Iva Carter
Published by Iva Carter
Last Updated On: July 21, 2023

Smoked Boston butt, pork butt, pork shoulder, or whatever you like to call it, is one of the best cuts for smoking.

It’s been my go-to for the last ten years whenever I need to feed a hungry crowd and don’t want a complicated cooking process.

I’ve cooked countless pork shoulders over the last decade and experimented with different rubs and smoking temperatures until I found the perfect recipe.

Today, I’ll share my smoked pork butt recipe and give you all my tips and tricks.

Quick Summary

  • Smoked Boston Butt is a recipe involving a pork butt seasoned with a homemade BBQ rub, injected with apple juice, and smoked until it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees.
  • The recipe recommends using mustard as a coating, spritzing the meat with apple cider vinegar for moisture, and wrapping the meat in butcher paper during the final stages of smoking.
  • Leftover smoked pork butt can be used in various dishes such as pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and stews, and can be stored in the fridge for up to four days or frozen for up to three months.

Recipe Overview

smoked boston butt in a smoker
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 hours
  • Total Time: 10 hours and 30 minutes
  • Number of Servings: 10


  • 8 oz pork butt
  • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons BBQ rub
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • BBQ sauce

BBQ rub ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • Ground herbs (optional)


pulled pork rubbed with mustard and spices

Here are the BBQ rub instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  2. Optional: If you like spicy flavors, add some cayenne powder. You can also add ground herbs, such as rosemary, for a more aromatic flavor.
  3. Transfer the ingredients to a container with a lid.
  4. Store the BBQ rub in a cool and dry place for up to three months.

Here are smoked pork butt instructions:

  1. Take the pork out of the fridge an hour before you plan to start smoking. This ensures the meat comes to room temperature and smoked pork shoulder cooks evenly.
  2. Trim excess fat and loose pork ends. You should remove the fat cap or trim it down.
  3. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.
  4. Add a few wood chunks on the coals to create smoke.
  5. Slather the pork shoulder with mustard so there’s a thin coating on all sides.
  6. Inject the pork shoulder with apple juice and cover it with a dry rub. Make sure to cover the entire cut.
  7. Place the pork butts in the smoker when it reaches 225 degrees. Smoke until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees in the thickest part [1]. Spritz the smoked pork butt every hour with apple cider vinegar to keep it moist.
  8. Once you smoke the pork butt, remove it from the smoker and wrap it in butcher paper.
  9. Return the Boston butt to the smoker and smoke for a few more hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees.
  10. Let the smoked pork butt rest between 30 minutes to two hours at room temperature.
  11. Pull the pork butt with forks, tongs, or your fingers, and serve with BBQ sauce.

Recipe Notes

shredded smoked pulled pork

Here’s what to keep in mind when making smoked pulled pork:

  • You need about one-half pound of pork butt per person. Keep in mind it tends to shrink during the cooking process, so count on about a 30% loss.
  • Make sure to use a rub when making pulled pork. This creates a nice bark on the outside.
  • You can use different wood chunks for the smoke flavor. For example, apple and cherry work well. Oak provides a more meaty flavor, and pecan has a mild flavor.
  • Soak wood chunks in water so they burn slowly.
  • It’s safe to serve pulled pork when it reaches 165 degrees, but it’s better to leave it smoking until the internal temperature is around 200 degrees to ensure tender meat that pulls apart.
  • You can apply the rub the night before and wrap the pork butt in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to smoke.

Nutrition Facts per Serving

  • Calories: 230
  • Total Carbs: 1 g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Net Carbs: 0

What’s the Difference Between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder?

pork shoulder on a wooden board

The difference between pork butt and pork shoulder is that pork butt comes from the higher part of the pig’s shoulder.

The butt is fatter and thicker. The pork shoulder is the cut of the pig’s shoulder above the forelegs. The shoulder is more likely to have skin on.

Generally, both pork butt and shoulder refer to similar cuts and can be used interchangeably.

These cuts have a lot of hard-working muscles bound with tight connective tissues.

This is why they do well with long and slow cooking and are often used for smoking.

Note: You can get boneless or bone-in pork butt. These cuts have different cooking times. Bone in smokes for longer, and the bone adds extra flavor. A boneless cut cooks faster, but this meat can be somewhat tougher.

“Pork butt is laced with flavorful fat and connective tissue that melt when cooked low and slow, giving the pork an incredibly tender texture and succulent flavor.”
- Traeger, Salt Lake City-based Pellet Grill Company

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Ideas for Leftover Boston Butt

a close-up shot of shredded pork tacos

You can make several meals with leftover smoked pulled pork butt, such as:

  • Pulled pork sandwiches - Use leftover pulled pork and add slaw. You can make it spicy by adding jalapenos.
  • Tacos - Braise the leftover pork in beer, and add toppings as desired.
  • Pulled pork stew - Use pulled pork in a stew. Add tomatoes, beans, and your favorite seasonings, and cook on your smoker for a wood-filled flavor.

You can also store leftover pork butt in the fridge for up to four days.

Place the meat in zip-top bags. Make sure to remove as much air as possible.

Or, wrap it in tin foil, or store it in airtight plastic containers.

If you won’t use the pulled pork in the next four days, freeze it in freezer bags for up to three months.

Finally, you need to reheat the leftovers. You can do this in two ways:

  • In a crockpot or instant pot - Add the pulled pork juices and the leftover meat to the pot and choose the lowest heat function.
  • In the microwave - Put the meat with juices in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover it with a lid or wrap to keep the moisture, and reheat for two minutes at a time. Toss the meat between reheating until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.


How Long to Smoke a Seven-Pound Pork Butt?

Smoke a seven-pound pork butt for seven to eight hours on the smoker. You need one hour of smoking for one pound, but this differs from cut to cut.

Why Is It Called a Boston Butt?

It’s called a Boston butt because people in Boston used to cut the pig shoulders in a way that became the usual way of cutting up a hog.

Should I Wrap My Pork Butt?

Yes, you should wrap your pork butt. This ensures the meat is tender and juicy and helps overcome the stall.

Have You Tried This Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipe?

I’ve tried countless recipes, and this is my favorite way to smoke a pork butt.

Smoke it low and slow, and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.

Don’t forget to use your favorite BBQ sauce and rubs for extra flavor.

Feel free to experiment with the ingredients you like best when smoking a pork butt.

The most important part of the recipe is the meat itself. You need quality pork butt for the best results.

ButcherBox sells a huge variety of pork butts, including pork shoulder.

They sell cuts from heritage-bred animals that are raised crate-free and sustainably sourced.

Check out ButcherBox and learn more about their offerings.


  1. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/
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