SMOKED PORK BUTT 101
After thinking about this after getting started I decided to make this a two part topic.
This first part will cover the basic Whole Pork Butt Smoke
The second part (At a later date) will cover cooking time of cutting a Pork Butt in half, showing how the thickness, not weight effects cooking time.
This post is mainly for newbies and first timers
Pork Butt is one of the easiest pieces of meat to smoke because it is so forgiving. So don’t let that Pork Butt intimidate you.
I wrote an article a year or so ago on Briskets, some of the same principals applies to Pork Butts
“How Long to Cook Brisket Or the
Misconception of the 1 to 1.5 hours per pound rule”
In general thickness is a better predictor than weight on how long it will take to cook.
Similarly, a 4” thick pork but that is 10” wide and 10” long, will cook in the same amount of time as a 4” thick 8” wide and 8” long butt, even though one weighs more.
Another example, Say you are grilling steaks, you have two pieces of meat, both weigh one pound but one is an inch thick and the other is two inches thick, you are cooking both to medium rare, “they both weigh a pound”, but which one will get to medium rare the quickest.
Also Smoking temperature is one of the key factors, people smoke anywhere from 200° to 300° so how can your cooking time be based on weight, simply put it can’t.
What I am reading is most people are telling newbies to figure about 1, 1.5 to 2 hours per pound. I would also, figure for a long smoke and add extra time. (You don’t want to be standing around with you family and friends waiting for the Butt to be done).
I am not saying TIME is not important, IT IS, it's just not the only thing to base your smoke on.
Now, in saying that, How long will it take ? What time do I put it on? When will it be ready?
All good questions that need to be answered. I would say typically a 7 - 8 lb. Butt takes me 10 - 12 hours
so if I am wanting to eat around 6:00 PM I'll start my Butt around 5:00 or 6:00 AM If it finishes early, that's a bonus Wrap it up in a couple old towels and in a warm cooler and it will be fine till dinner. My typical smoking temp is 225º so I guess a 7 pound-er would figure out to about a 1.5 and 2 hours per lb.
- How Long will it Take? Good question, there is not an exact time, for several reasons. All pork butts are not the same, the age and breed of the hog, how the hog was fed, muscle and fat content, what temp you smoke at, etc, etc. All these are factors in “How long will it take”. But you need an idea so you will know when to start. Since I normally smoke at 225 ° I figure about 10 to 12 hours on 7 – 8 lb. Butts, which figures about an hour and a half per lb.
- What time do I put it on? Let’s say you want to eat at 6:00 PM I would put it on by 5:00 or 6:00 AM. Just back up at least 10 – 12 hours from when you want to eat. Now if you are cooking at a higher temp than 225 ° naturally your cooking time won’t be as long.
- When will it be ready ? What I was taught many years ago, “it’s ready when it’s ready”. When it reaches an Internal Temp (IT) of about 205 ° it’s ready for Pulled Pork. The best way to tell is wiggle the blade bone, if it is loose and start to pull out clean it’s ready. Check the IT periodically, epically if you are new to smoking. If you think you are coming down to the wire and your butt’s IT is still low a couple of things, crank up the heat and wrap it in foil. These will help it get up to temp quicker.
After several butts, you will figure out the cooking time with getting to know your smoker and practice, practice. The more you do it the better and easier it gets.
OK- so lets get started:
We will see how a 7 pound-er does @ 275º
I have a 7 lb. Butt I pulled out of the freezer a few days ago to thaw in the fridge. I look for sales, Back in July the store was running Pork butts buy one get one for a penny.
(Pretty sure they were over stocked from the 4th of July) Oh well a good buy.
I’ll pull the Butt out of the fridge and set it on the counter while I am firing up the smoker.
Once the smoker is warming up, I start on the Butt,
If it needs a little trimming, now is the time. (I’m not big on injecting or seasoning a day or so in advance) Nothing wrong with doing either, but just starting out I would stick with the basics, then start experimenting with flavor profiles after you are comfortable and happy with the way your Pork Butt turns out.
Sometimes I’ll rub it with a light coat of mustard, sometimes Olive Oil, and sometimes nothing at all. The mustard and oil only help your rub stick.
Today, let’s go with EVOO “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” SPOG “ Salt, Pepper, Onion & Garlic Powder” and some rub.
A light coat of EVOO all over the Butt, then some SPOG and finally some rub. (On the rub, store bought, your own, whatever you like)
Now to the smoker, (I usually smoke most of my stuff at 225° but today I am kicking it up to 275°. That way we will be checking the 1 to 1.5 hour rule ???.
OK – Saturday Morning, time to get started.
6:45 AM Pulled Butt out of the fridge and on the counter, then started getting the smoker ready. A little charcoal in the basket and a full chimney on the burner.
7:00 AM – dumped chimney of lit coals into basket and added a large split of pecan. Back to the butt. Rubbed Butt with EVOO, SPOG and my Rub, waiting on smoker.
7:30 AM – Smoker up to 275 ° Butt on.
9:00 AM – Had to have some baked beans, temp still at 275°.
10:30 AM – Added another split and about half a chimney of charcoal, IT of Butt 137°
11:30 AM – Pulled the beans after 2.5 hours (Boss said Not Too Smokey) IT was 155°
12:00 PM – Added another split, still rocking along at 275 ° IT is 172º
1:30 PM - Pork Butt at 202° - 205° Ready , Ready Wiggled the bone and it started pulling out clean
Butt only took 6 hours from start to finish to reach 205º smoking at 275°
I did not foil and the Butt is juicy, juicy. Wasn't expecting it to finish this fast.
Here are the Pictures
Last Pork Butt, I bought in July, buy one get one for a penny
7 pound er
Grandson holding the tape measure
Butt ready for EVOO, SPOG & Rub
Butt with EVOO & SPOG
And with my Rub
Charcoal getting Hot
Waiting on the coals
Almost TBS getting close to temp
Up to temp Pork Butt on
Had to have a little bacon for breakfast and for my beans
Mostly heat and VTBS
A shot of the temp gauge
3 hours in and IT at 137º
Beans ready to come off, Looking Good
12:00 PM 171º - 172º
Aah 202º to 205º
The bark is perfect, lots of flavor when pulled and mixed in
Had a pkg. of sausage just begging to be smoked
Bone slid out like butter
Look at the color, ones pulled and mixed this will be some good stuff.
Going to cover it up and in the warmer till game time later on.
See how easy a Pork Butt is, Don't over think it, Don't get excited if it takes longer
Allow plenty of time and enjoy your smoke.
Bumping the temp up cuts down on the cooking time of this Butt,
6 hours to get to an IT of 205º
Now in saying this DO NOT EXPECT ALL 7 lb. Butts to cook in six hours.
Remember at the start I said" I was bumping my regular cooking temp of 225º to 275º
to see how much less time it would take. Normally that size Butt takes me about 10 -12 hours
I wanted to show all you new guys, NOT to just depend on time, Check your IT, and at the end
wiggle the bone, if it starts to pull out clean it's ready. KEEP it SIMPLE,, Don't Over Think It.
I have been smoking for a long time, I started before they had all these fancy gadgets, cell phones
and computers. I am old school, that doesn't mean I don't like all the modern stuff, I love my lap top and cell phone
But if you learn the basics, you can apply them to any smoker or situation.
Again this was a thread to help show that Time is not the only factor.
Thanks for Looking
Edited by gary s - 9/29/15 at 7:24am