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Aug 15, 2008 06:41 PM

Pork shoulder cooking time?

Howdy y'all,

The weekend before the fourth of July I cooked a Boston butt for the first time. I cooked it outside on a gas grill (for shame ;-) ) @ 350 deg. for four hours. We made pulled pork out of it. Everyone loved it so much that they wanted me to cook one again this weekend. This one is bigger - 12 lbs vs. the other one which was, well - about 2/3's of that size.

I think that some suggest around 30 or 45 min per pound at 350 deg. So, that would mean 6 - 9 hours for that heat level. This time I thought of cooking it at a slower flame - around 250 deg. How would this affect cooking time? Can I estimate how many hours it might take?

Any suggestions? Thanks,


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  1. Cook to an internal 185-190 F with a probe. With the slower flame it will take more time, about an hour or two more.

    1. I'd cook it slower, temp. at 220 - 250 degrees for a very long time (it'd probably take you about 16 - 18 hours to cook 12 pound butt at those temps.)
      I agree with the 185 - 190 if you're intending to use it as pulled pork. But I'd pull it no higher temp. than 175 - 180 internal and let it rest for about 10 or 15 minutes for slicing to plate

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        I agree with todao. Do you have the kind of gas grill that you can add wood chips too? If so, I'd try that, especially for the first half of smoking. (I've not done it myself as I have a smoker, but I've read about it--you soak the chips first so they smoke for longer.)

      2. Did a case of butts last weekend in my smoker. Cooker ran at 240 for about 13 hours, pulled at 188-190 internal, let rest in a cambro for a few hours and then pulled. Perfect pulled pork.

        1. We have been roasting picnic shoulders in the oven at 275 degrees for 7 hours using an old-fashioned blue enamel white-dotted roasting pan. We have used the same process for many years when we wished to have pulled pork. It all started when we had an old oven that had failed timing devices (we are 2nd owners of the house). The shoulder went into the oven at midnight and roasted while we slept. This process was used because we did not wish to be confined to the house during the day, and we would not leave the house while an electrical appliance was on just in case there was some delay in whatever daytime activity we were engaged. We still roast the pork at night while we are asleep now that we have a state-of-the-art oven with all the electronic doodads in working order.

          After the meat was roasted and pulled, it was lovingly bathed in a spicy homemade tomato-based BBQ sauce for about an hour before serving. The meat was then served on rolls similar to crusty Italian bread.

          6 Replies
          1. re: ChiliDude

            ChiliDude your method sounds great. I am going to try it. I usually put a rub on mine and cook almost done and finish up on the gas grill, where I have added water soaked wood chips to give it a little smoky taste. (None of the liquid smoke for me. I would never buy it, or taste it.) I love the vinergar-tomatoe-hot sauce that is so easy to make. I think the key is to pull the pork, never slice it. Yours sounds like truly North Carolina BBQ.

            1. re: Mollybud

              Mollybud, we add nothing to the roasting pan but the picnic shoulder (that's what it is called here in 'Yankee land)' Of course, it's on an oval rack that fits in the roasting pan and skin side up. The rendering fat keeps it lubricated in the covered roasting pan. All the flavor is in the BBQ sauce.

              I have described this method to others in my metropolitan area and they've raved about it. Once a caterer asked me if I had a pulled pork recipe which I forwarded to her. I got rave reviews from her and her guests by email. I'm a self-taught kitchen experimenter.

              I belong to the "What if...?" school of cooking specializing in "cuisine impromptu."

              Here's a laugh for everyone who reads this post. The 1st time I tried roasting a pork shoulder I thought this is just like roasting a turkey. WRONG! I put the meat on a poultry rack at I don't remember what temperature. It exploded all over the place. The oven was a mess, and clean up was not a fun experience.

              1. re: ChiliDude

                This will be my first attempt at a pork shoulder let alone a 12+ one, so I want to get it right. I am having to cook 5 of them for my wedding; pulled pork sandwhiches. So if I understand you correctly, and PLEASE correct me if I am wrong in any way shape or form, I put the whole shoulder in a roasting pan at 275 deg uncovered. How long or to what temp do I cook it to? Also, so far I only have a cheapo roasting pan that does not have a rack in the bottom. It has ridges tho. Will this still work? I don't put anything what so ever in the pan but the pork, right? I'm sorry but I'm not an exprienced cook of large cuts of meat and am out of my league hear so please take pity and be patient with me.

                1. re: cda510

                  I apologize for not getting back to you before now. My wife and I were in Italy on the date that you sent the post. I hope that your pulled pork turned out OK. The roasting pan should be covered the next time, and you are not add anything to the roasting pan with the meat which should be fat side up.

              2. re: Mollybud

                Stop by a NC BBQ shack and tell them how you cook your shoulder. You'll learn a thing or two---and get an earful--and not in a good way!

                At the VERY least, reverse your method. Smoke it FIRST, Let the smoking process and smoke permeate the meat (as in reall bbq). It will penetrate the meat during the first hour or two, where you develop the smoke ring. If you then must finish indoors, do so AFTER the smoke.

                Smoking after is simply waving smoke over the meat and accompishing nothing really.

                And watch for some of the advise youre getting here. The notion that the meat offers no flavor, that that comes the bbq sauce, is a poor goal when cooking a cut like shoulder especially if smoking. If its all done in the oven, yeah, youre just melting the fat away when in fact that plus smoke delivers all the reall flavor found in GOOD bbq pulled pork.

                Like I said, pull into a bbq shack and chat up the guy or gal working the pit. Youre eyes will be opened.

                1. re: mtomto

                  I think cda510's technique is fine, if done indoors with several ovens, and apparently no outdoor smoking option.
                  Roast slowly to 190 F internal temp. This will take maybe three hours, more or less, but an internal probe is essential.
                  Then finish the roasts by cooling, pulling, and adding a good home-made BBQ sauce.

            2. Ok at them temps your looking at (around 250 degrees) you can count on an hour and a half to two hours a pound. The ultimate timing depends on how long you get stuck at the plateaus (around 165 to 175 internatl temp in the shoulder). They hold their heat really well so there is no harm in gettting it done early and letting it rest wrapped in foil in a cooler with towels. Once you get over 180 internal just check for tenderness and forget about the temp. When it's done it's done.

              Sorry for ranting!