The infamous pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt or pork butt, is arguably the best cut of meat that you can try off
the animal for smoking. The best thing to learn for the smoked pork enthusiast
is that shoulder is the easiest part to smoke
when compared with ribs or even a brisket. The idea here is to get everything right in
place so that you can enjoy the luxury of smoked pork shoulder with its most
precise cooking process, which is neither undercooked nor overcooked, but just right as
per your liking. You will have to play around with the recipe to see how you like your meat cooked. You will also have to choose between getting a boneless or bone-in option. We have found that bone-in produces a juicier more flavorful piece of meat.


In order to accomplish the mission of smoking the pork shoulder in your cooker, you need to be in possession of your preferred and suitable smoking grill for accommodating pork shoulder. A 1 pound pork shoulder is generally the amount that the butcher sells them in, so be sure it will fit in your smoker. It should be in best working condition with temperature widget working with precision. This is a critical feature, especially when you are more concerned about the duration of smoking the meat’s shoulder with accuracy. For this discussion, we are assuming that the pork shoulder is brine-ready, has a dry rub (chili powder or cumin with onion powder, black pepper and kosher salt) or soaked in some sort of marinade (such as apple juice and brown sugar and a spritz of apple cider vinegar), and just require to be smoked. On top of that, the following detailed points would give you a good indication of preparing yourself for smoking the pork shoulder the right way:

  • Instant Read Thermometer – When it comes to knowing the right smoking time for the subject joint to be cooked, then this instant-read thermometer for meat becomes the most critical equipment. It gauges the preparedness of the thick cut meat being smoked. The connective tissues of this thick cut meat are not known to break down that easily, until the internal temperature reaches around 190 degrees F roughly, or even more.
  • Pork Puller of Meat Claws – Although, you have the liberty of using any standard table forks for the sake of shredding pork, the most convenient tool for the purpose is the pork puller or the meat claws. Once eat is shred you can add bbq sauce to the meat and some coleslaw and you have an instant pulled pork sandwiches. You will achieve some of the best pulled pork meals using this process. Be careful during this process if you have a bone-in shoulder and be sure to get as much meat off that bone as possible to enjoy as much smoked pulled pork flavor in those sandwiches. 
  • Insulated Gloves – Always beware when you are dealing with temperatures well above 225 degrees F. The insulated gloves are fabric lined thick gloves that shield your hands, especially when you are in the process of putting the hot pork meat into the meaty shreds.

Getting to know about the smoke duration for a pork shoulder:

Let us now get to the real meat of the matter and find out about the smoking meat duration of the shoulder joint. This particular situation demands you to go for a low heat coupled with a long cooking approach. Remember to use only the wood chips, such as hickory or apple wood, for smoking pork shoulder as most of the other available options are not just compatible with this meat joint. At best and for the most precise cooking, the temperature of your electric smoker should be in the range of 225 to 275 degrees F. While maintaining the said temperature inside the unit, the following two things could be done to ensure that the meat is properly smoked:

  • Look for signs of the dark and crusty exterior of the meat. You may also notice a ring of reddish smoke, just beneath the surface.
  • Use the internal temperature meat thermometer by inserting it into the flesh. The temperature should read at least 190 degrees F when it will be ready to be served.

You can achieve the above properly smoked status with a
tender meat achieved, after a cook time of 8 hours or slightly above.

Best practices for
smoking pork shoulder:

According to the expert chefs, pork shoulder is one such joint that ideally should be overcooked to get the best taste out of it. However, in recent times, people usually go for the medium-rare or just medium cooking of the joint, just like the tenderloin in order to keep the meat a bit juicy. Try to make the shoulder meat well-done just one time and this smoking approach would definitely become a regular for you. Finally, it is best served after it rest to room temperature for 30 minutes or so, which enhances the texture of the meat and also redistribute the juices throughout the cut. This is the easiest type of meat to play around with and experiment on a new pork shoulder recipe or pulled pork recipe. Your results will be the same as if it was cooked and juicy in from a slow cooker without the total time required to cook.

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How long to smoke Pork Shoulder?