A BBQ smoked pork shoulder on a grill

How to Smoke and Grill a Delicious BBQ Pork Shoulder

Score, season, and sear. This is the best way to grill pork for the ultimate barbecue, and it doesn’t get better. Or does it? With this simple tip, it does: Use wood chips. A handful or two of smoking chips at your next grilling session will transform your pork shoulder from satisfactory to superb. Does it matter whether you use a gas or charcoal grill? Not at all. But here’s where it pays to use the two-zone grilling method.

The two-zone method establishes direct and indirect heat, or a hot and cool zone, so that the heat either licks your pork shoulders directly or cooks them like an oven. For this tip, you’ll begin with indirect heat. That way, the pork shoulders cook longer and have ample time to soak up all that smoky essence. And speaking of essence, you’ll want to select the absolute best types of wood for smoking, such as oak, hickory, or the expert-recommended pecan, to nudge earthy aromas into your pork shoulders.

Once you bite into your meat, you’ll know exactly why this ancient practice of smoking with wood has been preserved. Nothing beats the intense features of wood, smoke, and fire on your palate. Besides delivering smoky notes tenfold, smoking your pork shoulders with wood chips will imprint rich, fruity, and nutty notes in a way natural charcoal smoke won’t. Plus, the longer, indirect approach ensures effortlessly tender pork shoulders by the end of the barbecue process.

How to smoke barbecue pork shoulder with wood chips

Wood chips on a barbecue grill

To smoke your barbecue pork shoulders on a charcoal grill, you can either begin by lighting your charcoal in a chimney or by pouring unlit charcoal and then wood chips into one side of the grill. On the other side, place an optional disposable foil to catch the oil drippings from your pork meat. Light your briquettes in a charcoal chimney, and when they’re ready, dump them on top of the wood chip pile — you now have your hot zone.

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Once the hot zone reaches 325 degrees Fahrenheit and the cool zone reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re ready to smoke your barbecue pork shoulders. Place the grill grate appropriately, and remember to apply a dry rub before placing the pork shoulders directly above the foil, which is your cool zone. Next, proceed to put the lid on, and, just like that, you’re smoking away.

On a gas grill, set one of the two burners to high and the other to low (or off), which are your direct and indirect heat sources, respectively. Just like you would with a charcoal grill, allow the grill to come up to the appropriate temperatures. Close the lid and smoke your pork shoulders for about one to two hours per pound. Once ready, use the hot zone to sear the pork shoulders for a beautiful charred finish — that’s how you achieve the smokiest, juiciest pork shoulder steak on your grill.

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