When it comes to smoking pork shoulder, the idea is NOT to rush the process. This particular cut needs slow and steady cooking so that the fat and connective tissues within can be broken down. So, how long does it take to smoke pork shoulder, and what’s the best temperature at which you should cook it?
Let’s take a quick look at the answers to these and many other questions about smoking pork shoulders you might have.
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At What Temperature Should You Smoke Pork Shoulder?
The answer to this question often depends on how long you want to take smoking the pork shoulder. You can smoke it at temperatures ranging from 180 degrees to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, with 275 degrees being the sweet spot.
Smoking at 180 degrees often requires much more time (even 12 hours), while a 300-degree smoker temperature calls for much shorter cooking periods but still gives you that smoke flavor you are looking for.
How Long Does It Take to Smoke Pork Shoulder at 275 Degrees?
If you keep the temperatures within your smoker at a stable 275 degrees on average, smoking pork shoulders should take from 80 to around 90 minutes for every pound of meat. Of course that are many factors that can affect your overall time, like outdoor temperature, desired doneness, and your pork shoulder’s starting temperature.
What You Need to Know about Smoking Pork Shoulder at 275 Degrees
Now that you know how long it would take on average to smoke pork shoulder at 275 degrees, it’s important to get a little more information on cooking pork shoulders and why the temperatures and the duration matter.
What is Pork Shoulder?
Also often referred to as Boston Butt or pork butt, pork shoulder is a rather popular cut of meat for many reasons, the least of which is that it’s relatively affordable compared to most other pork parts. This cut is from the general area around the animal’s upper back.
One of the main reasons why this part is the preferred choice by many when it comes to smoked pulled pork is a simple fact that it has a high-fat content. Smoking regular pork roast or other parts would lead to meat portions that are far too dry, albeit tender.
As popular as this part is for smoked pulled pork, the final product will be rather unpleasant if it isn’t done properly (at the right temperature and for the right duration of time).
Not only will it be tough, but it will have a lot of gristle running through the entire portion. That’s one of the main reasons why using a lower temperature instead of 300 degrees is important when cooking pork shoulder.
To keep your pork shoulder moist while it is smoking and to stop it from getting too much smoke, you can wrap the meat in aluminum foil during the cooking process. You will not need to add additional wood chips or pellets.
Simply maintain the fire while smoking meat. A marinade made with some mustard and apple cider vinegar overnight can also help the cooking process when it comes to pork shoulder or smoked pork butt.
What’s the Ideal Temperature for Smoking Pork Shoulder?
While 275 degrees works just fine and will save you a bit of time, a majority of grill masters prefer smoking pork shoulder at the slightly lower temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit. At this specific temperature, the pork shoulder will cook at a slower rate of 2 hours for every pound of meat.
There are, however, many patient grill masters who have no issue with waiting out their meat to cook properly. These people often set their electric smokers at around 180 or 200 degrees. Unfortunately, these temperatures drastically slow down the cooking process meaning that if you were to cook a 10-pound piece of meat, you would have to wait for about 24 hours.
Of course, if you are looking to speed up the cooking process, you could set your smoker at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. While this would mean that the 10 pounds of meat would cook in less than 10 hours, the consistency might not be expected. However, your meat will be well done and fork-tender.
When is Smoked Pork Shoulder Done?
How do you know when your pork shoulder is ready for the dinner plate? The ideal temperature for a well-cooked pork shoulder should be around 200 degrees. That’s why it’s advisable to start gently prodding it once the meat thermometer reaches the 190-degree mark to make sure that the meat is tender and cooking evenly.
One mistake that many people make is to probe the meat too often with their meat thermometer. Unfortunately, opening and closing the electric cooker too often also tends to let out too much heat, which means that your pork shoulder will take much longer to cook.
You need to remember that the meat will keep cooking even after you remove it from the smoker. That’s why the ideal time to remove it is when the internal temperature is at around 195 or 200 degrees. However, if you are looking for something a bit more tender, you could let it cook until it gets to around 205 degrees. While the smoking meat won’t exactly be overcooked at this point, it will be much easier to pull.
What Kind of Smoker Should You Use?
This is one of those questions that have answers, such as “it depends.” But, of course, every grill master has their own preference when it comes to smoking meat.
However, an electric smoker such as the Bradley 4 Rack Electric Smoker is an excellent option for several reasons:
- Saves on energy: Electric smokers generally don’t use too much energy, with a majority using as little as 800 watts per hour.
- Convenient to use: Electric smokers generally don’t need constant supervision as many other types do. When dealing with an electric cooker, you don’t need to worry about the fuel getting depleted and interrupting heat flow since electricity is a constant energy source.
- Cleaner: Electric smokers are far better for the environment than propane, wood, or charcoal smokers.
- Easier to use: Electric smokers aren’t that difficult to use. If you can use an oven, then you can pretty much master an electric cook. Unfortunately, the same isn’t the case when dealing with other types of smokers that call for mastery and experience.
So, how long to smoke pork shoulder at 275 degrees? It depends on how much meat you want to smoke and the kind of smoker you are using. In general, however, at 275 degrees, expect your meat to cook at a rate of 80 to 90 minutes per pound.