Competition Barbecue Pork Shoulder

A triumphant search to balance the juiciest pork shoulder with a beautiful blackened bark, for a butt worth pitting against the big boys. [Photographs: Joshua Bousel]

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment every other Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every other Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

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Competition Barbecue Pork Shoulder

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 12-16
Active time:1 hour
Total time:10 to 14 hours
Special equipment:Injection syringe, Smoker or grill
This recipe appears in: Grilling: Competition Barbecue Pork Shoulder


  • For the Braise:
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño jelly
  • For the Injection
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 1 Boston pork butt (about 8 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup barbecue rub
  • 2-3 fist sized chunks of medium smoking wood, like oak or hickory
  • Type of fire: Indirect
  • Grill heat: Low


  1. 1

    To make the braise: In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, agave, and jalapeño jelly. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

  2. 2

    To make the injection: In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, brown sugar, vinegar, water, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Using an injection syringe, inject the pork at 1-inch intervals, using the entire injection solution. Pat pork dry with paper towels.

  3. 3

    Evenly coat pork shoulder with barbecue rub all over.

  4. 4

    Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F, adding chunks of smoking wood when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place pork butts in smoker or grill and smoke until the outside has turned a deep mahogany color, 5 to 7 hours. Place pork butt on a piece of extra-large heavy duty aluminum foil with sides folded upwards. Pour 1 cup of the braise over pork butt. Reserve remaining braise. Seal foil around pork, wrapping with additional pieces as needed, and place back in the smoker. Continue to cook until internal temperature registers 198°F on an instant read thermometer.

  5. 5

    Remove pork from smoker, open foil, and let vent for 15 to 30 minutes. Pull pork into chunks and place in a medium pan, reserving braise and discarding bone. Pour reserved braise over pulled pork and mix together to full distribute braise. Add additional braise to taste. Serve immediately.


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