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At What Temperature is a Pork Butt Done?

Pork butt, despite its name, actually comes from the shoulder area of the pig. It’s a versatile and flavorful cut of meat but requires proper cooking to achieve the desired tenderness and safety. One of the critical factors in cooking pork butt is reaching the correct internal temperature. Let’s delve into the details of how to determine when pork butt is done and the recommended temperature for perfect results.

Understanding Pork Butt Doneness

Cooking pork butt to the right temperature is crucial for both safety and taste. Several factors influence the doneness of pork butt, including its initial temperature, cooking method, and desired level of doneness. However, the most reliable indicator of doneness is the internal temperature of the meat.

Temperature Guidelines for Pork Butt

The USDA recommends cooking pork butt to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C) for safety. At this temperature, the meat is safe to eat, although it may still be slightly pink. However, many people prefer to cook pork butt to a higher temperature, around 195-205°F (90-96°C), for optimal tenderness and flavor. At these temperatures, the collagen in the meat breaks down, resulting in juicy and tender pork.

Methods for Determining Pork Butt Doneness

There are a few methods to determine if your pork butt is done cooking:

Using a Meat Thermometer

The most accurate way to check the internal temperature of pork butt is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from any bones, and ensure it reaches the recommended temperature.

Visual Indicators

While not as precise as a thermometer, visual cues can also indicate doneness. Look for the meat to be tender and pull apart easily with a fork. Additionally, the juices should run clear, and the meat should have a slightly pink hue.

Safety Concerns

It’s essential to cook pork butt thoroughly to eliminate any harmful bacteria like salmonella and trichinella. Consuming undercooked pork can lead to foodborne illnesses, so it’s crucial to follow proper cooking guidelines.

Common Mistakes in Cooking Pork Butt

Two common mistakes when cooking pork butt are overcooking and not letting it rest properly. Overcooking can result in dry and tough meat, while not allowing it to rest after cooking can cause the juices to run out, leaving the meat dry.

Tips for Perfectly Cooked Pork Butt

To ensure your pork butt turns out perfectly every time, follow these tips:

Recipes and Cooking Techniques

There are countless recipes and cooking techniques for pork butt, including slow-roasting, smoking, and braising. Experiment with different flavors and methods to find your favorite way to cook pork butt.


Cooking pork butt to the right temperature is essential for both safety and flavor. By following temperature guidelines, using the right cooking methods, and paying attention to visual cues, you can ensure that your pork butt turns out perfectly every time.


What is the recommended internal temperature for pork butt?

The USDA recommends cooking pork butt to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (63°C) for safety.

How do I know if my pork butt is done without a thermometer?

You can check for doneness by visually inspecting the meat for tenderness and color. It should pull apart easily with a fork, and the juices should run clear.

Can I eat pork butt if it’s slightly pink?

Yes, pork butt is safe to eat if it’s slightly pink as long as it has reached the recommended internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).

How long does it take to cook pork butt?

Cooking times vary depending on the size of the pork butt and the cooking method used. On average, it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours per pound at 225-250°F (107-121°C) for slow-roasting or smoking.

What are the best seasonings for pork butt?

Some popular seasonings for pork butt include dry rubs with spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper, as well as marinades with ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar.

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