The best pork shoulder recipes are cooked low and slow. This slow roasted pork shoulder is slightly sweet and incredibly tender with crispy, crunchy edges. This is one of the best pork shoulder recipes of all time!
“This was so delicious! Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Absolutely simple way to turn an inexpensive cut of meat into a feast. I will make this again gladly. I loved how easy the prep was. I was able to leave it in the oven and go about my day. Worried that it might come out dry but it was absolutely perfect.” -Niki
We are so excited to share one of our favorite pork shoulder recipes — slow roasted pork shoulder. The flavors and texture of the crust are so yummy and the meat on the inside is tender and smokey (without being smoked!). We love slow cooking big pork shoulder roast to feed a crowd during holidays and get togethers.
A quick rundown: the pork shoulder cooks low and slow for hours and hours creating the most beautiful crunchy crust and tender inside. This method of cooking pork shoulder is the closest you’re going to get to smoked pork shoulder without using a smoker.
What You Need for this Pork Shoulder Recipe
- 3-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast: make sure to purchase a 3-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast. I’ve had the best success finding this cut of meat at the butcher of most grocery stores.
- Butter: butter is used to not only sear the pork shoulder but also add amazing flavor. Can’t do butter? Olive oil works, too,
- Pork dry rub: the pork spice rub is seriously so delicious. It’s garlicky, slightly smokey, and a little bit sweet. The spices we used are garlic powder, brown sugar, kosher salt, ground pepper, and smoked paprika.
Make it smokier: If you want a smokier flavor, you can up the paprika.
Make it spicier: looking to make this roasted pork shoulder spicier? Feel free to add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne powder.
What is pork shoulder?
A pork shoulder roast comes from the shoulder of a pig. It typically has more fat than a pork loin, which makes it great for slow roasting. In this pork shoulder recipe, we’re using a 3-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast.
Other names for pork shoulder:
- picnic shoulder
- picnic roast
- pork shoulder roast
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How to Cook a Pork Shoulder Roast
There are many ways to cook pork shoulder roast. You can use your Instant Pot, oven, smoker, slow cooker, etc. Today we’re teaching you how to make pork shoulder by slow cooking it in the oven.
- Dry Rub: first, prepare your pork dry rub. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl. Then, sprinkle the dry rub on all sides and in all cracks of the pork shoulder roast. Be generous.
- Sear: Next, heat butter in a large cast-iron skillet. When melted and fragrant, sear the pork shoulder roast on all sides for 2-3 minutes or until brown.
- Slow Cook: Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with tin foil. Then place a wire rack on top. Transfer the seared pork shoulder roast on top of the wire rack and bake at 250ºF for 7-8 hours, depending on how big your pork roast is. Slow cook pork until the internal temperature reaches 200ºF.
- Shred: Let pork shoulder rest for 5-10 minutes and then use 2 large forks to tear apart the pork into large, bite-size pieces. It should be easier to shred.
Have a bigger or smaller cut of meat?
If you have a bigger or smaller cut of meat, all you have to do is adjust the cooking time to more or less time. Watch the internal temperature and cook it until it reaches 200ºF. We explain more below!
Can pork shoulder be pink?
Pork shoulder can be a little pink as long as the internal temperature is at least 145ºF, which is when you can safely consume pork.
Can I dry rub and sear the night before?
You can dry rub your pork shoulder the night before, but don’t sear the pork the night before. Make sure to sear your pork and immediately start roasting it or you could risk bacteria grown as it sits partially cooked in the fridge.
If you decide to dry rub the night before, wrap it in a piece of plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out and refrigerate it until the morning.
Pork Shoulder Internal Temp
You’ll notice that we recommend cooking your pork should roast until the internal temperature reaches 200ºF. This is because we want it to be easily shredded.
Pork is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF (USDA), but because we are cooking low and slow, the goal is to get it to reach 200ºF so that the meat can tenderize and break down to be easier to shred.
What is The Difference between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder?
So is pork butt the same thing as pork shoulder? Pork butt and pork shoulder are not the same thing. While they come from similar areas of the pig, they are actually 2 different cuts of meat. Pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is a fattier cut of meat.
What is pork shoulder used for?
Where can I buy pork shoulder?
Pork shoulder is a very popular cut of meat and you can find it in the pre-packed meat section or at the butcher of most grocery stores.
Pork shoulder nutrition
Pork shoulder is high in protein, has a moderate amount of fat, and low in carbs and sugar. The serving size for pork shoulder is around 3 to 4-oz. Per 4-oz pork shoulder has:
- 240 calories
- 18g fat
- 19g protein
- 0g carbs
- 0g fiber
- 0g sugar
How much pork shoulder per person?
We recommend serving around 4-oz. cooked pork shoulder per person. So, if you have a 3 lb. roast, that would serve around 8-12 people (depending on how much fat your pork shoulder has on it).
How to Serve Your Pork Shoulder Roast
Tacos: Eat your pork similar to carnitas tacos and serve the shredded pork in a tortilla with avocado, minced onion, and sala.
Sandwiches: make pork sandwiches by tossing your shredded pork in your favorite bbq sauce. Serve it on a bun with slaw.
More Serving Suggestions
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
- Baked Zucchini
- Instant Pot Baked Beans
- Egg Salad
- Roasted Root Vegetables
What to do with Leftover Pork Shoulder
Got leftover pork shoulder? Here are some fun ideas to repurpose your pork!
- Nachos: top tortilla chips with leftover pulled pork and then sprinkle on shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, minced red onion, olives, and fresh guacamole.
- Freezer Burritos: we love making freezer burritos with leftover pork! Check out our freezer burritos, but instead of using ground beef, use pork instead.
- Pork Chili: pork chili is one of my favorite things. Use our Instant Pot Pork Chili recipe as guidance, but use cooked pork instead.
Let your pork cool completely. Then, transfer it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 250ºF and cover a baking sheet with tin foil. Then, set a wire rack on top of the tin foil.
- Prepare the dry rub by adding the garlic powder, brown sugar, kosher salt, ground pepper, and paprika into a bowl and mix.
- Next, sprinkle the dry rub over the pork shoulder and massage the dry rub into the meat. Be sure the whole pork shoulder is covered in dry rub.
- Heat a large pan or cast-iron skillet over medium/high heat. Add butter. When the butter has melted and is sizzling add the pork shoulder to the pan and cook on each side of the pork shoulder for 2-3 minutes or until brown.
- Carefully remove the pork shoulder from the pan and transfer it onto the wire rack on the baking sheet.
- Bake pork shoulder at 250ºF for 7-8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200ºF*.
Tips & Notes
- We used a 3.5 lb. pork shoulder and it took 8 hours to reach 200ºF.
- Option to season pork shoulder, wrap it in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight if you’d like to prep this ahead of time. Do not season and sear and then let it sit overnight as you increase the risk of bacteria growing in partially cooked meat.
- 200ºF is important because it needs to be that hot internally in order to be able to shred it.
- Nutrition information is for a 3.5 lb. pork roast.
- Quick Sear: many slow roasted pork shoulder recipes skip the quick sear and cook the pork on a higher heat (around 450ºF) for around 30 minutes before lowering the temp. We like to do a quick sear because it helps jumpstart that amazingly crispy crust.
- Cook Low and Slow: be patient here, folks! Cooking low and slow is the name of the game for perfect slow roasted pork shoulder. Cook the pork at 250ºF, no higher no lower.
- Wire Rack: the wire rack is essential for getting that crispy crunchy crust. It allows the fat to fall off of the pork shoulder and land on the pan. This will let the outside get perfectly browned and crunchy.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Erin from The Wooden Skillet.