How long does it take to smoke two 4-pound butts

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Original poster
Feb 17, 2011
I am new to smoking meat, in fact i just got my new smoker yesterday. I plan on making pulled pork for a contest i am in tomorrow. Originally i was planning on cooking an 8 pound pork butt for about 12 hours at 215 degrees. As it turns out the grocery store could only sale me two 4 pound butts. but now i am not sure how long it will take so i can time the cooking to the actual event. i assumed it would take less time, but some people seem to think it willl take long.....anybody have any ideas??
You really cant go by time when you are smoking. If you want to pull it go to 200-205 internal temp. If you are just looking for a guide if you want to be safe go 2hrs per pound that way you will have time to facter in the stall and resting for an hour or two.

Also with butts there is really no reason not to smoke it closer to 230. It will just help it move along a little bit and it shouldnt effect the meat at all. I would also think about foiling it at 165 or so or you could end up with 3-4 hour stall.
Last edited:
The issue you have here is there are so many variables that are involved that you can't really accurately predict the end time of your meat. Its done when the internal temp says it's done. Every piece of meat cooks different. If you cook to exact size pieces of meat it's not uncommon for them to be done a totally different times. Some of the variables are meat thickness, over all size of the meat, fat content, temps you are smoking at, just to name a few. If you have to have your meat done at a certain time for supper or in this case a competition you want to give yourself lots of extra time and prepare for the meat to be done early and then you can rest it in a cooler wrapped in double foil then wrapped in towels and it will stay warm for hours and hours and will also help it come out more tender and juicy. I always let meat sit in the cooler. If you need a general idea 1.5 hours per lb is a rough estimate but if you are doing a competition or need it done at a certain time I usually go 2 hours per lb to give yourself plenty of time and you know the meat will be done when you need it.
I also agree that you can bump the temps up to around 250 and have no issues. When I am doing butts if I am in the 225-275 range I am not worried I just go with it. What are your plans for rubbing, injecting, foiling?????
Agreed with the above... if you dont already go grab yourself a meat Thermometer... you cant rely on time in case of a stall... Better safe than sorry... like RBRANSTNER said you can do it early and keep it wrapped in foil & a towel in a cooler for a few hours...
thanks for all the help. looking forward to my first smoke.

I will put both butts in at 3AM. The competition isnt till 5PM.  

I was afraid that if it finished too early, the meat might dry out.

if it is finished early, i will take your advice and wrap it and put it in a cooler.

when i get home from work, i am going to put it in a brine for about 4 hours. (1 gallon water, .1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar)

then i will inject and marinade the pork which i am getting off the website. (apple juice, worcestershire, tobasco, and a store bought marinade)

let it sit int the marinade for a few more hours

not sure on the rub yet, but i think i will go for the one on saw on this web site

the sauce, i believe i will shoot for a memphis style even though i am originally from NC. Now i live in CT and i need something that will please everybody.

FYI, we do some kind of cooking contest every month. i took 2nd in the chili contest and 1st in the bufalo wing contest. i hope to bring home the trophy for pulled pork

wish me luck

next month......New England Clam chowder....any suggestions...
First bit of advice is to go easy on the rub.  I tend to over do it and then I have to try and scrape it off.  Lightly dust the butt and after pulling it you can sprinkle in a bit more to get where you want to go with it.

I normally don't brine butts, the fat in them keeps them pretty moist.   I am sure someone else will tell me how I'm missing the boat not brining my butts.

That reminds me I got go flip a couple of butts over,  they are going in the smoke tomorrow for a Saturday birthday party

Smoked Clams?  Never had em but they sure sound good in a chowda.

Welcome to the forum, you'll like it here.  Don't forget to go by the new member section and introduce yourself. 

Welcome to SMF. You have already gotten plenty of good advise, so I don't have much to add other than what Al said. Would you please go over to the roll call section and introduce yourself so we can all give you a proper welcome. 


Turbindao sugar 

Smoked Paparika

Minced garlic

chili powder

Black pepper

cayene papper

touch of cummin powder

sea salt add lightly

Mix it up in a bowl .. start with the sugar 1st and add everything else to tatse in a bowl .... This makes a great rub at home . very simple BUT very good on Pork Butt
First congrats on the new smoker and good luck with the comp tomorrow!

As the others have already given great advice, I'll just add a little. You didn't mention your method, however, I'd recommend minimum of 225* chamber temp, double foil at an internal meat temp of 165* and pull from the smoker at 195* to 205* IT. Gotta remember if you then towel and put in a dry cooler filled with blankets etc, it's going to continue to rise in temp at least 5*.

You can keep it in the cooler for probably 4 to 6 hours, just leave your probe in the (assuming you are using a digital probe) meat so you can monitor them temp. You don't want it cooling below 140* IT before serving. I've held one as long as 4 1/2 hours and was still in the low 150*.

Having said all that, with a chamber temp of 225* to say 250* and foiling at 165* IT, I'm gonna venture to say 6 hours or less for a 4 lb butt.

Again, good luck and don't forget the Qview!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

EDIT - Just wanted to add that I normally wouldn't guessamate a time, but because you mentioned starting at 3 a.m. I was just concerned because if does only take 6 hours, you're looking at 8 hours in the cooler and that'd be pushing it.
Last edited:
Paul, as the rest have said, go to temp. , a probe thermometer would be great here.

However,as a rule of thumb, those Butts should be done in around 6hrs.(that is 1.5 hrs. / lb.@ 225*F) that's inside the cooker at the level of your grill.

That should get you all mixed up now;LOL .  Your choice of Butt was a good one as you can not go wrong with them.

Try to keep the temp. low and when you can press on it, and it falls apart,it's done.Add a finishing sauce and TA-DA

I don't even wrap it in foil,it comes out great

Hope we have helped you and practice,practice,practice...have fun and remember to
Pulled pork contest went well.....I took 2nd place, although i really didnt care much for the 1st place winners pork. it had a very peppery hot taste. one of the judges likes hot food. i had a lot of people tell me mine was the best.....honestly, i agree.   

i started out the pork at 3am in the low 200's hoping they would be done by noon. using a digital meat thermometer was a definite necessity. i did the whole bit, brine, marinade, rub and a finishing sauce.

it was taking a long time to finish, so i had to bump it up to 240 during the last few hours. finally the pork was ready to pull at 4;20. just made it time for the 5 oclock competition.

i used a memphis style was delicious. By the way, i had to take out one of the butts out of the smoker because i was worried about time. so i put one of the butts in the oven at 230. when they were both done,  the butt that spent the full time in the smoker was by far juicer and tender.  LIVE AND LEARN!

thanks to everybodys help.  this forum is a great place to learn...   i love smokin. its a lot of fun.

i think i will tackle a couple racks of ribs next time
Need some feedback...I'm going to smoke 4 pork shoulder bone in, about 6-8 lbs each. I know internal temp is most important, but just for a rough guideline, how long should i expect this to take? I plan on wrapping in foil around 165. And maintain a temp of about 240. Any feedback is much appreciated
  • Like
Reactions: cliffcarter
Need some feedback...I'm going to smoke 4 pork shoulder bone in, about 6-8 lbs each. I know internal temp is most important, but just for a rough guideline, how long should i expect this to take? I plan on wrapping in foil around 165. And maintain a temp of about 240. Any feedback is much appreciated
I would always figure between 10/14 hours for butts. They all cook different. That's at the 225/250 temp zone.
Ditto what Brooksy said. Every piece of meat cooks different, some cook fast some cook slowwwww. I usually error on the side of caution and account for atleast a hour or 2 of resting time so i use the 2 hour per pound rule as a rough estimate. So if you go buy that you looking at around 12-16 hours....but use a thermometer and monitor it.

If your wrapping this usually cuts down on cook time as well so if you want you can calculate based on 1.5 hours per pound.

Good luck!
I smoking today, noticing that the chamber is struggling to get up to 225. Again, I have 3 8lb butts in's been 3 hrs and chamber temp is at about 200. I have a digital thermometer and the meat is at 145. Seems to be going good, but should I be worried about the temp? Will it come up still as the meat cooks?
If your already at 145 you dont have a problem because you are out of the danger zone. but be prepared for a much longer smoke. are you sure your chamber thermo is reading correctly? Seems odd that it will only get to 200. I would check with another if you have it. 
I'm now getting up in the 220 230 range....side I had to start smoking at 4am I didn't quite let the meat get to room temp...I'm wondering if it hat contributed to taking so long to get the temp up. Thanks for the feedback!
yea those are big butts so they had alot of cold in them...i had a similar issue the other weekend when i smoked 9 butts in my WSM...took me a good while to get above 225. that was your issue but good thing you got them to 145+ is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.