Smoked Pork Shoulder is a go-to recipe that you are sure to love! The flavor and tenderness is so amazing! The perfect main dish for any cookout or get-together and the leftovers are amazing!
Best Smoked Pork Shoulder Recipe
If you are looking for a tried-and-true smoked pork shoulder recipe then you are in the right spot! We have been making this recipe for years and years and it is consistently loved by all. We made our on our Traeger but use whatever smoker you have. This easy-to-follow recipe will become your new favorite! Serve with some Purple Cabbage Coleslaw, and Smoked Baked Beans and Watermelon Feta Salad at your next cookout!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Tried and True: We have been making this recipe for YEARS. And it doesn’t matter if it is winter or summer, this is a year-long love affair. It always turns out amazing and is perfect for any get-togethers!
- Flavor: I mean that pork rub is INSANE! And once it cooks slowly all day and that bark-like crust forms … it is the BEST!
- Versatile: Eat it plain with just BBQ sauce, use it in carnitas or in a pulled pork sandwich!
- Leftovers: Sometimes we make one on the weekend just to have easy leftovers for the week!
What You Will Need
- Pork Dry Rub: here is the recipe we will be using
- Pork Shoulder: get the best quality possible, it really does make a difference.
- Yellow mustard: this is part of the pre-rub and adds amazing flavor
- Liquid Smoke (totally optional!) – of course the point of smoking your pork shoulder is to get it smokey – but if you want to add that little extra smokiness, I highly recommend. The flavor is amazing.
- Worcestershire sauce: Also part of the pre-rub!
- Plastic wrap: we wrap the pork shoulder in this and let it sit overnight to really let all those flavors melt into the meat
- Apple cider vinegar, apple juice, water: these are combined and sprayed onto the pork shoulder every hour or so.
- Smoking chips: you can really use whatever kind you prefer!
How long does it take to smoke a pork shoulder
It generally takes 60-90 minutes per pound to smoke a pork shoulder, but this timeframe can be impacted by a variety of factors such as the weather, how consistent your smoker holds heat, etc. So, to smoke a 7lb pork shoulder it will take anywhere from 7 hours to 10 1/2 hours.
Smoked Pork Shoulder Temp
Smoke your pork shoulder at 225 degrees F. – of course you can smoke it at other temperatures, but this particular temps seems to marry the interests of smokiness and cook time perfectly.
Should I wrap my pork shoulder in foil on the smoker
No, do not wrap your pork shoulder in foil on the smoker. It won’t achieve that “smokey” flavor you are looking for that way since the foil will block any smoke generated.
How do I know when my pork shoulder is done
Technically your pork shoulder is safely cooked when it reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees F., but if you want to be able to shred your pork shoulder easily you will want it to reach an internal temp of 190 degrees.
What if my pork shoulder is taking longer than 90 minutes per pound
Make sure you didn’t run out of pellets (we have done that before!). It could also be a result of the weather (windy, cold, humidity, etc) – the best way to be able to track the cooking time is to use an internal meat thermometer and go off of that. 60-90 minutes per pound is just an estimate – there are too many factors to take into consideration for us to give you a solid timeframe!
Why is my pork shoulder tough or not shredding
You probably didn’t let it cook long enough. It needs to reach an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees F. to become tender and easy to shred. Make sure you are using an internal thermometer or probe to track the internal temperature of your pork shoulder.
How long do I let my pork shoulder rest
You should let your pork shoulder rest for an hour. We suggest wrapping it in foil and then again in some kitchen towels as it rests to retain heat.
Smoked Pork Shoulder Side Dishes
- Spicy North Carolina BBQ Sauce
- Creamy Purple Cabbage Coleslaw
- Gluten-Free Cornbread
- Smoked Baked Beans
What People are Saying
- Jess: “This recipe is so good! I’ve made it for crowds and just for my family and it disappears. I’ve used the rub on ribs and pork chops as well. But this is the best smoked pork ever!!!”
- Justin: “Made this last week and it was tremendous! Thank you!!”
- Pellet Smoker: Traeger Pro 575 (the 780 is great too, it is just a little bit bigger)
- Electric Smoker: If you are looking for a starter electric smoker that is high quality, but also not the most expensive smoker ever made, I would recommend this one. We used it for 5 years with no issues and the quality of smoking is fantastic. We have recently upgraded to a Traeger and love that a well.
How to Smoke a Pork Shoulder
First prep your dry rub.
The rub includes kosher salt, smoked paprika, lemon pepper, cayenne, smoked garlic powder and black pepper.
Next, prep your pork shoulder:
Rub the pork shoulder with worcestershire sauce (optional), liquid smoke and yellow mustard. For the yellow mustard – really any brand should do and you won’t really tell the difference. For the worcestershire sauce – it matters. You gotta use the good stuff. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is the way to go (note it isn’t Whole30 compliant though!).
Rub the spice rub ALL over.
Net, rub spice mixture all over – I mean all over. In every nook and cranny. Lay it on thick.
Wrap in plastic wrap.
Then, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
Get your smoker going
When it is time to go, turn smoker on to 225 degrees F. At the same time, take pork shoulder out of the fridge and let it come to room temp.
When your smoker reaches temp you are good to go
When the pork shoulder reaches room temp and the smoker has reached 225 degrees F, place pork shoulder in the smoker (fatty side up!). (For an electric smoker you will put it on the middle rack).
For a 4 pound pork shoulder you will want to smoke it for 4-6 hours or until it reaches 190 degrees (internal temp) or you can go as high as 200. You want to make sure you reach 165 to kill off any bacteria, but if you go up to 190 you will only be able to shred it that much easier.
Tips as you are smoking your pork shoulder
Throughout the smoking process, you are going to need to do a couple of things.
- First, you need to apply a mop to the pork shoulder every 45-60 minutes. The “mop” is made up of 1 part apple cider vinegar, 1 part apple juice and 1 part water. Mix that up – my husband puts that in a spray bottle and just sprays the pork shoulder all over.
- Additionally, if the smoke coming out of the smoker dies down, you know you need to put additional chips or pellets into the smoking basket.
- Don’t open the smoker if you don’t have to!
Let Smoked Pork Shoulder Cook Until 190 Degrees Internal Temp
Once your desired internal temp has been reached (at least 165) remove from smoker and let rest an hour. I would HIGHLY recommend getting some Original Bear Paws Shredder Claws – they make shredding this SO much easier!!
I know there are a ton of amazing BBQ sauces out there, but if you are trying to find one that is Whole30 compliant, I would start with Tessemae’s All Natural BBQ Sauce – it is delicious!
Other Recipes You Might Like
- Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Smoked Turkey
- How to Grill the Perfect Steak
- Smoked Baby Back Ribs
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Pork Shoulder Roast (oven)
Made this recipe and loved it?! We would love it if you would take a minute and leave a star rating and review – it is also helpful if you made any substitutions or changes to the recipe to share that as well. THANK YOU!
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Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Prep Time: 13 hours
- Cook Time: 6 hours
- Total Time: 19 hours
- Yield: Serves 8–10 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Smoker
- Cuisine: American
Smoked Pork Shoulder – The most amazing recipe for smoked pork shoulder!!
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika (regular paprika will work!)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tablespoon smoked garlic powder (regular garlic powder will work!)
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 4 lb pork shoulder (bone-in recommended)
- yellow mustard (approximately 1/2 cup)
- liquid Smoke (approximately 2-3 Tablespoons) – this one is Whole30 compliant
- worcestershire sauce (approximately 2-3 Tablespoons) (for Whole30 either omit this or use a compliant version)
- plastic wrap
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups hickory smoking chips
- 2 cups mesquite smoking chips
- Ensure pork shoulder has come to room temperature. Rinse pork shoulder under water and pat dry and place on a cookie sheet.
- Combine salt, smoked paprika, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked garlic powder and black pepper in bowl. Set aside.
- Take worcestershire sauce (if using) and pour all over pork shoulder ensuring it is thoroughly covered.
- Repeat with the liquid smoke and then with the yellow mustard.
- Take Pork Rub mixture and start sprinkling/rubbing in generous amounts all over pork shoulder ensuring that a thick layer is created – every nook and cranny.
- Completely and tightly wrap pork shoulder in plastic wrap. Then double bag it in plastic bags and put in fridge for a minimum of 12 hours.
- After a minimum of 12 hours has passed, remove pork shoulder from fridge, unwrap and let come to room temp.
- Start smoker and bring up to 225 degrees.
- Combine apple cider vinegar, apple juice and water and put in spray bottle and set by your smoker.
- Once smoker reaches 225 degrees F. and pork shoulder is at room temp place pork shoulder on your smoker, fat side up (use middle rack if using an electric smoker).
- Spray/spritz every 45-60 minutes with spray bottle
- Add additional smoking chips, as needed.
- Smoke until pork shoulder reaches a minimum of 190 degrees F. internal temp (approximately 60-90 minutes per pound).
- Remove from smoker and place on cookie/baking sheet or large plate. Wrap in aluminum foil and then again in a couple kitchen towels (this helps lock in the moisture). Let rest for one hour.
- Shred with two forks and serve (we love serving it with homemade barbecue sauce).
- How long does it take to smoke a pork shoulder: it generally takes 60-90 minutes per pound to smoke a pork shoulder, but this timeframe can be impacted by a variety of factors such as the weather, how consistent your smoker holds heat, etc.
- Should I wrap my pork shoulder in foil on the smoker: No, do not wrap your pork shoulder in foil on the smoker. It won’t achieve that “smokey” flavor you are looking for that way!
- How do I know when my pork shoulder is done: Technically your pork shoulder is safely cooked when it reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees, but if you want to be able to shred your pork shoulder easily you will want it to reach an internal temp of 190 degrees.
- Why is my pork shoulder tough or not shredding: You probably didn’t let it cook long enough. It needs to reach an internal temperature of 190-200 to become tender and easy to shred. Make sure you are using an internal thermometer or probe to track the internal temperature of your pork shoulder.
- How long do I let my pork shoulder rest: You should let your pork shoulder rest for an hour. We suggest wrapping it in foil and then again in some kitchen towels as it rests to retain heat.
- My pork shoulder is taking longer than 90 minutes per pound: Make sure you didn’t run out of pellets (we have done that before!). It could also be a result of the weather (windy, cold, humidity, etc) – the most sure way to be able to track the cooking time is to use an internal meat thermometer and go off that. 60-90 minutes per pound is just an estimate – there are too many factors to take into consideration for us to give you a solid timeframe!
- Wood Chips/Pellets: I love using the hickory and mesquite, but maple, oak or cherry work great too.
Keywords: smoked pork shoulder, pork shoulder rub, Traeger, electric smoker
I make this about three or four times a year and it is hands down the the most flavorful and easy to prepare recipe. Haven’t even invested in a smoker yet, so I slow roast it in the oven and it turns out great. The meat is so tender and easily shreds for pulled pork. I’ll never use another smoked pork recipe. So good.
This is my favorite pork shoulder recipe. It is so tender and flavorful. It is perfect! Leftovers are great in tacos, sandwiches or straight out of the fridge!
Thank you so much, Jen!! So happy to hear that!
Making this now. Wish me luck!
Steve G says
I used your recipe mostly for the Rub and apple spritz idea, I also liked using clear wrap after seasoning, I also brined it for 36 hours. My electric “Cookshack” is a great performer, but I’ve had a long wait getting my pork shoulder to reach 190 usually in excess of 20 hours. I stopped when I got to 170 after 16 hours, wrapped in foil and placed in the oven overnight, 12 hours later I uncovered and the meat it had a beautiful bark, shredded perfectly and tasted great. I’ve cooked several pork shoulders but never received as many compliments with this method. I’ll enjoy using this rub
So glad to hear that, Steve! Thanks for the feedback!
Steve- how big was that pork shoulder and was your oven on overnight or was that just where you put it? I’m at 12 hours with an 8 (and a little change) pound shoulder and I’m hoping to do a bigger one next weekend. I’ve done many pork shoulders over the years but this is my first time smoking one.
This is our go to recipe because it always comes perfect!
This is our favorite recipe for smoking a pork shoulder. It is so flavorful. We make it whenever we have company coming over.
Yay!!! That’s awesome to hear, Jamie!
This is the best pork shoulder recipe! My family loves it and we make it all the time.
Yay! One of my favorite recipes of all-time! Thanks, Jen!