How to Smoke Pork Butt in an Electric Smoker

With a little practice, a fair amount of time and the courage to experiment, you can create your own "secret recipe" smoked pork butt. Pork butt--sometimes called Boston butt, but really the upper "shoulder" portion of the front leg--becomes a flavorful, moist treat when cooked on an electric smoker. Start with a basic recipe and try other ingredients after you get the hang of smoking that butt.

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Pork "butt" is actually the "shoulder" of the hog's front legs--the lower portion of the shoulder is the picnic.

Step 1

Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar with about 3 tbsp. salt, 3 tbsp. pepper, 3 tbsp. onion powder, and equal portions of your choice of other seasonings such as chili powder or cayenne, Old Bay seasoning, thyme, cinnamon, garlic and barbecue seasoning to create a rub. Don't be afraid to experiment--this is how you will find the smoked butt recipe that is distinctly yours. Alternately, purchase a pre-made rub.

Step 2

Coat your pork butt with 3 or 4 tbsp. of mustard, 24 to 48 hours before smoking, spreading a thin layer across the entire surface of the butt to provide a sticky surface for your seasonings to adhere to. Skip the mustard, if preferred, and use the spice rub only, according to your taste.

Step 3

Sprinkle your rub over the pork butt. Use your fingers to both pat and massage--but not rub--the seasonings into the meat. Work the rub in well. Place the butt in a large plastic bag or covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Step 4

Ready your hardwood chips for smoking just before smoking your pork butt. Place approximately 2 cups of wood chips in a large plastic bowl. Pour about 1/4 cup of water or favored liquid such as beer, apple juice or liquor over the chips; soak for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the strength of the liquid--the stronger flavored the soak, the less time required.

Step 5

Drain your wood chips when soaking is complete. Spread a sheet of aluminum foil flat and mound chips in the middle; fold the sides up and crimp the edges together to form a packet. Make four or five similar packages, approximately one for each hour of cooking time, increasing chips and liquid to allow for equally sized packages. Poke the top of each with a fork to allow smoke to escape during smoking.

Step 6

Fill the water pan inside your electric smoker about 2/3 full; substitute apple juice, beer or other liquid for water, if desired. Place racks in place according to the manufacturer's instructions, leaving out any that will prevent you from adding your chips when ready.

Step 7

Close the smoker door. Plug in and turn on your electric smoker, adjusting the temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull your marinating butt out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature until your smoker is ready--perhaps 30 minutes.

Step 8

Place your wood chips either in the pan designed to hold them, if provided, or directly above the heat source--but not touching it. Wait for the chips to begin smoking, then place your butt, fat-side up, on the smoking rack.

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Smoke flavors the meat--but too much may make the meat bitter.

Step 9

Maintain cooking temperature, avoiding opening the door more than necessary. Refill smoking liquid if the water level drops dramatically and add more chip pouches as needed--generally around every hour or hour and a half, at most. Do not add any more chips in the last couple hours of cooking.

Step 10

Brush your butt with a barbecue sauce or desired liquid; you can even spray it with apple juice or other flavoring as it cooks. Spritz or brush only when opening the smoker to adjust chips or check temperature.

Step 11

Smoke your pork butt until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact times will vary according to butt weight, smoker temperature and how often you open the door. Allow for an hour to an hour and a half per pound. Remove smoked butt from the smoker and let it set 20 minutes before serving.