Grilling Guide

Smoked Pork Butt Tips

Did you know that the pork butt does not come from anywhere near the rear of the pig?  It seems confusing because it actually comes from the shoulder. From the pig’s hindquarters, butchers carve fresh hams.

For a bit of history: In colonial New England, butchers packed inexpensive cuts of meat into large barrels, called butts, for storage and transportation. The shoulder meat packed into these barrels became known as pork butt, and the name stuck.

Low-and-slow smoked meat is perfect for feeding a large group of hungry tailgaters. Pork butt (or Boston butt) is a well-marbled cut laced with flavorful fat and connective tissue that when smoked properly is wonderfully delicious.  This cut of pork is flavorful enough that a good rub and the kiss of smoke, combined with the moisture provided by the internal fat and collagen, will make a fabulous crowd-pleasing meal. Here are some tips on how to make a smoked pork butt like a pro.

1. Trim the thick skin and excess fat from the meat, then rinse and pat dry. Slather the pork in yellow mustard to help the rub stick. Cover thoroughly with your favorite pork seasoning and let the meat sit for at least 30 minutes – although you can let it sit for up to 24 hours – so the salt and spices will penetrate the meat.

2. Use a good bed of coals for the heat source and some wood for flavor. Prepare smoker for a low and slow cook at 235°F. Cooking at this temperature keeps moisture inside the meat as it cooks and allows the fat to break down properly.

3. At 235° the pork cooks at about 1 hour per pound. The first half of the cook is when the smoke does its magic. The pores open and absorb the flavor from the wood source. Pork can take smoke flavor until the meat reaches 150-160°, so keep the lid closed and hold your fire. Pulled pork’s best friend is a good meat thermometer. Carefully watching the temperature can make all the difference.

4. The temperature rises steadily to 150° and then hovers there while moisture moves to the surface and evaporates. It may hold that temperature for up to five hours. Don’t crank up the heat or open the lid.

5. At the 5-hour mark the internal temp should be in the 160° range. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep the meat from getting too much smoke and to catch the moisture being released during the cooking process.

6. Continue cooking until an internal temperature of 195° is reached. Pull the butt off the smoker and let rest for 30 to 60 minutes in large pan or platter to catch the jus. After the rest period, remove the butt from the foil and pour off the jus and save to mix in the meat once it is pulled apart.

7. Maintain the most moisture by pulling the pork apart by hand with a pair of thick gloves. Once shredded, mix some of the jus back with the meat.

If you plan a smoked pork butt for your next tailgate or backyard BBQ gathering, simply serve with soft buns, coleslaw or potato salad and corn on the cob!

Butts to Go Smoked Pork Butt

Hands-on: 15 minutes Total: 12 hours, 45 minutes, including rub Serves: 10


Hickory wood chunks

1 8-pound bone-in pork butt (Boston butt)

2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke

1/4 cup Butts to Go Butt Rub

White hamburger buns, such as Sunbeam brand

Cattleman’s BBQ Smoky Base Barbecue Sauce

Pickle chips (optional)


Butts To Go Butt Rub

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet™ Sicilian Sea Salt

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon dried crushed coriander

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Stir together all the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container up to six months to one year. Makes 2/3 cup.

Prepare smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions with an area cleared of coals to create an indirect-heat area, bringing internal temperature to 230°F; maintain temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Place wood chunks on coals. 

Rinse the pork, and pat dry. Rub the Liquid Smoke on pork until liberally coated; coat with butt rub. 

Smoke the pork over indirect heat, maintaining temperature inside smoker around 230°F for 2 hours. 

Remove the pork from smoker; wrap in aluminum foil. Return to smoker, and smoke over indirect heat until tender and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 200°F, about 10 hours.

Remove the pork from smoker; remove and discard foil. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bone and fat cap. Pull the pork by hand. Serve on the buns with sauce, if desired.