ABC’s of Pork Butt & Shoulder

I Like Pork Butts and I Cannot Lie! 

While pork shoulder and pork butt come from the same basic region of the pig and can be used interchangeably, they are cut from opposite ends of the shoulder region. Pork shoulder is cut from the thinner end of the shoulder, contains slightly less fat, and can be better for cooking and slicing whole. Pork butt, on the other hand, is cut from the thicker, fattier end of the shoulder, and excels in recipes like pulled pork where the meat is meant to be shredded.

Pork butt is not from the rear of the pig. Pork shoulder is from only part of the shoulder.  

Know the difference between pork shoulder and pork butt.


Also known as “Boston butt”Also known as “picnic shoulder” or “picnic roast”
Well marbled with intramuscular fatTypically, has less intramuscular fat and marbling
Often sold with fat cap intactFrequently sold with skin on
Rectangular, uniform shapeTapered, triangular shape
Sold as bone-in and bonelessIf boneless, typically sold in netting; when netting is removed, meat “unfolds” into uneven layer

What are the most asked Questions on Pork Butt ?

How long does it take to cook a Pork Butt/Shoulder at 250 degrees?

Smoking a Boston Butt low and slow produces the most delectable results, but this takes a lot longer than you think. Smoking the meat at about 225-250 degrees takes between 1.5 and 2 hours per pound of uncooked meat. So, if you have a 7-pound uncooked Boston Butt, it could take up to 14 hours to be done. But is important to cook to temperature instead of time, the above is a basic guideline for reference. 

What temperature should you cook pulled pork to?

Check for doneness. For pulled pork, the ideal temperature is 205°F. The high internal temperature allows collagen to break down, making the meat very tender. Keep in mind that the pork shoulder will continue to cook internally by 5 degrees even after it has been removed from the grill.

Can you overcook pulled pork?

The pork is done cooking when the meat pulls away easily with a fork. It’s pretty hard to overcook a pork  butt or shoulder when using this method below, as long as the moisture is maintained, but once the meat starts to become tender, keep an eye on it, as the texture can become mushy if it cooks too long past the 205 temperature range.

Should I wrap my Pork butt in foil?

I prefer not to wrap because I like a crispier bark, but if you elect, here are the steps.

Wrap in foil: 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.

How do you moisten pulled pork?

Place your whole butt or shredded pork in an ovenproof dish or cater dish, add in a little liquid to replace some of the lost moisture. This can be apple juice, broth, or BBQ sauce. Cover the dish in a double layer of foil, to lock in the moisture, and set it on a baking tray in the middle of your oven until the pulled pork reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do you leave skin on pulled pork?

Pork shoulder that is due to be pulled should always be skinless to allow the flavors to permeate. You can ask your butcher to do this for you, but if you’re removing it yourself, don’t let the skin go to waste – roast it until crunchy and serve it on the side or as a snack.

Fat Cap up or Down?

The main reason for cooking with the fat cap down is many people feel doing so allows the fat cap to act as insulation, protecting the meat from the direct heat and will keep the meat from drying out. Also having the meat side up allows a better bark to form, without the impressions of it resting on the grill grates

Do you keep fat on pulled pork?

Pulled pork is cooked slowly over a low heat until it is tender enough to be ‘pulled’ apart. Fat equals flavor when cooking meat and especially when you are slow cooking. Essentially you need enough fat to keep the meat juicy.

Can I pull pork the next day?

No, it will not pull until it is heated up. All the fat will turn more solid just like any grease that cools off. Think about how hard the fat turns in the bottom of any meat cooked and then put in the refrigerator overnight

How long can you freeze pulled pork?

6-8 months

Freezing Smoked Pulled Pork

For more than several days of storage, food needs to be frozen at 0 degree. In fact, freezing pulled pork can keep it last for 6-8 months. To achieve, the best method is to use a cryovac machine or Ziploc bags.

How long can pork shoulder/butt rest in cooler?

How Long Can I Safely Hold Meat in A Cooler? — The standard advice on food safety is that you can safely keep food in the “danger zone” for a maximum of four hours. The danger zone, of course, is between 40°F and 140°F.

What temp does pork shoulder stall?

Around 160°F

The Stall: Even with our careful attention to our smoker temps, we still experienced what “low and slow” experts call “the stall.” When smoking meats like beef brisket or pork butt over extended periods, the internal temperature of the meat can seem to plateau or stall at around 160°F (71°C)—it can even drop slightly.

Do you need to inject pork shoulder?

You do not need to inject to get moist and tender pulled pork. But you can enhance the flavor with an injection. If you plan to pull it and/or chop it prior to serving, you can simply add broth or BBQ Sauce to the pulled/chopped meat prior to serving.

What is the best way to reheat pulled pork?

How to Reheat Pulled Pork in the Oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the pulled pork into a baking dish with leftover juices and cover with a lid.
  3. Bake until the pulled pork reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Mix the pulled pork again.

What Else Can I use Pulled Pork for ?

Pulled pork is a staple barbecue food. Sure, it makes for a great pulled pork sandwich, but it’s also has many other possibilities not just BBQ. Since pulled pork is tasty and versatile, it would be a shame to waste it on the same old barbecue sandwich recipes you have been using for generations.

Unique Pulled Pork Recipes that are not BBQ Sandwiches

  1. Pulled Pork Nachos.
  2. Pulled Pork Poutine.
  3. Pulled Pork Chili.
  4. Pulled Pork Enchiladas.
  5. Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese.
  6. Pulled Pork Gyros.
  7. Pulled Pork Pizza
  8. Thai-Style Pulled Pork Over Rice
  9.  Pulled Pork Taquitos 
  10.   Pulled Pork Cuban French Bread Pizza
  11.  Pulled Pork Bratwurst 
  12.  Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie 
  13.  Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps 
  14.   Pulled Pork Burrito Bowls 
  15.   Pulled Pork Hoagie 

Simple No-Wrap Pork Butt or Shoulder



  • Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
  • Combine all Three Little Pig’s Touch of Cherry & Championship rub in a bowl and mix.
  • Apply a coat of Three Little Pig’s Mustard BBQ Sauce on the butt or shoulder as a rub binder.
  • Apply a generous amount of the rub on all sides of the pork shoulder.
  • Place the pork shoulder in your smoker fat side down, with 5 to 6 wood chunks of your choice on top of hot coals. Cook until the deepest section of the meat reaches an internal temperature of 205°F, or about 8 1/2 hours.
  • Once the pork shoulder has reached its targeted temperature, remove from your smoker and place in a large aluminum drip pan. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 1 hour.
  • Using Meat Claws or Disposable BBQ Gloves, shred the pork shoulder and discard any bones or sizable chunks of fat. Once fully shredded, pour in your choice of finishing sauce over the meat. For a Carolina style pulled pork use either Three Little Pig’s Carolina BBQ sauce or new Carolina Mustard Sauce.
  • Assemble sandwiches with buns, pickled onions, sweet pickles, and Three Little Pig’s Mustard BBQ sauce to finish.

Chris Marks CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces

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