Pork shoulder is an affordable cut of meat that transforms into a delicious and tender BBQ dish when cooked low and slow in a smoker.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of smoking a pork shoulder and making a flavorsome BBQ sauce to serve with it. With a little patience and the right techniques, you’ll be a pitmaster in no time, impressing your friends and family with succulent pulled pork.

Food Preparation 

The day before cooking 

To make this mouthwatering smoked pork shoulder recipe, you’ll need:

  • Two pork shoulders, with a combined weight of 12-16 pounds
  • Your preferred pork rub

Make sure to thaw the pork shoulders completely, preferably in the fridge. Before cooking, apply a liberal coat of pork rub to each shoulder, avoiding the “fat cap” on one side. Place the rubbed shoulders on a cookie sheet or in plastic containers and refrigerate overnight.

Cooking the Pork Shoulder

Cooking day 

  1. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees, using oak, walnut, cherry, or hickory wood.
  2. Insert the probe from a digital thermometer into the larger of the two shoulders, avoiding the bone.
  3. Place the pork shoulders in the “cool” end of the cooking chamber of the smoker.
  4. Close the lid and monitor the digital meat thermometer and smoker’s heat gauge, adding wood as needed.
  5. Allow plenty of time for cooking, as it may take between 7 and 10 hours, depending on weather and wind conditions.

Making BBQ Sauce for Pork

If you have a favorite BBQ sauce that works well with pork, you can skip this step. However, if you’re looking for a sauce that complements the smoky flavors of the pork shoulder, try the following recipe:


  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons of liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a Teflon-coated saucepan.
  2. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well combined.
  3. Store in an airtight container until needed.

This recipe makes enough sauce for two pork shoulders.

Serving Your Smoked BBQ Pork Shoulder

Once the pork reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees, it’s time to remove the shoulders from the smoker and take out the temperature probe. Place the pork on a cookie sheet or an equivalent surface, and use forks to lift it (be cautious as the pork will be hot).

Remove and discard the remaining fat cap from each shoulder. Using two forks, pull the pork shoulders apart into small pieces, discarding any internal fat. Place the pulled pork into two separate large plastic containers or bowls.

Add half of the BBQ sauce to each container, along with more pork rub to taste. Mix well with forks and serve on buns, French bread, or other sandwich bread.


With the tangy BBQ sauce, sweet rub, and smoky flavors, this smoked BBQ pork shoulder recipe delivers a classic pulled pork experience that everyone will love. Though the cooking process requires time and patience, the end result is well worth the wait. So, fire up your smoker and get ready to enjoy a delicious, finger-licking BBQ feast that will leave your guests craving for more.