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Dry Pork Butts, please help!

Alpha Suerte

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I've smoked three, 7 to 8 lb pork shoulders on my WSM, and they have all been relatively dry and lacking in juice and flavor. Meanwhile, if I smoke a 3 lb blade roast, it comes out with plenty of juice, and tasty as can be. Does you have any ideas what is going on here?

I am smoking at 225 to 250*F, with a full water pan in the WSM. I wrap in foil at 155*F, and cook until internal temp is around 195*F. Same process with the 7 lb shoulder as the 3 lb blade roast.

I recently purchased a GMG, Daniel Boone, and I'd like to get this figured out before I try any more whole shoulders. Thanks.
 

oddegan

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The water pan is an enormous heat sink. Running at that temp it could be that your butts are struggling to come up in temp and moisture is evaporating out of them the entire time. When they finally get to temp and finish cooking they have shed to much moisture. The bone in helps retain moisture. You might try an experiment of cooking one with an empty pan.
 

SecondHandSmoker

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It sounds like you maybe wrapping the shoulders too soon and then not letting them reach 200-203 for the final temp.
Try taking them to 160-165 before wrapping.
If you want to, you could add some liquid of your choice at this point but it will affect bark formation.
Put them back in the smoker until the IT reaches 200-203.
Some folks like to give the shoulder a rest in a towel lined cooler for half an hour or longer before pulling the meat for pulled pork.
A couple of other things, are your probes accurate and do you mop with liquid before wrapping?
 

newsmokerky

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I foil mine at 160, then pull off at 200. Wrap in two thick towels, and put in cooler over night. Eat the next day. Always moist and tender. I also inject mine with about 1/4 cup of apple juice prior to smoking. Dunno if that makes a big difference or not, but mine always turn out great.
 

RiversideSm0ker

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I also wonder about the accuracy of your thermometer? Pork butts have plenty of fat on average. It seems like you did everything right to me. Boil test your thermometer and just make sure it’s giving you accurate readings. Keep at it and you will get there.

George
 

SmokinAl

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First of all I would buy a bone in butt instead of a whole shoulder & as said above you aren't cooking them long enough.
I don't foil mine at all & they are always juicy, but I take them to 203-205. At that temp the bone should just slide out clean.
Al
 

Alpha Suerte

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Agreed. Are you using a digital thermometer?
Yes, I'm using a digital thermometer, and have boil tested it. I'm getting tender meat, I'm just not rendering near as much juice as I do with the blade roast to pour back into the meat.
 

Alpha Suerte

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Joined Nov 30, 2018
First of all I would buy a bone in butt instead of a whole shoulder & as said above you aren't cooking them long enough.
I don't foil mine at all & they are always juicy, but I take them to 203-205. At that temp the bone should just slide out clean.
Al
The bone slides out clean, and the meat is tender. It's just not as juicy as it is when I do a smaller blade roast.
 

schlotz

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I usually smoke it until IT hits 165º before deciding whether to wrap or not. Normally take mine to 203º before pulling at which time I place the tightly wrapped butt into a cooler with towels for a 2 hour rest. Wonderful things happen in those 2 hours. Hmm, not as jucy you say.... see the recipe in sig below. Guaranteed to be very jucy good eats!

Matt
 

indaswamp

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Yes indeed....wrapping and holding above 180* is magic for breaking down collagen and turning it into ooey gooey good gelatin!
 

tbrtt1

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Yeah, as stated multiple times your main culprit is IT or the length of time the IT stays near 200*. You aren’t breaking down the connective tissues. 205* IT works for me.
 

SmokinVOLfan

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Looks like you have gotten plenty of good advice here. Everyone has got their personal preference on how they like to do them.

Just my two cents. I inject mine with apple juice or if I want something sweeter cherry Dr Pepper. Take to 165 and then wrap in double foil no liquid added. Take them to 205 and then let them rest in the cooler for at least a couple hours before pulling. Always juicy never had a problem.

Good luck and keep trying!
 

zwiller

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My butts come off the smoker in chunks they are so tender. No wrap here and take to 205F. Should be plenty moist especially if you catch drippings and add back but I don't do that. Injecting got me the results I was after. Apple juice works great and is my base. My pork injection is based on Mixon's.
 

Alpha Suerte

Newbie
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Joined Nov 30, 2018
My butts come off the smoker in chunks they are so tender. No wrap here and take to 205F. Should be plenty moist especially if you catch drippings and add back but I don't do that. Injecting got me the results I was after. Apple juice works great and is my base. My pork injection is based on Mixon's.
The water pan is an enormous heat sink. Running at that temp it could be that your butts are struggling to come up in temp and moisture is evaporating out of them the entire time. When they finally get to temp and finish cooking they have shed to much moisture. The bone in helps retain moisture. You might try an experiment of cooking one with an empty pan.
It sounds like you maybe wrapping the shoulders too soon and then not letting them reach 200-203 for the final temp.
Try taking them to 160-165 before wrapping.
If you want to, you could add some liquid of your choice at this point but it will affect bark formation.
Put them back in the smoker until the IT reaches 200-203.
Some folks like to give the shoulder a rest in a towel lined cooler for half an hour or longer before pulling the meat for pulled pork.
A couple of other things, are your probes accurate and do you mop with liquid before wrapping?
I like my Butt dry.
I think it is wrinkly enough without getting it wet....

If you are doing Pulled Pork with your Butt, use SoFlaQuers finishing sauce.
Makes your Pulled Pork Delicious and moist.

https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/soflaquers-finishing-sauce-for-pulled-pork.51933/

Thanks again Chile!
I foil mine at 160, then pull off at 200. Wrap in two thick towels, and put in cooler over night. Eat the next day. Always moist and tender. I also inject mine with about 1/4 cup of apple juice prior to smoking. Dunno if that makes a big difference or not, but mine always turn out great.
Shoot for the higher internal temp . I don't wrap , let it run til it's done .
X2.. I cook mine to 203* and I do not wrap mine either.
I also wonder about the accuracy of your thermometer? Pork butts have plenty of fat on average. It seems like you did everything right to me. Boil test your thermometer and just make sure it’s giving you accurate readings. Keep at it and you will get there.

George
Agreed. Are you using a digital thermometer?
If you have room pan them...covered or uncovered.
Always get about a pint of juice per butt.
First of all I would buy a bone in butt instead of a whole shoulder & as said above you aren't cooking them long enough.
I don't foil mine at all & they are always juicy, but I take them to 203-205. At that temp the bone should just slide out clean.
Al
Yes, I'm using a digital thermometer, and have boil tested it. I'm getting tender meat, I'm just not rendering near as much juice as I do with the blade roast to pour back into the meat.
The bone slides out clean, and the meat is tender. It's just not as juicy as it is when I do a smaller blade roast.
I usually smoke it until IT hits 165º before deciding whether to wrap or not. Normally take mine to 203º before pulling at which time I place the tightly wrapped butt into a cooler with towels for a 2 hour rest. Wonderful things happen in those 2 hours. Hmm, not as jucy you say.... see the recipe in sig below. Guaranteed to be very jucy good eats!

Matt
Yes indeed....wrapping and holding above 180* is magic for breaking down collagen and turning it into ooey gooey good gelatin!
Yeah, as stated multiple times your main culprit is IT or the length of time the IT stays near 200*. You aren’t breaking down the connective tissues. 205* IT works for me.
Looks like you have gotten plenty of good advice here. Everyone has got their personal preference on how they like to do them.

Just my two cents. I inject mine with apple juice or if I want something sweeter cherry Dr Pepper. Take to 165 and then wrap in double foil no liquid added. Take them to 205 and then let them rest in the cooler for at least a couple hours before pulling. Always juicy never had a problem.

Good luck and keep trying!
My butts come off the smoker in chunks they are so tender. No wrap here and take to 205F. Should be plenty moist especially if you catch drippings and add back but I don't do that. Injecting got me the results I was after. Apple juice works great and is my base. My pork injection is based on Mixon's.
Thanks everyone for the input. Sorry it took me so long to get back to y'all. I went on a road-trip shortly after posting this. Maybe the water pan in the WSM is the problem. After getting all the replies, I did boil-test my Redi-Check thermometer probes, and they were surprisingly accurate and within 1*F of each-other. For the life of me, I don't know why I said that I cook my butts to 195*F in the post; I always cook to 203*F. I also only cook bone-in shoulders & blade roasts. I will try panning, wrapping later, and not wrapping at all. I'll also try pouring in some apple juice & vinegar when wrapping. Honestly, I'm looking forward to trying just about every tip given here. Unfortunately, my wife has me on the 'Whole 30' (no bread/grains) diet for the next month, so I won't be smoking a butt until that's over. I can't fathom having my pulled pork without being between some white bread or corn tortillas. Thanks again, everyone!
 
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