Grilled Pork Butt makes wonderful BBQ smoked pulled pork cooked low and slow on a gas grill. Moist, tender, and with great smoky bark without a smoker.
Table of Contents (scroll for more)
- 👨🍳How to Cook Pork Butt on a Gas Grill for BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork
- ⏲️How long to cook pork butt on a gas grill
- 🌡️What final internal temperature for pulled pork?
- Grilling Tools
- What is "the stall," and what should I do?
- 🍴How to serve pulled pork
- ♨️How to reheat leftover pulled pork?
- 🐖What is Pork Butt?
- Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
- 📖 Recipe
- Grilled Pork Butt on a Gas Grill for BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork
Not everybody has smokers but we all deserve great smoked barbecued pulled pork. You can smoke a pork butt on a gas grill with these easy step-by-step photo instructions.
The best pulled pork comes from pork butt, which is high in fat and connective tissue. Roast low and slow to melt the connective tissue for fall-apart tender meat that is heaven on earth.
📚Reference posts for more information
- How To Set Up Your Gas Grill for Smoking and Low and Slow Cooking
- A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill
- BBQ Dry Rub
- Memphis Dry Rub
- Memphis BBQ Sauce
- Pork butt—known as Boston butt and sometimes called (incorrectly) pork shoulder. Usually 4-5 pounds but the size of your choice. Boneless or bone-in does not matter.
- Dry Rub—brown sugar, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper OR dry rub of your choice
- Wood chips—the type of your choice
👨🍳How to Cook Pork Butt on a Gas Grill for BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork
- Mix a dry rub if you don't have one.
- Apply the BBQ rub and wrap it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight if possible.
- Set up the grill for low and slow cooking with smoke with a surface temperature of 250° on the indirect side.
- Cook the pork butt on the indirect heat side with a drip pan.
- Add some type of wood smoke—duration and type of your choice. Usual an hour with hickory for me.
- Cook at approximately 250° until a minimum internal temp of 195° to 200° but 200° to 205° is preferred—about 2 hours per pound but variable.
- Remove from grill and wrap in foil and a couple of towels for 15 minutes to 2 hours but up to 4 hours if well wrapped and in an insulated cooler to keep hot.
- Hand shred with a couple of forks. The bone should come out clean. Best served freshly pulled.
⏲️How long to cook pork butt on a gas grill
Generally, 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound at 250°, so a 4-pound pork butt will take about 6-8 hours. Smaller and bone-in pork butts tend to be a bit longer per pound since the cooking time is more related to thickness than weight. If you maintain your temperature steady, it may take less time.
If you have a time-critical cook, do it the day before and reheat. Or do it early. The wrapping before shredding can be as little as 15 minutes or up to 4 hours wrapped well in an insulated cooler, giving you a big time buffer before shredding.
Always remember, you are cooking to a final internal temperature, not by time.
🌡️What final internal temperature for pulled pork?
I am going into this dangerous territory since there are many strong opinions. I go for 195°-200° minimum, but I prefer 200°-205°. And I see 208° or 210° argued as the absolute best. Lower will be a bit moister but a bit less tender, and higher is less moist but a bit more tender. I can't tell much difference. I'll take the middle ground.
Always check the internal temperature in multiple locations with an instant-read thermometer.
- Assume about ⅓ pound per serving before cooking, making about ¼ pound of pulled pork. You want leftovers, and many people wish to have several sandwiches.
- Boneless or bone-in pork butt will both work but bone-in will take a bit longer to cook since the bone will absorb some of the heat.
- A gas grill can use a lot of gas. If you are on a tank, start with a full one. It is always good to have a backup propane tank. If you run out with no backup. Pop it in the oven at 250° until your recheck the final temperature.
- You can use a pellet or charcoal grill. But with the charcoal grill, it will be harder to maintain an even cooking temperature.
- You need some method of adding wood smoke flavor, usually a grill box or aluminum foil packets. I generally use hickory, but cherry, pecan, mesquite, and apple are commonly used.
- For best results, you need a way to watch the temperature of the grill surface and the meat remotely so you don't keep opening the grill hood and dropping the grill temperature.
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Smoke™ by Thermoworks™
Thermapen™ One from Thermoworks™
Cast Iron Smoker Box
ThermaQ2™ Kit with Probes by Thermoworks™
Use the rub of your choice. Look around, and you will find thousands of variations that will work. There are many commercial rubs, also.
I suggest a simple rub, like my 8:3:1:1 BBQ Dry Rub, included in the recipe card below.
I don't, but you can add flavors and moisture with an injection. But pork butt is very moist, and I want it to taste like pork butt.
Trimming the fat pad does not matter other than decreasing the drainage. The tenderness and moisture of the final results come from melted connective tissue and internal fat, not the fat pad.
Likewise, fat pad up or down does not matter.
Tradition says yes, but most experts say not it is not needed. Some will say it prevents the wood from catching fire and that they smoke longer.
I have become convinced it doesn't matter, so I have removed that from the process.
What is "the stall," and what should I do?
Pork butts and beef brisket will hit a temperature "stall" when it starts to break down the connective tissue, and water comes out of cells and then evaporates from the surface, usually in the 160° range. It may last only minutes or hours. But the temperature will not move.
Think of it as the cooking energy melting the connective tissue (a good thing) and evaporating the water (not so good). You can prevent most of the evaporation by wrapping tightly. See the grill brisket recipe for more details about the stall and a "how-to" if interested.
What do I do about it? NOTHING, in my opinion, for the home grillers and smaller pork butts wrapping is not needed. It is a bigger problem with larger pork butts and full briskets.
🍴How to serve pulled pork
I tend not to do a lot of side dishes with pulled pork; it leaves more room for pork. Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite barbecue sauce, or just piles on a plate.
I suggest my homemade Memphis Barbecue Sauce. This sauce always disappears, and others are left untouched at parties. But use any sauce you love.
One quick reminder, do not reheat with BBQ sauce. The acid in it will destroy the texture of the meat.
♨️How to reheat leftover pulled pork?
Reheat on a sheet pan sprinkled with a sprinkle of water (don’t overdo it). Cover tightly with foil and into the oven at 250°-300° until hot—usually 30-45 minutes. I know that is not very exact, but you get the idea.
The time varies by how you shredded it and the amount on the tray. You can then turn the oven down (keep it covered) or transfer it to a crock pot on "keep warm" setting.
Never reheat with sauce applied—the acid will destroy the texture of pulled pork butt.
🐖What is Pork Butt?
Like many cuts of meat, there are several names for the same thing. Pork butt and Boston butt are the same cut. It is behind the neck and is part of a larger (primal) cut called the pork shoulder. The pork shoulder primal is divided into two smaller cuts, the pork butt (Boston butt) and the picnic shoulder. The term pork shoulder is incorrectly frequently used interchangeably with pork butt.
The pork butt is above the picnic shoulder in the pork shoulder primal cut. While the whole primal cut is well-marbled and tougher meat, the butt area has more connective tissue to melt and is the cut of choice for pulled pork and carnitas.
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Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Start with about a cup of the rub of your choice. I used a variation from an 8:3:1:1 dry rub—recipe in the recipe card below and apply about one cup of dry rub.
If you have time, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking. This means the meat is not over direct heat. You will see a disposable pan under the pork to catch any juices. This is on the indirect heat side. The other side has a water pan over the direct heat. Adjust the burners to get a steady 250°. Add the meat to the indirect side.
Start your smoke. You can also apply smoke with a separate smoker box or an aluminum foil pouch with slots. I use smoke for about one hour. Cook at approximately 250° until 195°-200° minimum, but I prefer 200°-205°.—generally 6-8 hours.
Remove from the grill and wrap tightly in double sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap in towels for 30 minutes to 2 hours. You can extend this time by wrapping more and using a small insulated cooler—up to 3-4 hours.
Hand shred with a couple of forks. The bone should come out clean.
Best served freshly pulled.
Grilled Pork Butt on a Gas Grill for BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork
- 4-6 pounds Pork butt - boneless or bone-in
- 1 cup rub of your choice or 8:3:1:1
- 3-4 cups wood chips - type of your choice
8:3:1:1 Rub - this makes just under one cup which is fine.
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Start with about a cup of the rub of your choice. I used a variation from an 8:3:1:1 dry rub—recipe in the recipe card below and apply about one cup of dry rub.
- If you have time, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
- Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking. This means the meat is not over direct heat. You will see a disposable pan under the pork to catch any juices. This is on the indirect heat side. The other side has a water pan over the direct heat. Adjust the burners to get a steady 250°. Add the meat to the indirect side.
- Start your smoke. You can also apply smoke with a separate smoker box or an aluminum foil pouch with slots. I use smoke for about one hour. Cook at approximately 250° until 195°-200° minimum, but I prefer 200°-205°.—generally 6-8 hours.
- Remove from the grill and wrap tightly in double sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap in towels for 30 minutes to 2 hours. You can extend this time by wrapping more and using a small insulated cooler—up to 3-4 hours.
- Hand shred with a couple of forks. The bone should come out clean. Best served freshly pulled.
Your Own Private Notes
- There are lots of tips in the full recipe post. If you are new to this, please read the post. And check the grill setup in How To Set Up Your Gas Grill for Smoking and Low and Slow Cooking.
- The estimated cooking time is 1 ½ to 2 hours per pound. But smaller pork butts tend to be longer than that. Bone-in also takes a bit longer.
- You must be able to monitor the grill surface temperature. Please do not try without it. You want 250° grill surface temperature. You also must be able to check the internal temperature of the meat.
- You can keep reapplying smoke, but 1 hour is good. I prefer hickory chips.
- Bone-in or boneless does not matter. And fat pad up or down does not matter.
- Use a rub of your choice. I provided a suggested rub. You may decrease the salt if you want.
- Done is 200°-205° internal temperature. Don't settle for under 190°.
- Do not shred immediately. Wrap with foil and let the fluid absorb for at least 15 minutes, but 1-2 hours is better.
- You can delay shedding to 3-4 hours by wrapping the foil-sealed butt in multiple towels and a small insulated cooler.
- Always shred before it cools.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days, but I prefer two days since the texture seems to suffer. It will freeze well for 3-4 months.
- Reheating and serving are discussed in the post.
- Never reheat with sauce applied. The acid will destroy the texture.
- The most common error is poor grill setup. Please see How To Set Up Your Gas Grill for Smoking and Low and Slow Cooking.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Posted July 15, 2012. This recipe has been one of the more popular recipes on the site and was way overdue for a facelift. Photos have been re-edited with a few from other recipes to clarify things. Please enjoy learning how to cook pulled pork on your gas grill.