How Long To Let Pork Butt Rest

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Looking to smoke a pork butt but aren’t sure about the resting period? Then you are at the right place. 

How long should you let pork butt rest? Pork butt needs to rest for at least 30 minutes to around 1 hour while wrapped in foil. This allows for the residual heat within the meat to further tenderize and cook it and also helps seal in all the flavors of the meat! 

Read below to learn more about how to properly rest a pork butt, why resting is important, the right method to rest the meat, and some tips and tricks!

Resting Meat – Why Is It Important? 

Smoking meat requires a lot of time and in the case of a pork butt, you should be able to devote at least 8-9 hours in total for a scrumptious and beautifully smoked pork shoulder! 

The majority of this time is spent on cooking the meat and getting all the flavors in. For example, the first 2-3 hours are devoted to smoking the meat with the flavor rub on.

Afterward, the meat goes into a foil with additional seasoning and is smoked for the remaining time or until it is done. 

The pork butt will then be rested in a foil that is usually placed in a cooler to keep it warm and juicy. The resting period encourages the build-up of residual heat and helps further tenderize the meat

Also, when the temperature eventually starts to go down, the meat will reincorporate all the juices and become even more succulent! 

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the resting phase. One group may want to rest the meat with the foil on while the other may prefer to leave it open. 

Both have different pros and cons but if you want to stick to tradition, then the best way to get the most flavor is the foil resting method! 

How Long To Rest Pork Butt

In general, you should let the meat rest for about 30 minutes to an hour. 

The internal temperature of a fully smoked and cooked pork shoulder (pork butt) should be around 195-205°F. This temperature range is ideal because it allows for the meat to fully tenderize. 

However, there is an important trick to this!

While you could just rest the pork butt in the foil after reaching 200°F, there is a high chance that you might end up slightly overcooking the meat. Why? Well, this is where residual heat comes in.

Pulled meat like pork butt contains a lot of muscle and fat and is generally quite dense. This density makes it harder for heat to escape through the surface. 

This is why the pork butt is going to get very hot at the center and the heat will radiate outwards. You might even see a measurable temperature difference near the surface of the meat since that is where most of the heat will escape from.

To help you visualize this, you can think of the center of the pork in the context of how the earth has an extremely hot core that is surrounded by super dense material.

Just like the core, the pork butt will be hot enough to radiate heat on its own for some time. 

How much heat? In ideal conditions, you can expect a whopping 10-degree difference when the meat is out of the smoker and is encased in foil! 

You might think 10°F is not that much but keep in mind that even a small discrepancy in the internal temperature (200°F) can cause the meat to overcook.

So, the best way to tackle this problem is to take out the meat from the smoker once it has reached 190-195°F

This way when the meat rests in the foil, it will continue to cook and you can literally pack it up, put it in a cooler, and drive to the party where you can then carve it up fresh and hot! 

Remember smoking meat is all about timing and the best way to get the most out of this method is to work backward in time to figure out all the important activities that you need to accomplish before serving the meat.

For example, if the pork butt will take 7 hours to cook, then you would need to spare 30 minutes extra to rest the meat before the guests arrive.

Don’t worry about the pork shoulder getting cold. Trust us, if you properly wrap it in foil then you would get a steaming hot pork butt even after 45 minutes!

Best Method For Resting Meat

Before you put the meat to rest, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. 

First, when the meat is out of the smoker, you will need to work quickly. Remember, even though the meat will remain hot for a long time, it may suffer due to environmental conditions.

For example, if you live in a cold climate, then you are bound to cause a severe temperature difference.

Line up two sheets of foil on a flat working surface and make sure that the size is larger than the pork butt.

This is because you will need to completely cover the meat using foil from all sides. Remember, you can’t leave even a small opening on the surface! 

Wear protective gloves, and as soon as the meat hits 190-195°F, take it out of the smoker and put it over the foil. Add additional seasonings if required and then wrap it up firmly until you get a ball or mass of foil with the meat inside. 

Now, you can let the meat rest like this for up to 1 hour. If you want to go mobile then you will need to place the meat in a cooler.

Any cooler will be an excellent insulator and will help keep the meat warm—it will also enable you to take the meat around in the back of your car!

To place the meat in the cooler, line the floor of the cooler with a thick towel and then put the foil-covered meat in the center. Then place another towel over the top and close the cooler. 

After 30-45 minutes, take out the foil, open it up and let it steam for about 3-4 minutes before carving it. Enjoy the most succulent and flavorful pork butt ever! 

Tips And Tricks

Here are some important tips and tricks to get the most out of the pork butt and smoked meat in general!

  • When you take the meat out of the smoker and wrap it, make sure to take a note of the time. Do not let the meat rest for more than one hour. Because by then the pork butt will start to get cold and may even fall into the bacteria-encouraging danger zone (140°F). 
  • When adding additional seasonings, always use room temperature ingredients to keep the overall temperature of the meat stable. For example, if you plan on adding a layer of BBQ sauce, then we suggest keeping the bottle out and using it at room temperature for the best experience. 
  • If you don’t want to wrap the meat in foil then the next best thing is to use an oven. Preheat the oven to 150°F and as soon as the pork is inside and the ambient temperature is around 150°F, turn off the heat and close the oven. Let the pork rest for about 30-45 minutes. 
  • Only refrigerate fully cooked meat (i.e., after it has rested) or you might affect the cooking time and the quality of the meat as well. Consume refrigerated pork butt within 1-3 days for the best flavor!

Related Questions

Resting smoked meat is an incredibly important step that can enhance not only the tenderness and texture of the meat but also its flavor and succulence! 

Now that you know how to properly rest the meat, here are some related questions!

Can you let pork butt rest for 2 hours? 


However, while you can let the pork butt rest for 2 hours, it is probably best that you only let it rest for about 30-45 minutes as that should be more than enough for most cases.

Keep in mind that resting the meat for longer can be dangerous and can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

Can you rest the meat without the foil?

The only time resting pork butt without the foil is acceptable is when you let the meat rest in a preheated oven.

Other than that, resting without the foil on can cause the meat to not cook through as all of the heat would escape off of the surface. 

Furthermore, the foil helps the meat reabsorb all the excess juices.

When the meat is hot, it will leak out a lot of its flavor that will collect into a pool within the foil. As soon as the meat starts to cool down, it will reabsorb everything, making it extremely juicy and delicious!

Can pork butt rest be rested in the smoker?

Yes, once you turn off the smoker, you can let the meat rest within the appliance for about 30-45 minutes.

However, we highly advise that you cover the meat in foil because it will drip all of its liquid down into the drip tray, making the meat dry and less juicy. 

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