So you have a nice, big, beautiful pork shoulder, but don't quite know what to do with it. This large, very cost-effective piece of meat is great for feeding a lot of people, or a family for many meals. It is also great for freezing, so eat some now and freeze the rest for later.
When it comes to pork shoulder (A.K.A. pork butt), there are so many amazing ways to cook it. It can be smoked, cooked in an instant pot or pressure cooker, sous vide or even sliced into steaks and grilled.
My go-to "set it and forget it" method is to slow roast the shoulder using a low-temperature oven. A digital probe thermometer is the secret to not having to stress or even open the oven until it's actually done cooking. Applying a garlic-and-herb marinade paste the night before really infuses those flavors deep into the meat, but doing it an hour or two before while the meat comes to temperature (tempers) is just fine, too. Especially since it will be roasting in the oven for so long.
Once you have it cooked, there are virtually endless uses for this succulent pork. From slicing and eating like a holiday roast to shredding and crisping up in a pan for tacos, enchiladas, or salads, and everything in between. Even eat it for breakfast, as pork and eggs -- might be even better than bacon. Maybe. 😉
It's like a prime rib roast, but not even close to being comparable when it comes to cost. Pork shoulder is way cheaper, and one of the best things is you really can't mess it up. There aren't many pieces of meat that are this delicious and can feed this many people for less than $1 per person. This 11-pound pork shoulder (pictured in this post) was just $16 on sale. Crazy, right?
"Low and slow" the roast to perfection. And perfection to you might be different than perfection to me. Maybe you like it "fall-apart tender" for shredding, or maybe you like it a little firmer and sliced thin. The longer you cook it, the higher the internal temperature will reach, resulting in a more tender and "fall-apart" meat. For a standard "roast," bring it to a finished temperature of 185 degrees F. For fall-apart pulled-pork perfection, continue to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 195 to 205 degrees.
A Bone-In or a Boneless Pork Shoulder Will Work
While some may say the bone adds flavor, I generally opt for boneless pork shoulder because it is all usable and you don't have a bone to deal with. If you do have a bone-in roast, removing the bone with a boning knife after it is cooked is super easy. It should just slide right out if it is cooked enough.
Pro Tips for Roasting Pork Shoulder
- Score the skin in a cross-hatch pattern. This helps render the fat for crispy skin, makes for a beautiful presentation and also helps the marinade and salt penetrate the meat.
- Use plenty of kosher salt. It's a big piece of meat and can handle it.
- Temper, temper. Bringing the pork shoulder up to room temperature (which can take a few hours) will help promote even cooking.
- Make for easy cleanup. Double foil line your baking sheet. And use the heavy-duty high-quality stuff so it doesn't rip. This makes for much easier cleanup.
- Place the meat on top of a wire rack. The oven air will hit the bottom as well. This is optional as you can see I didn't do it for this roast and it still came out perfect.
- Leave your hood vent on low. Lots of delicious smells will be coming from the oven and while they are wonderful, it's nice to have most of them exhausted out of your hood if possible. You can also just crack a window open.
- Roast it overnight. If you don't have all day to cook, you can roast it while you sleep and enjoy the next day.
- Serve it warm. Because of the high fat content of pork shoulder, serving it cold is not optimal since the fats will be solid. Heat it up in a low oven or crisp up in a skillet before eating leftovers (my preference).
Meal Plan Your Week Around This Roast Pork Shoulder
You can easily get a week's or more worth of meals out of one large roast. From slicing and eating like a holiday meal, to making tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, to other endless options, it's fun to see the variety you can come up with and it's so much less work on busy weekdays. And still have some leftovers to freeze.
Perfect Sides for Your Pork Roast
- Sauteed Green Beans
- Marble Potatoes
- Salad With a Bright Vinaigrette
- Crispy Roast Brussels Sprouts
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Sauteed Broccolini
- Roasted Mushrooms With Garlic and Herbs
More Delicious Pork Shoulder Recipes
- Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Crispy Pork Carnitas Tacos
- InstantPot Pulled Pork Ragu
- Sous Vide Pork Shoulder for Smoky BBQ Pulled Pork
Tools & Equipment Used
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- 6 to 12 pound Bone-In Pork Shoulder (this one is 11.6 lbs)
Garlic & Herb Rub
- 4 Chopped Garlic Cloves
- 2 tablespoon Chopped Fresh Rosemary
- 1 tablespoon Chopped Fresh Thyme
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoon Diamond Kosher Salt (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoon Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- Make the rub by combining the ingredients in a small bowl or use a mortar and pestle to make it into a paste.
- Prep the pork shoulder by patting it dry on all sides with paper towels and trim excess fat. With a very sharp knife, score the fat side with a ½" crosshatch pattern going all the way through the fat down to the skin.
- Apply the rub marinade on all sides and either ideally cover and refrigerate overnight or let it sit out for a few hours to marinate.
- Preheat the oven to a low 275° F / 135° C.
- Place the roast on a double foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. You can also use a wire rack to set the roast on so the air circulates all the way around.
- When the internal temperature of the roast reaches 175° F, remove it from the oven. Use an instant-read probe thermometer to verify.
- Rest uncovered for 30 minutes or longer. The temperature will rise another 5 to 10 degrees.
- Optional sear for even crispier skin: If your roast didn't get super crispy, you can sear it in a hot oven for a short period of time. After resting the pork shoulder for 30 minutes or longer, preheat your oven to 450° F. Place the roast back in the oven to sear. This will require rotating every 5 minutes or so until it is seared on all sides: 10 to 20 minutes total depending on your oven.
- Serve it by slicing or shredding. Serve warm.
- Temper the meat (bring to room temperature) before roasting. This will promote even cooking.
- Figure a cooking time of about 35 to 60 minutes per pound in a 275° F oven (yes, there are a lot of variables). This 11.6 pound shoulder took 6.5 hours.
- If you want to make pulled pork; cook until the internal temperature reaches between 195°-205° F.
- Rest uncovered and unwrapped to preserve the crispy skin.