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Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipe: Simple Steps for Delicious BBQ

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Smoked Pork Shoulder

If you’re craving tender, flavorful pulled pork, then you’re in for a treat. Smoked pork shoulder is the perfect recipe for mouth-watering barbecue that’s both juicy and delicious. With only a few simple ingredients and a smoker grill, you can create a dish that’s sure to impress your family and friends.

Start by brining your pork shoulder for extra moisture and flavor. Once it’s brined, coat it with mustard and a generous layer of sweet rub. After letting it sit overnight, you’re ready to smoke your pork to perfection.

For the best results, make sure to spritz your pork shoulder with apple juice as it smokes. This will keep it moist and add a touch of sweetness. Follow these straightforward steps, and you’ll be on your way to making the best smoked pork shoulder ever!

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Here’s a list of the key ingredients you’ll need to make smoked pork shoulder. Plus, some possible substitutes if you can’t find something.

Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt)
A typical recipe uses an 8-10 pound bone-in pork shoulder. If you can’t find this, you can use boneless pork shoulder. Just keep an eye on the weight to ensure it cooks properly.

Yellow Mustard
You’ll need 2-3 tablespoons of yellow mustard. If you don’t have mustard, you can use olive oil or a mild mustard like Dijon.

Rub (Spices and Seasonings)
You’ll need about 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of your favorite barbecue rub. If you don’t have a premade rub, you can make your own with:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

Apple Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix these in a 1:1 ratio for spritzing the pork. If you can’t get these, white vinegar mixed with a bit of water can work.

Beef Broth
Use this to keep the meat moist. About a cup or so, warmed up. Chicken broth or even water can substitute if needed.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be ready to smoke a delicious pork shoulder with ingredients you have or can easily find.


  1. Brine the Pork Shoulder
    Brine the pork shoulder for 18-24 hours in a large container. This helps make the meat tender and juicy.

  2. Prepare the Pork
    After brining, remove the pork and let it rest for 1-2 hours. Coat the entire surface of the meat with yellow mustard. Then, generously apply your favorite rub, making sure to cover all sides.

  3. Set Up Your Smoker
    Preheat your smoker to 250°F. Make sure you have enough wood chips for smoking. Applewood or hickory are great choices.

  4. Smoke the Pork
    Place the pork shoulder on the smoker grate. Smoke for 4 hours, spritzing with a 1:1 mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar every hour.

  5. Wrap the Pork
    After 4 hours, wrap the pork tightly in aluminum foil or butcher paper. Return it to the smoker and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 195-203°F.

  6. Rest the Meat
    Remove the wrapped pork from the smoker and place it in an insulated cooler. Let it rest for at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours.

  7. Shred the Pork
    Once rested, use large forks or BBQ meat forks to shred the pork. Pull across the strands to maintain texture.

Now your smoked pork shoulder is ready to serve! Enjoy in sandwiches, tacos, or on its own.

Feel free to adjust the recipe to your taste!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Keep Your Smoker Consistent:
Make sure your smoker maintains a steady temperature. This helps the pork cook evenly. Using a meat thermometer can help keep an eye on this.

Choose the Right Rub:
A good rub makes a big difference. Mix spices like paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Don’t forget to rub it well into all the nooks and crannies of the pork shoulder.

Spritz for Moisture:
Fill a spray bottle with a 1:1 mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar. Spritz the pork every hour for the first four hours. This keeps the meat moist and adds flavor.

Wrap It Up:
After the first few hours of smoking, wrap the pork in aluminum foil. This helps it stay juicy and cook faster.

Check the Internal Temperature:
The pork shoulder is done when the internal temp reaches 210-215°F. Use a heat-safe thermometer to check this.

Rest Before Slicing:
Let the pork rest for 15-20 minutes after taking it off the smoker. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the meat more tender.

Storing Leftovers:
Place leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. They can last up to 4 days in the fridge. For longer storage, you can freeze them in bags for up to 3 months.

MethodStorage Time
RefrigeratorUp to 4 days
FreezerUp to 3 months

Reheating Tips:
Reheat smoked pork slowly in the oven at 250°F until warm. You can add a splash of broth to keep it moist.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Sweet and Spicy: Add a touch of honey or brown sugar to your rub mix for a sweet kick. For a spicy twist, mix in some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.

Dry Rub vs. Wet Marinade: For a dry rub, use ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar. For a wet marinade, mix apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and a bit of olive oil.

Smokers: You can use different types of smokers like pellet, electric, or charcoal. Each gives a unique flavor to the pork.

Wrap or No Wrap: Wrapping your pork shoulder in aluminum foil or butcher paper during the smoking process can help retain moisture. Leaving it unwrapped will give you a firmer bark.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Sandwiches: Pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw and pickles.
  • Tacos: Use shredded pork in tacos with fresh salsa, avocado, and cilantro.
  • Plates: Serve with sides like baked beans, corn on the cob, and potato salad.


  • BBQ Sauce: Classic choice, sweet or spicy.
  • Vinegar-Based Sauce: Tangy and cuts through the richness.
  • Mustard-Based Sauce: Adds a unique tangy and sharp flavor.


Turn leftovers into delicious meals like pork nachos, pulled pork pizza, or pork-stuffed potatoes.

Vegetable Pairings:

  • Grilled asparagus
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Roasted sweet potatoes

Enjoy experimenting with these variations to find your favorite way to prepare smoked pork shoulder.