • Bryan browning - May 4, 2019 at 11:24 pm Reply

      Yes. I’ve had 4 in mine, expect longer cooking time. I think this is due to air movement restriction from the foil pans.

  9. dixiedog - May 6, 2019 at 11:54 am Reply

    I’ve never had any luck with the wood chips smoking at the 225 degrees mark. I’ve always had to increase the temperature of my Masterbuilt Electric smoker to 265 degrees.

    • Barry - May 15, 2019 at 12:39 am Reply

      I agree dixie. I’ve learned not to go under 250F. But all is still goooood!!!!

  10. Randy Meadows - May 24, 2019 at 1:20 pm Reply

    I always set my Masterbuilt at 240 and I usually do two at a time – 8-10 lbs each. I add wood chips every 45 minutes and wrap in aluminum foil once they reach 160 – 165. I put them back in the smoker inside of an aluminum pan to catch juices that will run and close the vent. When they reach 200, I take them out of the smoker, drain the drippings into a 4 cup measuring cup (let cool and then place in the frig) and place them in a cooler and cover with towels for an hour or more. They will stay hot until you are ready to pull them. The fat from the drippings will come to the top of the measuring cup which you can scrape off and then pour the good juice in with the meat. If you freeze one, pour the juice into the freezer bag.

  11. Dave Kolbenschlag - May 24, 2019 at 6:32 pm Reply

    Masterbuilt will smoke at 225 if you leave the top vent open and open the chip tray about 1/4 inch to allow draft. You can adjust this opening as you wish. This will also help to eliminate creosote from a cold burn. As the chip holder is only good for about an hour I purchased the external smoke generator from Amazon which will provide 2-3 hours of smoke. Here also you need to leave the ash pan door slightly open.

  12. Willy B - May 27, 2019 at 6:49 pm Reply

    I use peach wood soaked in cheap red wine. It only smokes and does not burn, makes all our smoked meats and smoked potatoes delicious!! I generally smoke most of the time@225.

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