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Tips for Smoking Whole Shoulders and Butts

Whether smoking a Whole Shoulder or a Butt I always inject. injecting pork shoulders

A simple injection that I use is...

  • 16oz Apple Juice
  • 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 TBS Worcestshire Sauce
  • 1 TBS Soy Sauce

Heat over medium heat until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.  Allow this mixture to cool and inject. 

I use the entire amount for a whole shoulder or half for a butt.  It's easier if you leave the meat in the cryovac package while injecting.  Stick the meat right through the croyvac and it will "hold" most of the injection.  Allow the meat to rest for an hour up to overnight. 

For the dry rub, I start with a mustard slather then apply the dry rub... 

rubbing pork shoulderUse a rub that has a low sugar content.  To much sugar will cause the meat to produce a "black bark" and that is not what you want.  I start with a rub that has salt as the main ingredient. 

I've found that the salt along with proper wood smoke creates the pink "smoke ring". 

It causes a chemical reaction to occur drawing the moisture out of the meat and in turn putting the other flavors from the spices and smoke deep into the meat. 

Pay close attention to the internal temperature of your meat. 

A good instant read thermometer is a must have piece of equipment.  When the internal temp gets to 160 degrees you need to stop adding smoke to the meat. 

At this point the pours in the pork close and won't allow anymore smoke penetration.  Heavy smoke after 160 internal will cause the meat to have a really bad taste.  (Similar to lighter fluid)
pulled pork
Once the meat reaches 160 internal, I wrap the shoulders or butts in heavy duty aluminum foil.  This helps "tenderize" the meat. Leave the wrapped butts/shoulders on the smoker until you reach 195 degrees internal. 

Unwrap at this point and vent for several minutes.  Carefully return the meat to the smoker and glaze with your sauce.  

Following these tips will create the best Whole Shoulder or Butts every time.