Perfectly Smoked Pork Shoulder

You can include pulled pork in just about any dish to make it more mouth-watering. Whether you add some to your morning omelet, sprinkle some inside your grilled quesadilla, or top your nachos with it, you can’t go wrong. The great thing about smoking a pork shoulder is that you’re guaranteed a large quantity of food to use in all these various dishes. This video outlines the essential steps that will guarantee your pork shoulder is smoked perfectly, promising many tasty meals for you to enjoy!

What are your thoughts? (18)

07.21.15

Anthony L

Did my first pork shoulder this past weekend. Glorious! Seven pounder went quicker than I thought. I was prepared for 12-16 hours - other websites freaked me out about not using the rule of thumb, expect longer cook times, etc. It was done in 11 hours.

One thing that did happen to me was that I put it on at 10:30 p.m. the night before and let it go overnight, thinking 12 to 16 hours on the smoker. I used a Weber meat probe with a remote unit and put the remote unit on my nightstand. 4:00 a.m. and the thing was going off like crazy as the internal temp hit 190 (I had set it to go off at 160, but the beeping wasn't loud enough to wake me).

Went down and wrapped it, put it back on the smoker and staggered back to bed until 7:45 a.m. Checked temp - nearly 200 - pulled it and rested it in a Styrofoam cooler for 2 hours (I put a couple of old dish towels in the bottom of the cooler to protect it).

When I went to pull it it was super tender. Too bad it went so quickly as we had to wait to eat it for dinner later that day! It was a little dry when I reheated it in a crock pot, I had to add some liquid. I think if I had wrapped it when it hit 160 it would have been better and if I could have served it right after pulling it it would have definitely been better.

However, my wife said it was the best she ever had, even better than a lot of restaurants she had been to. Now that I know that a seven pounder takes 9 hours on the smoker, I'll just get up at 5 a.m. to get it on the smoker by 6 a.m., with time adjustments as necessary depending on the weight of the shoulder I'm doing. Am going to definitely do this again when my in-laws are in town in a few weeks.

07.20.15

Kevin Kolman

Anthony,
Congrats on what sounds like some beautiful smoked pork shoulder. Understand we are always our own hardest critics, myself included. A couple of things I would recommend. Yes, the 9 hour smoke is a very good rule of thumb for smoking shoulder. Wrapping it will help with moisture as pork has a tendency due to its fat content and make up of the fat to loose it’s moisture. Washing it with apple juice and apple cider vinegar can help. Using BBQ sauce can also help. Another thing you can do is keep the shoulder in the foil and pull part of it and continue to pull it when more and more is eaten. Keeping the shoulder together will help keep it more moist over time. Hope this help and keep us posted if you have any more questions. You can find us here or on Facebook and Twitter at Kevin’s Backyard and always Happy Grilling!!

07.05.15

Bob S

Hey Kevin! Happy belated July 4th. I have just purchased the Weber Smokey Mt smoker. It's a honey. Very solid; very heavy AND it's American made!!

One thing. I'm having a little trouble getting it to get hotter than 225. Bottom vents are wide open. Top is about 1/2. I've tried various configurations but it stays at 225 pretty consistently.

I have an 11 lb pork shoulder on this puppy and wouldn't mind having it another 25 degrees hotter. Appreciate any thoughts/help. BTW your vid/comments are wicked helpful.

Thanks

Bob from Vermont; home of awesome, locally raised food.

07.05.15

Kevin Kolman

Bob,
When lighting a smoker you will dump lit charcoal onto unlit charcoal. If you put the unit together too quickly, then the unlit doesn't really catch. Wait 15 minutes for the lit to light the unlit, then put together the smoker. Also make sure you don't go above the second hole in the charcoal chamber. 2-3 liters of water and you should be good!!

Thanks for the kind words and Happy belated 4th my BBQ brother!! If you have any other questions you can find us here or on Facebook and Twitter at Kevin's Backyard and always Happy Grilling!!

06.30.15

Jeff H

HI Bud,
I just got my new smoker and am looking forward to using it. For the upcoming weekend I've been asked to smoke both a chicken and a pork shoulder. What would be the best way to do this?

06.30.15

Kevin Kolman

Jeff,
I recommend always doing chicken or poultry on the bottom rack and utilize the top rack for anything else. Low and slow all the way and make sure you wrap that shoulder in foil around 160-165 and always Happy Grilling!!

05.23.15

Jack n

Kevin, I think that the temperature idea is great. My question is, can you over smoke your pork butt before getting to the 150-160 temp? I understand that at that temp you wrap and bring to 195-200 temp. Thanks, Jack

05.23.15

Kevin Kolman

Jack-
You should not have a problem over smoking it if you set the grill up the right way. The majority of smoke penetration occurs in the first 1hour or so. Most smoke flavor will sit on the outside of the meat which will give you some awesome flavor. The wrapping helps with moisture and with flavor. Hopefully you knocked it out of the park. Keep me posted and if you need any more help you can find us here or on Facebook and Twitter at Kevin’s Backyard and always Happy Grilling!

05.20.15

Bud A

Hi, Kevin!
I'm smoking a pork shoulder and I am adding wood chips to a small smoker box and putting them on the coals. Once I wrap the shoulder in foil, do I keep doing the smoke or just keep the heat? Does the smoke favor affect the meat if it is wrapped in foil? I appreicate it!

05.20.15

Kevin Kolman

Hi Bud!! I would for sure soak those chips for at least one hour and if you are looking for some awesome flavor, try soaking them in your favorite beer!! Once you wrap the pork shoulder around 150-160 internal temperature there is no reason to keep adding or using chips. The smoke flavor will not go through the foil. Just make sure you take the shoulder up to an internal temperature of 195-200 and it will pull very easily. Make sure you double wrap the shoulder just in case the foil tears, that way you will not loose all that awesome moisture, fat and flavor. Keep me posted and if you need anything else you can find us here or on Facebook and Twitter at Kevin’s Backyard and always Happy Grilling!!

04.11.15

Josh W

Hey Kevin! I am smoking my first 8 pounder soon, and I am a little unclear on how long it should be on. I've seen an hour per pound, to 1.5 hours per pound, etc. What're your thoughts? Also, is there a rule of thumb for how many briquettes to use? I've seen using "x" amount to begin, then an additional "x" for each additional hour. I did two 2 pound shoulders at the same time last weekend, and it took longer than expected, but it was also a very windy day. I found myself struggling to keep the temp around the 225-250 mark. I tried cutting off the airflow almost completely, to, dare I say, opening the lid to let some heat out. I'm learning, but any info you can send my way would be much appreciated. Thanks!

04.10.15

Kevin Kolman

Josh,
I am a temperature and time guy. When it comes to smoking shoulder, ribs, brisket and etc, I try to follow the temperature method a little more. I look to wrap my items at 150-160 and from there I look for final internal meat temperatures. I look for brisket and shoulder to have an internal temperature of 195-200. I also do the fork test- if you can place a fork in the meat and it's tender the it is done. The 1-1.5 hours a pound is a good rule of thumb but not every piece of meat is the same and not every piece will cook the same. So that’s why I focus a little more on temperature. When it comes to fuel load in a kettle I use briquettes since they are very consistent. I also use the snake method which does a great job of keeping temps low and slow with minimal adjustments. Keep me posted on what else is going on. If you need advice on the weekends you can find me at Kevin’s Backyard on Facebook and Twitter and always Happy Grilling!!

04.01.15

Tom W

Hi Kevin getting back to you from my post of 11/6. Sorry for the delay. Yes I use a vinegar based sauce. 2/3 vinegar, 1/3 water, and some of my rub in it.

Did an 8lb. butt Friday, smoked it at around 230 until it reached 185 and then put it in a pan and covered it with foil. Came out very tender and pullable. The stall that occurs at 150-160 or so only equalizes the moisture in the pork it does not eliminate it. Not wrapping it will cause it to last a shorter amount of time. Mine lasted about an hour with the temp going up about a degree every few minutes during that time. It had a nice crisp bark in places that adds a nice texture to the pulled pork.

Try this some time I think you will like it.

Tom

04.01.15

Kevin Kolman

Tom,
Thanks for the suggestion and the next time I do shoulder I am going to try your method!! Happy to hear you are using putting your grills to good use. Thanks again for the tip and always Happy Grilling!!

01.02.15

Robert N

I normally wrap my BB in foil and then place in a foil pan - 225 degrees for about 6 hours - 8-10 lbs. I usually have too much juice in the bottom of the pan so maybe I'll try NOT wrapping it until it reaches 160 165 then try wrapping it. I'll let you know.

01.02.15

Kevin Kolman

Robert,
I totally agree with you when using this method. One other thing I noticed is that I do not get a good bark when placing it in a large drip pan at the beginning. Since the bark is the most coveted portion of the BB besides the money muscle I want as much of that as I can get. I like keeping my BB out of the tray till it reaches about 150-160 which does ensure a beautiful bark. I also keep my smoker at 275 until I wrap the BB and then drop it down to 225. Let me know what you think and if you have any other questions let us know either here or you can find me on Facebook and Twitter at Kevin’s Backyard and always Happy Grilling!!

11.14.14

Timothy M

Kevin,

I am an American living and smoking in the middle east. I love pulled pork but as you probably know we cant get that here.

Don't roll your eyes... Camel is a common meat here and it is very good. This meat is very close to the consistency of pork but it is a very lean meat. Is there a method of cooking a lean meat like this and still having similar results as you have had here?

11.13.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Timothy,

You have an interesting story here with smoking camel! The trick to a lean meat like that is to go low and slow. This will keep moisture in rather than pushing it out which can be caused by direct medium to high heat. Also, make sure you use a water pan for added smoke flavor. Keep me posted on how it turns out!

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

11.06.14

Tom W

I'm from NC and wrapping a pork butt would be sacrileges. We want the bark to be hard so it can contrast to the soft meat of the rest of the butt. It is only about a 1/4" thick, but comprises such an addition you can't imagine.

Never foil a butt for true pulled pork. If you want smoked pork, foil it at 180 and let it carry over cooking to take it to 190.

11.05.14

Kevin Kolman

Hi Tom,

One of the fun parts of barbecue is the debate and the many different ways people smoke, barbecue, and grill their foods. There are times I do not foil, but overall I find when I do, the food is more moist, tender, and never tough. With meat being 70-75 percent water, not having it in foil or a foil pan when it hits the stall makes me a little nervous. The stall occurs usually around 150-160 degrees. You end up losing a lot of flavor to the grill and I love that flavor. I use the drippings to add back into the meat and other dishes I serve. I do like a nice dark bark, but I just don’t want to lose out on that smoked fat and flavor. What kind of sauce do you mix in? A vinegar base? Thanks for the debate!

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin