When to Pull Your Pork: The Best Internal Pork Butt Temperature (2023)

Have you heard of pork butt (also called Boston butt)? Despite the name, this cut of meat is actually from the fatty part of a pig’s shoulder (not to be confused with pork shoulder, which is a cut that actually comes from lower on the foreleg).

When to Pull Your Pork: The Best Internal Pork Butt Temperature (1)

When cooking your pork butt to make a delicious pulled pork dinner, do you know the best pork butt temp? Using the right temp for pork butt is important because it ensures the meat gets cooked fully but also stays tender and juicy.

You want to pay attention to the pork butt internal temp (also known as Boston butt internal temp) to verify that the meat has been cooked properly. But do you know what temp to smoke pork butt at?

Read on to get all the information you need to cook the best-pulled pork butt for your next family gathering or summer barbecue!

Contents hide

1 The Perfect Pork Butt Internal Temperature

2 Should You Cook to Time or Cook to Temp?

3 Watch For the Stall

(Video) What Temperature Should I Cook My Pork Butt At

4 To Wrap, Or Not to Wrap?

6 Prepare Your Pork Butt for Best Results

7 How To Avoid Dry Pork?

8 Frequently Asked Questions

8.1 What Temperature Is a Pork Butt Done At?

8.2 Is Pulled Pork Done at 180?

8.3 How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Pork Shoulder At 225?

(Video) Pork Temperature Safety & USDA Change

8.4 What Temperature Should a Pork Shoulder Be Cooked To?

The Perfect Pork Butt Internal Temperature

What temp is pork butt done at? While there are different options for cooking temperatures (we will get more into that later), the proper internal temperature to pull your pork butt at is 200 degrees F. Though various pitmasters will swear by temperatures ranging from 195 degrees to 203 degrees, you can’t go wrong with a solid 200 pulled pork temp.

This ensures the meat is thoroughly cooked and is the proper texture to be shredded. (If it is too fatty or greasy, it will not shred right.)

Should You Cook to Time or Cook to Temp?

While you can pick a time frame you want to cook your pork butt in and adjust the temperature you cook at accordingly, when it comes to smoking a pork butt, what temp to cook pork butt at is best determined by your desired outcome.

Smoked pork butt temp typically ranges from 225 degrees F to 250 degrees F, with the ideal pork butt temperature being 225. At this temperature, the pork butt should take about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound to cook, and many smokers leave it cooking overnight.

Plus, 225 gives the meat time to absorb the smoke and not dry out. Smoking at 250 degrees will still keep the meat juicy but save some time, as it takes closer to 1 hour per pound. However, this temperature may result in a less smokey flavor.

(Video) Smoked Pulled Pork with ThermoPro Internal Temperature

If you are short on time, you can smoke your pork butt at 275 or 300 degrees in extreme cases, but the meat will be much less tender. This may still work for pulled pork smothered in sauce, but we recommend 225 degrees F to keep the meat juicy.

When to Pull Your Pork: The Best Internal Pork Butt Temperature (2)

Watch For the Stall

Have you heard of the stall? This is when the pork butt reaches a certain internal temperature and seems to stop cooking, sometimes for hours on end. The pork butt stall temp is about 160 degrees F.

The reason for the stall is that when the meat starts losing moisture (which happens when it hits 160), it starts to cool off, much like how people cool off when they sweat.

However, there are ways to combat this issue, like wrapping your pork butt!

To Wrap, Or Not to Wrap?

Wrapping your pork butt in foil is one of the best ways to speed up cook time, avoid “the stall,” and keep the meat tender and juicy because it holds in the moisture.

If you are going to wrap your pork butt, it is best to do so when the meat is halfway cooked. This holds in the heat and can shave an hour off the cooking time, and it also can protect the pork butt from getting too smokey and bitter.

So, what temp to wrap pork butt? Experts recommend 165 degrees, meaning you’ll wrap the meat right before it starts losing a bunch of moisture. Talk about perfect timing!

Pork Butt At 225°f – How Long Will It Take?

If you cook your pork butt at 225 degrees F, it will take anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours per pound.

So, if you have a 10-pound pork butt, that will be 15 to 20 hours. If you want to smoke your pork butt overnight, 225 is the ideal temperature.

225 is the perfect temperature because it keeps the meat smokey, juicy, and tender. If you choose to wrap your pork butt, it will speed up the cooking time a little bit, so keep that in mind.

Prepare Your Pork Butt for Best Results

The day before you plan to cook your pork butt, season it with a BBQ rub or the seasonings of your choice and refrigerate it overnight to really absorb the flavor. (You can season it directly before cooking if needed, but the flavors will not be as settled into the meat.)

One of the most overlooked tips is to make sure your pork butt is at room temperature before you begin cooking it, which will help it cook faster, so take your pork butt out of the fridge and let it rest while the smoker is heating up.

When it comes time to cook your pork, position its fat-side up so that the fat will flavor the meat while it cooks. As mentioned above, we recommend wrapping your meat halfway through cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165.

How To Avoid Dry Pork?

The best way to avoid dry pork is to wrap it in foil halfway through cooking to hold in the juices and keep the meat from stalling in the cooking process.

Also keep the internal temperature in mind, as the ideal internal temp is 200 degrees F.

If your pulled pork’s internal temperature is 205 or higher, you run the risk of it beginning to dry out. Similarly, if the internal temp is too low (under 195), the meat might not be “dry,” but it might be too tough.

(Video) How & When to Wrap a Pork Butt in Foil & Place it Back in the Smoker - Baker’s BBQ

Check also:

  • What Temp to Smoke a Brisket
  • How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken
  • How to Cook Frozen Shrimp?
  • Ways to Reheat Crab Legs?

Frequently Asked Questions

When to Pull Your Pork: The Best Internal Pork Butt Temperature (3)

What Temperature Is a Pork Butt Done At?

According to the USDA, the proper pork butt cooked temp is technically 145 degrees F internally to make it safe to consume.

But that is not the case when it comes to the proper cooking procedures to make pulled pork delicious and juicy.

So, what temp to pull pork butt at? In order to break down the fat and collagen so the meat is easy to shred and juicy, you will want to cook your pork butt until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.

Is Pulled Pork Done at 180?

Pulled pork is technically safe to consume at 145 internal degrees, so 180 degrees would be considered “done.” However, the best-pulled pork smoking temp is 200 degrees F because the meat will be tender, juicy, and in the correct state to easily shred.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Pork Shoulder At 225?

The best pork shoulder temperature to cook at is 225 because it keeps the meat juicy, and tender, and makes it perfect for shredding. That said, the time it takes to cook your pork at 225 degrees will depend on how much meat you have.

The general guideline is 1.5 to 2 hours per pound at 225, so a 10-pound pork shoulder will take about 15 to 20 hours. However, if you wrap it in foil, the cooking time will quicken. 225 is the ideal temperature if you want to smoke your pork overnight.

What Temperature Should a Pork Shoulder Be Cooked To?

To be considered safe to consume, pork only needs to be cooked to 145 degrees F according to the USDA. But for pulled pork, the pork shoulder internal temp should reach 200 degrees F (the acceptable range is 195 to 203 usually).

200 degrees makes the meat juicy and easy to shred, and it will be delicious with your favorite barbecue sauce in a classic pulled pork sandwich!

Ready to make your own pulled pork butt feast? Check out this straightforward recipe below to get you started!

When to Pull Your Pork: The Best Internal Pork Butt Temperature (4)

Smoked Pulled Pork

Ingredients

  • 1 8-lb pork butt
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1/3 cup BBQ rub
  • Wood chips of choice (apple, maple, or bourbon barrel recommended)

Instructions

  1. Cut a few slits into the fat side of the pork. Cover the fat in mustard and massage the BBQ rub into the meat. Refrigerate overnight in plastic wrap so the meat absorbs the flavors.
  2. When you are ready to begin cooking, preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
  3. Place the pork fat side up and smoke for about 12 to 16 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
  4. Remove from the smoker, wrap in foil, and let the meat rest for at least an hour before shredding it.
  5. After the meat is shredded, serve it up with your favorite barbecue sauces and pulled pork toppings. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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(Video) The Stall in BBQ - Temperature Stops Rising

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FAQs

What temp should I pull my pulled pork off? ›

Return pork to the grill (or smoker) The pork is finished cooking when it pulls apart easily and reaches an internal temperature of 190 to 195 degrees F, about another 1 to 2 hours. Let rest for 1 hour, then unwrap the pork butt and pull the bone out.

What temp should pork shoulder be for pulled pork? ›

195 degrees is an acceptable temperature for pulled pork. That said, we would recommend waiting until the thermometer reads 202 degrees. The extra time will make your shredding duties go much more smoothly, and the meat will retain its moisture and rich texture.

Is pulled pork done at 180? ›

Pulling the Pork

Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 180 F to 190 F, it is ready to be pulled. You can serve the meat once it reaches 165 F, but it won't be tender enough to pull apart properly.

Is pork shoulder done at 160? ›

The National Pork Board recommends cooking pork chops, roasts, and tenderloin to an internal temperature between 145° F. (medium rare) and 160° F. (medium), followed by a 3 minute rest.

Can you overcook pulled pork? ›

In a word, yes. If pork shoulder or pork butt is allowed to cook past 210 degrees or so, the meat will begin to dry out. This will affect the quality of your pulled pork, even if you smother the meat in barbecue sauce before serving it.

How long should pulled pork rest before shredding? ›

45 minutes is the sweet spot for pulled pork

The Bearded Butchers recommends a minimum rest time of 15 minutes for a six to eight-pound piece of pork, though they say 45 minutes is their sweet spot. The BBQ Host also says that 30-45 minutes is the optimum time to let the meat rest before shredding.

Should I smoke a pork shoulder at 225 or 250? ›

A: Smoking a pork shoulder at 225 degrees will result in a more tender and juicy final product, while smoking at 250 degrees will give the meat a bit more of a crust. However, both temperature ranges will produce a delicious smoked pork shoulder, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

How long should a pork butt rest? ›

The minimum time that you should rest a pork butt is about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the internal temperature of your pork butt will continue to climb as it rests.

Why is my pork shoulder not shredding? ›

When pulled pork isn't shredding, it could be because the meat didn't cook long enough. Cooking it too long, or attempting to rush the process by cranking up the heat, are two other common culprits. It's also important to use a reliable method for shredding the meat.

Should I wrap my pork butt? ›

Wrap in aluminum foil to keep the meat from getting too much smoke and to catch the moisture being released during the cooking process. Maintain the fire: No need to add any more wood or coals; just maintain the fire and let the butt finish cooking.

How do you tell if pulled pork is done? ›

Cook for 2 to 4 hours, until fork tender.

The pork is done when it is fork-tender (when the meat can be easily pierced with a fork without resistance and easily falls apart with a little pressure). If you're cooking pork on the bone, the meat should be falling off the bone.

Where do you stick the thermometer in a pork butt? ›

Smoking Pork:

Insert a digital thermometer probe towards the middle of the thickest part of meat. Make sure the probe is not touching the bone. Preheat the smoker to 225° and place the meat on the smoker. Closer the lid and do not open the it.

What is the best temp to cook a Boston butt? ›

Set the temperature to 225-240 degrees. I use a digital meat thermometer with a probe because temperature is much more important than time when smoking a large piece of meat like Boston butts or turkeys.

What temp is the stall on Boston butt? ›

Thanks! If you've ever smoked a beef brisket or pork butt, you're no doubt familiar with “the stall,” also known as “the plateau.” The stall is the prolonged period of time when your brisket or butt hits an internal temperature typically between 155 and 165 degrees – and then just stays there.

How long do you smoke a pork shoulder at 225? ›

Well, then, how long does it take to smoke a pork shoulder at 225? At 225, figure roughly 2 hours per pound of meat, so the same piece of smoked pork shoulder takes from 12- 16 hours at 225.

Can you overcook a pork butt at 225? ›

The Final Temperature Matters

No matter which cooking method you choose, ensure that your pork butt reaches an internal temperature of 200°F. This is the perfect temperature for pork butt, and it will be juicy and tender. Anything over 200°F is overcooked and will result in a dry and tough piece of meat.

What is the secret to tender pulled pork? ›

Cooking the pork low and very slow is the secret to the juiciest and most tender pulled pork. Serve the pork as is or feel free to stir in your favorite barbecue or other sauces at the end of cooking.

How long is too long to cook pork butt? ›

You could go 24 hours. Since the temperature if your simmering liquid or oven is only 180-185, the roast isn't going to get higher than that, so if you want to go as long as 24 hours, you'd be fine.

Can you let pulled pork rest overnight? ›

Many experts recommend allowing the pork to rest until just before serving time. If the pork comes off the smoker with 4 hours to go until dinner, then let it rest for 4 hours. Just keep an eye on the internal temperature to be sure it stays out of the danger zone.

Can you shred pulled pork the next day? ›

In fact, you should wait to pull your pork until you are ready to serve it. This will help to keep it fresh and juicy. You can rest your pork butt in a faux Cambro for up to 5 hours or you can store your pork butt whole in the fridge and reheat the following day.

How long does the stall last when smoking Boston butt? ›

Many first-time smokers lose their minds and crank the heat, or transfer to a hot oven, and never see the back end of a stall. A brisket stall or pork butt stall can last anywhere from 2-6 hours, but 4 is about average.

Is 250 too high for pork butt? ›

The standard temperature for smoking pork butt is between 225°F and 250°F, however, you can go as high as 275°F. At these temperatures, the pork butt will take between 1 to 1.5 hours per pound.

Is 250 too high for pulled pork? ›

Setting the grill or smoker to 250 degrees can shave a few hours off your cooking time. Although we prefer to smoke pork shoulder at 225 degrees, it might be a good idea to aim a bit higher, particularly if you aren't sure whether your smoker has decent heat retention.

Is 250 too hot for pork butt? ›

In general, you smoke a pork shoulder for 75 minutes per pound at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. But the duration is only a rough gauge and the actual cook time depends on internal temperature. A safe internal temperature is 185˚F, however, the ideal internal temp for tenderness is 190-200˚F.

Do you let a pork butt rest in a cooler? ›

At home, you can rest briskets and pork butts just like barbecue competitors and restauranteurs. Place some towels in the bottom of an empty cooler to protect the plastic from the hot meat. Wrap the meat with more towels as insulation and place into the cooler.

How long can you hold pulled pork? ›

For pulled pork cuts like pork shoulder and pork butt, you can store them for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. What is this? The temperature should be kept below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Make sure they're inside an airtight container and placed in the coldest part of the fridge.

Why does pulled pork need to be 205? ›

The USDA recommends that pork is cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C) for food safety. But every griller worth their salt knows that cuts rich in collagen, like pork butt, need to be brought to much higher temperatures (195-205°F [91-96°C]) to properly break down the connective tissues.

Why did my pork butt come out tough? ›

If you don't cook the connective tissue properly, it will be tough and rubbery. The connective tissue has to break down and literally melt away in the meat. This takes time. but when it's done, the meat should fall apart by itself.

Does pork shoulder get more tender the longer it cooks? ›

Unlike the more lean tenderloin and chops, pork shoulder is an incredibly forgiving cut of meat. It becomes more tender as it cooks and benefits from a lengthy cook time, so even if it stays on the heat a few minutes too long, you won't suddenly end up with something dry or rubbery.

How often do you spritz pulled pork? ›

It's best to spritz the pork butt every 30 to 40 minutes after three hours of cooking. Continue to spritz until the meat reaches the wrapping stage. One useful tip is to keep the pork fat dry on top of the pork butt.

Should I spritz pork shoulder? ›

Spritzing pork shoulder isn't strictly necessary, but it shouldn't do any harm either. The key is to wait until the meat has been on the smoker for a few hours before taking this step. That will give the bark a chance to form and allow the smoker to maintain the proper smoking temperature.

How do you know when a pork butt is done smoking? ›

Give That Bone A Wiggle:

It's like a built-in thermometer! Towards the end of your smoke, periodically give that bone a wiggle. If that bone wiggles with ease and pulls away from the surrounding pork, you have reached that perfect tenderness and can pull your butt off the smoker to rest.

Is Boston butt done at 165? ›

Smoke – Target 250 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 3 – 4 hours. Spritz – After 3 – 4 hours of smoke, use a spray bottle to lightly spray the shoulder every 30 minutes until the internal temperature of the pork butt reaches 165 degrees F.

Is Pulled Pork done at 165? ›

Make sure the cooking temperature stays between 200 and 225 degrees. After about 5 hours, the pork should reach 165-175 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer. At this time, wrap the meat in a double layer of aluminum foil to preserve the juices, then return it to the cooking surface.

Does a pork shoulder stall? ›

The stall usually happens when you are smoking a large piece of meat, like brisket, pork butt, rack of ribs, etc. It is when, after several hours of the meat's internal temperature rising, usually to between 150 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit, it suddenly stops rising for several hours or even goes down a few degrees.

Can pork shoulder stall twice? ›

The Bottom Line. Pork shoulder can hit the stall—whether it's the first, second, or third—at many different stages throughout the smoke.

How do you speed up pulled pork? ›

Wrap the top with a double layer of aluminum foil, pinching around the edges of the pan. Doing this will trap the heat inside better and cook the pork faster. You can still track temp of meat by sticking probe in pork before wrapping.

How long does pork butt take to get to 160? ›

Smoke until an internal temperature of 160 degrees F is reached. This generally takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours depending on the size of your pork butt. Once you reach 160 degrees F, place your pork butt in a deep disposable tin foil pan.

How long does it take to smoke a 5 lb Boston butt at 225? ›

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Pork Butt at 225 °F? At 225 °F, a pork butt will take 8-10 hours to reach the optimal internal temperature of 195-203 °F.

Should I smoke a pork shoulder at 225 or 250? ›

A: Smoking a pork shoulder at 225 degrees will result in a more tender and juicy final product, while smoking at 250 degrees will give the meat a bit more of a crust. However, both temperature ranges will produce a delicious smoked pork shoulder, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

How do you tell if pulled pork is done? ›

Cook for 2 to 4 hours, until fork tender.

The pork is done when it is fork-tender (when the meat can be easily pierced with a fork without resistance and easily falls apart with a little pressure). If you're cooking pork on the bone, the meat should be falling off the bone.

How long does it take to smoke a pork shoulder at 225? ›

At 225, figure roughly 2 hours per pound of meat, so the same piece of smoked pork shoulder takes from 12- 16 hours at 225. There are a lot of factors in how long it takes, including the humidity in the air, how consistent the grill holds temperature, the outside temperature, and more.

Is 250 too high for pork butt? ›

The standard temperature for smoking pork butt is between 225°F and 250°F, however, you can go as high as 275°F. At these temperatures, the pork butt will take between 1 to 1.5 hours per pound.

Is 250 too high for pulled pork? ›

Setting the grill or smoker to 250 degrees can shave a few hours off your cooking time. Although we prefer to smoke pork shoulder at 225 degrees, it might be a good idea to aim a bit higher, particularly if you aren't sure whether your smoker has decent heat retention.

Is 250 too hot for pork butt? ›

In general, you smoke a pork shoulder for 75 minutes per pound at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. But the duration is only a rough gauge and the actual cook time depends on internal temperature. A safe internal temperature is 185˚F, however, the ideal internal temp for tenderness is 190-200˚F.

Can you overcook pork butt at 225? ›

The Final Temperature Matters

No matter which cooking method you choose, ensure that your pork butt reaches an internal temperature of 200°F. This is the perfect temperature for pork butt, and it will be juicy and tender. Anything over 200°F is overcooked and will result in a dry and tough piece of meat.

Can you undercook pulled pork? ›

Place the forks in the center of the meat, then draw them apart. If you encounter too much resistance, it's possible that the meat is either overcooked or undercooked (see above). You can also pull pork apart using your fingers.

How long should a pork butt rest? ›

The minimum time that you should rest a pork butt is about 15 minutes. Keep in mind that the internal temperature of your pork butt will continue to climb as it rests.

How long do you smoke a 10 lb Boston butt at 225 degrees? ›

You are going to need between 10-12 hours to smoke a 10 pound pork butt at 225F. You will want to cook the butt in the smoke for about 5 hours, wrap it in foil and then cook for another 6 hours. Set aside the time, follow this technique and you will have some Extraordinary pulled pork!

Should you wrap a pork butt? ›

Wrapping also captures the meat's fat, juices, and smoke flavor from the dry rub paired with apple cider vinegar, so it can all be reabsorbed once the meat is taken off the smoker to rest at the end of the cooking process, making for tender and juicy pulled pork.

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