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4.95 from 72 votes

Smoked Pork Shoulder

Ultra flavorful and tender, this Pork Shoulder is smoked low and slow, and creates the most amazing, melt in your mouth pulled pork!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Resting Time20 mins
Total Time8 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bbq smoker, pork shoulder recipes, smoked meats, smoked pork
Servings: 12 - 16 servings
Calories: 303kcal


  • 8 lb bone-in pork shoulder these may also be labeled as pork butt
  • olive oil
  • water


  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper coarsely ground
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onions
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper


  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar



  • Fill hopper of smoker with wood pellets, I usually use applewood, but pecan or cherry would work as well.
  • Start smoker on the smoke setting for 5-10 minutes. Increase heat to 250 F degrees.
  • Fill an 8x8" baking dish, or other baking dish with water and set aside to add later. I like to use a foil dish for this, since I won't care if it gets messed up.


  • Place all your seasonings (brown sugar, pepper, salt, paprika garlic, minced onion and cayenne) in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
  • Place your pork shoulder on a baking sheet and rub the entire shoulder down with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasonings over it and rub the seasonings into it (every inch of the shoulder should be covered). There's no better tool for this than your hands, so if you're squeamish about touching raw meat, use a pair of disposable gloves.


  • Add baking dish filled with water to smoker, on the grate on one side of the smoker.
  • Fill a small spray bottle with the apple juice and apple cider vinegar and set aside. Every hour you're going to open up the smoker and completely spritz the pork shoulder.
  • Place pork shoulder on the grate and close the lid. Keep the smoker temperature around 250-275 F degrees while smoking during these first several hours. Smoke for approximately 4 hours, spritzing with the spray bottle every hour.
  • Check the internal temperature of the pork shoulder using a meat thermometer. By this time, the pork should be at LEAST 145 F degrees.
  • Completely spritz the pork shoulder one more time and carefully wrap it in aluminum foil or peach paper
  • Place pork back into smoker and lower temperature to 225 F degrees. Smoke pork about another 4 hours, but do not spritz during this stage of cooking.
  • Check the internal temperature of the pork shoulder using a meat thermometer. You're looking for your pork shoulder to be about 200 F degrees. 195-205 F degrees is a good range for making amazing pulled pork!
  • Remove pork from smoker and let rest for at least 20 minutes, but up to 2 hours. Keep the pork wrapped up tight, and I like to add mine to either clean, empty cooler, or my oven (turned off).


  1. This recipe was made using a Traeger Wood Pellet Smoker.  Other smoker types will work, but will vary in terms of the set up process.  Consult your smoker's manual for how to prepare your brand of smoker.
  2. I do not have a charcoal smoker or grill and cannot offer solid advice on using those.


  1. Fill an aluminum foil pouch with soaked wood chips, seal and poke a few holes in it to allow the smoke to come out. Start grill on HIGH, lighting half of the burners of the grill. 
  2. Place pouch of wood chips directly over the heat until you see smoke coming through the holes of the foil pouch.  Do not light the other burners.  The pork will go over the burners that aren't lit.
  3. Proceed with rubbing the pork, then keep grill around 250 F degrees and cook for 4 hours.  Wrap and lower heat to about 225 F degrees and cook another 4 hours.


Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 1306mg | Potassium: 690mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 358IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 3mg