How to Improve Your Grilling For Awesome Flavor

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Selecting the Proper Pork Butt/Shoulder

How do you determine how to which pork butt/shoulder to select for smoking. I generally use the theory that each person is going to eat around eight ounces if they have two sandwiches.

Some people may select to have pulled pork with no bread they will generally get about three ounces per serving. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a pork butt that will provide two to three servings more than the anticipated number of guests.

How to Choose the Right Pork Butt

Look for a pork butt that has a bone that goes all the way through it. This provides more flavor and helps the cooking process. You also need to have a fatcap on one side. The pork butt should have good marbling so that when the fat dissolves it helps enhance the flavor of the pork butt.

Choose one that you don’t have to trim very much. The more you trim will often lead less flavor and dryness. The overall look of a good pork butt will look similar to the one pictured below.

Pork Butt (Shoulder)

Preparing the Grill

You will want to prepare your grill differently than if you were grilling hot dogs or hamburgers. Your temperature will be lower since you are not going for a sear or fast cook. Make sure your grill grates are clean of any debris from any previous grilling. It helps for a better smoking experience.

Let’s say you are preparing your coals inside the barrel of your grill. On the end away from the pork butt, use a charcoal chimney to start your coals. After your coals are started, spread your coals out to form a nice bed. You may have to wait a few more minutes for them to get to the right temperature between 225F – 275F.

Use the Firebox for the Best Results

Using the offset smoker is a wonderful way to smoke a pork butt. To start the coals for smoking there are a variety of ways to do this. You will have to choose which method works best for you. I will show you both methods without using starter fluid.

The first method, which to me is the easiest. I will start my charcoal with a firestarter called tumbleweed. Place the charcoal in the chimney, underneath the chimney you will have the tumbleweed, light it. This will take a few minutes for the coals to become hot enough to spread throughout the firebox.

If I weren’t using the charcoal method of smoking a pork butt, I would use the method of having a bed of charcoal covered with the hardwood of my choice. For example, I could choose hickory, mesquite or a flavor wood such as pecan.

Another method to use is select woods only. You have to be a bit more careful with this method, otherwise you could get your firebox too hot. You will need to take newspaper or some other paper or tumbleweed put it in the bottom of the firebox and place your wood on top of it. I would recommend small pieces such as kindling for a quick start after lighting your paper or tumbleweed.

As the fire gets established, begin to add the larger pieces of wood. Do this in a manner that does not cause your fire to go out. I would not use more than two large pieces. After a couple of minutes check your temperature to make sure it is rising to the temperature you want.

Preparing the Pork Butt/Shoulder for Grilling

Pork Butt before Preparation

One of the most important things to do when smoking a pork butt is to season it correctly. You can use a wet marinade or a dry rub. You can use whichever one you prefer. I have had success with both.

If you use a wet marinade then it is best to put it in a pan that has some deep sides to it. Fill it about halfway up. I try not to use a marinade that is full of sodium(salt).

You can add different flavors if you like but use one that will go well with whatever wood you are using. If you are going to marinate overnight, it is best to turn it over halfway through the marinating process.

You are now ready to put it on the grill for a flavorful time that your guests will talk about for months or years to come. They may even want you to do their grilling for them.

If you are using a dry rub, apply the rub liberally. You can either put it on the grill at that time or let it dry marinate for a few hours so that the flavor of the rub will be infused deeper into the meat. You are now ready to put it on the grill for a flavorful feast.

Smoking The Pork Butt/Shoulder

Smoking A Pork Butt
Pork Butt after 4 Hours Smoking

Now at long last, the time has arrived to get the party started. It is time to put the pork butt/shoulder.

You have your grill set at 275 fahrenheit. You shoulder has marinated and smells great even before you put any heat to it. Put the pork shoulder/butt on the grill fatcap up. I generally put a pan of solution one-half water and one-half apple juice under the pork shoulder/butt to keep it moist throughout the grilling process.

Slow is the Way to Go

Put it on the slow side so that it cooks evenly low and slow. You have your grill set at 275F. You shoulder has marinated and smells great even before you put any heat to it. DO NOT put it on direct heat. Put the pork shoulder/butt on the grill fatcap up.

A good rule of thumb is 45 minutes per one pound of meat. Check your temperature periodically if you are using charcoal or wood and add more if necessary. For a pork shoulder/butt that weighs around 9 1/2 pounds it will take around 7 1/2 hours. You want your pulled pork to be moist and tasty.

Take a thermometer and see if it is registering between 165 – 190F. When it reads that temperature take it off the grill to let it rest before pulling. The resting time will be 30 minutes to 1 hour for best results.

Your tasty results

Now at long last, you have your pork shoulder/butt off the grill, you need to let it rest. I generally let mine rest around one hour then take my bear claws to pull it. You will need a large cutting board for pulling. I always have a deep aluminum pan to one side to put the meat in.

The meat is so tender that in no time at all you have all the meat pulled and torn. You can add some bar-b-que sauce to it if you so desire or leave it plain so your guests can add it later if they so desire. You will find that not all people like bar-b-que sauce.

Pork Shoulder after 6 Hours Smoking

Time to Eat at Last

You have waited all day for the opportunity to enjoy the feast you have helped prepare. Now is the time to enjoy with friends and family.

Some suggestions I have found that work well. During the cooking process have a waste can close by for anything that might need to be disposed of in a hurry. There is nothing wrong with sitting out listening to a game or watching the kids have fun in the yard.

You will probable get hungry and thirsty while the smoking is taking place. Enjoy a picnic while your pork butt is smoking. Have fun listening to some of your favorite music.

If you have a picnic table in the yard, prepare it for everyone to eat out there if the weather permits. Enjoy the natural surroundings and family while you have the opportunity.

Please leave a comment or suggestion.



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20 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Grilling For Awesome Flavor”

  1. I personally love grilling growing up in a family that eats meat about 6 out of 7 days of the week. Choosing the right pork butt is important but how you smoke the pork butt is even more important. I like your use of imagery and direction to preparation, thank you for this post.

    • Logan,

      I apologize for the delay in answering your comments. Knowing how to choose the right pork butt is important but as you say knowing how to turn it into something savory is another matter entirely. We all need to find ways that are easy for each of us with the flavor we expect.



  2. Exceptional great website Jerry your expertise in grilling and step-by-step instructions are wonderful. I do a lot of grilling in the summer but there is a lot I have no idea about doing. I never tried pork but now thanks to your instructions I think I could do it. I also liked the reviews on affordable grills that is another + great job Jerry.

    • Hi Coyalita,

      I apologize for not responding sooner. Thanks for your comments. Grilling or smoking pork is not much different than grilling beef. Once, you know the correct temperatures and cooking times it is a breeze that gives you incredible flavor. The right grill and the right pork butt can make you the master of meats in your neighborhood.


  3. I’m a coward when it comes to grilling (I’ve never even attempted it) but this post makes me think that I could!  How long does it take to grill the roast?  And when you say to put a water/apple juice bath under the roast, does that mean that you’re setting the roast in the bath? Or setting the bath under the rack on the coals?

    • Hi Cynthia,

      I apologize for the lateness of my response. Grilling a pork roast will take 6 hours plus on the grill. A good rule of thumb is 45 minutes per hour. So, I would suggest to take the weight of the pork butt multiply time .75 and that will give you the correct time. For example, 7.5 pounds times .75 =5.625 hours. I would round it off to 6 hours. It should be done and ready to pull after letting it rest for 45 minutes to an hour.


  4. Great pork butt smoking guide!

    I generally go for tenderloin, but after reading through your article, I am gonna have to pick up a nice pork butt to smoke next weekend no doubt.

    Do you have any suggestions for a dry rub?

    Personally, I like to combine onion and garlic powder with a little brown sugar. When I apply it to the meat, I rub it down with spicy mustard first to create a binding for the rub and then I coat it generously with the seasonings, then i let it sit in the fridge while I prepare the fire.

    Generally, you can’t taste the mustard after it’s finished cooking, but the spiciness is still there and it adds a nice kick to the flavor.

    A lot of people have scoffed when I mention the ingredients I use for my rub, but they cant muster two words against it once they take that first bite!

    • Hi Jerromy,

      I apologize for the late response. I have tried a dry rub similar to yours for a pork butt and it is spectacular. I also add a little chipotle chili powder as well. It gives it just the right amount of kick. I would let it marinade with this dry rub for at least 6 hours before putting it on the grill.


  5. Okay, I gotta say, as someone who does not eat pork, this had me questioning my diet choices lol! This looks beyond delicious and you outline the process thoroughly and in a way that is so easy to read and follow for those new to grilling. Like I mentioned above, I don’t eat pork, is there a beef cut that will grill and smoke just as nicely as the pork butt in your pictures? I’m dying to try this out! I’d love to hear your suggestions. Thanks again for such an easy tutorial!

    • Hi Emilie,

      I apologize for the lateness of my reply. The answer to your question about a substitute for pork you can use a beef chuck roast or a lamb roast. Either of those will do as well as pork. You will want to use the spices of your choice for the most savory flavor to complement the meat. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature with. Check out my website https://grilling-aglobalevent…. for other posts that deal with different cuts of meat in more detail.


  6. Hi, Jerry! I loved reading about these specific tips for improving the quality of meals prepared by grilling. I am a newbie to grilling and these strategies seem really easy to implement, which I appreciate! I can totally understand the importance of selecting the best ingredients in making a big difference for the flavor of the meal that results from them!

    • Hi Erica,

      I apologize for the lateness of my response. Most of the strategies I have shown are easy to do and once mastered you will not want to cook any other way. Grilling has been around for thousands of years and has been improved in the last fifty years. You now have different spices and flavors to cook with for spicing up you grilling process.


  7. Hey Jerry, wow, sounds delicious. You have my mouth watering just from reading your description.

    I have been a big fan of the barbecue for many years, but must admit, I have never been brave enough to try this.
    Since then, we have moved from our house into a suite without space to BBQ. However,
    I have a nephew in the Philippines who loves to cook and BBQ. They will often cook over an open fire. This is definitely something that will be right up his alley. If its OK with you, I will forward this to him. I know he will love it. It would be great if we could be there when he prepares it. We plan to go this Christmas, 2022.

    Thank you for an amazing experience. I am looking forward to your future posts..

    • Hi William,

      I am sorry to hear that you no longer have room for grilling. That is quite regrettable. If you feel that your nephew would enjoy the post then be all means share it with him. Grilling started with an open fire you can go to my website for more information about grilling techniques from around the world.


  8. First off great advice! I have a pit boss and have smoked mainly tri-tip, salmon, and chicken wings. I have been intimidated by smoking the larger cuts of meets like pork shoulder or even brisket. I have been wanting to for a while but never really did research on how to properly pick the right pork shoulder or even how to cook it. This post is very beneficial for those beginner/ intermediate grill masters. 

    • Hi Austyn,

      I apologize for not having replied sooner. Following the rules that I have shown you is a good rule of thumb. It may take a time or two to learn what to look for. It is something that comes with time. You can use the same technique for brisket, just remember on a brisket that you will need to cut the fatcap down to 1/4 inch for best flavor. 



  9. I love any kind of smoked pork. I personally have a Traeger and I have smoked everything from chicken and pork to steak and jerky. I make my jerky using deer and elk. What types of wood and or pellets do you like to use for pork? And what type of meat thermometer do you prefer. I have used several different types, all having a different reading.

    • Hi Tammy, 

      Traegers are good for smoking with and are normally easy to work with. I would expect that your jerky is excellent. The wood I use most often is hickory or pecan, depending upon my mood. I have also used apple and cherry for a sweeter flavor, that way I use less additives in the smoking process. I use a thermometer that is just a plain jane insert. I don’t use one with Bluetooth or electronics of any type, to me they are not as accurate as one that is totally dependent upon heat.


  10. I never had pork but i ate chicken. you explained really well in this article to grill the pork with proper flavour. I see that you have learned by expermenting and i think having experience is the best. can we follow the same with chicken? i mean, is the same process to be followed with the chicken like the temperature, time to cook?

    • Sujith,

      I apologize for the delay in responding to your comment. To answer your question about doing the same with chicken, the answer is absolutely. You will need to change the length of time cooking. You can also do this with lamb or mutton. It is great with this meat as well.



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