With the right technique and patience, you can always prepare the most tender and juicy pork butt roast. As recommended by expert pitmasters, the perfect tasting pork is always done ‘low and slow’, but also let the cooked meat sit for some time.
Once the smoking is done, roasted pork butt should be allowed to rest for an average of 30 to 45 minutes (Minimum – 15 minutes & Maximum – 2 hours). As soon as the temperature drops by 5 to 10 degrees from the target internal temperature of 190 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, you should start pulling or further process the smoked meat to avoid overcooking.
According to some pitmasters, resting pork butt can improve the taste by about 10%! The process of resting pork butt is based on pure science. During the phase, there’s a slow decrease in temperature that does not allow the pork to lose its moisture. By skipping the step of resting, pork butt can shrivel out and turn out to taste dry and chewy. Read more to find out how long to let pork butt rest after smoking.
How Long To Let Pork Butt Rest After Smoking
While it is absolutely okay to process the freshly smoked pork to make pulled pork or other recipes, the process of ‘resting’ undoubtedly produces better results each time. Pork Butt is ideally smoked at a temperature of 225 (or 107℃) to 250 (or 121℃) degrees Fahrenheit.
It takes about 24 hours to cook Pork Butt (or 2 hours per pound) at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, smoked Pork Butt should preferably be prepared in advance. Once you include the resting time, then the total time would go up by about an hour. Smoking at 250 degrees Farenhiet will speed up the process.
Once taken out from the oven, the roasted pork butt should be allowed to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 2 hour or once the internal temperature reaches 190 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want the meat softer, you can even grill it further at a temperature of 201 to 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
The optimum time range for resting pork butt is thus – 30 to 45 minutes. Keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise (by about 10 degrees) as it rests. Most professionals will rest smoked pork butt for an hour.
Pork butt roast should never be kept beyond 2 hours for resting as, at this point, the temperature will approach the danger zone and become prone to spoilage by harmful bacteria and other microbes.
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Why Resting Time Is Important
When smoking pork butt, the meat firms up and expels out moisture. Once you remove it from the heat source, the meat still continues to cook inside. As it cools down, usually at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the moisture begins to evaporate and the juices redistribute and get absorbed. This process is called ‘stalling’. With proper resting, both the center and the edges of the meat become evenly supersaturated with liquid. On the contrary, the juices from pork butt that was immediately processed after cooking are forced out to the edges and are usually drier and chewy.
To understand the concept better, try slicing a piece of roasted pork butt, place it on a plate & observe how the juices flow:
- without resting – will spread all over the plate/ surface.
- with resting – will stay intact inside the meat.
(Note that this example is true only when the meat is cooked at the right temperature and the juices have not evaporated during the cooking process. This can be checked by weighing the pork butt before and after cooking. Normally, pork butt will lose around 13% of its weight during cooking).
Resting is especially very important if you are cooking large cuts of meat, for example, boneless butts that weigh around 5 to 8 pounds. During the carryover cooking time, the internal temperature is raised significantly. Once the temperature is 5 to 10 degrees lower than the target temperature, the smoked pork becomes easy to pull.
Keep reading: Pork Steak vs Pork Chop – What’s The Difference?
Where To Rest Smoked Pork Butt
So should you rest the smoked pork butt in a warm oven or on the counter? Well, if you want to delay the cooling process, you can let the pork butt sit in an oven (at 150 degrees Fahrenheit or to the lowest temperature setting). For faster cooling, just place it on the counter for the recommended time. If storing for a longer duration, you can also use a dry cooler that can trap the heat and prevent a rapid drop in temperature.
Tips For Perfect Smoking Of Pork Butt
Here are some important tips to consider during the process of resting:
- Always use a good quality digital cooking thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat. It’s not advisable to rely on dial-style thermometers. If you are using a pellet smoker, then make sure it has dual meat probes, which measures temperature accurately.
- Avoid cooking the meat too quickly as it would not let the fat and gristle get a chance to break down, and would turn the meat chewy and stringy.
- If the outside temperature is cold or the meat is uncovered, the pork butt may cool faster than expected. Try not to wait for too long in such a situation. Ideally, do not let the pork rest once the temperature drops to less than 10 degrees. This would overcook and make the meat taste dry and difficult to chew.
- If you want to prepare in advance or serve at just the right temperature to your guests, you can delay the process of cooling. Wrap the smoked pork butt in an aluminum foil or butcher paper to conserve more heat and keep the flavors intact for a longer duration. You can create a little vent through the foil that will slowly let the steam out.
However, do note that covering the meat might affect the texture of the bark and make it crispy and crunchy.
- Larger cuts of meat will require a longer time to rest. Follow the golden rule: ‘Ten minutes of cooling/per pound of meat’.
- If you regularly smoke large quantities of pork butt or want to delay resting by about 5 hours, then you should consider using a Faux Cambro. It is an insulated box that can store and carry food for several hours. A cambro is an indispensable tool for professionals and caterers. It is best to buy a small size cambro to ensure that there are no empty spaces and air that will increase the cooling time.
- It is not just the resting phase, but the process of thawing, storage, and marination can all contribute to alter the juiciness and texture of smoked pork butt. Using a water pan is another way to ensure that the pork stays moist. However, if you are struggling to get the ideal internal temperature, you can remove the water pan.
- Once the cooling is done, slice or shred only the desired amount and preserve the rest in an aluminum foil, towel, or dishcloth to prevent it from drying out.
Once the resting phase is complete, you can make pulled pork using a pair of forks or fingers and drench it in a choice of sauce or dressing. Smoking meat is an art for those who have time and patience. One of the pitmaster’s secrets to the signature tender and succulent texture of well-cooked pork butt is the practice of ‘resting’. All it takes is to wait for just thirty minutes and make the most scrumptious and delicious tasting smoked pork butt ever.
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Scot has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Scot spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.