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, slow cooker for pulled pork, 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 essential 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 for such a long time.
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.
Either 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.
Useful Tools & Equipment
- Sheet Pan (half size). Be careful not to use too small of a pan or it can potentially fill up with melted fat and spill over.
- Wire Rack
- Heavy-Duty Aluminum Foil
- Oven Probe Thermometer
- Handheld Thermapen Instant-Read Probe Thermometer
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 a 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 (check out all our leftover pulled pork recipes. 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
See all the pork recipes →
Roast Pork Shoulder
- 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 off excess fat. With a very sharp knife, score the fat side with a ½" crosshatch pattern going all the way through the fat, but not into the flesh.
- Apply the rub marinade on all sides and either ideally refrigerate overnight or let it sit out for a few hours to marinate.
- Preheat the oven to a low 275° F / 135° C.
- Cook the roast: Place the pork roast on a double foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and then into the oven. 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 doneness.
- Rest uncovered for at least 30 minutes. 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, 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 it against the grain or shredding it. Serve warm.
- Temper the meat (bring to room temperature) before roasting. This will promote even cooking.
- Either a bone-in or boneless pork shoulder will work.
- Cook time will be approx 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.
- To make pulled pork; cook until the internal temperature reaches between 195°-205° F.
- Rest uncovered and unwrapped to preserve the crispy skin.
Any suggestions for making for a large crowd maybe 50? How many roasts would I need to do? Just serving in a bun for a drop in no other sides.
Hi Ardina. That sounds delicious! I figure around ¾ pound (12 ounces) of uncooked pork shoulder per person (for a boneless pork shoulder) since there will be fat that gets trimmed off or is melted away. So you would need around 37 pounds of pork shoulder for 50 people. I would imagine you would still have some leftovers, so be sure to check out my leftover pulled pork recipes. Cheers!
This recipe sounds amazing. And all the comments make it sound even better. I'm a beginner cooker you could say. So I need all the help I can get is there any kind of video that I can watch that would help me figure this out? Or is it as easy as it says mix the ingredients then rub it all over and pop it in the oven? Nervous don't want to mess it up. Thanks
Hi Liz! Sorry I don't have a video for this one, but yes, it is as easy as it sounds! Just follow the basic steps and it's going to come out great!
Thank you. Will Do..
I made this for a Sunday roast and it was delicious - it made even my brothers happy (normally they only sing praises for chicken nuggets and chips!).
Absolutely incredible. My husband was DYING over the amazingly flavorful and perfectly cooked crust. Super moist inside. I DID baste twice in the last couple hours of cooking but that's the only thing I did differently than instructed. This will be a staple for sure!
Sounds amazing. So happy to hear it turned out incredible.
I made this roast last night and it turned out so moist, tender and delicious. I normally do not comment on recipes but this is 10 stars worthy hands down. Thanks for sharing.
So glad to hear that, Barbara!!!
Get a photo? I would be forced to beat the vultures back with a wooden spoon. Family were burning their fingers to snitch pieces of the roast during the 30 minute resting period! The whole time it was in the oven they were wandering past me, "That sure smells good" Tasted fantastic, thank-you!
So glad to hear it, Zuzanna. Sounds like you might not have had any leftovers to enjoy. 🙂
Should I cook thick fat side up or thick fat side down the best results?chad says
Should I cook thick fat side up or thick fat side down the best results?
Go with fat side up. That will make it crispier. 🙂
Hi there, for a smaller roast, would you know the approximate length of time for roasting? I think the one I want to make is about 4 lbs. I'm sure it is still doable just for less time?
Hi Sherilyn! Yeah, still totally doable and. yep, just less time. 35 to 60 minutes per pound. Should be about 3 to 4 hour, but go based off of temp and not the time. I hope it comes out great!
Elizabeth Somers says
Going to try tonight but can you estimate the timing? Is this 7 hrs in the oven for 11 lb roast? Thank you!
Yep. that's about how long it should take. But it's all about the temp and not necessarily the time. I hope comes out perfect. 🙂
Danielle Cordery says
I made this tonight for my family and they all loved it! Thank you so much, this was so delicious! Next time I’ll take a picture and share.
So glad to hear it, Danielle! Would definitely love to see a photo of how yours turned out. Happy holidays!