How Long To Smoke Pork Shoulder Per Pound: Temperature Tips

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There are many different types of pork products including bacon, ham, sausage, and jerky. This guide shows you how to  smoke a pork shoulder perfectly!

How Long To Smoke Pork Shoulder Per Pound: Temperature Tips

You’ll learn about smoking pork butt and pulling pork.

How Long To Smoke Pork Shoulder Per Pound

Pork shoulder should be cooked at a rate of 1.5 to two hours per pound, depending upon the temperature of the smoker, and the recommended internal temperature for pork shoulder slices is 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit, or 195 degrees Fahrenheit for pulled pork.

Remember, bone-in cuts may take longer to cook.

Best Temperature

Have your smoker at 225 degrees when cooking pork shoulder including ribs, Boston butt, or pork loin.

Pork should benefit from slow smoking because it includes a large amount of fat and lots of connective tissue. It’s important to avoid overcooking the meat because it will become dry and tough.

Pork shoulder cooked at a low temperature produces gelatin. This makes the meat more tender and juicy.

What Is Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder is a thick muscle from pigs’ shoulders.

It comes bone-in or without bones, and has long pockets of intramuscular fat that are tucked inside the shoulder muscle, known as the pork collar. It is also known as the money muscle.

Whole pork shoulder is usually a 12 –14 pound pork shoulder that has both the shoulder and the upper part of the legs.

The lower part of the shoulders and the bones in the upper part of the thighs are also included. This is clearly visible because it tapers down towards the thigh into a triangle.

Difference Between A Pork Butt And A Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulders are usually more popular than pork butts. Butts are meatier and have more marbling than pork shoulders.

Picnic shoulders sit lower on the leg and are closer to the bottom of the shoulder.

How Do You Trim A Pork Shoulder?

A shoulder should have a fat cap on the top, but not too much. Fat caps should be removed before cooking.

Some people recommend leaving a fat cap on the shoulder, but if you do this, make sure it’s bone in.

You should trim off the fat cap to about a quarter-inch thick. Leave as much of the fat as possible. This will give you more moisture and flavor.

Trim the excess fat that is left. Sometimes you’ll see glands on the non-fat cap edges. You should remove these as well as they’re not pleasant to eat.

Should You Inject Pork Shoulder?

How Long To Smoke Pork Shoulder Per Pound: Temperature Tips

Brining is a method used by many people who want to add extra flavor to their meats. Apple juice and apple cider vinegar are added to the meat to make sure there is enough moisture inside.

This makes the meat more flavorful.

Hot sauces add moisture to meats, allowing them to sweat during cooking. This adds more smoke to the meat.

Pork expands when injected with liquids. You should inject the pork with a food injector before cooking it.

Smoked Pork Shoulder Rub

Pork shoulder needs acidity to help create bark. Mustard works well as a slather for the rub. Beef broth, extra virgin olive oil,or any other liquid you want to use should work fine.

Use less sugar and more salt, garlic, or onions if you want the rub to be more savory. Mix the ingredients together and apply them to your pork.

How To Make Smoked Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulders usually come in weights between 6 and 9 pounds, but obviously, the weight of the pig will determine how long it takes to smoke.

Don’t freak out if you feel that your pork is extremely fatty because most of it cooks off and helps flavor it.

You can remove a thin layer off the top of this steak, but it is not necessary.

Preheat your smoker by putting it on low heat. Put a metal drip pan under the grates and fill it with water.

Let the meat sit for 30 minutes before you trim away any excess fat. Then place the meat in the smoker and smoke it until done.

Pork shoulder should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165° -170°.

Then, it should be removed from the grill and spritzed with 15-20 squirts every hour for another three hours.

This process should be repeated once more before the pork is removed from the grill.

This recipe calls for you to wrap your meat in foil and then return it to the grill. You should continue cooking it until it reaches an internal temp of no more than 200 to 205 degrees.

After removing it from the grill, you should allow it to rest in the foil for about 30 to 60 minutes before slicing it up.

How Long Does It Take To Smoke?

Pork should be smoked slowly over a period of hours. It should be cooked until tender enough to pull apart easily.

The internal temperature should reach about 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat thermometers are the only way to be sure!

Pork shoulder should be cooked at a smoker temperature  over 195 degrees Fahrenheit so that the piece of meat can reach the right temperature.

For pulled pork, remove it from the smoker when it reaches this temperature. Wrap it in foil or butcher’s paper and return it to your smoker.

Cook it until it reaches about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it rest in the foil at room temp before serving.

Pork shoulders are usually very fatty, so they need to be treated differently than other cuts of meat.

Apple juice, apple cider vinegar and water are used to help keep the pork moist. You can use this technique on any type of meat.

Pork shoulders should be wrapped when they reach 165 degrees. The wrapping keeps them warm and moist during cooking.

It also makes them easier to slice, and helps maintain the delicious smoke flavor.

The Resting Period

Pork needs to be rested before being cut up or served. Covering the pork in foil or paper makes sure it doesn’t dry out.

Resting allows the juices to soak back into the meat, making it tastier.

What Is Bark?

The bark is the crust that forms on the outer surface of smoked meat. Smoke particles stick to this crust, and it begins to make a dark red and black edge.

This crust is prized and brings out tons of flavor to your meat! Think of it as a candy-like crust.

Reheating And Storing

Keep it in a plastic container in the fridge for up to four days.

Also freeze it in a plastic container, and you can reheat it at low temperatures in the microwave with a small amount of water and covered in foil. 

Best Wood For Smoked Pork Shoulder

Add the desired amounts to a large pot with some beef or chicken stock, then cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When choosing wood for smoking meat, you should always think about what kind of fruit you want your meat to taste like.

You must also consider where you live. Texas is known for pecans or oak, while hickory is associated with Memphis BBQ.


How Long To Smoke Pork Shoulder Per Pound: Temperature Tips

Pork Butt and shoulder are both tough cuts of meat. You need to cook them for a long time before you can eat them. I used a pellet smoker for this recipe.

Pork skin should be wrapped tightly in foil. Let it sit for about an hour or two before cooking. Vinegar helps tenderize the meat because it contains acids.

Salt and fat make for the best tasting food, but they also make for tough meat.

Be sure to wrap your brisket in foil or peach paper. Seasoning should include sugar, brown sugar, chili powder, and oregano.

Also add seasonings such as vinegar, juice, and spices.

Try using mustard to help the dry rub stick to pork as well as assist you in creating good bark. I also used Dijon mustard here.

Cook by temperature, not by time. This is a very important thing to remember when cooking. You should cook by temperature, not by how long it takes to cook.

A remote probe thermometer makes this possible.

Keep the smoker lid closed (if possible). Every time you lift the lid heat escapes and a consistent temp is important for the best result. 

Plan ahead and start earlier. Long smokes often take longer than expected. It’s done when it’s done, so start early. This can mean that you start smoking the night prior.

Don’t skimp on the resting time. It’s super important to let all the juices reabsorb into the meat before serving.

When it’s warm, it’s much easier to shred. You should wrap the meat as soon as the bark forms, and then increase the heat to whatever your preferred cooking temperature is. 

Once it reaches this temperature, wrap it again and put it back in the oven. This will help ensure that the meat doesn’t dry out while it rests.

Take notes from your cookbook to help you remember what you did and how to do it better next time.

Be Prepared For The Stall

Stall means the meat stops cooking. Scientists say the meat sweats out moisture as it cooks, and loses heat.

When the sweat dries up, the meat starts heating up again. This happens over and over until the meat is cooked properly.

To help push through the stall (the point when the meat stops cooking), you can wrap the meat. Wrapping it in foil is recommended.

Pork shoulder needs to be rested after cooking. The cooking time hasn’t stopped when the meat is resting – there’s still plenty of heat in there, and in fact it continues to cook.

Shredding Tips

Using a fork is difficult because pork can be hard to hold onto. Gloves help protect your hands from getting burned by holding the meat.

Nitrile gloves prevent you from touching and contaminating the meat.


Smoked pork is delicious, and well worth the time and effort! There are many great pork recipes, but they all need you to cook the pork correctly!

Hopefully, this guide has helped you get yours just right.