This slow-roasted pork butt recipe is a stress-free way to feed a big crowd all at once or get a head start on several hearty and satisfying weeknight family meals. Even better, you don’t need any special equipment or hard-to-find ingredients. With an oven and spices that are probably already in your pantry, you’re all set to make a delicious pork butt roast.
Contrary to its name, pork butt, sometimes called Boston butt, does not come from the tail end of the pig. Instead, it comes from the thick upper part of the pig’s front shoulder, close to the spine. A pork shoulder, also known as a picnic shoulder or picnic roast, is a thinner triangular cut of meat found below the pork butt but above the pig’s front leg.
Pork butts are thicker and better for shredding, while pork shoulders lend themselves more to slicing. Because both of these cuts are from hard-working parts of the body, they can be tough if they are not prepared properly. However, when roasted slowly, all that marbling gives pork butt recipes loads of rich, savory flavor. Inspired by the low-and-slow barbecue tradition, this pork butt roast recipe will come out so tender and succulent that it will shred easily with a fork or a pair of tongs.
You can use boneless or bone-in pork butts for slow roasting without significantly altering the cooking time. However, it’s important to cook pork butt recipes to an internal temperature of 165-200 degrees. While other pork dishes can be cooked to lower temperatures, cooking pork butt requires higher temps to break down the connective tissue and produce juicy and tender meat. For moist and flavorful results, be sure to choose a Boston butt with lots of marbling.
Beyond the delectable taste, what makes slow-roasted Boston butt recipes so wonderful is that they come together with ease and make enough for a crowd. Serve your pork butt as a main dish paired with backyard barbecue sides like corn on the cob, potato salad, cornbread, and coleslaw. This meat also makes incredibly tasty sandwiches or wraps. Just scoop some onto a bun and top with purple onions, pickles and barbecue sauce. Pulled pork tacos, enchiladas, or nachos are also easy ways to turn any night into a fiesta. There are so many ways to use slow-roasted pork butt!
This pork butt recipe will come out perfectly seasoned with just a few spice cabinet staples, but feel free to let your taste buds be your guide. If you want some south-of-the-border flavor, trade the chili powder for adobo or chipotle seasoning; if you’d like to bring out the southern barbecue flair, try a premixed barbecue rub. If you’re feeling a little saucy, stir in some of the cooking juices and your favorite barbecue sauce just before serving.
Cooking at 300-350 degrees, a 4-5 pound roast will take around 4 hours to fully cook. Add an additional 35-40 minutes of cooking time for each additional pound.
The ingredients for this pork recipe are quite simple and readily available, which makes it a great choice for laid back entertaining or an uncomplicated family meal.
- Bone-in or boneless pork butt. Look for one that’s nicely marbled for the best flavor.
- Basic seasonings are all that’s required. This recipe calls for kosher salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and thyme, but if you have a favorite dry rub or like your meat on the spicy side, add your own flair.
- Barbecue sauce. Whether homemade or bottled, barbecue sauce will add extra moisture and flavor to your final product. If you don’t have bbq sauce on hand, mix together ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire or soy sauce for a quick substitute.
- Heavy oven-safe skillet
- Aluminum foil
- Small mixing bowl
- Freezer-safe storage bags or glass containers
- Tongs or forks for shredding
How to make slow-roasted pork butt
- Cut the netting away from the pork roast and discard. Trim off some of the fat layer if desired.
- In a small bowl, combine the spices, then rub the mixture onto the pork.
- Sear the meat in a dash of olive oil on all sides in a heavy skillet.
- Cover the roast with foil and place the skillet in the oven to roast. If your skillet has an oven-safe lid, you can skip the foil and use that instead.
- Remove the cover and roast for an additional hour, or until the meat shreds easily with a fork. Cooking the meat uncovered for the last hour will allow your roast to develop a delicious crust on top.
- After resting the meat for 20 minutes, shred it using 2 forks or tongs. Resting allows the meat to reabsorb all those delicious juices, so don’t skip this step.
How to Store Pulled Pork
Once fully cooked and cooled, you can keep any leftovers in an airtight container for three to four days. The pork also freezes well in resealable freezer bags or glass containers for up to three months, making this pork butt roast recipe a great way to plan ahead for busy weeknight meals.
How To Reheat Pulled Pork
Thaw the shredded pork in the refrigerator overnight for the best results. Once thawed, you can reheat your pork in the microwave or on the stovetop. Bringing the meat up to an internal temp of 145 degrees will ensure that it’s safe to eat. Because reheating can sometimes dry out the meat, it’s best to serve leftover pulled pork with extra barbecue sauce.
How Much Meat Should I Make?
The amount of meat you’ll want to make depends on how you intend to use it. If it is your main dish, you’ll need to consider how many sides you’ll serve along with it. If you’re hoping to have leftovers for sandwiches or tacos, you’ll want to make extra. Plan for about ½ to ⅓ of a pound of cooked meat per person. Also, when buying your pork butt, bear in mind that cooking will reduce the total weight of your meat by 35 to 40 percent. A pork butt that was 10 pounds uncooked will weigh only around 6 pounds when it’s been slow-roasted. That amount will comfortably feed 12 to 18 people.
How To Use Pulled Pork
- Quesadillas – butter one side of a tortilla, then place it butter side down in a skillet over medium heat. On half of the tortilla, layer cheese, pulled pork, then more cheese. Fold the tortilla over the toppings and cook on each side until the outside is crispy and the cheese is melted. Serve with a side of sour cream, Pico de Gallo, beans, and rice.
- Party Sliders – Give your guests all the deliciousness of a pulled pork sandwich in a smaller portable package by using slider buns. You can make up a tray of sandwiches before the party begins, cover them with foil and keep them warm in the oven until the guests arrive. Alternatively, keep the meat warm in a crockpot, put out lots of toppings, and let your friends build their own sliders.
- Pork Pockets – Roll out refrigerated biscuit dough, add a dollop of meat and sauce, then pinch the edges closed and bake. These little meat pies are easy to make and reheat well.
- Lettuce Wraps – For a lighter option, top bib or Romain lettuce leaves with pulled pork, a drizzle of sauce, and chopped onions. This is a great alternative for keto, paleo, or low-carb diets.
- Baked Potatoes – Topping a baked potato with delicious pulled pork turns a side dish into a meal. For an easy, yet satisfying lunch at the office, bake your potato ahead of time, then reheat it in the microwave. Season well, then top with the meat and heat for a minute or two longer.
- Meaty Grilled Cheese – Make a sandwich using pulled pork, cheese, and thick slices of French bread. Butter the outsides and cook in a skillet over medium heat until the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted. Gruyere, Swiss, and provolone are great cheeses to pair with tangy pulled pork. Serve with apple slices, chips, or fries.
- Pulled Pork Pizza – Top a pre-made pizza crust with a drizzle of barbecue sauce and pizza sauce. Layer on the pork, purple onions, mozzarella, and cheddar, then bake until warm and bubbly.
Alternate Cooking Methods
- Slow it down – If you have the time you can amp up the barbecue flavor by slowing the cook time down. First, rub the meat with lots of salt and spices and leave it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. This process, called dry brining, will allow the meat to soak up all of the flavors of the seasoning before cooking. When ready to cook, place the meat in a roasting pan with a cup of water or your favorite dark ale, and cook it uncovered in a 300-degree oven for 3 hours. The water or beer will keep the meat from drying out during the long cooking process. Turn the heat down to 230 degrees and cook for another 9 hours, adding more liquid if necessary. Cooking the meat uncovered at a low temperature for such a long time will create an incredible bark – that crispy, crunchy delicious top layer that is the mark of truly good barbecue.
- Set it and forget it – Many people swear by cooking their pulled pork in the crock pot. This method will take several hours on low and will produce juicy tender meat. The meat will not develop a bark in the slow cooker because the moisture cannot escape. However, using a slow cooker allows you to start your pork roast before going to work and come home to a dinner that’s already done. Slow cooker pulled pork makes meal prep a snap.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal cooking time for pork shoulder at 275°F?
The ideal cooking time for a pork shoulder at 275°F is around 1.5 to 2 hours per pound. This will ensure the meat becomes tender and flavorful. Make sure to use a meat thermometer to confirm the internal temperature of the pork reaches at least 145°F for safe consumption. Allow the meat to rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving.
How many hours per pound should Boston butt be cooked in the oven?
For a Boston butt, cooking in the oven at 250-275°F, you can expect to cook it for about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound. This low and slow cooking method will help to make the meat tender and moist. As always, use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches 145°F internally.
What are some delicious boneless pork shoulder recipes?
There are many tasty recipes to try with a boneless pork shoulder such as:
- Slow cooker pulled pork: Mix your favorite BBQ sauce with the pork shoulder and let it cook on low for 8-10 hours in a slow cooker. Shred and serve on buns for a perfect pulled pork sandwich.
- Mexican-style carnitas: Season the pork shoulder with a blend of Mexican spices, cook it low and slow until tender, and then crisp it up under the broiler for a delicious taco filling.
- Asian-inspired pork lettuce wraps: Mix the pork shoulder with a combination of Asian sauces and spices, and slow cook for 6-8 hours. Serve in lettuce leaves as a fresh and flavorful appetizer.
What’s the best method to slow roast a pork roast at 250°F?
To slow roast a pork roast at 250°F, follow these steps:
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Season the pork roast with your preferred spices and herbs.
- Place the seasoned pork roast on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up.
- Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast.
- Roast the pork for 4-6 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- Remove the roast from the oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
How long should I cook a pork butt at 225°F?
Cooking a pork butt at 225°F requires patience, as it takes longer to reach the desired tenderness. Expect to cook the pork butt for around 2 to 2.5 hours per pound. Be sure to check the internal temperature with a thermometer, ensuring it reaches a minimum of 145°F before resting and serving.
What are some quick and easy pork shoulder recipes?
If you’re short on time, consider these quick and easy pork shoulder recipes:
- One-pan pork shoulder roast: Season the pork shoulder with your favorite herbs and spices, then sear all sides in a hot skillet. Add some vegetables to the pan, cover, and roast in the oven at 350°F for about 1 hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
- Pork shoulder stir-fry: Cut the pork shoulder into thin strips, then quickly stir-fry it in a hot skillet with seasonings, oil, and your choice of vegetables. Serve over rice or noodles for a complete meal.
- Pressure cooker pork shoulder: Season the pork shoulder and cook it in a pressure cooker with liquid and any desired aromatics for about 45-60 minutes. This will result in tender, flavorful meat in a fraction of the time compared to slow-roasting methods.
Slow Roasted Pork Butt
- 1 4-pound boneless pork butt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Barbecue sauce optional
- Preheat the oven to 450 F. Cut the netting away from the pork and discard. Trim off some of the fat cap if desired.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and dried thyme, and mix well. Rub the mixture all over the entire surface of the pork roast.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat and sear the roast for a few minutes on all sides. If you are using a cast-iron or heavy oven-safe skillet, you can leave the pork right in the skillet. Otherwise, place the pork into a roasting or baking pan.
- Cover the pork with foil and place the skillet in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 325 F and roast for 3 hours.
- Remove the cover and roast for an additional hour, or until the meat is tender enough to shred easily. When fully cooked, the internal temperature should be 165 to 200 degrees F.
- Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes, then shred using 2 forks or tongs. Serve as is, or toss with some of the cooking juices and barbecue sauce. Enjoy.