Whether your plan is to barbecue, roast, smoke, braise, stew, or cure, pork is a popular choice for many home cooks. But which is better: pork butt or pork shoulder?


What’s commonly sold as a pork butt or Boston butt are the same cut of meat—the top portion of the whole shoulder of the hog. This cut is very marbled and often sold skinless with a large portion of fat on top. On average, it weighs between 6 and 9 pounds bone-in, or between 4 and 7 pounds boneless.

The shoulder roast, also known as the picnic shoulder, is the lower portion of the shoulder below the joint and above the shank (leg). It’s smaller than the pork butt and also has more fat, bone, and connective tissue. It’s often sold complete with skin and almost always bone-in. These usually weigh between 4 to 5 pounds.

Uses for Pork Butt

This versatile cut can be roasted, braised, or barbecued whole, or cut into chunks for stews. It’s commonly used to make pulled pork in the south and is well-suited to slow cooker recipes.

Uses for Pork Shoulder

This economical cut can be roasted whole, with or without skin. The skin can be used to make crackling, also known as pork rinds. The shoulder is used for braising and slow cooker recipes, barbecued pulled pork, Cuban pork recipes, and is well-suited to smoke curing.


Ask The Meat Man: Pork Picnic Shoulder