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Newbie -- Boston Butts

boston_stokerboston_stoker Posts: 794
edited 8:44AM in EggHead Forum

My first Big Green Egg arrives Saturday, and I am very excited. Since I am from the area, I thought I should fix a Boston Butt on it first. However, I have never cooked one, so I was hoping to get some pointers. I will be cooking for three, possibly four, people.

What size butt would you recommend I order from my butcher?
Should I get it with the bone or boneless?
Any recommendations on cooking time and temperature?
What type of wood do people recommend for a Boston Butt?



  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    Even a small one will feed 3-4 people. Note that it will take several to many hours to cook by traditional lo/slo methodology.
    Boneless or BI isnt really a big deal either, both are great.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,937
    If you plan on serving Saturday, you are not likely to have enough time to do a whole Boston Butt. Typically they are about 7+ pounds and are cooked 1.5 to 2 hrs per pound for pulled pork. You might be able to get a decent meal out of a portion that is 4 pounds or so, but smaller pieces tend to dry out if not cooked like a roast, and served cut in slices.

    Before the Egg comes with its instruction DVD, search the forum for Grandpas Grub helpful link list, and do a google on "Naked Whiz" and "Playing with Fire and Smoke" for lots of good starter advice.
  • For pulled pork, you want to cook at 225 - 250 until the internal temp reaches 195 - 200. Because butts are large pieces of meat, it will take some time to get up to temp. Plan on at least 2 hours per pound, but always cook to temperature.

    I like fruit woods such as apple or cherry. They are a little sweet and not too smoky. If you like a lot of smoke, go with hickory. You can also do a mix.

    Experiment with different methods until you find the one that is right for you. Most of all, have fun with the BGE. If you need help, let the forum know. You will be amazed by the wealth of knowledge here.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,993
    the short version is a 7 to 8 pound butt, 250 dome temp with an inderect setup like a platesetter, 14 plus or minus hours, hickory wood is good, i like to add a little fruit wood like cherry as well.

    now these two links are the long version, really covers everything you may encounter, still cook it at 250 degrees plus or minus 20 degrees
  • Bone in would be my preference. 7 lbs is as small as I'd get, you can freeze the leftovers. I cook them at 250 over night, and then rest in towels in a cooler once they get to 195 internal, which usually happens between 9 and noon.

    They get a lovely smoke from the charcoal by itself, thats how I do them but apple hickory or pecan chunks have all been used successfully.

    It's a brave first cook, overnight and all. Personally I'd start with one of the easy great cooks like Spatchcock chicken.

    If you do the Butt, make sure you load up the egg with the largest chunks of charcoal you have in the bottom. Fill it to the top of the fire ring. About 9pm, light it, close the lid but open the bottom and top fully. Wait until it gets to 200, Close the bottom to about 1/4 inch and the top so that the little holes are 1/2 open and let the temperature come up to 250 slowly, do not change the settings unless it goes over. If it goes over close the top a little more and wait 10 minutes.

    Put the platesetter in legs up and wait for 250 again. Then wait for the smoke to clear so that is pale blue or invisible (about 1/2 hour on a fresh load) then without changing the settings (it should still be at 250. Put the meat in, do not change any settings.

    Have a beer. Check the egg before going to bed, it should have come back up close to 250 all by itself.

    Check it once during the night (if the fire wasn't stable it could get hotter or colder, 20 degrees in either direction is no big deal). If the temperature has dropped, use a piece of wire with the 2 inch leg bent at the end (clothes hangers work ok) open up the bottom and use the wire to wiggle in the holes of the grate from underneath, often on low and slow small pieces of charcoal wedge in the holes, thats why we put the big pieces in the bottom. Then close the bottom until it is the same as it was before. Once the holes are clear, usually the temperature will come up all by itself.

    Hope this hasn't scared you too much, a few cooks in this stuff is all habit.

  • Kenny 13Kenny 13 Posts: 321
    Butts are like briskets where some may need to be taken to a higher temperature than others to get to the desired degree of doneness. I've had some butts that pulled easily at 185° and others that needed to go all the way to 200° before they were ready. If you're cooking them to serve pulled pork, the bone-in butts give you a built in doneness indicator as the bone can be twisted by hand when the meat is tender enough for pulling.
  • JoelJoel Posts: 74
    Doug is exactly right with his preparation guidelines. Most people fail an overnight cook because the temperature was not stable when they put the meat on. In some cases, the fire withered away and went out or climbed to 400 degrees consuming the load of lump.

    If you don't have the time or patience, you may also consider a higher temp cook. I've had reasonable success with cooking a 8 pound bone-in pork butt at 400 for about 4 hours. My only mistake was pulling it too soon and had a bit chewier pulled pork than I prefer.

    Good luck!

  • Smoke at 225 until internal temp is 195. I would cook a 7-8 pound Smythfield Butt from Sams Club. You can let a whole butt rest for 5-6 hrs wrapped in a towel placed in a cooler. So give your self plenty of time. I would allow up to 24 hrs cook time. Butts can have a mind of there own! Different amounts of fat and collagen can increase and decrease cook times.

    I have had 8 lb butts reach temp in 8 hrs and I have had them take 26 hrs!!

    The pork needs to rest at least an hour anyway. So allow for extra time.

    Any fruit wood will work fine. Apple, Cherry, Peach all do well. Just put the butt on the smoker cold, straight form fridge to egg. This will allow more smoke to penetrate the butt.

    Hope this helps, BDUB
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