When to Wrap Pork Butt: Timing and Temperature for Perfect BBQ

pulled pork

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If you’re a fan of barbecue like me, then the succulent and tender pork butt will undoubtedly please your taste buds. This popular cut is taken from the upper part of the animal’s shoulder – not its rear end, as one might expect! It contains generous amounts of fat and connective tissue, which make it ideal for slow cooking over low heat.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • When to wrap pork butt?
  • Why wrap a pork butt?
  • Does wrapping ruin the bark?
  • And more!

Despite its delectable taste, mastering the art of preparing a pork butt can be quite difficult. One point of contention between pitmasters is whether it should be wrapped halfway through cooking or left uncovered all throughout.

So, when to wrap pork butt? To help answer this question and ensure that you get juicy and tender results every single time, we discuss in this post the temperature and timing factors to consider when deciding on wrapping your pork butt.

What is a pork butt?

If you’re aiming for the best flavor and texture, a pork butt—or Boston Butt as it is sometimes called—is an optimal cut of meat to barbecue. Contrary to its name, this juicy meat comes from the shoulder region rather than the posterior of your piggy pal, and characteristics like abundant fat marbling and connective tissue make it ideal for low-and-slow cooking methods.

seasoned pork butt

Pork butt is a cost-effective cut of pork, making it ideal for outdoor grills and backyard BBQs. Additionally, you can purchase boneless varieties if desired! This versatile meat can be used to create an array of delicious recipes like pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and stews – perfect for any occasion!

If you’re searching for the perfect pork butt, make sure it’s evenly marbled with fat to guarantee a juicy and tender end product. Pork butts can be quite hefty – up to 10-12 pounds – so carefully choose one that will fit into your smoker or grill accordingly.

Pork butt is a flavorful and flexible cut of meat that makes the perfect option for barbecuing. To get the most out of this delectable piece, it’s essential to comprehend its characteristics and origin on the pig.

Read more >> How long is cooked pork good in the fridge?

When to wrap pork butt?

Cooking the perfect pork butt can take hours, and you may find that your meat goes through multiple stages of cooking. One such stage is known as “the stall,” where the internal temperature might seem to remain static or even decrease for an extended period.

This happens because moisture is being secreted from the meat itself, which has a cooling effect on its surface, thus slowing down its overall rate of cooking.

wrapping a pork butt

To battle the dreaded meat stall, utilize wrapping to your advantage! Wrapping pork butt in either foil or butcher paper is an incredibly popular technique that helps hold moisture and heat within the cut of meat. This will speed up cooking time as well as soften and tenderize the pork for a juicy meal you won’t be able to resist.

Cooking the best pulled pork requires consideration of numerous factors, including air temperature and humidity, portion size, and individual preference. As such, there is no single answer that fits every situation when it comes to ascertaining the ideal time for wrapping your pork butt before serving.

Generally, you should wait until the pork butt reaches an internal temperature of 160-170°F (71-77°C) before wrapping it. This is usually when the meat has finished undergoing its preliminary cooking process and can now enter into a “stall.” After wrapping your delicious pork butt, cook until it hits 195-205°F (90-96°C).

Although some pitmasters choose to leave their pork butts uncovered throughout the cooking process, allowing it to create a crispy “bark” on its exterior. This is simply based on individual preferences and desired outcomes. However, wrapping the meat may also be an option for those seeking different results from their dish.

Read more >> Best homemade dry rub for pulled pork.

Why wrap a pork butt?

You may be wondering why so many pitmasters opt to wrap their pork butts–the answer is simple: there are numerous advantages associated with this technique. Here’s a list of the primary reasons you might want to give it a try:

juicy pork butt
  • Moisture retention: Protect the succulence of your pork butt by trapping its moisture within a foil or butcher paper! As it cooks, the meat will release a stream of flavor-packed liquid that is then conserved inside the covering – creating an effective “steaming” effect to tenderize and moisten throughout.
  • Faster cooking: Wrapping your meat with foil has the added benefit of speeding up the cooking process. By maintaining heat and moisture inside, it will reduce total cook time – perfect for those instances when you need to whip up a feast for many quickly!
  • Increased tenderness: By wrapping your pork butt, you are essentially braising the meat and allowing it to cook in its own juices. This helps break down any tough connective tissue that may be present, making the meat tender and easier to shred or pull apart.

Wrapping your pork butt is ideal for preserving succulence, tenderness, and delectable taste. Nevertheless, some people choose not to wrap their meat because they prefer a slightly different texture or flavor profile. Ultimately, whether you choose to wrap it up or go without depends entirely on your preferences – so that you can achieve your desired outcome!

How to wrap a pork butt?

Besides knowing when to wrap pork butt, preparing the meat correctly for delicious, mouthwatering results is essential. Follow this step-by-step guide to wrapping a pork butt like an expert:

  • Prepare the wrapping: 

Wrap your pork butt in either aluminum foil or butcher paper – depending on which you choose, the sheet size will vary. If using foil, tear off a piece that is large enough to encase it fully; if opting for butcher paper, then find a long strip that can be folded over and sealed at the edges.

  • Wrap tightly: 

To keep your food nice and moist, it is essential to wrap it tightly with either foil or butcher paper. Sealing the edges of the wrapping material will ensure that no steam can escape during cooking.

  • Return to the smoker: 

Once your pork butt is carefully wrapped, place it back onto the smoker or grill and let cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 195-205°F (90-96°C). By this point, you should have a juicy and tender end result that can easily be pulled apart for serving. Enjoy!

It is important to note that certain pitmasters prefer the technique of wrapping their pork butt only for part of the cooking time and then unwrapping it for its final hour so as to create a savory bark.

This decision can be based on individual preference and various other factors such as desired texture or type of cookery. To find what works best for you, experiment with different methods and techniques!

Internal temp of pork butt

pork butt internal temp

Ensuring that a pork butt is safe to consume and deliciously succulent requires the utmost attention, ensuring it’s cooked to the right internal temperature. Here are some tips for achieving optimum results:

  • Initial temperature: To ensure even cooking, take your pork butt out of the refrigerator around an hour before cooking it; this will help bring it up to room temperature.
  • Smoking temperature: Fire up your smoker to a temperature between 225-250°F (107-121°C), then place the pork butt inside.
  • When to wrap: For those searching for extra moisture and tenderness, some pitmasters wrap their pork butt at an internal temperature of 160-170°F (71-77°C) – this speeds up the cooking time while helping to prevent it from drying out. On the other hand, others prefer unwrapping their meat throughout the entire cooking process in order to achieve a more distinct bark.
  • Final temperature: For an optimal taste, your pork butt should be cooked to a temperature between 195-205°F (90-96°C). At this range, the meat is concluded and tender. Even if you decide not to wrap it up in foil prior – cooking at such temperatures will ensure the ultimate flavor for your meal.
  • Resting period: Once your pork butt has attained the ideal temperature, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before pulling or shredding, ensuring that all its juices are evenly dispersed across the meat – making every bite more succulent and flavorful!

Although these are simply starting points, the exact cook time and temperature can vary depending on your specific pork butt’s size and shape, smoker type as well as a cooking technique. Using a thermometer to track internal temperature is highly recommended in order to make sure that your cut of pork has been cooked thoroughly for safe consumption.

Read more >> How long to smoke pork shoulder at 275?

Does Wrapping Pork Butt Ruin Bark?

pork butt bark

For the passionate pitmaster, preserving the flavorful, caramelized crust that forms on pork butts during smoking is paramount. You may wonder if wrapping a pork butt ruins this sought-after bark – so does it?

The long and short of it is how you wrap a pork butt can affect its texture. For instance, wrapping in foil or butcher paper helps maintain moisture levels and keeps the pork from drying out; this method also results in a juicier finished product with a less crispy bark.

On the other hand, wrapping may cause an over-softening of the crispiness factor, so if you prefer your meat to have crunchy bark, wrapping may not be the best option.

If you’re worried about your pork butt’s bark disappearing, don’t fret! There are a few simple tricks to ensure that it stays in place while cooking:

Wait to wrap: 

Pitmasters suggest holding off on wrapping your pork butt until after a few hours of cooking, allowing for a deliciously crisp bark to form! This technique can help the bark stays crisp.

Use butcher paper: 

pork butt in butcher paper

Compared to foil, butcher paper permits the release of some moisture so that the bark stays crispy. This, in turn, locks in more flavor and tenderness while preserving its crunchy texture.

Unwrap for the last hour: 

Some pitmasters like to unwrap their pork butt for the last hour of cooking to allow the bark to re-crisp. This can help ensure that the bark stays flavorful and crispy.

Experienced pitmasters sometimes unwrap their pork butt during the last hour of cooking so the bark can become crispy again. By doing this, you will surely have a delicious finished product with a crunchy crust!

Ultimately, how and if you choose to wrap your pork butt is completely up to your individual tastes. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with various wrapping methods until you find what works best for you!


As an experienced pitmaster, I have cooked plenty of pork butts. However, the secret to perfect tenderness, flavor, and texture is experimenting with various wrapping techniques – which completely changed my culinary game. Knowing when to wrap Pork Butt and why it is important has allowed me to craft truly delectable dishes!

smoked pork butt

After some trial and error, I’ve discovered the secret to maintaining a delicious bark while still accelerating cook time using wrapping techniques. To do this correctly, wait until later in the cooking process before you wrap it with butcher paper; then remove it for the last hour of cooking. This way, you’ll have succulent meat that isn’t deprived of its crunchy exterior!

While preparing a satisfactory pork butt is ultimately a personal journey, each pit master has individual approaches and secrets. Therefore, don’t be afraid to explore innovative ideas! Remember that prepping the perfect pork butt isn’t an exact skill – it takes practice, patience, and dedication to get it right.

Nevertheless, with appropriate equipment and expertise, becoming a true connoisseur of this dish will soon become a reality.


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Tom Wilmer

Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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