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Difference Between Pork Shoulder and Butt?

ChargerGuyChargerGuy Posts: 357
edited 6:55AM in EggHead Forum
Can someone please help me out? I want to do some pulled pork and I have seen Pork Shoulder(picnic) and Pork Shoulder Butt (Boston)? Which is the right one to use?


  • Chargerguy, I always use the Boston Butt. Mine have always come "bone-in" but I think Costco and probably other places also carry a boneless version.

    Hope this helps!
  • Mark0525Mark0525 Posts: 1,232
    When I made mine 2 weeks ago I used a Boston Butt bone in. From reading on here everyone told me to make sure you get one with a bone.
  • ChargerGuyChargerGuy Posts: 357
    Thanks, I think I will have to Renew my Costco Membership. Sams here only sells Butts by the Case!
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    A whole pork shoulder is normally divided into two sections, the picnic and the boston butt. The boston butt is from higher up on the animal and contains the shoulder blade bone. The picnic is from the upper arm and is the lower half of the entire shoulder cut.

    Either can be used for pulled pork and are usually cooked the same way. A picnic will normally have the skin left on one side, the butt will be sold with a fat cap only, skin removed.

    The picnic is a little more lean and has a bit more sinew and darker meat, and will cook a bit faster as a result. The flavor is deeper with the picnic, but the meat is a bit more dry when cooked.
  • ChargerGuyChargerGuy Posts: 357
    Mark, Butt Bone in for flavor no doubt. Do you brine first?
  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    The bone isn't going to add any flavor, but a bone-in butt will typically retain moisture a bit better than a boneless butt simply because it hasn't been cut open and has less surface area.
  • ChargerGuyChargerGuy Posts: 357
    Thanks Fidel, that was exactly the info I was looking for being a rookie and all!
  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    What that guy Fidel said, absolutely.
    But there is nothing wrong with boneless butt either. If that's what your store had for a reasonable price, get it. It cooks up wonderfully.
  • I have done all 3, bone in, boneless, and picnic. I just usually buy the one on sale. I like the bone in butt the best, but in a pinch the other 2 work fine.

    Happily egging on my original large BGE since 1996... now the owner of 6 eggs. Call me crazy, everyone else does!
    3 Large, 2 Smalls, 1 well-used Mini
  • Mark0525Mark0525 Posts: 1,232
    Faith, would there be any difference in the way they cook? Maybe one being more forgiving than the other. You know me I'm always looking for the easiest way :) and less chances of screwing them up.
  • ChargerGuyChargerGuy Posts: 357
    LOL, I hear you on that one! :laugh:
  • My butcher was out of butts so he substituted a shoulder for me one comparison. Go with a butt bone in. B)

  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    Butt is part of the Shoulder. Maybe you are referring to picnic.
  • This may have already beem answered above, A shoulder has two parts, a "boston" butt and the picnic. The picnic tastes a little "hammier" than the butt. Also the picnic has skin that needs to be trimmed or scored. We have done both with great success. We prefer the bone in Butts. But you can't beat costcos price on the two pack. Here in Az. they have always come boneless. Hope that helps. Have a good weekend. Brett
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