Smoking a big cut of meat can seem a little intimidating at first, but we’ve made it easy to do at home with this step-by-step recipe and photo tutorial for the best smoked pork butt you’ll ever make.


  • 6 – 7 pound bone-in pork butt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit for less heat)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark), omit for Whole30-friendly
  • Fine salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


    1. If using a wood pellet grill or electric smoker, fill the hopper with your pellets of choice. We like hickory, pecan, apple, and cherry when making pork. If you’re using a gas grill, plan to soak your wood chips of choice overnight before draining them and adding them to a smoke box set at the back of the grill. Preheat the grill or smoker to 250℉.
    2. While the grill/smoker preheats, pat the pork butt dry with paper towels and set aside.
    3. To make the rub, in a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic, and onion powders, chili powder, cumin, cayenne (if using), brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the rub over the dry surface of the pork and use your hands to gently rub it into the meat.
    4. Place the pork butt directly onto the grate of the preheated grill/smoker over indirect heat with the fat cap facing up. Insert the temperature probe into the thickest part of the pork butt, being careful not to hit the bone. Close the lid. Set the probe timer to alarm at 160℉ which should be somewhere in the ballpark of 2 ½ to 3 hours.
    5. Add 2 cups of apple juice to a clean spray bottle. Spray the pork butt with apple juice every hour (after the first hour) until the temperature of the pork reaches 160℉.
    6. Stack 4-5 large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil on top of one another on top of a baking sheet. Alternatively, you can use a large Dutch oven or roasting pan if you’re looking for a reusable option.
    7. Once the pork reaches 160℉, remove it from the grill/smoker either to the Dutch oven or roasting pan or to the foil (laid over a baking sheet for support). If using foil, gather up the sides of the foil to create walls that will allow you to pour liquid into them. Pour the remaining apple juice from the sprayer into the pot or fortress of foil. Place the lid on the pot, cover the roasting pan with foil, or fold the foil sheets over the top of the butt and together to secure them tightly and prevent steam from escaping. Keep in mind that if you removed the temperature probe, you’ll have to reinsert it. So if you’re using foil, it’s best to wait until you’re back at the grill to seal the foil once the probe is back in.
    8. Return the pork to the grill or smoker (still over indirect heat and still at 250℉). If yours is wrapped in foil, you can either leave it on the baking sheet. Reinsert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, not touching the bone, if you haven’t already done so. Set the probe timer for 205℉.
    9. When the probe reaches 205℉ (about 3-4 hours depending on the size of the butt) remove the pot/pan/foil bundle from the grill/smoker and allow it to rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.
    10. After 45 minutes of rest, remove the pork to a large bowl or a cutting board and allow it to rest another 10 minutes so that it’s easier to handle.
    11. Peel away the fat cap and discard. Use your hands or 2 forks to shred the meat and remove the bone and any large pieces of fat or connective tissue. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar over the meat and toss well to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the barbecue sauce of your choice, if desired.
    12. Store any leftover smoked pork butt in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. May be frozen for up to 2 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave or in a covered skillet on the stovetop with a little water to keep the meat from drying out.

Made in partnership with The Real Food Dietitians.