Slow-Roasted Pork Butt

Slow Roasted Pork Butt recipe, pork on a tray

The Spruce / Loren Runion

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 5 to 8 servings
Yields: 2 1/2 pounds
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
613 Calories
43g Fat
1g Carbs
53g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 613
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 16g 79%
Cholesterol 195mg 65%
Sodium 417mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 53g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 765mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Despite its name, pork butt is actually a cut from the upper part of the pig's shoulder. Pork butt is the higher end of the foreleg, whereas the Boston butt is down on the foreleg. Both cuts are tough pieces of meat with lots of connective tissue but also great marbling and lots of flavors. Pork butt, when it's cooked low and slow, turns so tender and succulent that it can easily be shredded with a fork. Although the recipe suggests a boneless cut, the choice is up to you to use a bone-in butt, as the cooking time won't be altered dramatically. What matters the most is the amount of fat on the cut, which provides moisture and flavor.

The other beauty of this pork butt recipe is that it's easy to make and feeds many. So this one dish can be the centerpiece of a meal alongside any form of potatoes, a green bean casserole, cornbread, and coleslaw. You can also use this meat in delicious sandwiches, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, sliders, or gyros if you have any leftovers.

While this recipe is deliciously seasoned, you can swap out the spices for chili powder or adobo for a Mexican-inspired flair; or for a barbecue kick, use your favorite barbecue seasoning. Once the pork is cooked, toss it with your favorite tomato-based sauce or mustard-based barbecue sauce if you'd prefer a saucier, moister preparation.

The recipe takes around 4 hours to be completed, but the exact cook time will depend on the size of your pork butt. At a temperature of 300 F to 350 F, it takes around 35 to 40 minutes per pound of initial weight.

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-pound) pork butt (Boston butt or pork shoulder, boneless)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • Barbecue sauce, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making slow-roasted pork butt

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Remove the netting from the pork and trim off some of the fat, if necessary.

    Pork and a knife on parchment paper

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  3. 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 pork.

    Pork butt with an herb and spice rub

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  4. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat and sear the roast for a few minutes on all sides. If using a cast-iron or heavy oven-safe skillet, leave the pork in the skillet. Otherwise, transfer the pork to a roasting or baking pan.

    Seared pork butt in a black cast-iron pan

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  5. Cover the pork with foil and place the skillet in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 325 F and roast for 2 to 3 hours, depending on weight.

    Aluminum foil covered pan, on a gray table

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  6. Remove the foil and continue roasting for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the roast is pull-apart tender and the inner temperature is around 180 F to 195 F.

    Shredded, pulled-apart pork butt in a pan

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

  7. Let cool for a few minutes before shredding using two forks. Toss with the optional barbecue sauce or serve as-is.

    Shredded, pulled-apart pork butt served on a white plate

    The Spruce / Loren Runion

Tips

  • Preheating the oven at a higher temperature partially cooks the pork butt with a higher heat until the oven cools down to the slow-roasting temperature. This helps retain some of those juices locked in from searing.
  • Don't worry too much about removing the fat before cooking; concentrate on trimming loose pieces. The fat adds to the pork butt's flavor and, once roasted, the fat will easily separate from the meat while shredding.

How to Store Pulled Pork

Once the pork is cooked, you can keep leftovers in an airtight container for up to four days. If you have too many leftovers, you can freeze the pork in resealable freezer bags for up to three months. Thaw overnight before using and use a sauce to serve it as the freezing process might dry up the meat.

What's the Internal Temperature for Shredded Pork Butt?

According to the USDA, the safe minimum internal temperature for pork roasts is 145 F. However, with pork butt that you intend to shred for pulled pork, it's best to cook it to a higher temperature. Around 160 F, the pork becomes shreddable, but it's even easier and pulls right apart at 180 F to 195 F. Some people even let it go to 205 F, though the meat will be drier.

How Much Meat Per Person?

This is a difficult question and depends on how many side dishes you're serving with dinner and whether the pork butt is the main protein. But, in general, aim to serve 1/3 to 1/2 of a pound of cooked meat per person. Also, keep in mind that when you buy the pork butt, the initial weight is far from the cooked weight as there is a loss in weight of at least 35 to 40 percent. For example, a 4-pound uncooked pork butt will weigh around 2 1/2 pounds when cooked, while a 10-pound butt will weigh around 6 pounds, feeding 12 to 18 people.