Smoking a pork shoulder

Joined Dec 28, 2010
Ok so I am new here so please excuse me if this is the wrong place to post this question. Anyways the question is I am planning on smoking a pork shoulder tomorrow and was wondering what people here usually use for the the spice rub? I usually use cumin, paprika, onion and garlic powder, a little bit of ground up chipotle, regular chili powder, and salt and pepper. What would you guys use differently?

Also what kind of wood do you use and how long do you smoke it for? I usually have used hickory and oak to smoke, sometimes some cherry wood as well. I also have never fully smoked a shoulder before, in the past I have cooked it partly in the oven and then let it sit on the smoker for awhile. But now I want to do it fully on the smoker, so what are your guys recommendations on time, heat, and types of wood for smoking a pork shoulder?

Any help would be much appreciated, Happy New Years everyone!

Joined Feb 1, 2007
Welcome to Cheftalk, Pen Is Mightier.

Dry rubs are such a matter of personal taste that I almost hesitate to comment. If you're happy with your mix there's no reason to change it. I happen to use a more complex mixture, with a bit of heat in it, but it's not a right/wrong thing.

FWIW, my "pork" rub consists of sea salt, celery salt, black pepper, ancho chili powder, cayenne powder, white pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried citrus peel, and Colman's dry mustard. I use this both on shoulders and ribs.

For most things of this nature I do not sauce until near the end. For instance, with ribs I apply sauce during the last half hour of cooking. But I prefer a lot of bark on my barbecue, so use a mopping sauce throughout the process. This, again, is a matter of personal taste, not a right/wrong thing.

Because pork is usually smoked so heavily, wood choice is all but irrelevant. You want to use a hardwood, corncobs, nutshells, etc. No softwoods, of course. Whatever your choice, let the meat smoke for 2 hours, rest for at least 30 minutes, and smoke again. Keep alternating in that manner.

The real key is low and slow. For a pork shoulder you want to maintain a temperature of about 225-250F. How long depends on the size of the meat. For a full shoulder, I go 8-10 hours, on average, and have gone as long as 12+.

If possible, off-setting the fire and smoke is a good idea. If you're using a regular grill, be sure and use the indirect method.

The one thing to keep in mind is this: So long as you go low & slow it's pretty hard to mess this up.
Joined Dec 28, 2010
Thanks for the replies guys, I ended up smoking it first for about 6 hours and then finishing in the oven since I started smoking it later than I wanted too. But it ended up pretty good, was fork tender and shredded easily. I added some brown sugar, coriander, ancho chili powder, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg to my dry rub from above.

The good part about finishing it in the oven is the sugary juices that run off that you can make a good sauce out of for sandwiches.  I would have like to smoke it all the way but I didn't start soon enough and I wasn't as diligent in keeping a consistent temperature on the smoker as I ran out of woodchips, but all is well it is still delectable and I have so much leftovers since it was a 13lb shoulder.

Once again thanks for your tips guys,


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