A classic BBQ recipe with hickory wood gives this Smoked Pork Butt a hint of bacon without overpowering the natural taste of the pork and the rub. Tender, flavorful, and easier than you can imagine to cook.
It can be shredded simply with 2 forks, enjoyed as is, or with your favorite BBQ sauce. The smoked pork butt will be the star of your next BBQ party. If you have any leftovers or you were meal planning, the pulled pork can be frozen. Then it can be ready for a quick and flavorful dinner on a busy night.
Smoked Boston Butt
Boston Butt and pork butt are one and the same. Boston is a reference to how the pork butt was cut in Boston and the name stuck. If you want to have a laugh, check out this article in Southern Living.
A great aspect of the Boston Butt is that it picks up flavor so well, especially during a “Low & Slow” cook. The long cook allows the complex flavors to infuse into the pork like nothing else. This is why I used hickory wood and celery seeds in our pork butt rub for this cook. Don’t worry the rub ingredients are usually in your cupboard and the recipe is straightforward. The only hard part is patience and planning.
Pork Butt Rub
We love creating easy rubs so you can use household spices to wow your taste buds. Our pork butt rub uses celery salt and seeds to highlight the BBQ flavors for this low and slow cook. The pepper and Paprika give that kick of spice, and the garlic salt and minced garlic combine all these flavors. The light brown sugar adds a beautiful and tasty caramelization to the smoked pulled pork. This homemade classic BBQ rub can be used on pork, chicken, or beef to give it a sweet-salty and subtle peppery taste.
Smoked Pork Butt Time
Now, this is a long cook, 10 hours, and well worth it. The slow cook truly brings up the aromatics of all those BBQ flavors we love. Smoking also gives you the opportunity to have fun with woods and rubs. You can simply choose a sweet wood, like peach, or change to a tangier dry rub to find a new flavor combination you and your family will love. Check out our section on “Smoking Wood” from the Smoked Sausages post for different smoking wood ideas.
- Boston or Pork Butt bone-in (about 10 lbs.)
- Light brown sugar
- Ground black pepper
- Smoked Paprika
- Celery salt
- Garlic salt
- Ground mustard
- Minced garlic
- Celery seed
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for a full list of ingredients with measurements.
Prep the Pork Butt
- Take the Boston Butt out of the packaging and dry it with a paper towel.
- Set it on a prep surface.
- Dry rub. Mix the following in a medium-sized bowl: light brown sugar, ground pepper, smoked Paprika, celery salt, garlic salt, ground mustard, minced garlic, and celery seed. Blend all ingredients together.
- Coat the pork with the dry rub, and gently press it all over.
- Time to refrigerate, place the pork on a tray uncovered overnight. I find not covering it allows a slight crust to form, which aids in keeping the pork moist through the first part of the cook.
Time to Smoke
- Set your BBQ grill for indirect cooking.
- Light your charcoal or fire up the smoker, and preheat the cooker to 250 degrees F.
- Place a drip pan under the Boston Butt. I filled it with water or you can use apple juice for more aromatics.
- This step helps catch all the drippings. In my BBQ, I can place a drip pan under the grill resting on the indirect diffuser plate legs.
- If you don’t have room, place the drip pan on the grill and the pork on a rack above it (a roasting pan is ideal).
- Once the BBQ or smoker has reached temperature, take the pork out of the fridge and place it on the grill fat side up.
- Coming directly from the fridge, I find helps the smoke penetrate more into the meat.
- Cook with the cover closed, for about 5 hours.
The Peek (check at halfway)
- At the estimated halfway point, I check the internal temperature, mine was 160 degrees F. and I could feel the pork getting tender.
- I decided to increase the temperature to 275 degrees F because the Boston Butt had a great golden bark.
- Peek at 7 hours into the cook. I could see a crack thru the fat cap of the pork and it had a dark red color. This is a great indicator that you are getting close to wrapping, the final part of the cook.
NOTE: I peek through the top vent with a flashlight.
- Eight hours in and the Boston Butt was a dark red Mahogany color and had reached a temperature of 185 and 190 degrees F. on the thick and thinner side. Pull the pork and wrap.
Wrapping, Finishing, and Resting
- Be careful removing the pork butt from the grill, it is tender like Jello. I used BBQ tongs and a BBQ spatula to move it to the foil, which was staged in two layers to prevent any leaks.
- Once you wrap the Boston Butt tightly place it back on the grill at 275 degrees F until it reaches 200-205 degrees F. This took another 2 hours.
- 10 hours in and the internal temperature reached 203 degrees F. I pulled it off the BBQ and placed it on a sturdy wood cutting board.
- I let it rest for an hour. This is not a hard time just what I find that works for allowing the juices to be reabsorbed.
Shredding Smoked Pork Butt
- Unwrap the Boston Butt onto a prepping surface.
- Now you need to remove the bone. Be careful here the bone is hot.
- Time to shred the pork. I used two forks or if you have those cool shredding claws, you will make quick work of it.
- Serve and Enjoy!
You can find all the instructions and ingredient amounts at the end of this post in the recipe card.
Smoked Pulled Pork
I used to only think that pulled pork was for our big BBQ parties to feed a crowd, which it does fabulously. Until I had a light bulb moment thanks to a friend. She gave us the idea about meal planning with it. Oh my gosh! Smoked pulled pork at my fingertips. All I had to do was defrost or warm it up for a quick and tasty meal.
Now, my head was filled with ideas of what we can do with the pulled pork. Smoked pork butt is a regular in our family meal planning. We are a family of four. So, this 10 lbs. pork butt gives us a wonderful meal and 4 others. Our second meal with the fridged leftovers is one we love doing with brisket as well, tacos. It puts a BBQ twist onto Taco Tuesday.
The frozen leftovers are a great solution to the always-present, “What’s for dinner question”. In fact, last night was one for us. We defrosted the pulled pork added some BBQ sauce and mixed it in with pasta. Wow, smoked pulled pork rigatoni pasta for a quick and tasty dinner. Here are some of our favorite meal ideas.
- Mixed with pasta or rice
- Fajitas or Burritos
Pulled Pork Goes Great With…
Garlic Knots Cook them up while the pork is resting. Heck, slice them open to make pulled pork sliders.
Cheesy Garlic Bread is cooked in under 10 minues. It is simple and uses what’s left in the fridge or cupboard.
San Sebastian Cheesecake is a breeze to make. The texture is buttery, smooth, and just a hint of caramel in each bite.
- BBQ Grill (with indirect cooking)
- Smoking Wood (I used Hickory)
- Clear mixing bowl: Anchor and Hockings
- Marinading BBQ tray (red tray)
- Instant read thermometer
- BBQ tongs and a BBQ spatula
- Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil
- If you have made this to use later, you have made a great decision. I actually find that the pulled pork is still as flavorful when used later. According to USDA, you can keep cooked pork in the fridge for 3-4 days and frozen for 3-4 months.
- Easy solution for freezer storage. Separate your leftovers for future meals in freezer-safe bags/containers.
- Patience and planning, and just let the smoker or BBQ get the job done.
- Timing your cook, the general rule for smoking or BBQing is an hour per pound at 250 degrees F.
- For marinading, time is your friend. The longer in the fridge, up to 24 hours, the better.
- The dry mustard aids in tenderizing the Boston Butt.
- Prep the BBQ the day/night before the cook.
- Charcoal BBQers, place your smoking wood off-center on top of the charcoal to get a good long smoke.
Congratulations on your 1st Smoked Pork Butt! What did you do with the leftovers?
Let us know below.
Smoked Pork Butt
- BBQ Grill or Smoker
- Smoking Wood
- Marinading BBQ tray
- Clear mixing bowl
- Instant read thermometer
- Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
- BBQ tongs
- BBQ spatula
- 1 Pork/Boston Butt bone-in (about 10lbs)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked Paprika
- 2 teaspoons celery salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons ground mustard
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
Prep the Pork Butt
- Unpack the pork and dry it with a paper towel.
- Place on a prep surface. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl mix together: light brown sugar; ground black pepper; smoked Paprika; celery salt; garlic salt; ground mustard; minced garlic; celery seed.
- Fully coat the pork butt with the rub. NOTE: Don't be afraid to rub it in.
- Place the Boston Butt on the tray and leave uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
Time to Smoke
- Prepare your BBQ for indirect cooking.
- Preheat BBQ or smoker to 250 degrees F.
- Place a drip pan under the grill grate with water in it.
- Once at the temperature, place the pork butt on the grill grate with the fat side up.
- Cook with the cover closed for 5 hours.
The Peek (check at halfway)
- I check at the estimated halfway point for the cook, 5 hours.
- Increase BBQ to 275 degrees F, and continue to cook with the cover closed.
- Check at 8 hours. Our pork butt had a dark red mahogany color and the fat cap had a good crack. The internal temperature was between 185 to 190 degrees F. Time to pull and wrap the pork.
Wrapping, finishing, and resting
- Be careful when you pull the Boston Butt. It is very tender. Wrap the pork in the aluminum foil tightly. Place back on the BBQ and close the lid. Continue cooking at 275 degrees F.
- Wait for the pork to come up to an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees F. This took another 2 hours.
- Pull the wrapped pork and rest for 1 hour.
Time for Smoked Pulled Pork
- Once you have rested the pork butt, now you need to remove the bone.
- Shred the pork.
- Serve and ENJOY!
Yes. We did that for our Burt Ends recipe and it worked perfectly.
Unfortunately, the fresh garlic may catch and give a bitter taste.
Yes, you can use a different cooker. The key to this cook is the temperature for the smoking and the internal temperatures for when to wrap, pull, and rest. The times may vary for your cooker.