Smoked Pork Butt

This recipe is perfect for your next weekend cookout. You can use Boston butt or pork shoulder; either will yield incredibly smoky, tender, and juicy meat. After rubbing the mustard into the pork and sprinkling on the brown sugar mixture, allow it to rest at room temperature while you prepare the smoker — this will not only allow the rub to permeate deeper into the meat, but also help expedite the cooking process slightly. Keep the temperature in the smoker as consistent as possible, and refill with hot coals as needed. Don't use quick-light types of charcoal, which will give the meat a chemical taste. Serve the pork with a barbecue sauce of your choice and classic barbecue sides, such as baked beans, potato salad or chips, and coleslaw.

Smoked Pork Butt sandwich
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
30 mins
Smoke Time:
7 hrs
Total Time:
9 hrs
6 to 8 servings


  • 2 large guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 (5- to 6-lb.) bone-in pork shoulder, fat cap trimmed to 1/2-in. thick

  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add chiles; cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and beginning to blister, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer chiles to a bowl; let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer chiles to a spice grinder, and grind into a coarse powder. Alternatively, grind chiles using a mortar and pestle. Stir together brown sugar, salt, paprika, granulated garlic, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and ground chiles in a medium bowl until well combined; set aside.

  2. Rub pork shoulder all over with mustard, ensuring entire shoulder is evenly coated. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture, gently pressing mixture into pork to adhere. Let stand at room temperature while preparing smoker, about 30 minutes.

  3. Prepare charcoal fire in smoker to indirect heat according to manufacturer's instructions. Place 3 or 4 large applewood chunks on coals. Maintain internal temperature at 240°F to 260°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Smoke pork over indirect heat, covered with smoker lid, until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of meat registers 155°F to 165°F, 5 to 6 hours. Remove pork from smoker, and wrap tightly in butcher paper or aluminum foil. Return pork to smoker, and smoke until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of meat registers 195°F to 200°F, 2 to 3 hours, checking temperature of meat and smoker each hour and adding more hot coals to smoker as needed to maintain internal smoker temperature of 240°F to 260°F. Remove pork from smoker, and let rest at room temperature, wrapped in butcher paper or foil, for 20 minutes. Unwrap pork. Remove and discard shoulder blade. Using tongs or gloved hands, gently shred and pull pork apart. Serve immediately.

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