smoked pork butt

Top Easy Pork Cuts to Smoke for Beginners

Finally getting to light up your smoker for the first time is worthy of celebration, but where do you begin? You know you want to cook up some pork but you haven’t given much thought to the different cuts of pork before now. Not to worry, we tracked down Adam Truhler from The Grilling Dad and asked him about the easiest cuts of pork to smoke for beginners.

“Pork butt (think pulled pork) and spare ribs are my two favorite cuts of pork to smoke and they are both great for beginners,” said Truhler. That’s great news because apple cider smoked pulled pork is one of our favorite recipes. “You can smoke bone-in or boneless pork butt, it really doesn’t matter. Bone-in is a bit easier to handle and looks much nicer, but if you’re turning it into pulled pork in the end you can use either cut. You can get a bit more bark on a boneless pork butt because the removal of the bone creates more surface area.”

When Truhler talks about bark, he’s talking about the crunchy exterior of smoked meats that resembles the bark of a tree. It adds a nice texture to the meat, which is why grill masters aim for a decent layer of bark no matter what they’re cooking. Whether you remove the bone or not is up to you, but if you’re planning on pulling the pork apart before serving, the benefits of bone-in are diminished.

Oh, spare me

barbecue pork spare ribs

“Spare ribs can be super easy as well,” Truhler went on. “If you like fall-off-the-bone tender ribs try the 3-2-1 method … Three hours smoking (unwrapped, directly on the grill grates), two hours cooking wrapped in aluminum foil, and one hour ‘tacking up’ (essentially drying out the surface of the ribs after removing the foil wrap).” Truhler went on to say that if you don’t want your ribs quite so tender, you can reduce the amount of time you cook them in foil to one hour.

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The great thing about both of these cuts is just how hands-off they are. Some meats need careful attention to temperature and moisture, which requires you to know more about the smoking process than you likely do if you are new to the craft. Pork butt and spare ribs are forgiving, which means you’re much more likely to wind up with an end result you can be proud of until you’re ready to take on a more challenging cut.

If you don’t have a smoker but still want to give these cuts a try, you can use your oven as a smoker instead. Even if you have a smoker in the backyard, your oven is a good option when you don’t have a large quantity of meat to fire up or it’s too cold outside to enjoy standing in the backyard.

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