Smoked Pork Shoulder: The Ultimate Guide

Smoked Pork Shoulder

If you’re a fan of ultra-flavorful and tender pulled pork, then you’re in for a treat with this Smoked Pork Shoulder recipe from Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Smoked low and slow, this dish creates the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork that will have your taste buds dancing. Perfect for any cookout or BBQ, this recipe also includes grill cooking instructions. So, fire up those smokers and get ready for a mouthwatering culinary adventure!

How to Make a Smoked Pork Shoulder

  1. Prepare the smoker: Start by consulting your smoker’s manual for the best way to get it ready. Fill a baking dish or foil pan with water and place it on one side of the smoker grate to keep the pork moist.
  2. Rub the pork: Coat the pork with olive oil and then apply the rub seasonings, making sure to cover all sides of the meat.
  3. Fill the spray bottle: Mix apple juice and apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio and fill a spray bottle. This mixture will be used to spritz the pork every hour for the first 4 hours.
  4. Smoke the pork: Place the pork shoulder on the smoker grate and smoke it at 250°F for 4 hours. Every hour, open the smoker and spritz the pork with the apple juice and cider vinegar mixture.
  5. Wrap the pork: Spritz the pork one more time and then wrap it tightly with either foil or peach paper. Return it to the smoker and smoke at 225°F for approximately 4 more hours.
  6. Check the temperature: The pork should reach an internal temperature between 195-205°F.
  7. Let the pork rest: Once the pork reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker and keep it wrapped while it rests for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
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Additional Cooking Tips

If you’ve never smoked a pork shoulder before, don’t worry! Here are a few extra tips to ensure a successful culinary adventure:

Cook to Temperature, Not by Time

Smoking is a low and slow cooking method that requires patience. Instead of relying on time, use an internal thermometer to gauge the meat’s doneness. Factors like the cut of meat, smoker variations, and the outdoor environment can affect cooking time, so it’s crucial to monitor the internal temperature.

Watch for the Stall

During smoking, you may notice a point where the internal temperature stops rising. This is known as the “stall” and is caused by the breakdown of collagen in the meat. It’s a normal part of the smoking process, so don’t panic. Just keep smoking the pork, and it will eventually power through the stall.

To Wrap, or Not to Wrap

While some recipes don’t call for wrapping the pork shoulder, wrapping can help push through the stall more quickly. Wrapping the pork in foil or peach paper helps retain moisture and speeds up the cooking process. It’s a technique often referred to as the “Texas crutch” within the BBQ community.

Variations of This Recipe

Here are a few variations you can explore to customize your smoked pork shoulder:

  • Mustard: Instead of olive oil, you can use plain yellow mustard to bind the rub to the pork shoulder. It adds a tangy flavor to the dish.
  • Bourbon: For a unique twist, try adding a little bourbon to the spritzing bottle and/or the baking dish of water. Bourbon and pork make a perfect combination.
  • BBQ Sauce: While this smoked pork shoulder is bursting with flavor on its own, you can always add your favorite bottled BBQ sauce or experiment with homemade options like Bourbon BBQ Sauce or Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce.
  • Low Carb: If you’re watching your carb intake, you can swap the brown sugar with a sugar substitute like Swerve. Also, ensure you’re using 100% juice apple juice with no added sugar.
Further reading:  Tender and Juicy Oven Roasted Country Style Ribs

Making Smoked Pork Shoulder Ahead of Time

If you’re tight on time and need to prepare ahead, you can smoke the pork shoulder the day before. Follow the instructions as directed, let the pork rest, and then shred it. Once the pork has cooled completely, transfer it to foil pans, cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to serve, gently reheat the pork in a smoker or oven set to 225°F for approximately 40-45 minutes.


Leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 4 days.

Special Equipment for This Recipe

To make the most out of your smoked pork shoulder experience, it’s helpful to have a few essential tools:

  • Tongs: These durable tongs are perfect for grilling and smoking.
  • Smoker: Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ recommends the Traeger Pro Series 34, an excellent smoker for multiple cooking techniques.
  • Peach Paper: Use peach paper for wrapping the pork.
  • Wood Pellets: Apple wood pellets add a delightful smoky flavor to your pork.
  • Internal Meat Thermometer: Invest in an accurate and quick internal meat thermometer for perfectly cooked pork. If you prefer a thermometer that stays in the meat and alerts you when it reaches the desired temperature, the ThermoPro is a great choice.

Be sure to visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ for more mouthwatering recipes and cooking inspiration.

Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ