Cooking pork shoulder to perfection can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If you’ve never cooked pork shoulder or simply don’t have much experience you might be wondering: How long should you smoke a pork shoulder?
In this article, I will explore how long to smoke pork shoulder at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as some key information that you will want to bear in mind when smoking a piece of meat this size.
Let’s get started.
How Long To Smoke a Pork Shoulder At 250 Degrees Fahrenheit For Prime Results
Pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat, so it’s important to note that it often takes longer to cook than other cuts of meat.
When you’re cooking a boneless pork shoulder at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, this joint will typically cook at a rate of 90 to 95 minutes per pound. However, this can differ.
Bearing this in mind, a 10-pound cut of meat will be ready to eat any time after 15 to 16 hours. However, you will want to make sure that you’re patient, as cooking this meat too quickly at a higher temperature can quickly make it tough to eat.
It’s important to note that the USDA recommends cooking pork shoulder until it reaches 145 degrees F. The easiest way to check the internal temperature is to stick a temperature probe into the thickest part of the roast.
It’s also crucial to note that the ideal temperature for making pulled pork is 225 degrees. If you set your smoker to this temperature, you can expect it to take as long as two hours per pound before your pork shoulder joint is done to make your pulled pork.
A Note On Wrapping Your Pork Shoulder
If you’re familiar with cooking pork, then you will have already heard of what is known as the pork butt stall. If you don’t know what this is, it’s essentially a period of time when the meat appears to stop cooking.
For instance, when your pork shoulder has been cooking for around 5 hours, an 8 to 10-pound pork shoulder will appear as if it’s stopped cooking altogether for an amount of time.
Generally speaking, this will happen when the temperature of the meat reaches a plateau of 150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the pork has been cooking for four or five hours, you will need to check the internal temperature of the meat using an instant-read thermometer. If the temperature reads 150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, you will want to remove the meat from the smoker.
If it’s not quite at this temperature yet, you will need to allow it to cook until it reaches that window.
Once you’ve removed the pork from the heat, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil. This is to protect your pork shoulder that prevents it losing too much moisture as it continues to cook.
You will want to allow your meat to cook for around two more hours after this, and will typically reach 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit in this time.
A Note On Overcooking Pork Shoulder
It’s a common misconception that you can’t overcook pork shoulder. The truth is you very much can.
If you aren’t mindful of this and fail to remove the pork shoulder before its internal temperature reaches 205 degrees, the meat will begin to lose its moisture.
Although you want a hard crust to form on the outside, also referred to as bark, there is a clear distinction between the bark and over-charred meat.
How Should You Position Your Pork Shoulder During The Smoking Process?
When it comes to smoking your pork shoulder, you should make sure that you place the meat with the fat side facing up. This is important, as this way the fat works to baste the meat as it cooks.
If you don’t, the fat will just melt away and all of that delicious flavor will be wasted.
You will also want to make sure that you don’t trim too much of the fat before you apply the seasonings to your joint of meat. While it’s fine to trim some of the fat away, the pork shoulder gets a lot of its flavor from the fat.
Bearing this in mind, you don’t want to leave a good amount of fat, otherwise, you’ll have a fairly bland piece of meat if you aren’t careful!
Tips For Making Smoked Pork Shoulder
Brine Your Pork Beforehand
Start with fresh pork shoulder and make sure it has been brined. You want to start with a lean cut of meat.
Brining helps keep the pork moist during the smoking process.
Keep The Seasoning Simple
When it comes to making a smoked pork shoulder, you want to celebrate the piece of meat! Bearing this in mind, you won’t want to go over the top with the seasonings that you choose.
A simple meat rub of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and brown sugar is enough to make a seriously delicious pork shoulder.
Whichever rub you opt for, make sure that you don’t overwhelm the meat with too many flavors. After all, the pork is the star of the show!
Choose A Good Smoking Wood
Smoking wood adds flavor to any dish. So when choosing which wood to use, you want to pick one that complements the flavor profile of the pork.
You want something that will add depth without overpowering the meat, and you also don’t want it to be too bitter.
Regularly Check The Temperature
You’ll want to regularly monitor the temperature to ensure that your smoker remains within the proper range. This way, you’ll be able to tell whether your roast is getting close to being finished.
Adjust The Cooking Time Accordingly To The Type Of Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder joints are sold bone-in or boneless, and which you opt for will adjust the cooking time. This comes down to the fact that boneless pork shoulder takes less time to cook.
However, buying bone-in pork shoulder can hugely contribute to the flavor of the meat, so it’s often worth the extra wait!
Bearing this in mind, you will also need to adjust the cooking time according to whether you have a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder.
Choose The Right Location For Your Smoker
When it comes to choosing the right location for your smoker, you want to make sure that it is in a sheltered location.
This comes down to the fact that cold temperatures and strong winds can significantly impact your smoker’s heat retention if you’re not mindful.
It is also a good idea to invest in a smoker cover or blanket to help keep the internal temperature steady, even when the temperature drops outside.
Why Is Low And Slow Important?
Cooking your pork shoulder low and slow is important to ensure that you get the most tender result.
This is why the recommended temperature for cooking pork shoulder is 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That being said, at this temperature, it can take as long as 18 hours to bring your pork shoulder up to a safe temperature.
That being said, you can turn up the temperature to 250 degrees to shave off some time off the overall cooking time when you’re in a rush.
Higher temperatures like 300 degrees Fahrenheit significantly shorten the cooking time. However, a temperature this high also increases the risk of you drying out your meat significantly.
As a result, you can end up with tough, chewy, and dry meat that isn’t a patch on the beautifully tender joint of meat you’ll produce if you stick to 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
When figuring out the cooking time for your pork shoulder, you will also need to consider the size of the joint. For the most accurate results, you should always check the instructions on the back of the packet.
The Benefits Of Smoking A Pork Joint At 250 Degrees Fahrenheit
There are a variety of benefits associated with smoking a pork joint at 250 degrees.
These benefits include but are not limited to:
Opting for 250 degrees Fahrenheit as a cooking temperature allows your joint of meat to cook at a quicker rate. This means that if you’re rushed or are limited on time, then you can have your joint of barbecued meat more quickly than if you were to smoke it at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
It Allows The Fat To Render Fully
Another significant benefit of smoking your pork shoulder at 250 degrees Fahrenheit is that it allows the fat to render fully.
Provided that you position the meat with the fat side up, this will result in your meat constantly being basted as the fat renders.
Not only is this great for adding flavor to the meat, but cooking at this temperature also means that the connective tissue can become super tender, too.
Negatives Of Smoking A Pork Shoulder At 250 Degrees Fahrenheit
Along with the benefits, there are also negatives of smoking your meat at 250 degrees Fahrenheit that you should be aware of.
These negatives include but are not limited to:
Might Be More Challenging To Keep Your Smoker At This Temperature
When smoking at a higher temperature, you should know that it might be harder to maintain this temperature consistently throughout the entire cooking process.
You will need to make sure that you are consistently monitoring the temperature of your smoker throughout to ensure that it’s at the right temperature.
Higher Temperatures Require More Fuel
In addition to this, you will also need to make a note that smoking your pork shoulder at a higher temperature will also require more fuel.
As a result, you will be using more fuel throughout the cooking process and will need to factor this into your cost estimation.
If you’d rather cook in a more fuel-efficient way, then you might want to consider a lower temperature for smoking your pork shoulder.
Making a smoked pork shoulder is a great way to create some mouthwatering meat.
Putting your smoker to 250 degrees is a good temperature to aim for in order to save you a couple of hours of cooking time when you’re in a rush.
Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of how to cook a mouth-watering pork shoulder joint!
Good luck smoking your pork shoulder!