How to Roast Pork Butt or Shoulder That’s Fall-Apart Tender

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How to Roast Pork Butt or Shoulder in the oven that’s perfectly browned on the outside with a still-pink center. This is the perfect centerpiece for a holiday celebration or any time of year.

How do you cook a pork roast? Defrost the pork first, season it with garlic powder, salt, and pepper second, place it on a roasting pan alongside chicken broth, roast it for 40 minutes at 300°F, let it rest for 10 minutes, and roast it again for 15 minutes at 475°F. Serve immediately and enjoy!

There’s something very impressive about setting down a beautiful golden-brown pork roast in the center of a holiday table. Then, slicing into the meat to reveal a perfectly tender and juicy interior with just the right amount of pink at the center is always a treat. The good news is that perfect roasted pork butt or shoulder doesn’t have to be intiimidating. If you have a working oven, you can easily make a stunning roast pork centerpiece at home tonight. This article covers exactly what you need to know to roast pork butt or shoulder to perfection every time.

What Cut Should I Buy for Roast Pork?

If you’re looking for a large single cut of meat to roast in the oven, opt for boneless pork butt or pork shoulder. While the name might be confusing, pork butt actually comes from the shoulder region of the animal, not the hindquarters. This cut is also sometimes called Boston Butt.

You can also cook bone-in pork butt or shoulder, but you’ll need a longer cooking time. This article dives deep into cooking boneless cuts of pork, which is a great place to start if this is your first time roasting a large cut of pork at home.

How Many Pounds of Pork Roast Per Person?

The general rule of thumb when buying a cut of meat to serve a crowd is to buy 1/2 pound of meat per person. Often, the smallest cut of pork butt or shoulder that you can find for roasting is 4 pounds. This is enough to feed 6 to 8 people.

Do you Roast Pork Fat Side Up or Down?

When it comes to pork fat, many home cooks and professional chefs are divided. Some recommend trimming off all of the fat, others insist on leaving it on. At the end of the day, pork shoulder and butt are fairly lean cuts of meat. You won’t get the same internal fat marbling you have on steaks, for example. So the fat cap on the top of your pork butt or shoulder is actually a valuable source of flavor and moisture for the meat as it roasts.

If you cut all of the fat off, you’re more likely to overcook your meat and to dry it out. Remember that you can always remove the fat after the meat is cooked (in fact, it’s often much eaier to remove after cooking!).

When it comes to placing the pork fat side up or down, opt for the fat side up. That what, as the prok cooks, the fat will render (melt) and run over the meat underneath, locking in moisture and infusing it with flavor. If you place your meat fat side down, you’ll end up letting all of the fat leak out into your baking dish.

How to Roast Pork Butt or Shoulder

Once you’ve selected your cut of pork, you’re ready to start roasting. Let’s get into the recipe instructions.


Here are the ingredients you need to make the perfect oven-roasted pork butt or shoulder to feed 6-8 people.

  • 4-pound pork butt or shoulder
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic or onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Chicken broth

Prepping the pork roast

Step 1: Thaw the pork

If your meat is frozen, place it in the fridge the night before to allow it to thaw. Then, about an hour before you’re going to roast the meat, remove it from the fridge and place it on a baking dish on the counter. This helps the meat come up to room temperature, which will allow it to cook evenly. If you’re in a rush, 30 minutes will do.

Step 2: Prepare the pork

Once the pork is up to temperature, pat it dry with paper towels. Tap gently to remove any excess water on the surface of your mat. If there’s too much fat on your pork, you can trim it a little bit and discard the excess fat.

Step 3: Season the pork

Next, season your pork. Combine the pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle this seasoning blend mix all over the pork. Use your hands to rub the spices into the meat on all sides.

Cook the pork roast

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 300F (150°C).

Step 2: Get the pork ready

Place the pork on a roasting pan with sides. Pour 1/4 cup of low-sodium chicken broth into the roasting pan as well. You can also add chopped hardy vegetables to the pan, such as carrots, parsnips or potatoes. These will roast alongside the meat for a one-pot meal.

If you’ve ended up with dried out roasts with boiled soggy meat bottoms in the past, then it might be time for a roasting pan upgrade. This is our absolute favorite roasting pan. It will keep the meat high enough out of the juices that it bakes all around. To solve the dried out roast issue, try adjusting the cook time.

Step 3: Cook the pork

Place the roasting pan in the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. If the broth has evaporated, add more so there’s always a thin layer of broth in the roasting pan.

Step 4: Let the pork rest

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and transfer the pork to a wooden cutting board. Tent it with aluminum foil and let it rest. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 475°F.

Step 5: Cook the pork again

When the oven reaches temperature, return the pork to the roasting pan (if you added vegetables, remove them from the pan and set them aside for now). Place the pan back in the oven for 15 minutes. This second round of higher-temperature cooking will brown the outside of the meat for a golden crust.

Step 6: Serve

After your pork butt or shoulder has a beautiful golden-brown crust, remove it from the oven, transfer the roast to a wooden cutting board and carve it into thin slices for serving.

Do you cover a pork roast in the oven?

If you are keeping a close eye on the pork roast in the oven and left the fat intact on the meat, then you do not need to cover the roast. If you make sure that the roasting pan stays moist during the entire cooking process, your meat should not dry out. Especially during the second, higher temperature roasting at the end, it’s important not to cover the roast with aluminum foil. Otherwise, you’ll miss the beautiful golden crust on your roast pork butt that everyone loves.

How do you know when the pork roast is cooked?

The best way to check that your pork roast is fully cooked is with an instant-read meat thermometer. Insert the probe into the center of the roast. According to the USDA, pork is considered safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 154°F (62°C).

If you don’t have a thermometer, we recommend this waterproof meat thermometer that works great and doesn’t break the bank. Another way to test for doneness is by looking at the internal color of the meat. Slice the roast open and check for a pale color with a bit of pink in the middle. If it’s very pink all the way through, keep roasting the pork butt.

What to Serve with Roast Pork Butt or Shoulder?

If you’re planning a celebration for a holiday or special occasion, roast pork butt is the perfect entree. It has a celebratory look to it, and pairs well with a variety of different side dishes. Pair your meat with fluffy homemade baked potatoes and roasted acorn squash for a wintertime treat. Or, opt for steamed peas and a green salad if you’re eating a roast for Easter or another springtime gathering.

To add more flavor to the sliced meat itself, pork pairs very well with fruits like apples, cranberries, and citrus. It’s also delicious with a zippy mint jelly. Or, make a quick gravy with the drippings left in the pan after roasting. Delicious!

pork roast

Roast Pork Butt or Shoulder

How to roast a whole pork butt or shoulder in the oven for a celebratory meal.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Resting time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • Roasting pan
  • Cutting board
  • Carving knife
  • Meat thermometer


  • 1 4-pound boneless pork butt or shoulder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or onion powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • low-sodium chicken broth


  • Let the meat come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Combine the garlic powder, pepper and salt in a small bowl and rub it all over the meat. Place the pork on a roasting pan. Pour 1/4 cup chicken broth into the pan. You want the liquid to fully cover the bottom of the pan, so add more for a larger pan.
  • Roast for 40 mintues. Remove from the oven, place the meat on a cutting board and cover with foil.
  • Increase the oven to 475°F.
  • When the oven comes to temperature, return the roast to the oven for 15 mintues, until a golden crust is formed and the internal temperature registers 145°F.
  • Remove from the oven and carve into thin slices.
Keyword pork butt, pork shoulder

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