Should You Brine Pork Butt? (According To Experts)

Are you a fan of smoked pork shoulder or pork butt?

Do you find that your meat tends to dry out on the smoker?

If so, you may want to consider brining your pork before cooking.

While many people associate brining with poultry, it can also work wonders for pork.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of brining pork butt and share some tips on how to do it properly.

Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, read on to learn more about this simple yet effective technique for enhancing the flavor and juiciness of your smoked pork.

Should You Brine Pork Butt?

Pork butt is a popular cut of meat for smoking, but it can be challenging to keep it moist and juicy throughout the cooking process. This is where brining comes in. Brining involves soaking the meat in a saltwater solution before cooking, which helps to infuse it with moisture and flavor.

So, should you brine your pork butt? The answer is yes, but it depends on your personal preferences. Pork butt has a naturally high fat content, which can help keep it moist during smoking. However, brining can still enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.

If you’re new to smoking pork butt, we recommend trying a brine to see if it makes a difference in the final product. Brining can help prevent the meat from drying out and add extra flavor to every bite.

What Is Brining And How Does It Work?

Brining is a technique used to enhance the flavor and texture of meat by soaking it in a saltwater solution. The process involves creating a brine solution by dissolving salt and sugar in water, and adding any desired aromatics, such as herbs or spices. The meat is then submerged in the brine for several hours, allowing the salt and other flavors to penetrate the meat.

The science behind brining is based on the principles of osmosis and diffusion. When the meat is submerged in the brine, the salt concentration outside of the meat is higher than inside. This creates a gradient that causes water molecules to move from an area of high concentration (the brine) to an area of low concentration (the meat). As a result, water is drawn into the meat, which helps to keep it moist during cooking.

In addition to adding moisture, brining also helps to enhance the flavor of the meat. The salt in the brine not only helps to season the meat, but it also helps to break down muscle fibers, making the meat more tender. The aromatics added to the brine also infuse the meat with additional flavor.

The Benefits Of Brining Pork Butt

Brining pork butt has several benefits that can make a significant difference in the final product. Firstly, brining helps to inject moisture into the meat, which is especially important for leaner cuts of meat like pork butt. By introducing extra moisture, the natural moisture content of the meat isn’t lost to the heat during smoking. This helps to keep the meat juicy and tender throughout the cooking process.

Secondly, brining can enhance the flavor of the pork butt. The saltwater solution used in brining can infuse the meat with a variety of flavors, depending on the seasonings used. This can help to create a more complex and delicious flavor profile in the final product.

Lastly, brining can help to achieve a crispy skin on the pork butt. Depending on which type of brine you use, it can even lead to crisper skin. This is because the salt in the brine draws out some of the moisture from the skin, which helps it to crisp up when cooked.

How To Brine Pork Butt: A Step-by-Step Guide

Brining pork butt is a simple process that can yield delicious results. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

1. Gather your supplies and ingredients. You’ll need a large bowl, a sealable plastic bag or container, and the following ingredients: 7 cups of apple juice, 3 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of kosher salt, 6 bay leaves, 4 cloves of crushed garlic, and 3 stalks of celery broken into 2-inch pieces.

2. Combine the liquids and seasonings in a large bowl. Stir continuously until the salt and sugar crystals are completely dissolved. If using powders, make sure they are dissolved as well. Alternatively, you can bring the water and cider or juice to a boil, adding salt and sugar and combining until dissolved. Once the mix has cooled down, you can then add in the vinegar.

3. Place the pork butt in a sealable plastic bag or container and pour the liquid mixture over it. Make sure the meat is fully submerged in the brine.

4. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours depending on the size of the cut of meat.

5. After the brining process is complete, remove the pork butt from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.

6. Season with your preferred rub or spices before smoking or cooking.

By following these simple steps, you can create a flavorful and juicy pork butt that will be sure to impress your guests. Remember to experiment with different flavors and seasonings to find your perfect brine recipe!

Tips For Perfectly Brined Pork Butt

If you’ve decided to brine your pork butt, here are some tips to ensure it turns out perfectly:

1. Use kosher salt: Kosher salt is recommended for making brine as it dissolves easily and provides a better flavor. If you don’t have kosher salt, you can use table salt, but use 25% less than the amount of kosher salt called for in the recipe.

2. Brine for the right amount of time: The brining time will depend on the size of your pork butt. For an 8-pound cut, brine for a minimum of 8 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. If you have a smaller cut, adjust the time accordingly.

3. Keep it cold: It’s important to keep the pork butt in the refrigerator while it’s brining. This prevents bacteria growth and ensures the meat stays fresh.

4. Rinse before cooking: After removing the pork butt from the brine, rinse it thoroughly with cold water to remove any excess salt from the surface.

5. Pat dry before seasoning: Use paper towels to pat dry the pork butt before applying any rub or seasoning. This will help the seasoning adhere better and create a nice crust on the meat.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a perfectly brined pork butt that is juicy and flavorful every time.

Brined Pork Butt Recipe For Smoked Pulled Pork

If you’ve decided to brine your pork butt for smoking, here’s a delicious recipe for smoked pulled pork that will be sure to impress your guests.


– 1 (10-12 lb) bone-in pork shoulder

– 10 cups of water

– 3/4 cup of kosher salt

– 1/2 cup of sugar

– 4 sprigs of rosemary

– 2 sprigs of thyme

– 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

– 3 bay leaves

– 1/2 an onion or 1 tbs. of onion powder

– 6 cloves of garlic or 2 tbs. of garlic powder

– 1 tbs. of paprika

– 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper

– 1 tbs. of cumin powder


1. Make the brine: In a large pot, combine the water, kosher salt, sugar, rosemary, thyme, black peppercorns, bay leaves, onion, garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin powder. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool completely.

2. Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and place it in a large container or ziploc bag. Pour the cooled brine over the pork shoulder, making sure it is completely submerged in the liquid. Cover the container or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (24-36 hours is best).

3. When ready to smoke, remove the pork shoulder from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels.

4. Preheat your smoker to 225°F and add your favorite wood chips (hickory or applewood work well with pork).

5. Rub the pork shoulder with a generous amount of Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub on all sides.

6. Place the pork shoulder directly on the smoker grates and smoke for approximately 6-8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 204-206°F.

7. Remove the pork shoulder from the smoker and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before shredding.

8. Using your hands or two forks, pull apart the meat into small pieces.

9. Serve on hamburger buns with Traeger ‘Que BBQ Sauce and coleslaw on top.

By following this recipe, you’ll have a flavorful and juicy smoked pulled pork that will be sure to impress your guests at your next barbecue or gathering.

Conclusion: Is Brining Worth The Extra Effort?

After examining the benefits of brining pork butt, it’s clear that it can be worth the extra effort. Brining helps to introduce extra moisture into the meat, which prevents it from drying out during the smoking process. Additionally, brining can enhance the flavor of the meat, making it more enjoyable to eat.

While pork butt has a high fat content, brining can still make a noticeable difference in the final product. However, it’s important to note that brining requires some extra time and effort. If you’re short on time or prefer a simpler cooking process, you may choose to skip the brine.

Ultimately, whether or not to brine your pork butt comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a way to elevate the flavor and texture of your smoked pork butt, brining is definitely worth considering.