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Smoked Pork Shoulder With Beer Marinade, BBQ Rub, and Recipe for BBQ Sauce

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Smoked pork shoulder

Smoked pork shoulder

Pork Recipes

As a traditional cook of the Deep South, I’m expected to have lots of pork recipes. It just sort of “goes with the turf,” so to speak. My entire family, along with all our friends, enjoys pork, so I have no problem meeting expectations. I used to be married to a pork producer, too, so I had to come up with lots of pork recipes for our constant supply of homegrown meat. I can’t think of a single traditional cut of pork that we don’t like—and that doesn’t include the internal organs. We don’t care for those, but we like ham, bacon, pork cracklings, side meat, spare ribs, baby back ribs, country-style ribs, sausage, pork chops, pork loin, pork steaks, and pork tenderloin.

I often use smoked ham hocks for seasoning vegetables, too. Of all the pig cuts, pork shoulder is one of our favorites, especially for feeding a crowd. Also called “pork butt” or “Boston butt,” this is a wonderful cut for a BBQ pork recipe. It’s pretty inexpensive, and when it’s shredded into pulled pork and combined with sauce, it’ll feed a group of folks. Following is a great BBQ pork shoulder recipe, a pork marinade recipe, a BBQ rub recipe, and a recipe for BBQ sauce made with beer.

BBQ pork recipe

BBQ pork recipe

BBQ Pork Recipe

This is a great BBQ pork recipe with which I experimented over the weekend. We had some out-of-town friends over for the weekend, and they clamored for some smoked pork shoulder, which is one of hubby’s “specialties.” Actually, it’s a team effort. I always do the marinating and/or rubbing and make the BBQ sauce, while hubby usually does the cooking. I think he does the easy part, but I get to enjoy being creative with mine.

As I think I’ve already mentioned, I used pork shoulders for this recipe. The meat was marinated for several hours and then dried and rubbed. After the rub was applied, the pork was left in the refrigerator overnight. The meat was then smoked on an electric smoker with pecan wood. Once it was done, I pulled the pork and stirred in a hefty portion of BBQ sauce. The seven-pound Boston butt made enough pulled pork sandwiches for four adults and two teenagers, and we used less than half the meat. The kids will come over this evening for round two.

Pork marinade

Pork marinade

Pork Marinade

The pork marinade I used with this BBQ pork recipe added an incredible flavor to the meat. The main ingredient in the marinating liquid is beer. I don’t even like beer, but it sure worked well here! I’ve used beer marinade with chicken several times, and it provided excellent results, so I figured it would work with smoked pork shoulder, too. I wasn’t at all disappointed with my beer marinade, and it was easy, too! The hardest part was wrestling a beer away from one of the guys.

Pork Marinade Recipe

  • 2 cups beer
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Form the BBQ Rub into a thick paste.

Form the BBQ Rub into a thick paste.


A big part of the yumminess of this BBQ pork recipe is the BBQ rub. After the pork shoulder sits in the marinade for several hours, I rub it all over and generously with a mixture of brown sugar and spices. Sometimes I use a dry rub, and sometimes I prefer a wet BBQ rub. In this case, I made a wet rub that was paste-like in consistency. Either will work fine, but if you use vinegar with the sugar and spices, more of the flavor will penetrate the pork.

BBQ Rub Recipe

  • 1 pound brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Apple cider vinegar

Directions: Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add just enough vinegar to make a stiff paste. This makes enough BBQ rub for two large pork shoulders.

The rubbed pork

The rubbed pork

On the smoker

On the smoker

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

8 min

18 min

12 servings


  • 6-8 pound pork shoulder
  • pork marinade
  • BBQ rub
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • apple juice
  • wood for smoking


  1. Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry with paper towels. If the meat has a fat cap, leave it on—you can remove it later. Place the pork in a large plastic bowl and pour the marinade over it. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge. Marinate the meat for several hours, turning it over several times during the process. I marinated this hunk of pork for about four hours.
  2. After the shoulder has spent sufficient time in the pork marinade, remove it and dry the meat by blotting it with paper towels. Make the BBQ rub from the recipe above. Coat the pork with the rub mixture and wrap it tightly in foil or food wrap. Leave it in the fridge to cure for several hours or overnight.
  3. Decide what type of wood you want to use on your smoker and soak it in beer, apple juice, or water for about an hour before cooking. Place the wood on the burner and fill the water pan with a combination of half beer and half apple juice. If your smoker has a thermostat setting, set it to 225 degrees. Start the smoker.
  4. When the smoker is emitting some smoke, place the pork shoulder on the top rack. We had two shoulders to smoke this time, so we put one on the top rack and one on the bottom. We usually place the meat fat-side up, but this time we did it fat-side down. I don’t think the flesh was quite as juicy as it is with the fat-side-up method but choose either.
  5. Place the lid on the smoker and leave it alone for several hours. After around four or five hours, check the water pan, as it might need to be refilled. Use a meat thermometer to tell when the pork is done. One hundred sixty-five degrees is a safe temperature. If you want to make pulled pork, however, you’ll want the internal temp to be higher. We let ours get to 180 degrees or so. Take the pork shoulder off the smoker and cover it with foil. Let it sit for about five or ten minutes. Slice or pull the pork as you wish.
Recipe for BBQ sauce

Recipe for BBQ sauce

Recipe for BBQ Sauce

This recipe for BBQ sauce is perfect with the BBQ pork shoulder recipe I’m providing here. It’s sweet and hot, which I love, and it has several different layers of flavors. If you have a sensitive palate, as I do, you’ll be able to pick out the subtle flavors of the bell pepper, the garlic, and the cumin. Of course, you’ll have no problem picking up on the onion flavor, so if you’re not an onion fan, you might want to reduce the amount in the recipe.

I like to simmer by sauce on the stove for thirty minutes or so, but you don’t have to follow this step. The sauce will be good without any stove-top cooking. I just think cooking it results in a richer flavor, and it also causes the sauce to thicken. I usually cook the veggies in the microwave, but they can be sautéed in a skillet, too. You might prefer cooking the veggies in a Dutch oven and then cooking the sauce in the same vessel.

BBQ Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (or more)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup prepared mustard
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
We like lots of BBQ sauce with our pulled pork.

We like lots of BBQ sauce with our pulled pork.

How to Make BBQ Sauce

Now I’ll tell you how to make BBQ sauce from the ingredients above. Place the butter and the onion in a medium to a large microwave-safe bowl. Remove the stems from the jalapeno peppers, but leave the seeds in. Roughly chop the jalapenos and add them to the bowl, along with the red bell pepper and the garlic. Cook in the microwave until soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Run through a blender or food processor to liquefy.

Pour the smooth mixture into a sauce pot. Simmer over low for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. For a thicker sauce, cook longer. For a thinner sauce, add a little more beer. The sauce can be served hot, warm, or cold. We’ve used it with several pork recipes, including chops, ribs, pork steaks, and, of course, smoked pork shoulder. It’s also good with grilled chicken. For a hotter sauce, you can always use more jalapenos or add some hot sauce.

Pulled Pork Recipe

If you want to make pulled pork from the BBQ pork recipe above, the meat needs to reach an internal temperature of 180-185 degrees. That makes the meat easier to shred. Once the pork reaches the right temperature, remove it from the smoker and place it in a covered roaster. Trim off the fat cap if you wish. Let it sit for five minutes at room temperature. Cut the pork into big chunks and remove the big blade bone. Use forks to shred the meat. To do this, I hold a chunk with one fork while shredding it with the other fork. Start at the opposite end of where you’re holding the meat and begin shredding the flesh.

Once all the smoked pork shoulder is shredded, I sometimes like to moisten it with a light sauce. In this case, I combined ¼ cup of beer, 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Pour it over the meat and toss. Place the lid on the roaster and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Next, combine the pulled pork with the beer BBQ sauce. I use my hands for this, making sure all the muscle fibers come in contact with the BBQ sauce.

This pulled pork recipe is perfect for sandwiches. Pile the meat on onion rolls, Kaiser rolls, hamburger buns, or plain sliced bread. Toast the buns or rolls first, if you like. I use enough BBQ sauce in my pulled pork so that no extra sauce is needed on the sandwiches. Even so, some folks like the spread their bread with mayonnaise before adding the pork. My “Tarheel” husband likes to eat his pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw on top of the meat, but I don’t. I think that’s a North Carolina thing. For a really wonderful sandwich, try topping the meat with a couple of super crisp and crunchy green tomato pickles. Don’t have any such pickles and don’t know where to find them? No problem—this pulled pork recipe is so flavorful, it really doesn’t need any assistance!

Rate my BBQ pork recipe! Thanks a bunch!