How to Smoke Pork Shoulder on a Charcoal Grill

Though a longer process, it is easy to make real pulled-pork right at home on your charcoal grill. Follow these tips to smoke your pork shoulder.

Tips for Smokin Pork Shoulder on Your Charcoal Grill

  1. What Should I Buy?
    Purchase either a whole pork shoulder, picnic shoulder, or "Boston butt." The picnic shoulder is the leaner and lower half of the pork shoulder, and the "Boston butt" is top of half of the should with a great blend of both fat and lean meat.
  2. How much should I buy?
    Though these cuts may look huge. You will lose up to half in trimming, bones and shrinkages. We recommend estimating a low yield of 50% of the raw weight. So from an 8 pound shoulder, you should receive around 4 pounds of pulled pork.
    HOT TIP For typical portions, we recommend ¼ pound for a "regular sandwich" or ⅓ pound for a "larger" sandwich. With four pounds of pulled pork, you can expect around 16 regular or 12 larger sandwiches. When planning, use ½ pound raw weight per guest for regular sandwiches or ⅔ pound raw weight per guest for larger.
  3. How long will it take?
    Plan for six hours of marinade time, and about 1½ hour per pound for cook. You will also want to account for a rest time of 2-4 hours. If using an 8 pound shoulder, allow for 20-22 from marinade to serve.
  4. Extra equipment to have on hand.
    In addition to your normal grilling gear, you’ll want a meat injector, a half-sized steam pan, a food-safe spray bottle and roughly 4 cups of wood chips.

Steps for Smoking Pork Shoulder on Your Charcoal Grill

  1. At least 6 hours before cook time, inject the pork. Inject at locations evenly all over the pork.
  2. Season your pork and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.
  3. Preheat your charcoal grill to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, planning for a longer cook. You will want to incorporate wood chips into your briquettes as well as use a steam pan.

    If using a Kettleman™ grill, position 80 charcoal briquettes, side by side, in almost a complete circle around the edges of your Kettleman grill. Sprinkle about 2 cups of hickory chips on top of those briquettes and then top those with another 20 briquettes in a single circle. Heat about 15 briquettes in a chimney starter and then pour onto one end of the coal circle. Put the half-sized steam pan in the centre of the circle and fill it half full with water, apple juice or other liquid of your choice. Place the grate on the grill, close the lid with the vents barely open, and allow to to come to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

    HOT TIP This briquette set up is known as a “fuse burn” because you only light one end and it burns in a pattern, giving long, low cooking temperatures.

  4. Remove pork from refrigeration and place on the grate above the steam pan. Close the lid and let smoke.
  5. Once an hour, check to see if the pork’s surface is drying. If it is, spritz it with apple juice.
  6. After about 4 hours, check your your coals and wood. It may be time to replenish.

    If using a Kettleman™ grill, lift the grate, with the pork still on it. Place it on the bottom rack of the Kettleman. Knock down the spent coals. Starting at the end of remaining unlit coals, put more briquettes and wood as in the beginning. Repeat as needed during the cooking process.

  7. With a nice dark bark and an internal temperature of about 160 degrees, double wrap the pork in aluminium foil.
  8. When the pork reaches an internal temperature of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit, rest your pork for 2-4 hours.

    HOT TIP Foil-towel-cooler treatment is a technique that can be used for rest. Wrap the pork in foil, if you haven’t already. Place a towel in an empty cooler. Then place the wrapped pork on that. Top with another towel and close the cooler lid to rest.

  9. Remove the pork from the foil, retaining any juices. Remove the bone and break the meat into pieces. Shred with forks or meat claws, removing any noticeable pieces of fat. Season with additional rub, if desired.