Say hello to the most tender and juiciest roasted pork shoulder in the world. You’ll be amazed at how easy and perfect it is on its own or in sandwiches, tacos, and more!
The secret to this meat entree lies in a long marinade, followed by two hours of roasting. As the pork shoulder marinates in the rosemary garlic marinade for 8-24 hours, the flavor gets absorbed into the deepest parts of the meat. When ready, the shoulder is placed in the oven and roasted for two hours until the meat is extra tender and easily pulls apart. The result is an irresistibly juicy and flavorful meat that is finger-lickin’ good.
Love easy roasted meat recipes? Try this amazing 3 ingredient roasted shredded beef!
What is Pork Shoulder?
Pork shoulder, also called “picnic roast”, or “picnic shoulder”, is a cut of meat that comes from the front of the pig. It is generally sold in five to ten pound roasts at the store, both boneless and bone-in. It’s relatively inexpensive and is the best cut of pork to roast. It comes out best when cooked slow and at a low heat, as this helps retain all the moisture.
One of the most common ways to use roasted pork shoulder is to make pulled pork, which is roasted pork shoulder mixed with barbecue sauce. Most barbecue restaurants have a pulled pork entree on the menu, which is basically roasted pork shoulder.
Pork Shoulder vs Pork Butt: What’s the Difference?
Pork shoulder and pork butt (aka Boston butt) are very similar cuts of meat that are both good for roasting. Both are from the front of the pig, but the pork butt actually comes from an area above the shoulders. Pork butt is typically the fattier portion, whereas pork shoulder is leaner and tougher.
Why is it called pork “butt” if it’s found right above the pork “shoulder”? It may seem confusing, but the word butt in old English actually means “widest part”. On a pig, the widest part of the body is right above the shoulder.
How to Cook Roasted Pork Shoulder
Roasted pork shoulder is crazy easy to make, but it does take time to marinate for the best tasting result. Here’s a quick overview of the process to guide you.
- Combine marinade ingredients: In a bowl, combine all marinade ingredients.
- Marinate the pork: After removing any excess fat from the pork shoulder, rub the marinade all over the pork. Place pork in a bag or large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate for 8-24 hours. The longer the pork marinates, the more tender and flavorful it will be.
- Cook the pork: Place pork in a roasting pan. Cook in the oven set to a low broil for about 25 minutes until the top is golden.
- Roast the pork: Wrap pork in foil to retain moisture, set oven temperature to 300°F and cook for two more hours. Pork is fully cooked when the internal temperature is 180°F.
- Rest and serve: Remove pork from the oven when done, and rest for about 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Hot Tip: Use the leftover drippings in the roasting pan to make 5-Minute Gravy. It’s great served on top of the roasted pork or on the side with potatoes!
Tools You Will Need for This Recipe
Roasted pork shoulder is simple to make and only requires a few kitchen tools to make the process smooth and easy.
- Bowls: You’ll need one medium bowl to mix the marinade ingredients, and one large bowl or gallon size ziplock bag to hold the pork shoulder in while it marinates.
- Roaster: This nonstick roaster easily roast meats and keeps the drippings in the lower pan.
- Shredding claws: Used to easily shred the pork. Alternatively, shred using two forks.
Weight Differences and Cooking Times
Based on the size of the pork shoulder you buy, cooking times may vary. Pork is safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF, but to get extra tender meat that is easy to shred, the goal is to get it to 180ºF.
At an oven temperature of 300°F, it takes roughly 30 minutes per pound to cook. Follow this easy guideline when cooking pork.
- 4 lb roast: About 1.5 hours
- 5 lb roast: About 2 hours
- 6 lb roast: About 2.5 hours
- 7 lb roast: About 3 hours
After the suggested cooking time, check the roast every ten minutes or so until the internal temperature reaches 180°F.
Need a meat thermometer? Use our favorite meat thermometer to ensure the roast is cooked perfectly.
Expert Tips to Make the Perfect Roasted Pork Shoulder
With these expert tips, your roasted pork shoulder is going to be unrivaled. Everyone will be coming to you for the recipe!
- Save time on the marinade: To save time on preparing the marinade, place all ingredients in a blender and whisk everything up. No need to chop the garlic and rosemary!
- Allow ample time to marinate: Let the pork marinate for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours for the best flavor and juice.
- Brown the pork before cooking: Broil the pork shoulder on low until the outside is golden brown. This makes the outside crispy and adds flavor.
- Wrap the pork when cooking: Wrapping the pork in the oven will help retain the juices and keep the pork from drying out. Unwrap the pork briefly when you desire to develop a crispier crust.
- Baste if desired: While the pork is cooking, baste the pork with the drippings from the roasting pan for added flavor and moisture.
- Avoid overcooking: Although it is difficult to overcook pork shoulder when cooking at a low temperature, it is still possible. Avoid allowing the meat to cook past 210°F or the meat starts to dry out.
- Brown the pork after cooking: If you desire more browning or caramelization, turn the oven up to 450°F for 15 minutes before taking out the pork.
- Let the roasted pork rest: Avoid cutting into the pork right away, as it will let out the liquids. By resting the pork, you allow the juices to relax and redistribute. This results in a more tender, juicier cut.
Personalizing Your Roasted Pork
Customize your roasted pork shoulder by using ingredient substitutions or adding additional ingredients.
- Use additional spices: Use additional herbs and spices to experiment with a different flavor profile. Fresh herbs will provide the best flavor. Brown sugar, thyme, and paprika are popular seasonings for pork shoulder.
- Add onion: Optionally, blend in onion to the marinade for extra sweetness.
- Try bone-in vs boneless pork shoulder: Either cuts will yield a savory and juicy pork shoulder. Boneless may be slightly easier to cut into after cooking. Bone-in pork shoulder is sometimes cheaper, but also has more flavor.
Great Ways to Serve Roasted Pork Shoulder
One of the best things about roasted pork shoulder is how versatile it is. It can be eaten solo with a side dish, or mixed in to make a brand new dish!
- Solo: Pair the roasted pork shoulder with creamed potatoes and oven roasted brussels sprouts, braised carrots, or this corn, tomato, and avocado salad.
- Sandwich: Pull the roasted pork and use leftover pulled pork to make a Cuban pork sandwich or pulled pork sandwiches on brioche buns with BBQ sauce, and coleslaw.
- Taco: Make your own pork tacos using roasted pork shoulder as a meat alternative in this taco recipe.
- Nachos: Top tortilla chips with shredded roasted pork and then sprinkle with shredded cheese, pico de gallo, minced red onion, olives, and fresh guacamole.
- Soup: Add shredded roast pork into split pea and lentil soup for more flavor and texture.
- As additional protein: Add shredded pork shoulder for additional protein in recipes such as this potato mushroom breakfast skillet and Air Fryer baked potatoes.
Saving Roasted Pork Shoulder for Later
With pork shoulder usually sold in large 5-10 pound packages, you will likely have leftover pork shoulder. That’s great! Roasted pork shoulder is easy to store and reheat for use in many different recipes later. Here are our favorite tips on storing and reheating leftovers.
- Refrigerator: To store up to five days, let the roasted pork cool completely, then transfer the shredded pork to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Reserve a small bowl of leftover juices to rehydrate pork when reheating.
- Freezer: To store for up to six months, let the pork cool fully and then transfer shredded pork to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Freeze in portion sizes for simplicity. Reserve a small bowl of leftover juices to rehydrate pork when reheating.
- Oven: For best results, preheat the oven to 250ºF. Place the pork into a baking dish with leftover juices (apple juice or broth also work well) to keep it moist. Bake until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Microwave: Place pork in a microwave-safe dish and cover. Microwave until temperature is 165ºF.
- Stovetop: If looking to make pork more crispy, warm shredded pork on a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until warmed through. Optionally, add leftover juices, broth, or barbecue sauce to boost moisture and enhance flavor.
How long is pork shoulder cooked for?
If cooked at a temperature of 300°F, pork shoulder takes roughly 30 minutes per pound to cook. For a 5lb piece, it will take at least 2 hours. For a tender pork shoulder that is easy to shred, cook until the inside temperature is at least 180°F.
Do I cook pork shoulder with fat side down or fat side up?
You can cook it either way. If cooking fat side down, the top of the pork shoulder will develop more of a crust. If cooking fat side up, the fat will “baste” the pork as it cooks.
What is pork shoulder best for?
Pork shoulder is best when cooked low and slow, as this helps retain all the moisture. Pulled pork is most frequently made from pork shoulder, but the meat can be used in a variety of different dishes such as sandwiches, tacos, and nachos.
More Savory Recipes to Try
- Slow Cooker Beef Roast– Tender and juicy roast beef
- Russian Canned Stewed Meat (Tushonka) – Tender and moist stewed and shredded beef/pork
- Instant Pot Pork Chops and Gravy – Quick and easy flavorful pork chops
- Pressure Cooker Pot Roast – Pressure-cooked tender beef roast
- 30 Minute Instant Pot Ribs – Fall-off-the-bone tender and finger lickin’ good!
- In a medium size bowl, combine together garlic, rosemary, oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- Cut off any excess fat from pork shoulder. Rub marinade you created on all sides of shoulder. Place it in a bag or in a large bowl covered with a plastic wrap, allow to marinate for at least 8 hours, but up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to a low broil. Place pork in a roasting pan. Cook for about 25 minutes or until it's golden.
- Wrap pork in foil, adjust temperature to 300°F and cook for 2 more hours or until internal temperature reaches 180°F.
- Remove pork from the oven, allow it to rest for at least 25 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy!