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Difference between pork shoulder and butt

QuiltkrisQuiltkris Posts: 1
edited 5:40AM in EggHead Forum
What is the difference between a pork shoulder and a pork butt and which one is better for pulled pork? Thanks!


  • I would get either one for pulled pork ;-)
    Both are the same thing, the pork shoulders used to be packed in wooden barrels for transport. The word was, if I remember correctly, similar to butt. Sometimes during some war. I am sure Wikipedia knows more.
    And thats why today pork butt = pork shoulder!
  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,780
    Actually, if he really means a pork shoulder, the shoulder is comprised of two main parts, the butt and the picnic. So a "pork shoulder" is referring to the whole shoulder, both picnic and butt. A "pork butt" is referring to the butt end of the shoulder (nearest the body) while the picnic is referring to the shank end of the shoulder.
    The Naked Whiz
  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,780
    You find information about many pork cuts at my glossary:

    Glossary of Barbecue Terms

    The butt is the upper part of the shoulder. A shoulder consists of two parts, the butt and the picnic.
    The Naked Whiz
  • NotabuttDaveNotabuttDave Posts: 181
    Just remember Pork Butt is a cooler term. Use it whenver you can. I try to insert it into conversations whenever I can.

    "Looks like rain","Yep, not a good day to smoke a Pork Butt"
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428

    This is a whole shoulder, the front leg of a hog. The half closer to the hoof is called the picnic end, the other end is the butt. They are separated at the joint. In the picture above, the picnic is on the left.

    Here is a picnic


    And here is a butt

    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 11,843
    As for which is better, I imagine everyone has their own opinion. You'll just have to try them both and see which YOU like. For me, it's a butt... No contest.

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • 2Fategghead2Fategghead Posts: 9,623
    I have smoked both and I love eating them both but, I like the picnic a little more. Tim ;)



    Above is a picnic cook.

    The picnic is just a tasty or even tastier than a butt but a butt is very tasty. I don't know why don't you try one for yourself and let us know what you think. ;)

    Below is a butt cook.


  • BordelloBordello Posts: 5,926
    Careful Doug,
    Old Bordello gets going on all this Butt talk. :woohoo:

    Hope all is well with you and yours,
  • FrobozzFrobozz Posts: 98
    What often gets sold as 'pork shoulder' in stores is actually a picnic roast; it's the lower part of the foreleg. The "butt" comes from the upper part.

    Butts are more forgiving of heat variations, BBQ screwups, etc. They're so easy to cook that some competitions ban their use for pulled pork. They're a good place to start if you've never made pulled pork. They're usually also more expensive than picnic roasts.

    Picnic roasts often need to be trimmed -- many (but certainly not all) people remove the skin that often comes with these roasts. It's also possible to dry them out when smoking, although it's not easy. They're generally cheaper than butts. If they're cooked properly, I think they have superior flavor to butts.
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