Episode 210: Shoulder On

3-2-1 Pork Shoulder

3-2-1 Pork Shoulder

Beautiful smoke ring, beautiful bark, this 3-2-1 Pork Shoulder may be the most tender pork shoulder I’ve ever smoked. Pile this high on a grilled brioche bun, topped with a Horseradish Poppy Seed Slaw and Chipotle Molasses Barbecue Sauce.

Other Recipes from Episode 210: Shoulder On


3-2-1 Pork Shoulder

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Method: Smoking or Indirect grilling
  • Equipment: You’ll also need: Heavy duty aluminum foil; if using a charcoal grill, 3 cups smoking wood chips, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drained, or 2 or 3 chunks of wood; insulated food gloves (optional); insulated cooler (optional); meat claws


  • One 5-pound pork shoulder (also called pork butt), preferably bone-in
  • 1/2 cup Basic Barbecue Rub, or more as needed, or your favorite barbecue rub

For Serving

Recipe Steps

1: Working over a rimmed baking sheet, generously sprinkle the pork shoulder on all sides with the rub.

2: Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and heat to 275 degrees. (Alternatively, set up your grill for indirect grilling.) Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.

3: Place the pork shoulder directly on the grill grate. (If using a charcoal grill, put half the smoking chips on the coals. Replenish as needed.) Grill for 3 hours.

4: Carefully wrap the pork shoulder in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil; seal the seams by folding the edges of the foil over themselves. Return the pork shoulder to the grill for 2 more hours. Insert an instant-read thermometer in the deepest section of the pork (but not touching bone). If the temperature has reached 185 degrees, the pork is cooked and can be sliced. However, if pulled pork is your goal, carefully remove the foil (watch out for steam), reserving the juices that will be in the bottom.

5: Return the pork shoulder (sans foil) to the grill for another hour, or until the temperature reaches 200 to 205 degrees and the meat has pulled away from the bone. Let the pork cool slightly, or rest it for an hour in an insulated cooler.

6: Using insulated food gloves (optional), break the pork into fist-size chunks and shred the meat with your fingers, meat claws, or 2 forks. Discard any lumps of fat or unpleasant bits. Add any reserved juices and season to taste with additional rub, if desired. Serve on lightly toasted hamburger buns.

Recipe Tips

Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Fire Season 2:

Big Green Egg Kalamazoo Green Mountain Grills FireMagic Creekstone Farms Weber Maverick Shun Basques Bonfire Workman Publishing Smoke n Fire

Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2019 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein.