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.

Any good story starts with passion, which makes Aaron a great storyteller. Can't wait to make my next brisket.

Details are what I was after, details are what I got.

I learned a bit about Brisket and Tx BBQ that was nice to know. It was good to hear that others have grown up with fire and meat and been drawn to the art of BBQ.

Fantastic course. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Don’t fear smoking as high as Franklin does, learning how to trim and slice priceless. Thank you.



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?

Peter S.

Love these lessons. I tried this one using a propane BBQ with a 'smoker box'. Man did I screw up. Left it unattended for a bit and it overheated and the pork burned badly. It may have even been on fire a bit. Don't recall exactly. Funny thing is, there were still parts of it that tasted fantastic! Best stuff I think I've had in a long time. Maybe ever. Looking forward to the next cook. I bet it'll be even better when it doesn't catch on fire!


Disappointed , great detail but a key bit of information temperature of the chamber was not mentioned.


Aaron mentioned that keeping a constant temperature is important. Why did he not suggest a target cooking temperature for the butt?

Kyle P.

Hey everyone, I’ve tried a few pork butts on the smoker (I’m using a barrel style one) and they’ve never turned out too well. I was super keen to follow this lesson plan and do another butt... I followed the plan pretty much to the letter, but the pork butt turned out more like a roast and quite dry (it did pull really well). Can anyone advise where I’m going wrong?

A fellow student

Wrote my plan ahead of time. Stuck to the plan, but made adjustments based on judgment calls along the way. It came out perfectly. The bone pulled out cleanly, and everyone loved it. My wife and the husband of the couple we had over are both professionally trained chefs, and they were super impressed. Also, my wife doesn’t like when meat tastes like smoke, and I achieved incredible flavor without it tasting like smoke thanks to Aaron. He writes about it in his book, but the “tasting like smoke” that people dislike is when it is bad smoke. Kept good smoke the whole time and it ended up with depth of flavor, the good smoke flavor, with none of the bad.