Right On Schedule: When to Wrap Pork Butt

The right time to wrap pork butt is when the temperature of the meat reaches between 150 and 170 degrees.

As more and more people are wrapping their pork butts, they want to know the right way to do this. As such, I get quite a few calls from my friends about when to wrap pork butt. I've got all the answers for you!

In this post I will discuss time, temperature, wrapping techniques, and more. Let's start cooking!

When Should You Wrap Pork Butt?

Before we get into when you should wrap the pork butt, I'm first going to go into a little bit of detail about why you need to do this first. This will give you a better idea of how to figure out the right time to wrap the meat.

Pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is prone to a process that is known as "the stall". This is when smoking pork butt, the internal temperature of the smoking meat stays the same for an extended period of time.

lady cutting pork

This happens when the meat's natural juices begin to evaporate, creating a cool layer around the cut of meat. This counteracts the heat from the smoker, preventing the meat from cooking further at the same rate as it did before.

This can cause your projected cooking time to get skewed, adding hours to the already long cooking process.

Fortunately, pitmasters have developed a solution to this issue known as the Texas Crutch. They wrap the meat so that the heat is trapped close to the pork butt. This causes the temperature to rise, overcoming the stall and allowing the pork butt to cook faster. You should be able to shave off a few hours off the overall cook time.

This isn't the only advantage, though. With wrapped pork, you trap in moisture as well as heat. This leads to tender and juicy meat.

Now, you will often find a lot of people tell you to wrap pork butts at a particular time. They will say that if your pork butt takes around 12 hours to cook that you should start the wrapping process two-thirds of the way. Therefore, you should wrap it when the meat has had a chance to cook for about 8 hours.

For instance, they will tell you that for boneless pork butt that you should allocate about 90 minutes per pound of pork. On the other hand, if the bone is in, cook for two hours per pound.

Wrapping Based on Internal Temperature

I would advise against timing this process, though, as it can be tricky to determine the rate at which pork butt cooks. The exact rate is dependent on the size of the pork butt, the temperature of the smoker, and more.

This is why you should always use a meat thermometer to determine when the stall has begun.

The stall usually takes place at around 150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you should use your temperature probe to check the internal meat temperature and know when to wrap pork butt.

Oh, and in case you are wondering:

When should I wrap my pulled pork that is made from pork butt? This is the guideline that you should be following.

How to Check the Internal Temperature of Pork Butt?

I realize that a lot of people dont have experience with using a thermometer. As such, the method that I am recommending may seem a little overwhelming. Don't worry, I'm here to help you out.

First things first, you should be aware that there are different types of kitchen thermometers. For smoked pork, I would suggest using either a meat thermometer or an instant read thermometer.

Now, meat thermometers are stuck in the pork butt at the beginning of the process and remain so even when the cut of meat is inside the smoker. There are some modern digital designs that have a dial that can snake outside the smoker. It may beep or signal when the meat registers the desired temperature.

With the instant read thermometer, you have to take pork butt out of the smoker before inserting into the piece of meat. However, reading this display is quite easy as the numbers show up immediately.

Regardless of which one you use, you have to follow the same method for reading the internal meat temperature.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the pork butt. If there is a bone, then make sure that the tip of the device is at least an inch away from the bone. The bone can often heat up faster than the surrounding meat, causing a misreading.

When to Unwrap Pork Butt?

Well, this all depends on the dish that you are trying to make. However, you will find that a pork butt will finish cooking at around 190 to 195 degrees.

Once again, you will need to check the internal temperature for a clear reading.

Once it is unwrapped, let the meat rest for up to an hour. This ensures that all the juices circulate throughout the meat making it nice and tender.

How to Wrap Pork Butt?

Here is a guide by Aaron Franklin on wrapping pork butt once you have removed it from the smoker:

Step 1: Measure Out Foil

Make sure to use heavy duty foil for this task. This way, there is no risk that it will tear.

Use two sheets, each one as four times as long as the widest side of your pork butt.

Step 2: Place the Foil on Your Workstation

Place a single sheet in front of you - the shiny side should be facing up. The longer edge should be ride perpendicular to you.

Next, place the other sheet so that it overlaps the first sheet by half its width.

Step 3: Arrange the Pork Butt

Place the pork butt on the foil, about eight inches from the edge of the bottom. The fat side should be facing up and the longer side should run parallel to the bottom.

If you want to keep the meat tender and to avoid the possibility of dry meat, I would suggest spraying the pork butt with some apple cider vinegar or apple juice. This helps to lock in the moisture.

Step 4: Wrap Pork Butt

Fold the bottom of the foil over the pork butt. Make sure that the foil is taut against the edge of the meat. Then, fold the sides inward in an obtuse angle. Once again, do so tightly.

Roll the pork butt over so that the entire hunk of meat is wrapped in foil. Then, fold the sides inwards once more. Fold the entire pork butt once more and tuck in any leftover foil to form a tight seal.

Make sure that the wrap is tight and that there are no air pockets - you should see the outline of the meat clearly.

How to Retain a Nice Bark?

Now, one off the complaints that I get with this wrapping method is that it can cut down on the crispiness of the bark. This is because a fair amount of moisture is locked inside foil as well. If you want to ensure that the bark remains perfect, here is what you need to do:

Use a Good Dry Rub

First things first, you need the perfect rub - this will create a thin layer of ingredients that will grill and crisp up in the smoker.

My favorite rub consists of:

  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • brown sugar
  • cayenne pepper
fresh meat for bbq

Of course, you can use your seasoning of choice. You can apply about half a cup of rub for every eight pounds of meat.

A trick that I use to help the rub stick is to first apply yellow mustard onto the meat. Dont worry, the taste disappears while smoking pork butt.

Allow Pork to Smoke for Longer

Most people start wrapping the meat the moment that it reaches the stall temperature. This is so that they can speed up the cooking process.

However, if you care about the bark, I would suggest to cook the pork butt for a little longer. Wait for as long as you possibly can to get that perfect layer of crispiness. Then, wrap it up to finish cooking.

The other benefit of this is a more defined smoke flavor. Remember, after you wrap pork butt, it will not take on as much of this flavor as before.

Use Butcher Paper Instead of Aluminum Foil

My final tip is to use butcher paper rather than traditional foil. This is because the paper is far more porous than aluminum foil. This allows some of the moisture to escape so that you dont end up with such moist meat.

The wrapping process is the same with the paper as it is with foil.

Keep the Lid Closed

It can be tempting to keep opening the lid and check on the temperature or the cooking process. However, every time that you do this, you are allowing heat to escape. Not only does this mess with the bark, but it can also increase the overall cooking time.

Let the meat cook for some time, undisturbed. If the meat is around eight to ten pounds, I would let it cook for around 8 hours. Only then you should check the temperature for the first time.

When Should I Wrap My Pork Shoulder in Foil?

In case you are wondering when to wrap a pork shoulder, then you can, once again, wait until the temperature has reached 150 to 170 degrees.

Contrary to popular belief, there isn't any real difference between the shoulder and pork butt per se. This is because both cuts come from the pig's shoulder. It is just that the Boston butt is higher up on the foreleg.

Making Pulled Pork

If you are using the Boston butt for pulled pork, then I have a few tips for you.

First, let the meat rest for as long as you are willing to wait. You can choose to unwrap it or to leave it wrapped up. Even if you leave the meat exposed, I would suggest letting the pork butt sit in the same paper that is was smoked in. This allows the juices to get reabsorbed into the meat.

When shredding the meat, you can use shredding claws, which can make the process go faster. Of course, it is just as simple to use two forks or even a hand mixer for this job.

You should wait until after resting the meat to add BBQ sauce to the dish. In fact, I would suggest simply serving the sauce alongside the meat and letting others choose whether or not to add to it. If you have cooked the meat properly, it is unlikely that you will require too many other additions.

From temperature to time, this is all that you need to know about wrapping smoking pork at the right moment. All that is left for you to do is to give this tips a try yourself!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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