Are you planning to cook a massive 20 lb pork shoulder for your next family gathering or special occasion?
Cooking a pork shoulder of this size can be intimidating, but fear not! With the right techniques and timing, you can achieve a succulent and flavorful dish that will impress your guests.
In this article, we’ll explore different methods and cooking times to help you cook a perfect 20 lb pork shoulder. Whether you prefer roasting, smoking, or slow-cooking, we’ve got you covered.
So grab your apron and let’s get cooking!
How Long Do You Cook A 20 Lb Pork Shoulder?
When it comes to cooking a 20 lb pork shoulder, the cooking time will depend on the method you choose. Here are some guidelines to help you plan your cooking time:
Preparing The Pork Shoulder
Before cooking a 20 lb pork shoulder, it’s important to properly prepare it. First, remove the pork from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will help the pork cook more evenly. Next, trim the thick layer of fat from the outside of the roast, but leave a thin layer to help baste the pork as it cooks.
After trimming the fat, season the pork with salt, pepper, and any other flavors you desire. This could include cumin, chili powder, oregano, or other seasonings depending on your desired end result. If you have time, searing the pork in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat can add additional flavor.
If you plan to braise or roast the pork in the oven, place it fat-side up in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Add enough liquid such as chicken or vegetable stock, beer or cider, vinegar, or apple juice to come halfway up the pork. Cover the pan with foil or a lid and transfer it to the oven.
Alternatively, if using a smoker, place the seasoned pork on a wire rack with a piece of parchment paper on top. Smoke until a knife or fork inserted into the side shows very little resistance when twisted. This could take up to 8 hours depending on the size of your roast.
Regardless of your cooking method, it’s important to cook the pork shoulder until it is falling-apart tender. For a 20 lb pork shoulder, this could take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours depending on your method and desired level of tenderness. Use an internal thermometer to ensure that the middle of the roast registers at least 180°F.
By properly preparing your 20 lb pork shoulder and cooking it low and slow until tender, you’ll be rewarded with succulent and flavorful meat that’s perfect for serving at any gathering or celebration.
Roasting A 20 Lb Pork Shoulder
Roasting a 20 lb pork shoulder is a popular method for cooking this meat. To start, take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Season the pork with salt and pepper and place it fat side up on the rack in the roasting pan.
Roast the pork for about 40 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches this temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest in the pan under tented foil for at least an hour.
After resting, heat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the pork back into the oven (without foil!) and allow the skin to brown and puff up, cooking for about 15-20 minutes. Turn the pan to evenly blister the skin.
Take it out of the oven, tent it with foil and let it rest again for about 10 minutes before serving. This method will give you a deliciously roasted pork shoulder that is tender and flavorful.
However, if you prefer to smoke your pork shoulder, it will take longer. A whole smoked pork shoulder can weigh around 20 lbs and takes about 18 hours to cook. To smoke a whole pork shoulder, you need a solid smoker that can hold temperatures steady for long cooks. Start by trimming the whole shoulder from 20lbs to around 18lbs, removing most of the skin and fat.
Season with a simple AP seasoning, apply a layer of mustard slather, and finish with your favorite BBQ rub. Inject with a pork injection and allow the pork shoulder to sit out and come up to room temperature for about an hour while the smoker comes up to temperature.
Smoke the pork shoulder at 225-230 degrees Fahrenheit until it gets a nice bark on the outside and hits around 150-160 internal. At that point, wrap the pork shoulder and cook until it hits 192 internal. Once it hits 192 internal, unwrap it and apply your favorite BBQ sauce as a glaze.
Allow the glaze to set on the BBQ shoulder while it comes up to the 195-198 internal temperature you’re shooting for. Once the glaze has set, it’s time to pull it and serve. This method may take longer than roasting, but it produces some serious barbecue that is sure to impress your guests!
Smoking A 20 Lb Pork Shoulder
Smoking a 20 lb pork shoulder can be a daunting task, but with the right equipment and techniques, it can produce some seriously delicious barbecue. To begin, you’ll need a solid smoker that can hold temperatures steady for long cooks. Many pitmasters recommend using a smoker like the Ole Hickory MM, which is known for its reliability and consistency.
Before cooking, the pork shoulder should be trimmed from 20 lbs to around 18 lbs. Remove most of the skin and fat, as well as anything that could be a barrier to the meat. To season the pork shoulder, start with a simple AP (all-purpose) seasoning, apply a layer of mustard slather, and finish with your favorite BBQ rub. Next, inject the pork shoulder with a pork injection and allow it to sit out and come up to room temperature for about an hour while the smoker comes up to temperature.
When smoking a 20 lb pork shoulder, it’s recommended to smoke at 225-230 degrees Fahrenheit. For a whole shoulder, it takes about 1 hour per pound, so expect a cook time of 17-18 hours. Smoke the pork shoulder with hickory wood until it gets a nice bark on the outside and hits around 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit internally. At that point, wrap the pork shoulder and continue cooking until it hits 192 degrees Fahrenheit internally.
Once the pork shoulder reaches 192 degrees Fahrenheit internally, unwrap it and apply your favorite BBQ sauce as a glaze. Allow the glaze to set on the pork shoulder while it comes up to the desired internal temperature of 195-198 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the glaze has set, it’s time to pull the pork and serve.
During the smoking process, it’s important to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the pork shoulder using a meat thermometer. Additionally, adding a baking dish filled with water to the smoker can help keep the meat moist and prevent it from drying out.
Slow-Cooking A 20 Lb Pork Shoulder
Slow-cooking a 20 lb pork shoulder is a popular method that yields delicious and tender meat. To start, preheat your oven to 225°F. Place the pork shoulder on a rack in a roasting pan and season it with your desired rub or spices. Add sliced onions, chicken broth, beer, and chili flakes to the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste the pork with the pan liquids and tent foil over the roast. Place the roasting pan in the oven and cook for about 7 to 8 hours, basting every hour. The roast is done when the internal temperature reaches 170-175°F.
One of the benefits of slow-cooking a pork shoulder is that it allows the fat and connective tissues to render down properly, resulting in a juicy and flavorful meat. Additionally, slow-cooking is a great option for those who don’t have a smoker or want to avoid smoking their pork shoulder.
After cooking, let the pork rest for 20-30 minutes before removing the skin and fat and carving it. This method yields about 20 servings of meat, making it great for large gatherings or meal prep for future recipes.
It’s important to note that cooking times may vary depending on your oven and the size of your pork shoulder. It’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure that your pork is cooked thoroughly and safely. With patience and attention, slow-cooking a 20 lb pork shoulder can result in a delicious and satisfying meal for you and your guests.
Checking For Doneness
Checking for doneness is crucial when cooking a 20 lb pork shoulder. The best way to ensure that your pork shoulder is cooked to perfection is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the pork shoulder, making sure not to touch the bone. The internal temperature should reach 195°F.
It’s important to note that cooking times can vary depending on the cooking method and the shape of the pork shoulder. A 20 lb pork shoulder cooked in an oven at 325°F can take anywhere from 7-10 hours to cook, while a slow cooker or smoker can take up to 12 hours.
To check for doneness, use a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the pork shoulder. Once it reaches an internal temperature of 195°F, remove it from the heat source and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
Remember, cooking times and temperatures are important when preparing pork shoulder. Following recommended guidelines will ensure that your pork shoulder is cooked to perfection and safe to eat.
Resting And Serving The Pork Shoulder
Once you’ve cooked your 20 lb pork shoulder, it’s important to let it rest before serving. Resting allows the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful final product. The ideal resting period for a pork shoulder is between 1 and 2 hours, although you can let it rest for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 5 hours.
During the resting period, it’s important to monitor the internal temperature of the meat to ensure that it stays within a safe range. You should not let the internal temperature drop below 140°F unless you plan to transfer it to a refrigerator or freezer for future use. Temperatures between 40°F and 140°F are known as the Danger Zone because harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly in this range, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.
There are several ways to rest your pork shoulder. Some people prefer to wrap it in aluminum foil or butcher paper and place it in an insulated container, such as a cooler or Cambro box. This helps to keep the meat warm and prevents it from cooling too quickly. Others simply cover the pork with foil or a clean towel and let it rest on the counter at room temperature.
When you’re ready to serve your pork shoulder, you can shred it using two forks or a meat shredder. The meat should be tender enough to pull apart easily, but not so tender that it falls apart completely. If you’re serving a large crowd, you may want to consider setting up a DIY pulled pork bar with different sauces and toppings.