This ultra-flavorful smoked pork butt recipe is made by smoking tender pork low and slow on the grill. Whether you’re a grillmaster or a grilling novice, this smoked pulled pork is an easy-to-follow recipe for juicy, melt-in-your-mouth meat that is perfect for potlucks, barbecues, and family dinners.
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What Is Pork Butt? What’s the Difference Between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder?
Contrary to the way it sounds, pork butt does not actually come from the rear end of a pig. Pork butt is a cut of meat located in the shoulder region of the pig, but it’s not the same as a pork shoulder cut. Pork butt is fattier and higher on the foreleg, while pork shoulder is tougher and farther down. Both cuts of meat are great for slow cooking, roasting, and braising, but we prefer the more flavorful pork butt.
What is the Best Temperature to Smoke Pork Butt?
For the tastiest and juiciest pork butt, we recommend smoking the meat at around 275 degrees F throughout the smoking process. This is hot enough to break down the proteins in the meat and achieve a fork-tender pork butt, without being so hot that it overcooks the pork. In our opinion, it’s the best temperature for smoked pork butt.
Smoking Pork Butt (Step-by-Step Recipe)
If you’re looking for the ultimate BBQ recipe to impress your friends and family, you can’t go wrong with this mouthwatering smoked pork butt recipe. All you have to do is follow the simple steps below.
Pork Butt Prep
To prep your pork butt for smoking, begin by patting it dry and trimming the fat cap. This helps your seasoning adhere to the meat and not the fat. Therefore, try and trim as much fat as possible before moving forward.
Pork Butt Rub
The next step is to rub the pork butt. For this recipe, we start with a 7-pound pork butt and use a delectable combination of 4 parts salt, 3 parts pepper, 1 part paprika, 1 part onion powder, 1 part garlic powder, and 1 part mustard powder. Simply combine this seasoning in a small bowl using a fork to create your pork butt rub.
Season the Pork Butt
Once your rub is evenly combined, generously season the pork butt on all sides. Then, pop it in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Set Up the Z Grills Pellet Grill
The next morning, take your pork butt out of the fridge and set it on the counter. Then, set up your Z Grill by plugging it in and filling the hopper with pellets. Next, open the lid and turn on the power.
Set the dial to the ‘smoke’ position and wait until you see smoke coming from the open lid. At that point, close the lid and set the grill’s temperature to 275 degrees. Then, let the Z Grill do its thing.
Note: Don’t worry if the Z Grill overshoots itself. It will self-correct to your desired temperature.
Start Smoking Pork Butt
Once your Z Grill reaches 275 degrees F (takes about 10 to 15 minutes), you will want to insert your drip pan. Place the pork butt in the center of the Z Grill, directly on top of the drip pan. Close the lid and let the magic happen.
Check the Smoked Pork Butt
After around 5 and a half hours, it’s time to check on your pork butt. By now, it should have some color on it and the outer bark should have set. At this point, you should begin monitoring the internal temperature. Luckily, our pellet grill makes it easy.
Thread the internal temperature probe through the grommet and insert it into the pork butt. Plug in the internal thermometer and read the pork butt’s internal temperature right on the Z Grill’s digital menu.
As you wait for the internal temperature to read, spritz the pork butt with water. Once the pork butt’s internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees F, you can start checking it for doneness. We recommend using the internal temperature probe to look for any tight spots in the pork butt. Once you’ve found one, leave the probe there and continue smoking the meat.
After about 45 minutes, your tight spots should have softened. Once again, use your meat thermometer to probe around and check for doneness. While the internal temperature should hover somewhere around 203 degrees F, what you’re really looking for is universal tenderness (aka no more tight spots).
Let the Pork Butt Rest
After around five minutes, it’s time to take the pork butt off to rest. Remove the temperature probe, then take the pork butt off the grill using the pellet hopper lid (Pro Tip: it makes for a terrific side table). Then, put the Z Grill on the shut down cycle. Cover the pork butt with foil and let it rest for about an hour to lock in those amazing juices.
Enjoy the Best Pulled Pork Butt
After allowing the smoked pork butt to rest, the bone should come out easy and clean. Use your hands to pull the pork butt apart, then you should be left with tender, moist pulled pork that has a mouthwatering crust around the edges.
Tips for Smoking Pork Butt
Ready to make a drool-worthy Smoked Pork Butt? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
How Long to Smoke Pork Butt?
This recipe requires 30 minutes to an hour of preparation. Then, you should smoke your pork butt for a little over 6 hours at 275 degrees. When it’s done, let it rest for one hour before pulling apart. All in all, you can expect the process to take around 8 hours for the best results.
Further reading: Smoking meat times and temperatures chart
What Temperature to Wrap Pork Butt?
In this recipe, we choose not to wrap the pork butt. Why? Well, wrapping it prevents it from developing that delicious surface crust (aka bark) around the outer edges. Because the pork comes out so tender, a little bark provides a delicious contrast in texture with some added flavor.
On the flip side, wrapping the pork butt towards the end of the smoking process will help to seal in the juices. If you’re planning to wrap your pork butt, wait until it has reached an internal temperature of 150 to 170 degrees F (about two-thirds of the way through the cooking time).
Best Wood Pellets for Smoked Pork Shoulder
Both apple wood pellets and hickory wood pellets work well for smoked pork shoulder, as they each add delicious flavors that complement the flavor of the meat.
What Do You Serve It with?
Looking for a complete BBQ meal that your guests will be drooling over? Here are some of our favorite side dishes to serve with smoked pork butt:
Tender, juicy pork butt seasoned with a simple homemade rub and smoked to perfection on the grill.
Smoked Pork Butt
- 7 pound pork butt
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Mustard powder
- Pat the pork butt dry and trim the fat cap off to ensure that the seasoning adheres to the meat.
- In a small bowl, make your pork butt rub by combining 4 parts kosher salt, 3 parts black pepper, 1 part paprika, 1 part garlic powder, 1 part onion powder, and 1 mustard powder.
- Add the pork butt to a large bowl and generously season the pork butt on all sides, then place it in the fridge uncovered overnight.
- Remove the pork butt from the fridge and preheat your pellet grill to 275 degrees F.
- Once your pellet grill has reached the desired temperature, insert a drip pan into the center of the grill and place the pork butt on the grill grates right over it to cook.
- After around 5-6 hours, thread the temperature probe through the grommet and insert it into the pork butt to check for doneness. Continue cooking, spritzing the pork butt every so often to keep it moist.
- Cook the pork butt for a total of 8 hours or until probe tender. The final internal temperature of the pork butt should be around 200 degrees F.
- Remove the pork butt from the grill, cover it with foil, and let it rest for an hour before pulling apart to enjoy.
- For the best-tasting results, use apple wood pellets or hickory wood pellets to smoke your pork butt.
- After the first few hours, spray your pork butt with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water every hour or so for the duration of the cooking process to keep it moist.
- Make sure to let your pork butt rest covered for an hour before serving to lock in the juices.