how to bbq right HowToBBQRight homepage barbecue recipes competition bbq my bbq blog contact HowToBBQRight Facebook Page Malcom Reed Twitter HowToBBQRight YouTube Channel

Slow-Smoked Pork Butt Method

If you want to produce delicious pulled pork, you MUST start with a good quality raw product.

Knowing how to select the perfect butt is crucial. I cook fresh not frozen 8-10 lb. Boston Butts. Either way, I always get the product fresh from my local butcher.

When selecting a butt it is important to know exactly what you are looking for. First off I want a butt that has a large money muscle on the front.

money muscles on pork butts

The Money Muscle is the best part of the butt. It is located on the end that is farthest from the round bone. It is very tender and when properly cooked, it can even be sliced with a sharp knife.

Also look for a butt that has a big horn muscle or meat under the y of the blade bone. This meat is almost as tender as the money muscle and since it is right next to the bone, its packed with flavor.

Money Muscle and Sections of a Pork Butt Video

Tell your butcher exactly what you are looking for, and he should be able to help you select the best cuts of meat. Often my butcher lets me go back into the meat cooler and sort through his inventory myself. and FYI... It never hurts to bring some BBQ too, keeping the butcher happy is a good idea.

Preparing your BBQ for cooking

I always inject pork butts. This helps get moisture and flavor on the inside of the meat that Dry Rub alone cannot accomplish. You can get a cheap injector at the grocery store and it will get the job done.

I use a mixture of:

  • 1 cup Apple Juice
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • 1 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce

This injection is enough to use for two 8-10lb Boston butts.

injecting pork butts

Place the meat in an aluminum pan and begin injecting. Insert the injection needle into the meat and press down on the plunger. Dont pull the needle all of the way out of the injection site. Instead, go in at a different angle and inject again.

I do this 3 times at each injection site and move it around the entire butt. There will be some injection that seeps out. This is normal.

Once you get the butts injected, place them in a large zip-lock bag, pour any injection that seeped out over the butt, and place in a refrigerator or on ice. You want the butt to marinate for at least 4 hours. (Overnight is preferred).

Take the butt out of the zip-lock bag and place on a working surface. Drain it completely and pat dry with paper towel and let it come up to room temp for about 30 - 45 minutes.

The next step is to apply a good quality dry rub

You can use any dry rub that you like. But we always use our own recipe The BBQ Rub. You can purchase it at any Bass Pro Shop.

dry rub on butts

First, coat the butt with a couple of tablespoons of plain ole yellow mustard. This will create a means for the rub to stick to the meat. Then liberally sprinkle the dry rub over the meat and gently massage it into the meat.

Proper Smoke Technique

Get your smoker up to proper temperature. I cook butts at 225 degrees and use seasoned Cherry Wood chunks for the smoke.

The length of cooking can be a little tricky to figure out, but a good rule of thumb is 1 to 1 (hours of smoke per lb of meat). But I like to always have a meat thermometer handy and strictly go by internal temperature. You are shooting for an internal temperature of 195 degrees for perfect pulled pork.

Once you have your butt on the smoker, its time to make your mop. The mop consists of a mixture of:

  • 16 oz Vegetable Oil
  • 16 oz Cider Vinegar
  • 32 oz water
  • 1 cup of dry rub
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire
  • 2 TBS Soy Sauce

Whisk all of these ingredients together. (I use very hot water to dissolve the dry rub).

baste pork butts with a bbq mop

Mop this baste on the butts after 2 hours of smoking. Then mop again after every 2 hours.

After 6 hours of smoke and basting, check the internal temperature. It should be around 165 degrees. At this point you have enough smoke now its time to get them tender.

The Tenderization Process

You want to remove the butts from the smoker and wrap them in aluminum foil. Place the aluminum foil on the work surface, sit the butt on the aluminum foil, mop the butt with baste and reapply a light dusting of the dry rub. Wrap the butt up tight in the aluminum foil and place it back on the smoker.

wrap pork butts in foil

It is helpful to use a digital meat thermometer with a probe to monitor your internal temperature the entire cooking time. This is one piece of equipment that is extremely useful, and it keeps you from having to constantly open up the door to check with a manual thermometer.

And if you are constantly opening the door, then your meat will not achieve the proper tenderness. Every time the temperature in your smoker drops, your meat begins to lock back up resulting in a product that is tough. You have to keep the temperature steady to keep the meat cooking. This is exactly why they say, If youre looking, youre not cooking.

If you BBQ often, then I recommend investing in a good thermometer with a probe. They will run you between $20 - $60 bucks, but in the long-run it is worth it.

internal prob for pork butts

If you have a thermometer with a probe, place it inside the meat (careful not to get it against the bone or youll get a false reading) and wrap the aluminum foil around the butt. Place the meat back on the smoker and continue cooking.

Your meat has enough smoke, so adding more wood to the fire is not necessary at this point. Now you are simply rendering the tough connective tissue of the butt and producing tender, mouth watering meat.

The butt needs to go to 195 degrees internal and this will take some time.

Typically, it will hit a plateau or stall at about 175 and will sit there for what feels like an eternity. It is important to keep a constant pit temperature during this process. Dont open the smoker door and dont unwrap the butt - not for any reason - no exceptions! This is the method will produce the best BBQ youve ever cooked and it is what wins contest.

The Final Steps

Once the butt has climbed to an internal temperature of 195 degrees you are ready to pull it off the smoker.

BUT BE CAREFUL. it will be extremely hot and there will be a lot of au just that has cooked out of the meat. Transferring the butt to an aluminum pan will make this process easier and allows you to catch the liquid.

Open the aluminum foil very carefully and allow some of the steam to escape. Drain off as much liquid as possible from the butt, re-rap it in aluminum foil and place it in a dry cooler for resting. It will keep hot for up to 4 hours.

pull pork butts of the smoker

Appearance Is Everything!

To create a beautiful Mahogany look on the outside of the butt, I use a final glaze. This process takes about 30-45 minutes, and I do it just before building the blind box. Remove the butt from the holding cooler and unwrap as much foil as you can. It will tear away easy but youll want to use gloves because it will still be hot to the touch.

For the glaze I use a sweet and spicy bbq sauce. You can use whatever sauce that you like, but from my experience, Sweet with a little heat brings home the hardware. I also mix some of the warm pan drippings with the sauce usually just 2 to 3 tablespoons. This will thin the glaze down just a little and give it an extra punch of flavor.

glazing pork butts

Brush the glaze over the butt and return it to the smoker at 245 for hour. This bump in heat will caramelize the bark just right.

If you follow this procedure, then you will have BBQ you can actually brag about. It will blow any other BBQ out of the water, bar none.

Also, check out how to achieve the perfect texture for Pulled Pork BBQ here.

And watch a video of us preparing Pork Shoulders for a BBQ Contest here.

Plus, I've got tips on how to pick out the best shoulder or butt here.


The BBQ Rub - a barbecue dry rub developed by The Killer Hogs

ChefAlarm Meat Thermometer
bbq newsletter

**We don't sell your information or send you anything aside from emails from me - about BBQ

Thermapens For Internal Meat Probe for Competition BBQ Cooks