Culinary Arts

Smoke: Pork Butt

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 25:33 min

For your first cook, Aaron takes you step-by-step through his recipe and technique for smoking tender, flavorful pork butt: from seasoning and wrapping through shredding into tender morsels of pulled pork.

Aaron Franklin
Teaches Texas-Style BBQ
Aaron Franklin teaches you how to fire up flavor-packed Central Texas barbecue, including his famous brisket and more mouth-watering smoked meat.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - So get into a big, long barbecue cook. This is kind of, in my opinion, an inexpensive piece of meat. It's pork. It doesn't cost a lot. It comes from the shoulder. Even though it's called a butt, it's still a shoulder butt. It's got a lot of muscles, a lot of connective tissue. It's got a bone in it. And it's pretty easy to cook. You just have to cook until it's really, really tender. So pork butt's pretty easy to pull off, but it's still really nice to come up with a game plan. Won't be complicated. So getting into a cook, I like to kind of make a game plan. I want to start off with the time that I want to eat, and then I'm going to backtrack it from there. And I kind of want to just write down some bullet points of times, maybe some temperatures that I'm looking to keep the cooker. And then as I cook, I'll start making little notes of adjustments that I make. And then after I get to eat the food, check it out see, how the fat rendered, make sure it's moist, see if it's dry, or overcooked, undercooked, whatever. Then I start making notes, and then I can kind of backtrack from there to correct maybe what went wrong in the cook. So it doesn't take much resting time. There's not much slicing that needs to happen. We're just going to cook until it's tender. It's going to be wrapped in foil at that point. Open it up, shred it apart with our fingers hopefully. And I'm going to say we want this to come off at 5:30 because we're going to eat dinner probably about 6:30, somewhere in there-- plenty of time. So 5:30 off. I think this thing should take about 10 hours. It's going to cook unwrapped for about eight hours. Wrap it real tight in foil after it's got a really nice crust on it, and then we'll finish it out for about two hours hopefully. So that would be going on pretty soon at about 7:30. So then we go 8 hours from there. That's going to put us at 3:30 wrap. And these are kind of loose guidelines. This cook could go any direction. If the fire's kind of suffer up front, maybe it's an abnormally tough piece of meat. It might go a little bit longer, but this is kind of just a ballpark range. And we're going to start off with the cooker at 270. And there's a lot of fat in here, so I'm not too worried about cooking it too hot right up front. This fat's going to render. It's going to get wrapped up. Hopefully, all that fat and the moisture is going to cook down into the foil and kind of stay with the meat a little bit. It's not an incredibly long cook, so I'm not too worried about the edges drying out. It's all going to get pulled, so it doesn't really matter if there's a beautiful bark on it or not because it's all going to get chipped up. It's all getting mixed up together. It's maybe not the most complicated barbecue cook out there, but it's always good. So you have a lot of wiggle room. If you kind of mess it up a little bit, it's still going to be really, really good. You can throw some vinegar on it. You can...

The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Cool journey Thank you Aaron! Little nuanced tips, awesome

I'm a proud Texan that owns a business that started small like Franklin's Barbecue. I appreciate this special insight about a man that is passionate about his craft.

Funny. Crazy. Passionate. He knows what his doing. Congrats.

How to build a proper fire. Stay with the fire. Pay attention. Proper smoke application.


A fellow student

Perfect. The journey keeps getting better. This was an amazing g class and has helped me tremendously!

B. A.

Using an electric smoker the fat cap splits after 3-4 hours. Wrap then or keep cooking at 270 for a while? Aaron says his fat cap splits after 8 hours so a little bit of a difference there.

A fellow student

Great lesson Mr Franklin. First time cook, crushed it. 9.5 hours on a Kamodo. Best bbq I’ve ever served. Graduating to brisket next

Jed T.

Would like to see how he manages that big cutting block. Like what does he do to clean it after the raw butt was on there?

A fellow student

I've done 3 cooks so far and the smoke in the butt is very subtle . The flavor of the pork overrides the smoke flavor. Any suggestions on how to get more smoke into the pork? I use post oak and it burns very clean. Hardly any smoke coming out of the stack. I'm using an Old Country Wrangler offset smoker.


First attempt at a big Pork Butt. Turned out a little drier than I was hoping for but still happy with the results. Awesome smokey porky flavour. Cooked on a WSM with a mix of charcoal and wood.

A fellow student

This was an awesome lesson for me. I've been making pork butts using this method about 10 times. But I use a pellet smoker and it may not be purist, but it's easy and works out great. Thanks for a great lesson. My friends are thankful and I think I've gained five pounds so far. LOL

Tom T.

I know this isn't important, but the pdf has a small boo-boo in it. The last sentence in the first paragraph of stage 3 says, "When you place the ribs back inside the smoker you’ll want the duller side facing out so it absorbs rather than reflects the heat." It was probably just a cut and paste from the ribs pdf. Thanks. Doing butt #2 on Saturday. Can't wait!!! --Tom

Scott K.

Anyone have preferred reheating instructions? I think I have 8lbs left, haha!

A fellow student

Going for my first attempt today...I don’t have a offset smoker..I only have a Webber smokey mountain..any one else got any tips using Aaron’s methods but on a barrel smoker?