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.
- 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
Smoked Boston Butt for Pulled Pork
- 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
- 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.
- Combine the dry rub ingredients in a bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the hickory or apple wood chips to the smoker drawer. Fill the water pan half way. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- While the pork is resting, make a BBQ sauce and cut some soft rolls to assemble pulled pork sandwiches.
- 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.
- 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1026Total Fat: 69gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 37gCholesterol: 312mgSodium: 2237mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 85g
Easy Barbeque Sauce for Pulled Pork Sandwiches Recipe
Easy Barbecue Sauce for Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Delicious and easy barbeque sauce to use with pulld pork.
- 1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup good quality ketchup
- 4 TBS yellow mustard
- 4 TBS brown sugar
- 2 tsps sea salt
- 2 tsps cracked black pepper
- 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.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 51Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 753mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 1g
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.
this never said if I leave vent open or closed…this is my first time using it…I am confused.
Open the vent as needed to control temp. More open equals more air flow equals higher temp. Less open equals less air flow lower temp. What you absolutely don’t want is so much airflow the Wood you’re using ignites into flames. That will cause a temperature spike and potentially burn the shoulder if left long enough. Also, 190 is not ideal. You can choose to wrap the shoulder in butcher paper after the stall, which usually occurs from 145-165 or leave it unwrapped. Though, optimal temp to pull it would be 200-205. Then rest for at least 60 minutes. You can even wrap it in foil or butcher paper followed by a bath towel then place it in a cooler if you don’t plan on serving it right away.
Always leave the vent open. Closing it restricts the oxygen and reduces the smoke
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.
The moisturizer from your water pan
Inaccurate thermostat inside the smoker. My probes are all clean and they are 25 degrees off. I use a probe in the meat and another in the smoker to maintain the temperature at the correct level.
Same problem in a brand new electric smoker. Over 12 hours for a 6-lb and I am still not close to 190 degrees. Should I use less water? I did what the recipe above calls for.
We have experienced a temperature stall around 150 degrees, we then wrap the pork in foil and the temp starts to go up again.
I have always pulled my butt around 155-160 and wrapped in foil and placed back on smoker. This process will help with the stalling of the temp due to the collagen breakdown process. I normally smoke a 9.5lb butt at 235 and it normally takes about 12-15 hours. Remember low and slow. Good luck
That’s how Barbecue is, Culberson. Just wait until you try your hand at brisket! 😁 They don’t call them pitmasters for nothing!
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.
Silvia, You will need to add more charcoal, how much depends on the size of the fire box you have. Rule of thumb is try to keep the smoke box temp @ 225 as best you can, you will see it start to slowly drop off it’s best to be ahead of that by adding new charcoal just as the old dwindles, don’t loose your heat, new coals take a while to catch up. Control of the heat should be done by the smokers exhaust vent, I usually judge this by having some pressure from the vent (not oozing out but lightly pushing out) that & the charcoals are related to the characteristics of you smoker & something you’ll get the hang of after a few try’s. When you get at least 165°F to 180°F (your done-ness preference) with a good thermometer (I Use battery electronic for quick accurate readings, analogues take too long) you’re done! Hope this was helpful.
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.
I’m glad you commented this, cause I am cooking one now and expected it to be done like it said in 8 hours and it read 143 degrees, so far I am at 12 hours and its reading 173 degrees. Thought I may have done something wrong..
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.
Im glad to read the comments about the cook times, my first one was a hard lesson as I planned for dinner in 8 hours. It was discouraging at first, but the next one I planned for about 15 hours. And now I do that everytime. Comes out great each time. Doing another this weekend.
Can you cook 2 butts at same time in the electric smoker?
Yes. I’ve had 4 in mine, expect longer cooking time. I think this is due to air movement restriction from the foil pans.
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.
I agree dixie. I’ve learned not to go under 250F. But all is still goooood!!!!
This my first time at smoking pork butt. I have a masterbuilt elect. smoker. I have 2 of them not quite 8 lbs. What should i set my temp at and how long will it take to smoke them?
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.
Hi Randy, what is the total smoke time when you smoke butts this size?
What’s your total cook time on that usually?
What is the total cook time? I need to cook 4 butts for a grad party and I am wondering when I should start cooking. Party starts at 2:00 on a Saturday, I will probably cook (4) 10-12 pound butts. I don’t want to make the guests wait until 6pm to eat but I also don’t want the butts done too early and have to worry about bacteria forming. I have an electric Masterbuilt. Any help from anyone on this thread would be much appreciated!!
I’m planning a 9 lb. butt for tomorrow. Tonight (7/3) when I got home from work I rubbed it down. About 1 a.m. I’ll put it on temp 220. Go to bed, wake about 0400 add more chips, back to sleep. Wake about 0800, add chips, make breakfast. every hour or so add chips. Remove from heat 1600, allow it to sit covered in foil 1 hour. Incredible pulled pork at 1700.
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.
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.
I see these recipes or instructions all the time saying 8-9 hours, I do not agree. First 2 times I smoked shoulders, they were nowhere near done in that time frame and I thought I was doing something wrong.
My third shoulder I smoked with a briskett, talk about a happy accident. Placed shoulder on top shelf and the flat on the 2nd shelf with the point on the bottom. I did not use a drip tray to catch he the juices, I let them drip onto my briskett. (Self blasting lol)
My lesson learned, was slow and low. The brisket always goes 20+ hours and when I did the shoulder the same way. It was amazing.
Advice. No 2 smokers or cuts of meat are the same. They aren’t going to keep temperature the same and there are always going to be nuances. Probes will read different temps from different cuts that have been in the same amount of time, no mystery there. But, if you are smoking meat no matter what cut, do not take shortcuts to smoke it after you have potentially spent possibly days preparing it with brine or rub. if you smoke it slow and low, you’re only goal is to get it to 170 degrees internal. You won’t have to touch that shoulder to rotate or flip or any of that nonsense. Adding chips as far as I can tell, just pleases your neighborhood with the smell. If you have a good bark, your smoke ring is done, it’s not getting any bigger or better. Worry about stalls and other “tricks” as you put more meat through it.
I have had my master built for about 2 years now and have done about 8 briskets, 10 shoulders and to.many slabs to count, I am no expert , but the journey and food are amazing.
I’m smoking a 3.5 lb butt. How long and what temperature would I do it at? Every recipe I look up is for 8-12 lbs! Sometimes you don’t need that much!! Lol thanks
Do you have the nutritional value for this pork recipe?
Butts in the Fridge… question, when I put the butt in the smoker do I wrap it in foil first? Do I wait to when it reaches a certain temp and then wrap it?
So put it butt in the smoker and about the 6 hour mark or OR when the Temp gets up to 160 (that is when it hits the STALL). You can either wait it or wrap it, put it back in and then in about 2 hours or so the temp should get up to about 203. That is when you want to pull it and let it rest from anywhere to half an hour to an hour.
THIS also depends on the size you are using!!!
I have had a 9.6 lb. butt in my smoker for over 9 hours and it’s still only 170 degrees inside according to my instant read thermometer. I wrapped it and brought the temp up to 245, smells awesome but I’m figuring a minimum 12 hour cook.
I also had problems with cooking times and a lack of smoke production. As it turned out, the temperature displayed by my electric Masterbuilt Smoker is off by 40 degrees. I verified the difference using stand-alone temperature probes. I now set the unit to 265 degrees to achieve the desired cooking temperature of 225 degrees. This addressed unusually long cooking times and now the unit produces great smoke and even better food.
Folks I have smoked oodles of butts…and usually aim fr 240 cooking temp. I do NOT wrap my butts at 160… it ruins the bark IMhO. I want it crunchy. I shoot for 2 hrs/lb but allow for a bit longer if u inject them heavy…. Keep lid closed (if ur lookin u it aint cookin). Aim for 195 if you are going to serve from the smoker… You can pull them at 190 and wrap in double foil then a towel then into a small cooler and it will keep cooking on its own up to near 200. Expect to lose the crunch of the bark if wrapped like this. Myself.. I do my best to serve off the smoker…and watch folks face light up when crunching pork “candy”
Should a butt be fat side up or fat side down?
Pat, I’m brand new to this smoker world but fat side up is logical since you want the flavor from the rendered fat to baste and get into the meat which won’t happen if it’s just dripping off the bottom.
My first butt is going in bright and early tomorrow for Easter dinner (fat side up!).
The recipe calls for removing a good portion of the fat from the shoulder.
Generally speaking, I’ve always heard “fat side down” if you wish to retain the bark. Also, if the fat is dripping over the meat, it’s washing away the delicious rub.
Hi there I’m new to this also, how long would you cook a 4 pound butt for? Thanks
Ive been following this thread for awhile..always perfect pork..but I hate having to open my smoker put a thermometer in the meat a wait to get temp..while all heat is leaving the box….i have the masterbuilt propane smoker..with 2 doors one on bottom is for chips and above it is the water pan..then the top door is for the meat..Can anyone recommend a good probe thermometer that I can I put into the meat and only open the meat door when the temp is where I need it?.
Therm Pro, Orange in color with a black casing. you can bring the monitor into the house and it keeps you from walking in and out to check temp. About $30.00 single probe at Amazon. Worth the investment.
Melissa – I’m not sure how your smoker is set up but I’ve had good luck with the Weber igrill mini. This gadget got mixed reviews but I’ve had good success with it so far. You can run the probe wire out the door and to the sensor control pod that then communicates with your phone via blue tooth (I run mine out the top vent). No more opening the door to check temps. It also has an app for your phone that allows you to store notes and photos from your smoking events in one place so you can add changes to document what you’d do differently next time. Good luck.
Recipe is Great! Temp/time way underestimated. My 7.5 lb never hit the 195 internal temp after 12+ hours of smoking at 235 for 8 hours and 260 for 4+ hours.
K so we are actually using a MasterBuilt smoker. Not sure if all these commenters were. Held consistent temp and got internal to 190 at about 10 hours on a very cool and breezy day (high temp of 55). Can’t wait to dig in!!!!
The recipe was good but we omitted a few things.
We smoked a 9.69lb Boston Butt bone in and it took almost 14 hours to get the internal temp to get to 190. But it was well worth that wait time… It was really good. yummy
It took 19 hrs. to reach internal temp. of 185 for an eight pound bone in pork shoulder and an additional hour at 275 wrapped in foil to reach 200. I followed the recipe for pulled pork sliders in my new masterbuilt smoker and said it would take 8 hrs, then 1-2 in foil. Way off.
Ran into the same problem with my 3.6 lbs. brisket that took 10 hrs, instead of 4.5 hrs.
The meat turned out great for both, but I think my smoker temperature may be off or the people writing the recipes for masterbuilt are off. Mine is less than 1 month old.
From what I gather the temp on the digital display is way off. I’ve seen some say 40 degrees, some 20 degrees. Mine is averaging about 25 to 35 off. A probe is a must, I got a wireless one for 30 bucks from the beginning so I knew I have to set the display for 245 to 255 to get a constant 225. Also a good rule of thumb is add at least two hours to every recipe lol
Smoking Temp. Some comments suggest turning up the heat to 250+ to get the chips to smoke. I had the same problem until I abandoned the tray. I removed the internal bracket that held the chip tray and use a small disposable aluminum tray placed directly on the element (electric smoker). The tray holds up fine and I can get a thick dense smoke starting at 145 degrees.
I have a Smokin It brand electric smoker. I smoke a lot of pork butts. I inject the butt the night before and use a dry rub. I do not use sugar in my rubs or injections as we are all keto and have adjusted the regular recipe to suit our needs. I smoke with a combo of hickory and apple pellets until 165. I then wrap in foil, baste once, and continue smoking until the internal thermometer reads 195-200. I let the meat rest, then eat. It pretty much comes out perfect every time.
I usually go to 250 and 1.5 hours per pound. Don’t forget to cover it in foil and a towel snd let it rest in a cooker for an hour or so to get the juices back inside
I just followed this to a tee and made the best pulled pork ever. Got all kinds of compliments, thanks! So can you recommend or point me to the best method for moist beef brisket!!!!?
This is pretty good: https://mrecipes.com/smoker/beef/brisket/ 🙂
Rub 24 hours before entering smoker put desired juice on then smoke at 225 for 5 hours bare place butt in foil pan covered with desired juice cook another five hours once done at 195/200 rest an hour then take two forks pull apart and enjoy
Followed your lead, rubbed and set for 12 hrs. smoked two 10lb pork shoulder butt .@250 degrees .Every 45 to a hour spritzed with a combo of apple cider vinegar, apple juice and apple liquid smoke. Took 13 hours for a 195 temp. Rested for a hour. Crispy as hell and amazing !