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Best Pork Butt Rubs and Preparation Tips

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Here’s our favorite rubs and meat preparation tips for smoking a pork butt or shoulder from three top Pitmasters in the industry.

Aaron Franklin

Aaron Franklin pork butt recipe

We’ve mentioned before that Aaron is one of the few BBQ experts, but he’s passionate about pork butt too. In fact, he’s taken home the coveted James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the Southwest for smoking pork butt in 2015. We’ll share some of his tips on how he achieves the incredible tenderness that pork butt can deliver if you pay attention to his expert advice. Even if you’re a beginner, you can pull this off in your backyard BBQ setup. Here’s why:

A bone to pick

Aaron recommends that you pick a pork butt that still has the bone inside. This allows your pork to remain in a uniform shape while it slows cooks for several hours. Once your meat is done, the bone slips-out nice and easy.

The skin-win’ trick

Since pork butt has a silverskin covering it. This needs to be removed so that the smoke flavor will penetrate all throughout the meat. Since this cut of meat is much fattier than others, excess fat does need to be trimmed off as well. This doesn’t mean you should remove all the fat as this will slide away once your cook is done.

Rub-a-dub

Now here’s the real kicker since Aaron recommends ordinary mustard or even hot sauce as your slather. Hot sauce that makes an excellent slather is hickory and cracked pepper mustard sauce which compliments pork very nicely. This is followed by coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper with a tiny bit of paprika for a nice color. You can find the hickory and cracker pepper mustard sauce found here

Slow cooking all day long

Once you’ve slathered and coated your pork butt, it needs to go into your smoker grill fatty side up. It will take up to 10 hours per 8-10 lbs of pork butt. It’ll take 5 stages to cook this pork butt, so every step is tending to your butt. You can get a better idea from checking out Aaron’s free preview of how he does it best.

Pitmaster X

Pitmaster X pork butt recipe

This guy could be the next best thing in Youtube pitmaster video stars right after the Crazy Russian Hacker dude. He’s dedicated to doing extreme BBQ in his backyard pit with incredible results that are mouth-watering to boot. His approach to making an amazing Boston Butt is simple and savory. Here is what Pitmaster X aka Roel Westra recommends adding to your next butt in the future.

Applewood for the smokey flavor

Roel recommends that the Boston pork butt is only smoked for an hour. After that, it needs to get wrapped in aluminum foil. This way the smoke flavor stays inside the meat as it cooks further.

Score the fat cap

The top of the fat cap is scored like a chessboard and while flake sea salt is pressed into the scored lines on top. This is to pre-flavor the fat so as it reduces it also salts the meat as it cooks.

About the rub

What Pitmaster X does to his Boston Butt is to season only the exposed meat with a good meat rub. It shouldn’t go over the fat cap at all and needs to be packed onto the exposed meat until it appears dry on the outside. Then it goes into the smoker for just an hour.

Wrap it up already

After the butt is smoked enough, it gets wrapped up with two layers of industrial aluminum foil. It will then cook for an additional 4 hours. Pitmaster X recommends draining the excess fat by cutting a slip at the top of the foil. This fat can be used for cooking on other projects. After this, the Boston but is removed from the foil and put back into the BBQ to finish cooking for a couple more hours.

Big Bob Gibson

Big Bob Gibson pork butt recipe

If there was ever a shortlist of championship awards that Bob Gibson has taken home, it would be from the Memphis in May BBQ event. He’s attended this event over a dozen times winning top awards, yet has taken 5 Grand Champion titles for his hard work. It just so happens that his award-winning recipe for pork butt includes a method that’s very different than other recipes. Here’s what tip make his butt so juicy:

Flavor injected

This recipe includes a series of injections all over your pork butt so the meat will have tenderizing and flavor-enhancing juices inside the meat itself. Bob is using apple juice, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Every square inch is injected beforehand with this mixture until the meat is bursting with juice.

A complex rub

Bob sure likes to give his pork butt rub some serious attention. He doesn’t just use salt and pepper, he’s using sugar, brown sugar, garlic, paprika, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper. This mixture doesn’t need a binder smear and all of these ingredients are mixed together and packed on just by using light pressure. It will stick easily since the injection will have made the pork surface slightly sticky.

A very twangy mop sauce

While this pork butt has been slow cooking for 13 hours, it’s going to need mopping every hour to keep your meat moist. Bob likes to use vinegar, lemon, cayenne pepper, and salt. By this point, it will be nearing the end of the cooking time at 15-16 hours.

Leave the bone inside

When the meat is finally cooked the bone can be removed like a cork out of a bottle. The internal temperature should be 195 degrees Fahrenheit.


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