Smoked Pork Butt [BBQ Boston Butt Recipe]

4.23 from 9 votes
4.23 from 9 votes

The best way to smoke pork Boston butt. Cooked low and slow for hours over apple and hickory for the ultimate cut of barbecue pork.

smoked pork butt resting on wooden chopping board

Despite its long smoke time, pork butt is actually quite a simple meat for smoking and a great place for barbecue beginners to start. It doesn’t require a lot of preparation but will help you get to grips with concepts like The Stall (more on that later), wrapping, and the virtue of patience.

This beautiful pork cut is rich in fat content, which makes it the perfect meat for smoking. And once it’s fully cooked, it’ll be incredibly tender and perfect for shredding for pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, nachos… The possibilities are endless.

Here’s how to smoke pork butt like a pro.

smoked pulled pork butt sandwich

How to Prepare Pork Butt

One of the best things about pork butt is how simple it is. Unlike a cut like beef brisket, you shouldn’t need to do any trimming.

Look out for the pork butt’s ‘money muscle’. This is a strip of muscle that a distinctly tender, melt-in-your-mouth flavor unlike the rest of the pork cut. Many pitmasters prefer to remove it and cook it separately to their Boston Butt. You can find the money muscle on the opposite end to the bone, sitting high up in the shoulder joint.

Simply remove the butt from its packaging and place in a cooking pan or tray. Use some paper towels to pat it down to remove any excess moisture. 

Apply your binding agent over the entire surface of the pork butt. In this recipe I’ve used yellow mustard, but you can also use olive oil, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar. Anything that can help bind our BBQ rub to the meat without overpowering it. I like yellow mustard because it’s a great binder, and adds a slight smoky sweetness to the meat as it smokes.

Once the binding agent is in place, apply the BBQ rub. I’m using my go-to pork dry rub recipe, but you can also use a store-bought option like the Killer Hogs. It has a great balance of sweet, spice, and smoke, and goes great with smoked pork cuts. Check it out here.

Apply the rub evenly all over the pork butt. Don’t go overboard, and make sure that you can still see the meat through the rub and binding agent.

After the yellow mustard and BBQ rub, we’re good to go.

smoked pork butt and pulled pork

Prepare Your Smoker

Heat up your smoker, aiming for a cooking temperature of 225°F (107°C). If you overshoot this a bit, don’t worry. Anything up to 250°F (120°C) is ok.

If you have a pellet, propane, or electric smoker then it should be fairly straightforward to reach your cooking temperature. If you’re cooking with charcoal, you might need a bit of time to hone in on that temperature. Be sure to allow yourself long enough to hit that mark.

shredding pulled pork

What Wood Is Best for Smoking Pork Butt?

The best woods for smoking pork with tend to be sweet and fruity notes. This includes apple, maple, and pecan.

For this recipe I’m using apple wood, and adding a single chunk of hickory to add a touch more smoke to the flavor. If you decide to do the same, make sure you don’t go overboard with the hickory. Any more than one chunk can risk overpowering the flavor of the pork.

How to Smoke Boston Butt

Transfer the pork butt to your smoker racks. Just like with brisket, we want the side with the thickest layer of fat facing the heat source. This is so that the meat is protected from direct exposure to the heat, helping to slowly come to temperature and stay moist. In the case of most smokers, this means smoking the pork butt fat-side down.

pork butt on smoker grates

Add your wood to your firebox (or wherever your wood chips should go in your smoker), and close the lid. Cook for about three hours, until your pork butt has started to develop a nice mahogany color and bark on it.

Combine apple cider vinegar and water in a food-safe spritz or spray bottle. From this point, spritz the pork butt every 30 minutes. Smoke for a further 1-2 hours, until the internal temperature of the pork has hit close to 165°F. At this point, it will have come out of the pork butt stall and is ready to wrap.

Wrap the pork butt in 2-3 layers of aluminum foil, and baste with spritz solution. Sprinkle a little more BBQ rub on top. Wrap tightly shut, and transfer back to smoker.

Smoke until pork internal temperature has reached 200°F. This will vary depending on the size of the meat, but should be about 2-3 hours further.

Once it’s reached our target temperature, remove it from the smoker and allow the pork butt to rest (still in the foil) for 30 minutes. This will allow the juices in the meat to redistribute and present you with a beautifully tender finished product.

Carefully remove from foil, and drain away any excess juice that’s gathered at the bottom of the aluminum foil pouch. Shred or pull the pork to your liking, and serve up! If you have any remaining then be sure to store it correctly, and you can use them with any of my leftover pulled pork recipes.

Quick Tips

Ensure the best possible smoked pork butt with our quick barbecue tips.

  1. Avoid dry pork butt by spraying the meat with spritz every 30 minutes on the smoker. You can use apple juice, water, or even beer. For our pork butt spritz, we use a mix of apple cider vinegar and water (instructions in the recipe below).
shredded smoked pulled pork butt in bbq sauce

Smoked Pork Butt

4.23 from 9 votes
The best way to smoke pork Boston butt. Cooked low and slow for hours over apple and hickory for the ultimate cut of barbecue pork.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 hours
Total Time10 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8



  • 8 lb pork butt
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp dried onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water


  • Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C)
  • Trim excess fat and silverskin off pork butt. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to the pork
  • In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Use a fork to crush any lumps that may form.
  • Season the pork butt generously with the dry rub, working into any folds of crevices in the meat. Cover all sides.
  • Once the smoker is at 225°F, place the pork butt on the grates fat-side up. Close the smoker door/lid, and smoke for 3 hours.
  • Combine the spritz ingredients in a food-safe spray bottle. Spritz pork every 30 minutes.
  • Once the meat’s internal temperature hits 165°F (74°C), place the pork butt in the middle of a double sheet of aluminum foil. Bring up the edges of the foil slightly to create a boat-like shape. Pour the remaining spritz mixture over the pork butt, and then wrap the foil tightly around it.
  • Place the wrapped pork back in the smoker. Smoke until the internal temperature hits 200°F (93°C), about 2-3 hours.
  • Pull from the smoker. Leave in foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Carefully unwrap the pork. Using meat claws or forks, shred the meat to serve.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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