Smoking a Boston Butt Recipe

NEW: Check out the Secrets to the Perfect Smoked Boston Butt post for a detailed look on how to smoke a Boston Butt.

When it comes to BBQ, nothing is better than a good smoked Boston Butt on the grill. It is great with sandwiches or just plain with a selection of salads, breads, grilled vegetables, and a fantastic dessert to seal the deal.

This recipe is a great recipe the results in a moist, juicy, and tender smoked Boston Butt. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Image courtesy of bbum

- Boston Butt - about 8-10lbs of pork - pick one with the bone in

Then you will need a rub for your butt made up of:
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper - a little more if you like your butt with a little kick

If you want to have more of a sweet flavor to your butt, you can add to the rub mix
- 5 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

Adding brown sugar gives the meat a sweet taste, but will also cause the meat to turn a dark color as you cook it as the sugar caramelizes. Cooking without the brown sugar results in more of a salty flavor and the meat will be a deep red color. It is just a matter of taste and what you like.

Mix all these ingredients together as the rub for your smoked Boston Butt. This will store for weeks in an airtight container in your refrigerator.

Cooking Instructions

1- Apply a thin coat of mustard to the butt. You can use the cheap stuff or if you like it a little more tangy, use dijon mustard. The mustard provides some flavor, but also provides a base for the rub to stick to.
2- Generously rub your butt with the rub recipe above. If you plan ahead, you can wrap it up and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to allow the spices to penetrate the meat.
3- If you prefer, inject your smoked Boston Butt with apple juice to add flavor and to keep it moist as you cook
4- Heat your BBQ to 225F degrees and put your butt on the grill. Indirect heat works the best and add your favorite soaked wood chips to add the smoked flavor
5- Plan on cooking the smoked Boston Butt about 60-90 minutes for every pound in the roast.
6- Every 2 1/2 hours, open it up and turn the roast to ensure even cooking. Mop your roast with combination of apple juice and olive oil to keep it moist
7- The meat is done when the internal temperature is above 190F degrees. The lower you keep the temperature, the more moist the meat will be.
8- Don't be afraid to start early because it can take longer than expected.  If it gets done early, you can always wrap it in foil and put it in a cooler.  It will keep warm for hours after it is done.   At least let the smoked Boston Butt sit for about an hour after you take it off the grill so you don't burn your fingers as you pull the meat.
9- Serve with your favorite sides, salads, and drinks.

You may consider cooking 2-3 smoked Boston Butts as your whole neighborhood will be stopping by to check what is cooking because of smells that will have tempted them all day long.

Enjoy this recipe! Let us know what other recipes or tips you have for cooking the ultimate Smoked Boston Butt!


  1. When it comes to BBQ, nothing is better then a good smoked Boston Butt on the grill. It is great

    You have written on the top line of this page "nothing is better then..........." It should be, "nothing is better THAN.........."

  2. Thanks Travis - I fixed the typo.

  3. Hey Dave just wanted to say thanks for the rub recipe and the simple instructions. I've only ever smoked chicken legs and quarters so your post was a huge help. My wife and family loved the taste and have already asked when I was going to do it again. Again I was new to smoking a boston butt so thanks for the time you took to put this online so people like me wouldn't be going in blind. Great stuff hope to see more recipes in the future.

  4. Hey - Glad to help. Thanks for stopping by and come back again real soon!

  5. This may be a stupid question, but if I am doing 3 butts, do I combine the weight of them all to calculate estimated cook time? Or if they are all 8 lb butts, then it will take 8 hours? Or will it take 24?

  6. 1 hour per pound ?? I had a 6 pound butt,followed this recipe to a tee, cooked for 6 hours at 230 deg.... not done, cooked for another hour at 300 deg...... still not done. I recommend you take this recipe off the internet before someone eats something and gets sick ! terrible.

  7. Sorry you had a bad experience. I contacted the author and discussed cook times. He adjusted the cook times up to provide a more realistic cook time.

  8. Fred Schulz says:

    Best recipe I have tried yet. I have a Smoke Hollow cooker with an indirect fire box. I start with a good bed of charcoal and use hickory from there. The rub really helps if you do it overnight to give the meat and bark a wonderful flavor. I have found it also helps to tenderize the meat by wrapping in foil and letting set in a cooler for an extra hour or two. Great recipe!!

  9. To Bill- It sounds like like you didn't smoke your butt long enough. If you read it says 1-1 1/2 hrs per pound, so for youe 6# butt thats 6-9 hours in the smoker. You had it in for 7 hours. Pork butts have been known to hit a "stall" if you will too from time to time when cooking. If this happens be patient and always go "low and slow", smoking is an event not a race. Also maybe your therometer is'nt acurate on your smoker. Regardless just check your meat when its 190 degrees it's done and no ones getting sick.
    Also if anyone can tell me, Ive tried smoking baby backs a few times. When using hickory chunks do you find they smoke as well unsoaked or soaked. I've tried it both ways and was wondering what others may have found.
    Dave- thanks for the article!!

  10. I have grilled various types of meats on a gas grill just for my family. Can I smoke a Boston Butt of 8-10lbs. on my four burner gas grill? If so, got a silly question how long will an average 20lbs tank last me. Did not know if may need an extra tank on stand by. Recipe sounds great can't wait to try it.

  11. Wayne,

    It is hard to tell how long a 20lb tank will last. It depends on how much you use it and how high of heat you use as well. You asked whether or not a full tank has enough gas to cook a Boston Butt? It does on my Weber, but the version I have doesn't have 4 burners.

    I always try to have an extra tank on hand. There is nothing worse than hungry kids waiting to eat while you have to run down to get a tank refilled...

    Let us know how long your tank lasts...

  12. Thanks Kevin...I always use soaked chips - they work great for me.

    However, to be fair, I don't think I have ever tried non-soaked chips, so technically, I am not qualified to answer your question πŸ™‚

    Anyone used non-soaked hickory chunks to smoke Baby Back ribs?

  13. Kevin,

    I have used both soaked and unsoaked hickory on baby backs as well a boston butts,my OPINION on this matter is that i prefer the soaked. The times that i didnt soak my wood, whether it be hickory,cherry, or apple,the wood tends to give off a slighty heavier smoke and doesnt burn or smolder long enough on longer cooks so i find myself having to add it more than id like to.

  14. Thanks Evan for your comment. I knew there was a reason why I soaked my chips πŸ™‚


  15. Thanks Dave. I'm planning on trying out this rub today. I will let you know what the wife and kids say.

  16. Excellent! Hope your family loves it!

  17. Cotonovich says:

    Any guidance on how many pounds per person?

  18. Pete (FEMALE) says:

    I could not get the recipe to print. Is there a problem? So I had to write the directions to try out on my smoker tomorrow. I will let you know how it turns out.

  19. Hmm, I will look into the printing issue you pointed out - thanks for letting me know.

    Also, let me know how things turned out - I am always interested in hearing how things go and any challenges you had or any improvements that you made and how they turned out...

  20. I used your rub and my pork turned out amazing! Just wanted to add that I tried something different this time. I injected my pork with apple juice,butter, and BBQ sauce it was so moist and had a amazing taste. I was a little woried that it might take away from the meats natural flavor but it did not...

  21. Melissa - thanks for the comment. Injection is a great BBQ flavor inducer! Glad it turned out awesome!

  22. Ron in Charlotte NC says:

    Just wanted to say that this recipe is the BOMB!!!! This past weekend was my first time ever smoking butts. I did 4 for my daughters graduation party.. Needless to say it was ALL gone by the end of the night. Everyone kept going on and on how flavorfull and moist it was.. Thanks for the recipe.. You can best bet I will be using it again

  23. When you smoke the boston butt,does the fat cap go face up or face down?This is my first time doing this.I'm doing this tomorrow morning.Please shoot me an email thank you

  24. Mike in Fraser,Mi. says:

    One more dumb Question, the boston Butt is on indirect heat side, then the chips are in the wood tray and wet and over the fire side?

  25. Doing up a 5 pound butt, 6 hours into it and the vultures are swarming!! Looking really good and the apple juice/olive oil mop makes it glisten!! Will let you know how it caem out, but I have no doubts it will be delicious. Thaks

  26. Let us know how it turns out...

  27. Looks like a great recipe. I am just a little confuse about the indirect heat part. How do you do that? Do you not place the butt directly on the grill?

    Please help. Regardless I will give it a try. It sounds really good.

  28. Bill,
    Me and my son are big fans of Grill Master and we both love to bar-b-que. if you are scared of getting sick, how about coming up with your own recipe.
    To the guy that posted the recipe, thanks and have a bless life
    I think it was great

  29. how long do you let the season sit before you put the meat on??

  30. Copy and paste to print the recipe. Just a tought. Going to try this out this weekend got some folks coming over for a Bon Fire/pot luck dinner. I can't wait. This will be my first time smokin a butt! So far my fav. to smoke is pork tender loin wraped with bacon! make ya want to smack yo mamma!

  31. All, the recipe for the various spices are great, as for cooking times, as was commented, do not get the internal temp of you smoker above 225, as for the time per pound, get a meat thermometer, and when the butts internal temp is between 175~185, remove from smoker, and allow to rest for an hour. The butts temp will rise while setting another 10~20 degrees. I have a Rocky Mountain square box smoker, run with propane. I use the Ron Popeal method, get it to temp and forget it. This smoker will hover on low between 180~230 degrees. On a 8~10 lb butt, I check internal temp after about 6~7 hours, this is generally around 135~140 degrees by this time, so it may be another 3+ hours to get to 165~175. So according to the department of Agriculture: "That could be pork’s new slogan after the United States Department of Agriculture on Tuesday said it was lowering its safe cooking temperature to 145 degrees, from the longtime standard of 160. The new recommendation is in line with what many cookbook authors and chefs have been saying for years. "

  32. @Keith I always start with the fat down to get it a little crusty as I start with my grill a little hot. I rotate the butt every 2 hours. I turn it over vertically and around horizontally so every side, top, and bottom of the butt faces the firebox on the side of my grill.

    @Mike Yes your wood chips would go over the fire. They will not get hot enough to smoke if not.

    @William Indirect means you don't have the meat directly above your fire. I use a firebox on the side of my grill to smoke so it is indirect. If you don't have the firebox, your coals/wood can be to one side of the grill and your meat on the other. The purpose is to use the heat to cook thoroughly without burning the outside. If you try to cook anything as thick as a butt over direct heat, the outside will overcook and inside will be undercooked.

  33. I've cooked with the FAT up and I've cooked with the FAT down. I prefer FAT down. I didn't notice any taste difference BUT I did notice when cooking with the FAT up that the entire bottom portion gets charred and is uneatable resulting in a lot of waste. I've had some suggest that the FAT should be removed completely so that you can have effective seasoning on ALL sides. Where do you stand on this ?

  34. Not saying right or wrong but when my butts hit the grill I don't move them til they hit the pan. I want to avoid any breakage and or loss of juices. Someone once said " If the grill top is open...... then you're not smoking."

  35. I have used this recipe a number of times. I will be smoking 4 butts this weekend on my new UDS I just built. This will be the first time I burn it. This recipe is the best. I make my own bbq sauce with it. I have to say Everyone loves it every time. Thanks for the post. Happy smoken!

  36. Samantha G says:

    Used this today to smoke our first butt today. Turned out great! Thank you!

  37. You are welcome! Try some more recipes and let me know what you think...


  38. Should I put foil on the indirect side of the grill?

  39. I use aluminum foil>>Just wrap up a bib chunk or chips in foil air tight,the poke a small hole on the top the size of a pencil erasser. It will smoke like a train, and not catch on fire, due to the lack of air. It reall works. do not soak!!! Otis

  40. Thanks. The butt i got was too big for my little grill so I had to cook it in the oven. Still i used the rub recipe and cooked it from 10 pm to 10 am at 225 degrees and it came out perfect - moist, tasty and shredded like a champ then i put it in an aluminum pan and on the grill over chips smoked your way and it tasted PERFECT. 4 of us ate through a 6.75 lb butt through the Jags game and also the Steelers game.

  41. Interesting tip...I will have to try that

  42. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe. I have wanted to cook a butt for some time now, and no one wanted to share their recipe. I cooked the butt and it was awesome. Everyone enjoyed the flavor and it was very moist. Thanks again for sharing...!!

  43. I've done 7 or 8 boston butts over the last 2 years and I can tell anyone that one way to check and see if your butt is done as long as you have a bone-in pork butt. Use a pair of tongs to see if the bone will pull out of the pork butt or at the very least see if the bone will wiggle for you while its still in. If it pulls out you know you have a done boston butt.

  44. Making this today - applying the rub now! Thanks for the recipe - can't wait to try it! πŸ˜€

  45. I have found that butts turn out better if you cook them fat side down(if with an 8lb butt) for 4-4.5 hours then wrap in tin foil and flip to the other side for another 4-4.5 hours. when you put in tin foil remember to apply your favorite glaze(peach or apple jam or just strait bbq sauce) and let 'er cook another 4 hours. pleases taste buds everytime!

  46. This is the best recipe EVER !!!
    We have used this several times
    and will not use anything else.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  47. Jesse in Eastern NC says:

    I have had to cook a Boston Butt on a gas, 4 burner grill a couple of times. I had to use a smaller shoulder... around 4 to 5 lbs. I placed it far right on the grill and only lit the first burner. As it got cooler outside, I had to light the second one to regulate the temp. This gave me the indirect heat effect. I wrapped up my soaked wood chips in aluminum foil, and poked holes in it. I placed it above the burners than were on. It smoked great. Every 2 to 2 1/2 hrs I sprayed it with a 1/3 Bourbon, 2/3 apple juice mix to keep it moist. It turned out great. This is an easy way to turn your gas grill into an impromptu smoker for anyone that doesn't have a smoker. Since your only using one, maybe two burners on low; one tank of gas was plenty for me. Hope this helps for those without a smoker. Great rub and a good set of instructions to follow for smoking a butt!

  48. After I get my charcoal ready in my smoker box, do i put the soaked hickory chips directly on the charcoal or do I put them in a pan and set the pan on top of the charcoal? This sounds like the best way to cook a boston butt. Also how long would you smoke chickens for? Thanks

  49. Do you put the meat directly on the rack or should i use a foil pan...?

  50. Derek Krause says:

    I have read over all the articles, and I am by no means an expert... However, I have been bbq'ing for some time, and this is what I suggest: soak your chips, rub your butt the night before and refrigerate. Before smoking, take your butt out of the refrigerator and let it sit for about an hour so the heat from the grill doesn't "shock" the meat. I cook mine on 225 degrees about 75 mins per pound. It is important that you do not rush this process. I've ways gone by the saying, "if you're lookin', you ain't cookin'". Every few hours, you should mop the meat with apple juice/ olive oil mixture.. If/when you hit the "stall" (which, you will), be patient! Once your meat hits the 185/190 mark, pull it off. Let it set for about one hour... Don't forget, that after you pull it off, it will continue to cook internally. Once it sets, pull apart with your fingers! I recommend some cowhide leather gloves to protect against the heat of the meat! If you have any questions, let me know! I'd be happy to help!

  51. Someone gave me a 9lb. butt cut in half. How do you think that effects cooking time?

  52. Cory Mooney says:

    I am having a hard time getting my old brinkman smoker up to temp. Do you have any tips on how to do this the right way?

  53. This recipe is awesome . I tried it and the outcome was great . The butt was tender and moist inside . I will be cooking it again today for Memorial Day weekend . Thanks it was awesome

  54. Gary Heinly says:

    Absolutely great recipe and very clear directions. You were right, the neighbors di come sniffing. The meat is delicious!!!!

    Thanks, Gary

  55. Keith Evans says:

    If your smoker isn't getting hot enough, it may not be as air tight as you need it. Check the door if you have one, plus the top must be positioned as flush as possible.

  56. I use one of these to keep an eye on my temps: Master Forge Digital Remote Meat Thermometer.
    I will know exactly what the temp is at any moment and I do not have to keep going back to the grill. I totally agree with the thought of wrapping the butt in plastic overnight.
    I have also rubbed my boston butt in brown sugar first so the rub will have something to stick to with great results.

  57. This is an excellent recipe, and it's not difficult. I skipped the apple juice injection and the juice/oil mopping, and I still got a moist, tender roast.

    It took 12 hours to get a 7.5-lb boston butt up to 190 degrees, but it was worth every second. After I let it rest, the meat pulled apart with no resistance. The bone lifted straight out, completely clean.

    Definitely add sugar to the rub because it creates a crunchy, sweet-and-spicy crust that is delicious. We're looking forward to making sandwiches with our roast and some homemade barbecue sauce for the next couple of days.

  58. Tried your recipe. Everyone who sampled gave it rave
    reviews. Thanks for sharring. In the absence of garlic powder, I
    used garlic salt and cut the regular salt some. I printed the
    instruction out to use with my next cooking. Thanks

  59. by turn do you meanreposition or do you meanturnover

  60. Hal Polk says:

    I change the directionless the meat on the grill front to back and as well turn top to bottom and bottom to top.

  61. Absolutely the best bbq after doing this 3 times. I will not do it any other way. Perfect combo of seasonings and apple juice. Mmmmmmmm! Happy BBQ'ing

  62. I am kind of new to this and am looking for rough guestimate of how much charcoal it takes to keep a weber type grill at cooking/smoking temp.

  63. My grill doesn't have a temp control.
    I cooked the seasoned 10 lb butt for 15 minutes at 380+ to get the 'grill flavor' all over.
    Now into the oven at 225, in a pan, brushed with Apple/olive.
    Put a larger pan underneath the one it's in and filled it with 1C water.
    This way if my initial grilling dried anything out, it won't continue!
    Results to come!

  64. Whoa..... That joker took almost 13 hours to cook- MEANING, it took forEVER to get the inner temp up to 190F.
    Didn't help that I poured water in the outermost pan.
    Finally covered it all w foil, turned it up to 275F for 20 min. and cut it off.
    Left it all alone in the oven till morning.
    It was still hot!!!
    Pulled off the bone and was SPECTACULARLY delish!

    Found out about the 'stall' here-

  65. How long do you think my Boston Butt will take its 9.5 lbs?
    I will be using a Electruc Smoker on about 180 it will be about 45-50 degrees tomorrow.

  66. Wonderful recipe, second time using your recipe, thanks.

  67. I smoked mine! I don't think a Boston Butt should be put on a grill and cooked - it needs to be cooked slowly for optimal tenderness and flavor. I had a 6 lbs Boston Butt. I made the rub as indicated, but added more Cayenne Pepper (total about 1 TBL - don't be afraid of this spice when it's incorporated with a rub - it was not spicy at all) and I added 1 TBL of Cocoa! Yes powdered Cocoa! It adds so much to the meat. Try it - you'll like it. I did NOT inject the meat with apple juice, nor did I use apple juice for the basting. Apple juice can produce a dry piece of meat! I don't recommend it - but that's just me. I heated my smoker to 200F; put the meat on the second rack; put Apple wood chips in the smoker and replenished them every 15-30 minutes (I do NOT soak my wood chips); opened the draft on my smoker all the way (nothing better than the smell of a smoker cooking filling the air); and turned the meat a quarter turn every 2.5 hours as the recipe indicates. At every "turn" I slathered the top of the meat with EVOO. I smoked it for 6 hours; let it sit for 30-45 minutes; made red mashed potatoes; sliced the meat in 1/2" pieces and this dinner was outstanding! (I did NOT put the rub on and let it sit overnight - however, I'm sure that adds more flavor...probably will do next time). Enjoy!

  68. This recipe rocks! I will use it again!

  69. Chris M says:

    I must say there's a lot of info available out there, but this site has the absolute best.

    I've used this rub and info for 3 cooks so far and for a novice just getting into smoking, I've had great results.

    The rub is perfect with the brown sugar and I've been able to use the methods to cook pairs of 7lb butts to 193 degrees over about 12 hrs in my vertical gas smoker.

  70. Jim Bonin says:

    Jimbo: I never follow directions, we used this as somewhat of a guideline. Used apple juice in tin pan instead of water and just about every spice in the kitchen. I can honestly say I won't be going to the BBQ stand down the road in Bennetts valley, unless it's for brisket. OH MY!!!!!!

  71. I have used this recipe about 25 times! It's awesome! I used it til my smoker off'd it's self. Had to get a new one

  72. I used this recipe for my 2nd ever Boston Butt. I have my 3rd and 4th wrapped in the fridge now to cook tomorrow. It's incredible. I won't even try another recipe. This is better than any BBQ place I've been to. Even got my wife bragging! Best tasting ever! Thanks

  73. I just purchased a propane, cabinet smoker. I have used one in the past with soaked wood chips. A friend bought me some wood pellets. Can you use these in the smoker box? Do they need to be soaked? Or the just for cooking with charcoal or a pellet smoker.