Discussion in 'Pork' started by gary s, May 7, 2015.

  1. Pork Butt
    I posted a similar thread on Briskets (The 1-1.5 hour rule) so some of
     the references are similar.
    In general  thickness  is a better predictor than  weight.
    Imagine you have a 10” long, 10” wide, 8” thick butt that weighs 10 lbs., and takes 15 hours to cook. But now you cut it in half, would it take 15 hours to cook, or 7.5 hrs. now that each half weighs 5 lbs.? In fact, the cooking time only depends on the butt thickness, since it weighs 5 lbs. and is only 4” thick the Butt will cook a lot quicker.

    So if you typically cook an 8lb butt in 8 to 12 hours, and you bought a 10 pounder that is really just longer, wider and about the same thickness, the cooking time may be the same or might only increase an hour or so…..

    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, 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.  The one hour per pound rule is a good starting point, but don’t base your entire cook on weight alone.

    I know smoking a butt for the first time seems complicated for some, but keep it simple watch your temp and keep an eye on your butt and you will be fine. I guess it’s easy for me to say since I’ve been smoking for over 40 years.

    There is so much information available at your fingertips that weren’t there when I started. I had a lot of trial and errors; ask a lot of questions at different BBQ joints and friends who smoked. I also kept a notebook which I would refer to until I got comfortable enough not to need it any more. When I switched to a reverse flow (which I use now) it took a few smokes to get to know my new smoker and figure out the adjustments. I have smoked so much on it I know when to check it to add wood or more charcoal, how much to start with and how quickly it comes up to temp.

    No two butts are exactly the same, let’s say for example you estimate 1 to 1.5 hours per pound.  A 8 pound brisket can be done in 8 to12 hours during one smoke and the same size brisket takes 16 hours or more the next time. Why?  There are many factors that contribute to the difference; type and breed, diet, age of the animal, amount of exercise, feed, etc.  All these determine the density of the muscle and the amount of fat marbling.  Type of equipment, experience level, temperature, and weather all play a part in how long it will take.

    Butts take time, but the time varies, so how do you know when it’s done?

    There are several methods you can use. One way especially for the beginner is use a thermometer. Also get a hold of the blade bone and wiggle it, If it is done it will slide right out. The internal temp is usually around 205 ° Butts generally fatty enough that they don’t dry out. I usually let my Butt rest for about 30 min or longer to redistribute the juices. Or you can just pull it in a pan capturing all the juice.

    Most of my smoking is done at 225 º   Some people smoke at higher temps. The 225 º just seems to work best for me.


    I am hoping this helps and not confuses anyone, Smoking a Pork Butt is not rocket science but you need to pay attention to the basics and you will have great smoke.

    Here are a couple of links on Pork Butt

    Bearcarver does his on an Electric

    I do mine on a Reverse Flow
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well said, Gary!![​IMG]

    There are many ways to do a Butt, and this thread explains a lot of it.

    This should help many!!


  3. On my post, I am not saying this is the only way, just good information and something to think about.  People have different taste and like different flavors so use your judgment and go with what you like.

  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Exactly---That's easy to see, by reading your post above.

  5. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well said
  6. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great post Gary.

    This will help alot of new people, butts are the easiest to smoke.

    I dont cook my temp anymore, just check the bone wiggle.
  7. dukeburger

    dukeburger Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great thread, Gary!

    We all need to band together and come up with a "* hour(s) per inch of thickness rule"  for briskets and butts, so everyone get Q-ing! [​IMG]
  8. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Yep bone wiggle. All i know is mine hang at around 45 min per lb like clock work.
  9. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Very nice thread Gary, was a great read. Sure will be of benefit to many ! Thumbs Up
  10. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I agree no 2 Butts are the same.There are more then enough different smokers,that all require different monitoring. Nicely written it should help some people.
  11. bigd3077

    bigd3077 Meat Mopper

    It's true, first butt I did took about 13 hours. Next one, same size, took 16 hours.
  12. aceoky

    aceoky Smoking Fanatic

    I'm sure that will be very helpful to many folks!!

  13. Thank's Guys  for the nice comments and feedback 

  14. sota d

    sota d Smoking Fanatic

    Great post Gary! You can't count on a butt to be done just because it's dinner time.
  15. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Gary, excellent, as usual. The simple math of 1-1.5/# is that some will take up to 50% longer. When you got to the brisket paragraph, you hit what I think is a key factor. "Muscle density". I don't think its the thickness as much as the density. If folks could massage the meat and determine the density, it may help some. However, time is still only a guess. For those of us that don't have your experience, IT is probably the safest judge. IMHO. Good work. Thanks for sending it to me, joe
  16. smokin-q

    smokin-q Smoke Blower

    This should be a sticky! How many time do we read: I put my butt on at 0600, it's now 9pm and it's not finished, we are starving, what should I do? I think that is the most popular post on the forum!
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
  17. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  18. sota d

    sota d Smoking Fanatic

    Love it! ROFL
  19. trucking13

    trucking13 Fire Starter

    thanks gary, i can always rely on you and bearcarver for good info.
  20. Thanks again guys 

    SQWIB, you come up with the neatest pics for responses 


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