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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.

Amazing details! Can hardly wait to start cooking a brisket!

I love the level of detail. I've read Aaron's book and while the same information (largely) was there, watching him feel a brisket and describing what he was feeling, and watching him slice were invaluable.

I really appreciate the amount of detail Aaron includes in his class. He provides a great foundation for any prospective pit master to build on.

With somewhat knowledge of how to smoke, this lesson brought that knowledge ten times higher! Thanks, Aaron!


Paul H.

Pulled pork is a long time favorite for me to make for family and friends. My families favorite style is North Carolina style with a Lexington vinegar sauce. (I do like to defile my sandwich from time to time with KC BBQ sauce). Liked the tips from Aaron - but my preferred rub will still be Meathead Goldwyn's Memphis style rub -particularly for baby back ribs.

Deborah W.

I am severely allergic to vinegar. Not intolerant. Allergic. It'll flat out kill me. Mostly, I don't care that much because I was born with this allergy so I don't know what I'm missing with the exception of BBQ sauce. It smells SO GOOD. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me, if the teacher of this class monitors the discussion, perhaps he would know, what effect does vinegar have on the cooking process and is there a way to recreate it with a different process? One of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me was to spend a weekend experimenting in his kitchen to make non-vinegar BBQ sauce. I have no way of knowing how close it was to the real thing but it smelled as good. But like, that mustard rub, I couldn't get within 3 feet of that. Just the fumes from mustard burns my eyes.

Jamie R.

I finally treated myself to a Weber Kettle Premium after contemplating and offset for so long. I followed this lesson as close as possible with the exception of hot sauce instead of mustard. Temperatures were fun to achieve getting used to the new equipment but I think I was in the ballpark for the majority of the cook. My 3.8kg/8.4lb bone in butt took around 9 hours, wrapped after 7 when I was happy with the bark. Using a wireless thermometer to probe the grill and the pork is very helpful to track and look back on how the cook went. Turned out awesome. Well worth the effort and should have bought one sooner. GAME PLAN AND NOTES as you go are a must.

Adam K.

My pork butt was amazing! I used mustard. I was wondering what kind of hot sauce is recommended?

Matthew C.

Well done. I like the camera angles, it contributes to Aaron's lessons which helps the overall. The Game Plan is critical. I like that idea.

A fellow student

Is it equal parts salt and pepper by weight or volume? I always go by weight and was hoping that would be validated.

Douglas T.

For those of us who trim the fat cap, how do we know when to wrap the butt? I know most of the "so called" experts on the internet say to do it around 163 to 165 degrees (F). Is that a good time to wrap?

Erik H.

It was great. Mine came out pretty good. I will say that I didn’t get it up to 203. I was only at about 195. Still super tender and juicy. One thing that I may need to drill down just a bit was the pepper. I ground peppercorns fresh right before using, so the pepper was a bit stronger. I loved the meat by itself. I balanced the final with a sweeter sauce and it was a hit with my neighbors. They are happy I’m doing this class, because there is no way we can the amount of meat we’re bbqing.

Chris R.

Just about every pork butt I smoke reaches that 206 mark a lot sooner than that. My temperature is solid throughout but I have not had the fat cap split like that. I generally can pull the bone out with ease. The inconsistency is what puzzles me.

Todd H.

The pork butt that I ordered ended up only being about 4 lbs. How much time should I estimate? It's half the size of Aaron's, do I just cut the cooking times in half and that's it or do I need to adjust the temperatures as well?