Traditional recipes

Best Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipes

Best Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipes

Smoked Pork Shoulder Shopping Tips

Bone-in cuts tend to be slightly less expensive than their boneless counterparts, and have more flavor.

Smoked Pork Shoulder Cooking Tips

According to the USDA, the recommended internal temperature for cooked pork should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smoked Pork Shoulder – The Best Way To Cook

Is there anything better than a delicious, perfectly tender, perfectly seasoned pork shoulder? It’s great as-is, of course, when accompanied by sides like coleslaw and corn on the cob, but it also turns up the flavor on almost anything else you’re eating.

Think about adding some pulled pork to your morning omelet or sprinkling some over a baked potato. And one of my all-time favorite recipes is pulled pork tacos. The way the flavors of the smoked pork, sweet salsa, and cotija come together is—in a word—magical.

Making this magic possible, however, is a labor of love. It takes the right ingredients, the right toolkit, and a lot of patience to smoke a pork shoulder. You can’t rush the process or skip steps or you risk losing all of that wonderful smoked flavor. ​There are many pork recipes on how to cook a Boston butt , pork butt , pulled pork sandwiches , other cut of meat with bbq sauce or bbq rub . You can grill pork steaks or pork roasts . But today we're talking about how to smoke pork .​

Still, despite the intense commitment, I love to cook and eat pork shoulder. Here’s how I make the best pork shoulder on the block—or, dare I say? The world.

What You’ll Need to Make the Best Smoked Pork Shoulder on the Planet

18 lb. pork shoulder – Meat selection is KEY here. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t choose a good shoulder, your results will be lackluster at best. So, what are you looking for?

  • Size. I think 8 pounds of meat is the sweet spot. A pork shoulder that’s any bigger is difficult to smoke to perfection—it takes longer, for one, but you also run the risk of drying out the edges of the shoulder before the inside is done.
  • Color. The meat should be pink and odorless. You should also look for a firm fat cap.
  • Marbling. Just like good beef, you want your pork shoulder to have nice marbling. By cooking so slowly, you’re going to be rendering out all that fat and locking moisture inside.
  • 1 ½ quarts apple cider or apple juice
  • Equal part water
  • Optional flavors: hot sauce, garlic, onion, etc. Any flavor you like.

  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 9 tablespoons brown sugar – You can adjust the amount of sugar in the rub to suit your tastes. The more sugar, the more sweet bark you’ll get. If you want it more savory, you can reduce the sugar and add more salt, garlic, and onion
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup Dijon or yellow mustard

You’ll also need a lot of time. While the prep doesn’t take that long, you’ll be smoking the meat for 10-14 hours, and then you need at least another hour to let the meat rest.

Preparing the Meat

Step 1: Trimming

I like to trim the fat cap down to about ¼ inch thick on the outside—the thinner the better. The reason for this is because if you’ve chosen a quality shoulder with nice marbling, the meat will stay nice and tender without the need for a large mass of fat. Plus, the fat cap does not tend to render out anyway, which means you miss out on potential bark surface area for not that much pay out.

Step 2: Injecting

Should you brine a pork shoulder before smoking? Yes, it add more flavor to the meat. But I prefer using the method of injecting and not just brining. I inject the meat with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, water, and a little bit of Cholula hot sauce, but you can add any flavors to the apple cider vinegar/water combination that you like. Why inject? I find it adds more moisture and flavor into the meat. In addition, the brine acts similarly to fat, meaning that as it heats up it, the meat sweats a little, allowing more smoke and flavor to get inside.

Try to inject the liquid into 1-inch cubes of meat space. I inject about a teaspoon of liquid in with each stab. You’ll likely see the shoulder bulge a little as you work. This is perfectly normal—remember that since you’re going to be cooking this shoulder over a long period of time, this moisture will help keep the meat flavorful and tender.

Place the remaining brine mixture into a spritzer bottle.

Step 3: Adding the Pork Dry Rub

Take the Dijon mustard and spread a thin layer over the entire surface of the meat. This will allow the rub to stick better and add some additional flavor and acidity to the pork.

Mix all of the ingredients for the rub together and then spread generously to cover the whole shoulder. Don’t be stingy with the rub—try for a nice, even, thick coat over the meat. I find that a patting motion, rather than a sprinkling or dipping motion, works the best to pack on the flavor.

Also, here are a few tips on the perfect rub for all the tender and juicy recipes:

Smoking the Shoulder

Step 4: Wrapping

Now you’re ready to cook. Place the pork shoulder into a large baking pan. An aluminum tray works well for this, but you could use a glass baking dish or baking sheet. Insert the probe of the meat thermometer into the center of the meat.

I know this is controversial for some purists, but I wrap my meat during a certain point in the smoking process to help lock in flavor and moisture. You don’t have to follow my example, but if you do, the baking pan makes things easier to wrap

Step 5: Smoking the Pork Shoulder

Bring your smoker up to 210 degrees Fahrenheit and place the meat in the center. Now, leave it alone for a while so as not to disturb the bark that’s forming.

After about two hours of smoking, use the spritzer bottle to lightly spray the meat. Keep things moist by spraying every 30 minutes or so after that. The liquid also acts to bring more smoke flavor into the meat. Depending the what kind of smoke flavor you want, add the wood chips accordingly. Continue to do this until you wrap the meat.

Step 6: The Stall

It’s after this point in the cooking process that I wrap my meat. You’ll know you’re at the stall when you see the meat sweating liquid, bringing the ​ internal temperature of the meat down. Just keep watching through this process—don’t overreact to it.

Once it’s over—you’ll know it is when the meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit—loosely wrap the meat with aluminum foil for the rest of the smoke.

Finish your pork shoulder by bringing it to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum tenderness. You’re going for temperature here, not time, so allow the meat all the time it needs and don’t rush things.

Step 7: The Pull

Allow your ​ tender pork to rest for at least one hour before pulling to allow the juices to settle into the meat. If you tear into it too early, you’ll lose a lot of moisture.

Shred the meat with a pair of forks or your hands. You can, of course, use Cave Tools Shredding Claws which will make the job even easier. Remove bones, cartilage, and fat to get the pork to your desired consistently. Once the pull is done, cover the meat again until you’re ready to serve it.

​You can adapt this guide to fit your own needs and tastes, use an electric smoker or a slow cooker , use apple wood to get a different smoke flavor , modify your pork shoulder recipe , or pair it up with some cool ideas for healthy veggie grilled recipes. During the summer and fall months, I like to keep a pork shoulder roast on hand at all times for spicing up all kinds of recipes. Let me know what you thought of the process and if there’s anything you do differently.


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder (butt) - typically we smoke a 7-pound shoulder




  • sandwich buns - pretzel or brioche
  • homemade coleslaw
  • wicked baked beans
  • cornbread
  • pickle slices
  • slice jalapeños
  • potato chips

Best Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipes - Recipes

This gumbo is one of my best leftover smoked pork shoulder recipes primarily looking after the leftovers from pulled pork. The smokey flavor really adds that extra dimension to your gumbo.

Unless I've had a really big party it's always the case that I have leftovers and it is smoked pork shoulder recipes like this that really solve the problem of what to do with the leftovers nicely.

Pork is a relatively low cost protein and pork shoulder one of the lower costs joints still so that makes recipes like this extremely easy on the wallet yet full of flavour and goodness. just look at the list of vegetable ingredients in the recipe.

Note:- If you landed on this page looking to start out with pulled pork rather than to be thinking about the leftovers then slide on over to my pulled pork recipes and tips page. I've also included a load of links at the bottom of the page to other pulled pork recipes.

It's quick and easy to do (just a lot of vegetable chopping) and you really can use whatever you've got in the refrigerator. The base veggies are a green pepper, and onion and celery but after that, well the worlds your oyster. In mine I've chosen to add fennel because I think it brings a distinctive taste to my gumbo.

Likewise I've used about 1lb of meat but it really depends on how much you've got leftover. I've done this recipe with only ½lb in the past.

Preparation Time:- 20 mins
Cooking Time:- 50 mins

Total Time:- 1 hour 10 mins


  • 450g or 1lb chopped smoked pork
  • 200g or ¾ cup white rice
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red chili chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small can sweet corn
  • ½ litre (1 pint) vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf


Place a large dutch oven over a low heat and pour in the oil and flour to make the roux. Mix all the flour to eliminate lumps and then let it boil for 5 minutes or so until the roux starts to go golden brown. Take it off the heat when it starts to colour otherwise you might burn it.

Now add all the chopped veg including the garlic and chili, and stir for about 5 minutes until the veg starts to soften, taking care to ensure that the pan doesn't burn.

Throw in the can of tomatoes, the veg stock, thyme and bay and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

When your 30 minutes is up, add the rice and allow it to cook and absorb the moisture from the sauce. When the rice has nearly cooked, you should have a nice thick consistency and it's now time to add the chopped pork and sweetcorn to warm it through.

This has to be one of the best leftover smoked pork shoulder recipes for a Winter's evening.

Why This Smoked Pork Shoulder Is Worth The Wait

I got a new smoker a few weeks ago and I've made a couple of things in it. I haven't really had much time to play with it. First, I tried making chicken tikka bites in it. While they got nice and smoky-tasting, I committed the newbie mistake of putting it into a foil pan. So I had chicken that was cooked--but it sat in a lot of liquid. No bueño. Next, I used it for chicken tikka masala. When I had a few pounds of pork leftover from making Carne adovada, I figured I'd try to create a Mexican-style rub and try smoking again.

I don't think it would have mattered what rub I used. It's really just the smoking that adds all the flavor. But if you don't have a smoker, and you did this in the oven with the pork wrapped in foil, the rub would make a difference. So I'm going to share the rub mix below so you can try it.

Either way, it is full of amazing flavor. Leaving the fat cap on the pork allowed it to self-baste and protect the pork from drying out.


  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • One 5- to 7-pound bone-in Boston butt or picnic shoulder
  • 1 cup prepared Cuban mojo marinade, strained (I prefer Nellie and Joe’s brand)
  • 6 to 8 cups hickory or apple wood chips, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • 1 Recipe for Slow-Cooked Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce

What You Need For This Gumbo Recipe

  • 1lb leftover smoked pork shoulder You could absolutely use regular pork shoulder here, but that smoky flavor really brings the gumbo together and levels this recipe up.
  • ¾ cup white rice, uncooked Do not use minute rice in this recipe! Minute rice will suck up all the liquid in your gumbo and create a gloppy consistency in the final product. If you’re interested in using brown rice, know that we don’t recommend it for this gumbo. For those who are dead set on it, add ¼ cup more water, and expect about 15 minutes longer cooking time on the rice step. This will have an effect on the veggies, making them softer, possibly even mushy.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil If you’re watching your saturated fats, olive or canola oil will work here as well. Do not use coconut or peanut oil. Their flavors are not neutral, and they leave a strong taste if used.
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red chili chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8.75 oz can sweet corn
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

1. Trim excess fat from the pork shoulder. (Skip this step if it is Boston Butt.) Score the remaining fat with a sharp knife.

2. Rub a liberal amount of Rib Spice Rub on the pork. Make sure each side is evenly coated.

3. Place pork in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

4. Remove pork from fridge one hour before placing on the grill.

5. Preheat offset smoker to 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Add Apple or Cherry wood chunks to coals.

6. Place drip pan filled with water under the grates. Place pork on the grates over the drip pan.

7. Baste pork with Apple juice every 30 to 60 minutes.

8. Make sure to keep an eye on the pit temperature. Add more pre-lit charcoal to the Side Fire Box if needed.

9. Smoke until internal temperature is 195 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit and remove from grill.

Tip: If your pork shoulder hits the dreaded "stall" (won't get above 165 degrees Fahrenheit or starts dropping, wrap it in foil and place back on the grill. This will get it going agin.

Smoked Pork Recipes

Now that I've got your attention, why not check out one or two of my smoker recipes for pork? Down a little further you'll find informative pages related to smoking pork that should be helpful in your quest for the perfect smoked pork!

Smoked Ham Bone Bean Soup Recipe

With this recipe, you get every last bit of goodness from what's left of that ham you smoked. Pinto beans, carrots, onions and a ham bone create a great tasting ham 'n bean soup that's rich in flavor.

Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe

North Carolina Pulled Pork - Pulled pork is traditionally shredded pork shoulder meat, but smaller cuts can be used. Pork butts and picnics are both good candidates for pulled pork sandwiches. This recipe uses a traditional vinegar sauce for tangy flavor.

Double Smoke a Ham For More Smoky Flavor

Easy Smoked Ham Recipe - Next time you buy a precooked ham, try heating it up in the smoker. You'll be surprised how much better a ham tastes when it's seasoned a little and given an extra shot of smoke flavor.

Pork Loins Don't Take Long In The Smoker

Apple Smoked Pork Loin - This is one cut of pork you don't smoke to falling-apart tenderness. When the internal temperature reaches 145˚F, it's ready to serve.

Smoked Pork Chops Really Hit The Spot!

Smoked Pork Chops - Marinated in a fruity brine, these chops take on great flavor. A light smokiness is all these pork chops need.

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix. Sprinkle the rub all over the pork, patting it onto the meat with your fingertips. Let the pork cure at room temperature while you make the mop sauce.

Step 2: Make the mop sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, water, salt and pepper in a large nonreactive mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup of water, and whisk until the salt dissolves.

Step 3: Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips or chunks in a smoker box or smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium-low. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat the grill to medium-low, then toss 1 cup of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

Step 4: When ready to cook, place the pork, skin side up, if there is one, in the center of the hot grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill. Cook the pork until darkly browned on the outside and very tender inside, 4 to 6 hours. To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer: The internal temperature of the pork should be about 195 degrees F. If the pork starts to brown too much (and it probably will), cover it loosely with aluminum foil, but remember that the browned bits are good, too. Every hour for the first 4 hours, swab the pork with some of the mop sauce, using a barbecue mop or basting brush. If using a charcoal grill, every hour you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals and 1/2 cup of wood chips or chunks to each side.

Step 5: Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 20 minutes. You could pull or chop the pork, but I like to slice it across the grain (the practice of many South Carolina Pit masters). Place the pork slices in an aluminum foil pan. If you are not quite ready to serve, cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it on a warm—not hot—grill or in a low oven.

Step 6: If desired, brush the hamburger buns with the melted butter and lightly toast them on the grill. Load each bun with pork and slather with mustard sauce. Top with pickle slices and serve at once.