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Cheap Eats: Pork Butts

BBQ Pulled Pork Shoulder Roast Sandwich
A perfect Pulled Pork Shoulder BBQ Sandwich!

Cheap Eats is a series from LGCM dedicated to helping you eat delicious cuts of high quality meat and seafood without breaking your bank.

What’s the Cut?

pork shoulder butt cutout picture

This time in Cheap Eats, we’re talking about Pork Butts aka Pork Shoulders. There are a lot of different names for this cut of meat due to regional differences, but this is all about meat that comes from the upper portions of the two front shoulders of the hog. Pork Butts are available bone-in or boneless, depending on your preference and range from 6-10 pounds for a bone-in roast and slightly smaller for boneless roasts.

Since Pork Butts are only the upper portion of the shoulder, you may be wondering about the bottom portion. The meat that comes from the bottom portion is called pork picnic. It’s a little more fatty and has more connective tissue in it, so it’s not as good on it’s own as the pork butt portion. You can also get a whole shoulder that has both the butt and picnic together. It’s bone-in and weighs about 16 lbs. It makes for amazing pulled pork!

Boneless Pork Shoulder
Boneless Pork Shoulders come with a net to help them stay together while they are cooking. You can see they are a darker meat and have lots of marbling.

What does Pork Butt Taste Like?

Pork butts are a very richly flavored portion of the pig, especially when compared to something like a Pork Tenderloin. They are more red in color and have more intramuscular fat. This leads to a deeper flavor when cooked correctly. The extra fat also means you need to cook pork butts for longer to make sure the fat melts before you start eating it! Pork butts do great with heavy seasonings (like BBQ) and also love smoking. It’s why so many people use this cut for smoked pork!

Why are Pork Butts Such a Good Deal?

Pork butts are always substantially less expensive than other cuts like Pork Chops or Pork Ribs for a couple different reasons. First, there is a bunch of Pork Shoulder available on each pig. There’s usually about 16 lbs. available on an average pig and that will go a long way. Second, they take more time to cook than items like pork chops so they’re not in as demand with most restaurants and home cooks. Good supply, lower demand = great deal!

How do I Cook Pork Butts?

Seasoned Pork Shoulder
Season your Pork Butt and smoke it up!

Low and slow! Pork Butts are perfect for pulled pork or even a pork stew, but to get the connective tissues broken down, you really need to cook it low and slow. The best ways to cook a pork butt are by smoking (if you have a smoker), putting them in your slow cooker, or braising. Here are some of our favorite Pork Butt recipes:

Smoked Pork Shoulder – makes great BBQ Pulled Pork!

BBQ Pulled Pork Shoulder Roast – easy slow cooker recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Roast – this recipe won our Pinterest Slow Cooker Recipe contest and is a delicious variant of your normal Pulled Pork!

Milwaukee Pork Stew – a delicious stew that uses beer. That’s why it’s called Milwaukee Pork Stew. Obviously.

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas – a really great recipe from the Pork Council that’ll make your house smell AMAZING while it’s cooking.

Vietnamese Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps – the Pork Council’s light and delicious summery recipe. It’s something totally different than most of these recipes!

Cheesy Maple Bacon Cajun Pulled Pork Sandwiches – another Pork Council recipe. There’s a lot in it, but it all comes together deliciously.

If I Like Pork Butts, What Are Some Other Cuts to Try?

We cut Pork Butts into Pork Steaks, which will cost you less than Pork Chops, but are nice and thin so you can quickly prepare them on a stove top instead of having to cook low and slow like you would with a full Pork Butt. Same rich flavor, just cut a little differently. Try this Pan Seared Apple Mustard Pork Steak recipe! If you enjoyed smoking a Pork Butt, you can also purchase a full ham and smoke that at home. It’s a lot bigger and a different type of meat, but still affordable and fun to smoke!

Thanks for reading Cheap Eats, our series dedicated to helping you find budget friendly cuts of meat and seafood. We hope you enjoyed this installment – subscribe to our email list or keep checking our blog to get more great content from LGCM!

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