Pork butt (a.k.a. Boston butt) is an inexpensive, tough cut of meat that shines when cooked to perfection. The problem is that many people struggle with getting tender, flavorful results. The pork butt contains a lot of connective tissue and fat, which needs the right cooking temperature and technique to break down and tenderize it.
The good news is, if you cook pork butt to the right temperature (196°F) and let it rest for the right amount of time (180 minutes), you will be rewarded with tender, moist, and flavorful results.
What is a Pork Butt?
Pork butt, or Boston butt, comes from the upper portion of a pig’s shoulder. This inexpensive cut of meat is full of flavor and makes a great candidate for smoking. While you can get a couple of decent-sized roasts from this cut, it is more common to see it cubed for pulled pork.
How Long To Let Pork Butt Rest Before Pulling?
The first step of this recipe is to bring the pork butt to an internal temperature of 195°F. This ensures that all those tough connective tissues have melted and tenderized. Once the pork butt has reached 195°F, take it off the grill and let rest for 180 minutes (this is the equivalent of 3 hours).
As you let it rest, the internal temperature will rise about 5°F. As it rests, the juices will redistribute and settle throughout the meat.
It’s this resting period that makes pulled pork tender and moist; not to mention it allows time for the meat to absorb all those great smoky flavors. Once the pork butt has finished resting, pull apart and serve.
Why is The Resting Period Important?
As pork butt cooks, the internal temperature will rise steadily until it suddenly stops rising. At that specific time, the connective tissue will have melted and turned to gelatin.
The problem is that if you cut into the meat before this point, all the melted gelatin will run out, leaving you with dry meat. By letting the meat rest for 180 minutes after removing it from the smoker, you give the melted gelatin time to solidify back into the connective tissue.
This keeps all of that yummy goodness inside the meat where it belongs, resulting in a much more tender and juicy piece of meat.
Why Pork Butt Resting Is Essential?
There are several reasons why your pork butt needs which include the following:
- Pork Butt Needs To Rest Before Pulling – Pork butt is a tough cut of meat that can dry out and become stringy if cooked too hot and fast. If you have pulled a Pork Butt right off the smoker, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
- Pork Butt Needs To Relax Before Pulling – If you cut a smoked pork butt open, chances are you will find a lot of juices inside. If those juices cannot redistribute throughout the meat, they will all pour out when you start shredding it. The result is dry, stringy meat that doesn’t taste nearly as good.
- Pork Butt Needs To Be Cooled Down Before Pulling – Pork butt is much easier to shred when it’s warm, but if you try and shred it too soon, then the meat will stick to your hands. The best way to avoid this is by letting your pork butt rest long enough to cool down before pulling.
How To Shred The Pork?
Shredding the pork is something that most people struggle with, but it is quite simple if you follow my 5 easy steps:
- Remove Pork Butt From The Smoker – You need to remove the pork butt from the smoker when it hits an internal temperature of 196°F. This means you need to take the internal temperature in several spots. You can either use a digital probe meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer.
- Transfer Pork Butt To Cutting Board – Transfer the pork butt to a cutting board and place it in an empty ice cooler, wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil, and let rest for 180 minutes.
- Remove The Fat Cap – While the pork is resting, remove the layer of fat on top because you don’t want it to remain soft during the cooking process.
- Pull The Pork Apart Using Two Forks – Take two forks and pull the pork apart, separating the fat from the muscle. This will allow your guests to get a better tasting experience because you can give them fatty or non-fatty meat depending on their preference.
- Mix The Pulled Pork – Mix the pulled pork and serve it with your favorite barbecue sauce.
How Do You Store a Pork Butt Overnight?
Storing your pork butt overnight (or for several hours) is fine and will not ruin your meat. This may be a common misconception that stems from when food safety was not a priority. These days, except for ground meat/hamburgers and poultry, keeping your meat out of the fridge for a few hours is perfectly fine.
Follow these simple steps to keep your pork butt overnight:
- Transfer the pork butt from the fridge to a cutting board.
- Transfer the pork butt to a new zip-lock bag.
- Put the bag of pork butt on top of another similar-sized zip-top bag (optional). This creates an extra barrier between the meat and the surface.
- Place your pork butt back on the counter at room temperature for an hour to let it come up to room temperature.
Can You Smoke a Boston Butt at 250?
Before you proceed with the cooking process, you need to ensure we understand why pork butt can be cooked at 250°F.
Pork butt is a tough cut of meat that takes a long time to cook.
If you cook pork butt below a certain temperature, it will be very difficult to tenderize it and therefore will require a very long cooking time. But, if you cook it above 350°F then the meat will become overcooked and dry.
Now, when cooking pork butt, especially when smoking at 250°F, you will need to let it rest for a very long time. For most people, this means you need to cook the pork butt until it reaches a certain internal temperature instead of simply letting it rest for a long time.
Best Temp to Smoke Pork Butt?
The right internal temperature to pull pork butt is 196°F. At this temperature, the meat’s connective tissues (collagen) and fat will have broken down to the point where the meat can be easily pulled apart with two forks.
It is important to note that pork butt should not be cooked to an internal temperature of 203°F, or the meat will be tough and dry. So, using a quality digital thermometer to check your pork butt for doneness is essential.
Should I Wrap My Boston Butt in Foil?
Your pork butt will probably come with a net or string tie holding the roast together. Some leave the roast intact and add a dry rub before cooking. You can also choose to cut your pork butt into two separate pieces. This is called “segmenting”.
Whether you leave your Boston butt whole or divide it into two pieces, it’s a good idea to wrap your pork butt in aluminum foil after the first 3 hours of cooking. This will prevent the meat from getting too dark. If you choose not to wrap your Boston butt, baste it every hour with the drippings from the roasting pan.
Do You Wrap a Boston Butt When Smoking?
No! It is not recommended to wrap a pork butt when smoking. Wrapping a pork butt is sometimes called the Texas Crutch, and it’s usually done to prevent a stall when the meat hits about 150°F.
There is also much discussion on whether wrapping will keep the bark intact when cooking. If you are concerned about bark, don’t wrap the meat with foil, but be aware that wrapping it in butcher paper or other materials may be problematic.
Some of the problems associated with wrapping pork butt are browning will be hampered, the bark may get too soggy, and it may take longer to cook. So is essential not to wrap the pork butt when smoking.
How Long Does It Take to Smoke 8 lb Boston Butt?
Smoking your 8lb pork butt for 14 hours at 220°F is the way to get fall-apart results. When smoking, many people recommend that you smoke your pork butt for at least 1 hour per lb. So, an 8lb pork butt should be smoked for at least 8 hours. This will ensure that your pork butt is not only edible but delicious.
This 8lb pork butt took 14 hours to reach an internal temperature of 196°F. The beauty of the smoking process is that you can leave your pork butt in the smoker for as long as it takes to reach the internal temperature you are looking for.
Your Boston butt can rest as long as you want once it reaches the target temperature. It is recommended that you let your pork butt rest for at least 2 hours before carving.
What Temp to Wrap Pork Butt?
When smoking a pork butt, you will want to keep the internal temperature of the meat between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that the pork is cooked through and has a nice, juicy texture.
Some people like to wrap their pork butts in aluminum foil or butcher paper as they smoke them in order to keep the meat moist.
Can You Finish Cooking Pork Butt the Next Day?
You can finish cooking pork butt the next day, but it’s best to not slice or pull the meat until you reach your final serving temperature (140°F for pork). If you do happen to slice or pull the meat before it has reached 140°F, you should be able to reheat and serve it without a problem.
You will, however, need to add some extra water (or broth) during reheating since the meat will pull a significant amount of moisture as it is reheated.
Should I Score the Fat Cap on Pork Shoulder?
If you want the rendered fat to render out, then “yes.” Score the fat cap in a criss-cross pattern down to the meat. Do not go deep enough to cut the meat, just get through the fat and thin membrane on top. You need to use a sharp knife to accomplish this.
When slicing, pulling, or chopping the pork butt, take your time and do not use a sawing motion with your knife. You should always use a slicing or pulling motion and let the weight of the blade do the work.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Pork Butt?
Pork butt (a.k.a. Boston butt) is a tough, fatty cut of meat from the upper part of the pig’s shoulder.
What is the Difference Between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder?
There is no official definition for these two words, but generally, pork butt is cut from the upper part of the shoulder and weighs 5-8 pounds before cooking. In comparison, pork shoulder is usually cut from the lower part of the shoulder and usually weighs 3-4 pounds before cooking.
Is Pork Butt the Same as Baby Back Ribs?
No, pork butt is a cut of meat from the upper part of the pig’s shoulder while baby back ribs are a specific cut of ribs from the lower part of the pig’s back.
How Long Should I Cook Pork Butt?
You should cook pork butt to an internal temperature of 196°F (the point at which the meat is tender enough to pull apart with your hands easily) and let it rest for 180 minutes before serving.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke A Pork Shoulder At 225?
Several things determine how long it’ll take to smoke meat, but as a rule of thumb, allow for two hours per pound. For example, smoking a pork shoulder at 225°F normally takes between 12 and 16 hours. The humidity in the air, how consistent the grill holds the temperature, the outside temperature, and more can all play a role in how long it takes to smoke meat.
For example, if the humidity is high, it will take longer for the meat to smoke. If the grill isn’t holding temperature well, the meat will take longer to smoke. And if it’s cold outside, it will also take longer to smoke the meat.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke A Pork Shoulder At 250?
When it comes to cooking pork shoulder, the general rule is that you should allow for 90 minutes of cook time per pound. However, this can vary somewhat depending on the size of the shoulder and the temperature of the smoker. For example, a 4-pound pork shoulder will take approximately 6 hours to cook through at a temperature of 250°F.
On the other hand, a 9-pound pork shoulder will require approximately 13 ½ hours of cook time at the same temperature. Therefore, it is important to experiment a little and to always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the pork is cooked through to prevent foodborne illness.
With a little practice, you’ll be able to produce perfectly cooked pork shoulder every time.
Can I Smoke A Pork Shoulder At 275?
The cooking time for a pound of pork shoulder at 275°F is approximately 80 to 90 minutes. This is a decent middle ground. If you’re willing to wait two hours per pound, set the temperature to 225°F.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Pork Butt in an Oven?
Cooking pork butt in the oven takes around 6-7 hours at a temperature of 250°F.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Pork Butt on a Grill?
Pork butt takes around 8-10 hours to cook on a grill at a temperature of 225°F. You need to cook pork butt this long because it contains a lot of connective tissue, which needs time to break down and tenderize.
What is the Best Way to Cook Pork Butt?
The best way to cook pork butt is in a smoker at a temperature of 250°F for around 8 hours.
Your pork butt should be very tender after cooking at the right temperature (196°F) for the right amount of time (180 minutes). Make sure to follow all the instructions provided before you start cooking.
It’s not difficult to figure out how long pork butt should rest since all you have to do is follow the steps and use a decent thermometer. Now that you’ve learned the correct temperature and cooking time for pork butt, get cooking and serving delicious pork butt.