How to Brine a Pork Butt Roast Prior to Smoking

Add moisture and flavor to your pulled pork with a brine.
Add moisture and flavor to your pulled pork with a brine. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Pork butt roast comes from the upper shoulder of a pig and is a good candidate for smoking because it contains a high level of collagen and marbled fat. Brining helps infuse the pork butt with moisture and flavor. You can use either a hot or cold brine for pork butt. A hot brine uses kosher salt and sugar, which need heat to dissolve in water. A cold brine uses pickling salt and molasses, which can dissolve in cold water. Whichever brine you use, your roast is sure to be more moist and have a better flavor.

Things You'll Need

  • Pickling or kosher salt
  • Molasses or sugar
  • Water
  • Large pot
  • Large plastic covered container
  • Pork butt roast

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Make a hot or cold brine solution based on the ingredients available to you. For a cold brine, dissolve 12 oz. pickling salt and 8 oz. molasses in 2 qts. water. For a hot brine, heat 1-1/4 cups kosher salt and 6 tbsp. sugar in 3 qts. water in a large pot. Let a hot brine cool to room temperature before you add the pork.

Pour the brine mixture into a large plastic container with a cover -- a small cooler works well -- and submerge the pork butt inside, fat side up. Put a heavy plate on top of the pork if necessary to keep it submerged.

Place the brining pork into the refrigerator and allow to soak for at least 8 hours, but no longer than 48 hours. After brining, remove the pork butt and pat dry before seasoning and smoking.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you can't fit the brining container in the refrigerator, fill a large plastic bag with ice and set it on top of the submerged pork butt. Replace ice as necessary.


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