Slow Smoked Pork Shoulder




Howdy everyone. I decided to make one of my favorite foods and share the Instructable for it. We cooked a 8.7 pound pork shoulder today and here is how to do a savory smoked pork shoulder.

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Step 1: Prep

I injected the shoulder while it was still in the vacuum packaging (I put it in a garbage bag so it wouldn't leak everywhere in the refrigerator). The injection needs to compliment the meat so what I used was apple juice. apple cider vinegar, some sugar (dissolved in the juice), and a 12 oz. bottle of Shiner beer. I injected it the night before (at least 12 hours) and then brought it out for the rub. After wiping the meat down with paper towels, rub the pork with olive oil; this allows the dry rub to adhere to the meat better. The dry rub I used consisted of Harley's All Purpose rub, a small amount of cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, Everglades All Purpose spice, and a little spicy powder. Mix it all together and spread on liberally.

Step 2: Cooking

We used hickory and pecan wood for this shoulder. Start some charcoal (doesn't matter what type) and use that as the heat. I let the shoulder have some smoke for 4 hours (sometimes I will do up to 5 hours) at 220 degrees. I like cooking pork, especially bone in pork, at a lower temperature for a longer time. Spray the meat every 30 minutes with a concoction of apple cider and orange juice. I always cook fat cap (the side with the fat on it) up but you can do it either way.

Step 3: Wrapping and Finishing

After 4 or 5 hours (it depends on the color of the meat), pull it off and get ready to wrap it. I put it in a pan this time but normally I wrap it all in an aluminum cocoon of goodness. When you go to wrap, add some extra juice (like what you were spraying on it) so the meat will steam with its own juices that come out. After you wrap it good, place it back on your heat source and then proceed to the next step. Boom, deliciousness.

Step 4: Finishing

After the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees, go ahead an pull the shoulder off of the heat source for an hour. Much like a brisket, the pork shoulder needs to rest and soak up the juices again. The pork can be sliced, chopped, or pulled; with the bone in the meat, it will be good. Remember, it is all about the temperature and not the time so monitor your meat every hour. Any specific questions, post a comment or send me a message.

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10 Discussions


5 years ago on Introduction

Your recipe looks good, though I don't see much smoke ring in the pictures. Does it have a strong "smokey" taste?

Also, you are finishing this in about 5 hours? Is the meat "falling off the bone" soft? I usually smoke mine about twice that amount of time to achieve desired tenderness, though I don't foil wrap mine. With foil wrapping does it still get a good "bark" or crusty outside, or does this soften the outside?

I loosely follow the recipe known as "Renowned Mr. Brown" here:

A few keys I've learned in my years:

-If you want to dry rub the meat, give it a good soaking with mustard (yes sticky yellow mustard) then apply as much or as little dry rub as you like. The rub will stay in place.

-If you buy bone out pork butt use cooking string to tie it up or the flaps will get burned. If you buy bone in you don't need to tie it.

-It's VERY hard to overcook meat that's going "low and slow" so if you don't think it's done, it's probably NOT done. If you take out pulled pork before it's finished it won't "pull" apart. It's just not the same.

-My cooks usually take 10 to 14 hours. The meat will get to about 165* to 170* internal temp and seems to stall there for hours. Don't worry this is normal. Once it starts to go over that temp is when it's nearing the finish line.

-I put the meat in the smoker and don't open it again for the first 4 to 5 hours, only watching the temp of my smoker, making sure it stays between 220 and 240. Hot days or cold nights can spike it either way by 20* or more.

-The basting you do during the cook has less effect than you think, so if you forget or skip a few don't worry. I usually only baste 3 or 4 times, during the LAST 1/2 of the cook. I've done cooks where I completely forgot to baste and it still turned out great, though missing the heat since this is where I add most of the cayenne.

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

The hickory and pecan keep the smoky taste to a minimum without making it go away completely; I found that for me, mesquite makes my meats too smokey so I have found the best woods for when I cook. The smoke ring was good there but the flash on the camera coupled with the amazing (sarcasm) lighting in the kitchen didn't let it come out in the pictures. Definetly on the level with my pork I turn in for competitions.

This pork shoulder only took about 9 hours cooking and one hour of rest time (10 total). The only point I use for time is when I take my meats off to wrap; it is usually 4 to 5 hours of smoke before the meat will not take anymore. It is all heat source from there.

This shoulder did come out fall off the bone in some places but as I routinely cook in BBQ competitions, I made sure my money muscle was still good enough to slice and then produce some chunks and pulled.

Wrapping will not moisten the bark to where it becomes soft. If you are not gentle enough with it you can pull some off when you wrap, which is why some people prefer to tent (like in the pictures).

I refuse to put mustard on any of my meats, especially in competition. My rubs do not complement the mustard and I have never had a problem getting my rub to adhere if you wash all the blood off and pat it dry with paper towels first. Sometimes if I am feeling frisky I will use a little olive oil but that isn't often.

Good point on the bone out pork. I won't cook that if I have the option not too because I like the flavor the bone marrow adds to the meat.

I don't have a problem with meat stalling often and I usually only check it until after it has been wrapped for a couple hours. Closer to turn in, or when I want to serve, I will check the temperature and see if I need to adjust anything.

I spray and mop often while my meat is smoking but after the wrap or tenting phase, there is no reason since it has plenty of juice in there that shouldn't be leaking out if it is done correctly.


5 years ago

What did you use to make that charcoal basket? It looks like a locker organizer

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Ah that came with the smoker. It's a simple Dyna-Glo smoker ($160 on Amazon) that works amazingly well. Cooked 36 pounds of meat this past weekend and it doesn't take much to keep it hot.


5 years ago on Step 4

Question; the temperatures, are those in Fahrenheit or Celcius?

So you first set is in at 220 4 hrs

than wrap , juice in the wrap and 1 hr at 190?

Pull out so the meat can absorb the juice?

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

The numbers are in Fahrenheit. Simple breakdown of the times that I use are 4 or 5 hours of smoke (depending on how the meat is reacting with it) and then I wrap or tent the shoulder, still cooking it at 220 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. From there you let it rest to soak up the juices again.

The 190 degrees is internal; I cook at the same temperature the entire time (in this case is was 220 degrees). You can't really rely on time because each meat will cook differently. You can use it like a guideline but checking the internal temperatures will allow you to fully understand how that piece of meat is cooking.

Hope this helps.


5 years ago