How to cook a Boston Butt in the Oven
Looking to add a fresh new entree to the family dinner menu? You may want to consider the oven-baked Boston Butt, also called pork butt. Pork butt often gets lumped together with pork shoulder.
However, pork butt comes from higher up on a pig's shoulder and has more marbling and more flavor.
This cut is ideal for braising and stewing. It is also an excellent choice for making tender pulled pork for sandwiches or tacos.
Check out our guide to create a delicious oven-baked pork butt. With three recipes, we cover everything you need to know to serve up this tasty cut.
Ingredients for a Delicious Oven-Cooked Boston Butt
Many ingredients can create a delicious oven-cooked pork butt.
The ones you choose will depend on the meal you're going for and the flavors you seek. Do you want a standard American recipe, or are you looking to add a cultural twist to your next family dinner?
Some common ingredients and seasonings you can't go wrong with when cooking pork butt in the oven include:
- Brown sugar
- Smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Most of these ingredients make up a typical spice cabinet and pantry. You can easily combine them to make a tasty dry rub for pulled pork and use it to liven up the flavor of your meat.
Even if your family loves this standard combination of ingredients, don't be afraid to mix things up. Ultimately, it's up to you when it comes to cooking your pork butt in a roasting pan.
Never feel like you have to follow a recipe exactly when it comes to the ingredients you add. Feel free to experiment and add or remove certain seasonings from the recipe at your will.
How to Cook Boston Butt in the Oven: Step-By-Step
Pork butt or shoulder are often the meat of choice for making pulled pork.
However, this isn't the only way to use this cut of meat.
Below, we will provide you with three pork butt oven recipes that you can try. The first will be pulled pork, as every chef should know how to make this signature dish.
We have also outlined two other pork oven recipes you can use to step outside of your comfort zone.
You also don’t have to make these dishes in the oven. A grill or smoker works just as well. However, we’ve chosen the oven as the preferred method because you can use these recipes all year round no matter the weather.
BBQ Pulled Pork
Do you need a low and slow-cooked barbecue pulled pork recipe? Learn how to cook pulled pork in the oven using the recipe below.
Step 1 - Decide on a Dry Rub & Liquid Smoke to Use
To get the most flavorful pulled pork possible, you should figure out what kind of dry rub and liquid smoke you want to use.
You can purchase a dry rub from the store or mix the following ingredients to create your own dry rub recipe:
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
You can find liquid smoke from your local grocer. Make sure it is suitable to use with an oven.
Step 2 - Prepare Your Pork Butt
Place a 4-pound bone-in or boneless pork butt on a large piece of plastic wrap. The weight doesn't have to be exact, but try to keep it in the 3.5-4.5 pound range so you can follow this pulled pork recipe as closely as possible.
Rub about 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke into the meat. This part of the recipe is optional, but it will give your roasted pork a distinctive and desirable wood flavor.
Coat the meat with about 1 cup of your dry rub. Completely wrap the pork in plastic and place it in the fridge for a few hours. You can also leave it to sit in the fridge overnight.
Step 3 - Cook Your Pork Butt
When you're ready to cook your pork butt, start by preheating your oven to 250°F.
Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil and spray it generously with cooking spray.
Place the pork butt onto your baking sheet or roasting pan and let it bake in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F. This process should take around 9 hours.
The cooking time will vary depending on how large your cut of meat is and whether it's boneless. You will need to keep a watchful eye on your meat to ensure it doesn't overcook in the oven.
This longer low and slow oven recipe produces much more tender meat than if cooked only to an internal temperature of 160°F.
Step 4 - Wrap & Shred Your Pork Butt
After your pork has reached the ideal internal temperature, take it out of the oven and place it directly on a tinfoil sheet.
Wrap it securely with the tinfoil. Wrap it again with several paper towels and let it rest in a small cooler for an hour before shredding it. Place the meat on the counter away from the oven for cooling.
Shred the meat with two forks and watch it fall right off the bone, giving you heavenly pulled pork.
Baked Pork Butt Meatballs
Want to add some Italian cuisine to your dinner table? This recipe is the perfect way to do so.
If you and your family want to give pork butt a try but don't want to give up some of your other favorite meats, this oven-baked meatball recipe offers the best of both worlds.
Step 1 - Obtain Your Meats
The center of this recipe will be ground pork. You will also need ground lamb and ground beef round.
Either grinding your meat or using purchased ground meat will be sufficient. The best method for this recipe will depend on the equipment you have on hand and the types of meat you have in stock.
Step 2 – Preheat Oven and Combine All of Your Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine all your ground-up meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the following recipe ingredients to your bowl:
- ½ lb. Ground Pork
- ½ lb. Ground Beef
- ½ lb. Ground Lamb
- 5 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- ½ cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ teaspoon of dried parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoon of dried basil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- ¼ cup of breadcrumbs
- ½ cup of red pepper flakes
Use your hands to incorporate all these ingredients together.
You can either proceed with making this recipe right away or let it rest in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. We recommend using the recipe immediately to keep the ingredients as fresh as possible.
Step 3 - Form Your Meatballs
Cover a food scale with plastic wrap and divide the meat mixture into 1 ½ ounce portions. Avoid making them too thick, as this may cause them not to cook all the way through. Use your hands to form the meat portions into ball shapes.
Pour an additional ¼ cup of breadcrumbs into a small bowl. Roll your meatballs in the breadcrumbs.
Set up a muffin pan with miniature muffin cups. Place one meatball per cup.
Step 4 - Cook & Serve
Place the entire pan into the oven, which should have preheated to 400°F. Allow the meatballs to bake until they are golden on the outside and cooked thoroughly on the inside. This process should take around 20 minutes using this recipe, but the cooking time may vary slightly depending on the oven and the size of the meatballs.
Take the meatballs out of the oven once they have reached an internal temperature of at least 160°F. Serve the meatballs over your favorite pasta noodles and marinara sauce.
Braised Pork Stew
Braised pork stew hot out of the oven is a nostalgic meal for many. It's a recipe best to enjoy on a chilly winter day around the fire. However, you can still serve it during the summer and offer your family and guests a sense of hominess.
This recipe that we've provided makes about six servings. You can serve it all at once, but it also makes for great leftovers.
Keep reading to learn how to make braised pork stew using this step-by-step recipe.
Step 1 - Gather Your Ingredients
This recipe's ingredients list is substantial, but you can expect that with any type of stew. Before you begin, gather these ingredients:
- 3 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder (cubed into bite-sized pieces)
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- One 15-ounce can black beans rinsed and drained
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup of canned green chilies
- 1 cup of frozen corn
The above ingredients are for the stew recipe. You will also need the following items to make the recipe for this dish's garnish:
Fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh diced tomatoes
Now that you have gathered and prepared all your ingredients, you can move onto making the stew.
Step 2 - Start on the Stovetop
Before beginning any work with this recipe, preheat your oven to 325°F.
To brown the diced pork, you will first use your stovetop. Heat the one tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork cubes and cook them until they brown.
Then, add in the onions, garlic, and all the spices. Cover and simmer them for several minutes until they become tender.
Step 3 - Move to the Oven
Before moving the Dutch oven to the oven, add in the black beans, chicken broth, and green chiles.
Once you mix these ingredients in, secure the lid on top of your Dutch oven. Place the whole piece into your preheated oven. The cooking time for this stew recipe is approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours.
This amount of time should be enough to make the pork tender and allow all the ingredients to amplify the meat's flavor.
During the last fifteen minutes of cooking in the oven, don't forget to add in your frozen corn. You can also use fresh kernels from corn-off-the-cob, but we prefer frozen corn for its convenience.
Step 4 - Make the Garnish
The garnish for this recipe is optional, but it can add a unique finishing touch. To make it, simply mix the diced tomatoes, avocados, and cilantro leaves.
Wait until the stew is in serving bowls to add this garnish. This way, the flavor of these fresh ingredients won't get lost with the rest of the stew.
What to Serve with Oven-Cooked Pork Butt?
Even if your pork comes out perfectly tender and juicy, you shouldn't serve it by itself.
No pork-centric meal is complete without some complementary sides and sauces.
Here are some recipes for surefire dishes that will pull your meal together and leave your family and guests wanting more.
Check out some delicious foods that will complement any pork meal you have in mind.
Most cornbread recipes use essential ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry like sugar, cornmeal, eggs, milk, and baking powder. Cornbread is often ready to eat within 30 minutes and requires minimal prep work on your part.
Find a cornbread recipe that works for your family. Mix in cheese, jalapenos, and other unique additions to make it unique.
There are also many vegan-friendly substitutes you can make to cater to individuals with dietary needs. For example, swap out yellow cornmeal for blue cornmeal to make a vegan-friendly version of your favorite cornbread.
Cornbread is great to pair with any version of pulled pork you make, and you can cook it in the oven alongside the entrée. Its sweet and familiar flavor perfectly contrasts with pulled pork's savory taste.
Potato salad is a great BBQ staple, which is one of the reasons it pairs so well with pulled pork. If you want to keep potato salad in the picture and eliminate the mayo, you should serve your pulled pork with this no-mayo potato salad recipe.
You prepare this side dish in the same way as regular homemade potato salad. After you boil your potatoes, you need to mix in olive oil, vinegar, basil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
Once you allow this mixture to cool, you'll mix in blue cheese in place of mayonnaise. You can also throw in some chives to give the potato salad a stronger taste.
The result is a refreshingly light potato salad that you'll want to eat just as much as your pork.
If you want to make your roasted pork meal a little healthier, try serving it alongside a cucumber salad.
Cucumber salad is easy to make. Start with whole cucumbers and slice them how you prefer. Some people prefer to use whole circles, while others prefer julienne or diced pieces. Slice a whole onion in a similar fashion.
Mix your sliced or diced cucumbers and onions with white or red wine vinegar and dill. This combination will give your cucumber salad a distinctive pickle-like tang.
Pork can be a filling meal, especially if you are generous with the barbecue sauce and serve it on bread or rolls.
Use this cucumber salad to balance out the salt and saturated fat in your main course.
While some of the recipes we've provided are complete with seasonings and sauces, you may want to add flavor to a baked pork butt. Below, you can learn about some tasty sauces that will amplify your basic pork.
Cranberry Barbecue Sauce
You may think cranberry is only for eating alongside Thanksgiving turkey, but that's simply not true! Cranberry BBQ sauce is an excellent addition to any pulled pork meal.
The fruity and tangy flavor will complement a summer BBQ or bring some holiday festivity to dinner throughout the year.
To make a cranberry BBQ sauce, start with one can of whole berry cranberry sauce. You can mix in ketchup, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine vinegar until you achieve the desired consistency. Sprinkle in some garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to pull all the flavors together.
Your family and guests will appreciate this unique addition to your classic pulled pork!
Cream Cheese Dip
This cream cheese dip is a unique sauce for your pulled pork. It may not be the traditional BBQ sauce you know and love, but it's a flavorful way to shake up plain pulled pork.
Cream cheese dip works best for pulled pork leftovers. To make it, start by taking 16 ounces of cream cheese out of the refrigerator and warm it to room temperature.
Once it has reached the desired consistency, you can mix it with some other ingredients.
If you don't mind a bit of a kick with your pork butt, try mixing the cream cheese with some jalapeño jelly. You can make your own using diced jalapeños and cider vinegar or buy a bottle of it already made from your local grocery store.
If you and your family want a milder version of this cream cheese sauce, substitute the jelly for a half cup of sliced green onions.
How you consume this cream cheese sauce is up to you. You can have the sauce on the side as a dipping option. Some people like to mix leftover pulled pork into the sauce itself and serve the concoction over crackers.
Brazilian Pico de Gallo
If you're having a classic meal or side of pulled pork nachos, a standard BBQ sauce drizzled on top may not cut it.
We recommend trying out some delicious Brazilian pico de gallo. It's very similar to the Mexican pico de gallo that you're likely used to with an added twist. It uses vinegar instead of citrus juice as a base, which preserves the vegetables' color, texture, and flavor for much longer. Brazilian pico de gallo also works in more peppers to the vegetable mix.
You'll start by finely dicing up a tomato, seasoning it with one teaspoon of salt, and mixing the pieces in a bowl. Allow the diced tomato to sit in a colander and drain for 30 minutes. Salting it beforehand will help concentrate the tomatoes' flavor.
Then, mix the soaked tomatoes with red onion, red pepper, green pepper, parsley, cilantro, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and let the mixture stand for at least 30 minutes. Serve it with pulled pork on a loaf of Cuban or garlic bread.
Pork butt is a versatile cut of meat, whether you crave BBQ pulled pork or shredded pork tacos. You can use a variety of ingredients with this cut of meat to make it seem like you have a completely new meal every week. Plus, there isn't just one right way to prepare it in the oven.
Arguably, the most exciting part of preparing this savory cut of meat is pairing it with different sides and sauces! There are many options available that will help you satisfy even the pickiest eaters in your family.
Use this guide to start preparing every aspect of your next family dinner with pork butt baked savory and tender in the oven!