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Smoking Pork Butt - Advise wanted!

Greetings all! I've started the art of smoking within the last 6 months and have some decent success so far. Started off with wings, then a turkey breast, a pork loin (which didn't go too well), a fulll turkey, an currently tonight I'm smoking a pork butt.

Brining - I'm fine with but will definitely take any tips to that. For this pork butt I brined it in just water, salt, and sugar.

Rub - Millions of options there but this is what I did - Brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, chilli powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper.

I put the pork in fat facing up at 1PM EST. I'm going on to hour 8 and the pork is still at 135. I'm aware of the plateau of temperature when the fat is rendering however I feel as if I will never meet the 190 degrees everyone talks about. I'm going to go by when the bone pulls, but its just concerning. I am using a masterbuilt electric smoker. The pork butt was almost 11lbs according to the package.

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  1. Be advised this will be moved more to a general cooking area and not region specific. Although I do want some.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: JanPrimus

      Fair enough! I'm new to the site. Literally just signed up so I'm figuring things out. Hopefully I can get some help! The BBQ sauce I made is pretty good to go with it

    2. Hang in there. Eclectic smokers are great for low and slow but the outside temperature affects them. Does it have a thermometer that indicates the temperature inside the cooker? I would say that an 11 lb roast would take 12-14 hours at 225. Pulling it at 190 sounds about right but I would loose the foil pan. Here’s a link that will help you get your head around what’s happening with brining.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Woodfireguy

        It does have a thermometer that is there on the outside and its says 225-250 constantly. I think I've discovered my issue with discussions with others on another forum. Heres what I found out:

        I have to open the door on the smoker every hour to change out the woodchips. I don't have a loader which allows me to do that on the side. B.c. I have to open the door so often the meat can't get going at a good rate. The woodchips turn to ash within an hour which is no good...

        Thanks for the link on brining

      2. whew, 11 lbs is alot of meat density. I smoke half a butt at a time, start him around 8:30 am, and am chowing down by 6 or 7pm...steal a few pieces of bark here and there in the late afternoon. It really needs a good 10 hours or so I find with my rig. When that goofy shaped bone wiggles with little pressure, time to eat. If you get impatient during a smoking session, you can always finish in an oven (or microwave) however the "pull" won't be exactly right

        1 Reply
        1. re: BiscuitBoy

          Agreed - that's a lot of meat to get going - I find on something that big I've got to get going early in the morning (fire started by 6 in the morning) to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour.

          Opening the door to feed the fire isn't a huge deal - my smoker needs feeding every hour or so as well, though it gets charcoal (natural hardwood - those *****ford briquettes are the devil's work) and I've never noticed any problems as long as I don't open the top to let the heat out). But low & slow does mean slow.

        2. Before brining make sure you do not have an enhanced butt. (That sounds weird).

          Most of the pork sold in grocery stores is enhanced with a salt solution. Brining on top of that will lead to a very salty product. I found out the hard way with some inedible ribs several years ago.

          Good luck. I use this as my rub sans the MSG.


          1. Just be patient, barbecue is art more than science. Keep in mind the Golden Rule, "Barbecue is done when barbecue is done." Half the reason you keep beer on hand is for that spell when the meat thermometer seems like it must be broken. Trust me, it will start moving again.

            1 Reply
            1. Wow, that is a big butt you have there!

              My husband loves his smoked butt and here are some tips that I picked up from a June 2003 edition of Cuisineathome that are tried and true. First, you can create your own rub or there are many commercial rubs available. Here is the recipe from this article for a rub: Combine 1/4 c. kosher salt, 1/4 c. black pepper, 1/4 c. chili powder, 1 T. dried oregano, 1 T. dried thyme, 1 t. cayenne.

              I can't help with the temperature issue but I can tell you that once you have figured that out the way to achieve a perfectly smoked butt is to purchase one approx. 8 lbs. and smoke it for 3 hours, then remove from the grill and wrap in double duty foil, return to the smoker and cook an additional 2 hours. Remove from heat and let rest, still in foil, 30 minutes. Wrapping in foil shortens the cooking time. Using traditional methods can take up to ten hours, but this method cuts the time in half. I have done this dozens of times and have always had great results.

              Here is our Beer BBQ Sauce recipe that we make to go with the butt: 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 1/4 c. Worcestershire, 1/4 c. unsalted butter, 1 med. chopped onion, 1 T. celery seed (I use about 1 t.), 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 t. dry mustard, 1 t. sugar, 1 t. salt, 1 t. black or cayenne pepper, 14 oz. bottle ketchup, 1 c. beer - combine all ingredients and simmer 15 minutes. I usually cook about 30-45 mins. as it thickens the longer it cooks.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kcfields

                "Wrapping in foil shortens the cooking time."

                Yep. It's steaming. Sorta takes all the magic out of it though - like being told the end of a movie just before you go see it.

                1. re: kcfields

                  Hi, I used your dry rub recipe on a pork butt yesterday! It was fantastic. It's the first time I've ever smoked a pork roast. It took forever to cook, but it was well worth the wait.

                2. I'm guessing it's done by now, but mostly, PATIENCE. If you are running in the "smoke zone" of 200-250, it's just a matter of time. Presumably, meat stops taking in smoke once it hits 140, so don't bother with the wood chips after that.

                  Also, I don't brine pork butt/shoulder. It's plenty juicy just from all that marbling and internal fat. If you get it off the heat at under 210 (and don't hold it at, say, 195 for 4 hours), that fat will not have all rendered out and the pork won't be dry.

                  I have a remote probe thermometer, and I would recommend it. Much easier to set it to 185-190, then start checking by sight and feel for when it's "done."

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sbp

                    I thought my 8.5 pound would cook up faster than it took. It was 11 hours in the smoker and hit 183. We just couldn't wait any longer for dinner. The 30 minute rest time was torture.

                    It was really juicy and tender and tastes just as good cold this afternoon as it did hot last night.

                    If I wrap the roast after it hits 140, can I crank up the heat? I kept it around 220 except for the last 3-4 hours when I starting bumping it up a little.

                  2. I don't brine pork butts or shoulders. 1. they are often already shot with the saltwater/enhancing solution, 2., the amount of time needed to get the brine solution to the center of the butt itself negates the process.

                    I do brine my ribs, chickens and turkeys tho.

                    I use an injector syringe that I picked up at Williams Sonoma. Use a mix of cider vinegar, apple juice, worstechire sauce and a variety of other things and then inject the butt to get teh flavor inside the meat.

                    As above I always use a remote probe thermometer.
                    Low and slow and I cook my pork to 195-200 degrees.

                    Might want to think about use wood chunks instead of chips if you have the room. Burn longer so less heat loss by fewer wood swap ins.

                    1. I just stumbled in here from Google. I'm sure glad I found this great thread! I picked up a smoker a few weeks back and want to try a pork roast tomorrow.

                      1. 11 lbs is a big butt!! It may take 12 - 14 hours to get up to 190. We don't brine, but rub the night before. We also do not cook the but in a pan, but right on the grill. We use a foil covered pan of sand as a heat sink under the roast on a separate rack. Same as some use water, but so much easier to handle. This lets the smoke reach all parts of the roast. We also put the fat side down. Not big differences, just little tweaks, and as always, YMMV. As long as it gets up to 190 with a heat sink under it, it will be great!! We've been eating the best we ever have since we started smoking.

                        2 weeks ago DH forgot the heatsink and was sure the roast was burned. It was quite crisp on the bottom, but after sitting in a turkey sized cooking bag and wrapped in towels in a cooler, it pulled beautifully and the crispy even added to it. He was under a lot of pressure as he was doing 4 racks of ribs the min the roast was done, and this was for a friend, not us!! With a timed delivery for a party of theirs. And all on a #5 Kamado, not very big for 4 racks of ribs. 18 - 21 inches across.

                        Here is a toy we find invaluable. It allows DH to start the meat @ midnight and go to sleep!!
                        www.thebbqguru.com We've had ours for 7 or 8 years and it's worth every cent we paid for it. Nice people too, we have no financial connection, bla, bla,bla, it's just a good product

                        1. Since the hot plate failed in my claypot rig, I cobbled together the "frankensmoker." Here he is purring away yesterday

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                              I've gotten into smoking meats too. Just did baby back ribs, brisket and chicken this past weekend. For any and all info you'll ever need about bbqing and grilling go here:


                              Best of luck on your new hobby.