How to trim a pork shoulder

Way back when, New England butchers would transport and store hams and pork shoulders in barrels, known as butt. And from that moment forward, pork shoulders were called Boston butt. Also known as pork butt, it is the cut of the animal that comes from the upper part of the front shoulder, commonly used for pulled pork.

As you learn how to trim a pork butt, you’ll discover that doing so allows the rub and smoke to penetrate thoroughly. What’s key is removing the thick skin usually located on two sides of the shoulder, as well as excess pieces of fat that won’t render properly during cooking.

Read on for the full method.


  1. Make an incision between the skin and the meat using a carving knife or sharp butcher knife. Slice through the fat that is right beneath the skin while pulling the skin upward. Remove all of the skin completely.
    HOT TIPWatch the embedded video for a demonstration of this technique.

  2. Locate and remove any chunks of fat thicker than a ¼ inch from the pork shoulder

  3. The Boston Butt is now ready to be seasoned and smoked on your Oklahoma Joe’s Smoker.

Try your hand at our Tennessee-Style Smoked Pork Butt. for a tangy pulled pork sandwich.

Get recipes & tips delivered to your inbox