Pork Butt Vs Pork Shoulder: What’s the Difference?

The next time you are in the grocery store, you may notice that pork butt vs pork shoulder is both labeled as pork roasts. So, what’s the difference? And which one should you buy?

In this blog post, we will break down the differences between pork butt and pork shoulder, and help to determine which one is best for your needs.

Spoiler alert: they are both great options, so it really just depends on what you are looking for! Read on to learn more about pork butts and shoulders so you can make the best decision for your next purchase.

What is Pork Butt?

The pork butt is a cut of meat from the rear shoulder of the pig. It is also known as a Boston butt or picnic shoulder, and it contains more fat than pork shoulder but not as much connective tissue.

This makes it ideal for slow-cooking methods like roasting, braising, grilling, and smoking. Pork butt is also commonly used in pulled pork dishes, but it is a little more difficult to shred than pork shoulder because of the higher fat content.

The high-fat content means that it will render and infuse the meat with added flavors and moisture. This makes it an ideal cut for smoking, as well as for grilling and stewing. When shopping for pork butt, look for a piece with good marbling.

This will help to ensure that the finished product is juicy and flavorful. Ask your butcher to cut the butt into steaks with the bone removed, or have it sliced into thin strips or chunks for use in ramen or stew.

Read Also: Shoulder Roast vs Chuck Roast: What is Differences?

What is Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, comes from the area of the pig’s shoulder between the neck and foreleg.

This cut is usually a larger, tougher piece of meat that contains more fat and connective tissue than other cuts. The fat content makes it ideal for slow cooking methods like braising and stewing, as it helps to tenderize the meat and add flavor.

This part of the pig is well-used, so it has a higher muscle-to-fat ratio. What this means is that there is less marbling in pork shoulder.

It can also be roasted or grilled but will require longer cooking times than other cuts. When cooked properly, pork shoulder is juicy and full of flavor. It’s often used for pulled pork or as a roast.

What is the difference between pork shoulder and pork butt?

-Marbling and Fat Content: Pork shoulder has a higher fat content and more marbling throughout the meat, which makes it perfect for slow-cooking methods like braising or barbecuing. Pork butt, on the other hand, is leaner with less fat and marbling.

-Shape of the Cut: Pork shoulder tends to be sold in larger pieces with the bone still attached. This is because it comes from the shoulder area of the animal, which is a larger and more muscular cut of meat. Pork butt typically has the bone removed and comes in smaller pieces or cubes that are easy to portion out for recipes.

-Cooking Methods: The two cuts also lend themselves to different cooking methods. Because of its high-fat content and marbling, pork shoulder is best for slow-cooking or barbecuing. Pork butt can also be slow-cooked or roasted, but it’s less fatty so it won’t be as tender or juicy as pork shoulder. It does, however, work well when cut into cubes for stir-frying or other quick cooking methods.

-The Price: Pork shoulder is generally less expensive than pork butt, but it does have more fat content so you do need to take that into consideration when deciding which one to buy.

-The Taste: Pork shoulder has a richer, more robust flavor than pork butt since it contains more fat. Pork butt has a milder, slightly sweet taste due to its leanness.

-Storing the Meat: Both pork butt and pork shoulder should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Now that you know more about pork butt vs pork shoulder, why not try out both to see which one you prefer? Try slow-cooking pork shoulder for your next BBQ or roast and cut up some pork butt for a stir-fry or slow-cooker meal. You may be surprised to find that you like both cuts of meat!

Video: Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder

Watch as Chef Jason, Ace’s Grilling Expert, explain the differences between pork butt and pork shoulder. Learn which meals this cut of meat is best for and why

Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder Comparison Table

Pork ButtPork Shoulder
Also Known AsBoston Butt“picnic shoulder” or “picnic roast”
Where From on PigTop of the shoulder, closest to spine.From below the butt, the top part of the leg.
DescriptionRectangular, uniform shape. Sold as bone-in and boneless.Tapered, triangular shape. If boneless, sold in netting. If netting is removed, meat “unfolds” into the uneven layer.
FeaturesWell marbled with intramuscular fat. Often sold with fat cap intact.Typically has less intramuscular fat and marbling. Frequently sold with skin on
Best Used ForPulled porkPulled pork, pork roast, or pork slices.


Which is better for slow cooking?

Pork shoulder is definitely the better option if you are looking for a cut of meat to use in slow-cooking methods like braising or stewing. The higher fat content and connective tissue will help to tenderize the meat and create a juicier, more flavorful dish.

While pork butt can also be used in slow-cooking methods, it won’t have quite the same flavor or texture as pork shoulder does.

All in all, both pork butt and shoulder are great cuts of meat that you should consider adding to your repertoire. Whether you are slow-cooking or stir-frying, both cuts are versatile and delicious.

Pork Butt Vs Pork Shoulder: Which is Better?

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference when deciding which cut of pork is better: pork butt or pork shoulder. Both cuts are flavorful and can be cooked in a variety of ways.

Pork shoulder has more fat content, so it can yield a juicier, more tender result when slow-cooked or barbecued. Pork butt is leaner, so it may not be as tender, but it can still provide a delicious meal when cooked correctly.

Both cuts are excellent options and offer their own unique flavors and textures. So try them both and decide for yourself which one you like better!

Note: So, there isn’t necessarily a “best” between pork butt and pork shoulder; it really depends on your needs and preferences. Both cuts of meat can be delicious when cooked properly, so it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you!

When to Use Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder is a great choice for slow-cooking methods like braising and stewing. It has more fat content than pork butt, so it will produce a juicier and more tender result when cooked for long periods of time.

It’s also great for making pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, or stews. The fat content will help to keep it moist and flavorful.

When to Use Pork Butt?

Pork butt is a great cut for quick-cooking methods like stir-frying and grilling. The leaner meat will cook faster than pork shoulder and can hold up to the intense heat of the grill or wok.

Pork butt can also be used in slow-cooking recipes, but it won’t yield the same tenderness and juiciness as pork shoulder. If you are looking for a quicker cooking option, however, pork butt is an excellent choice.

Which Cut Should You Buy?

The choice between pork butt vs pork shoulder really depends on what you are looking for. If you’re looking for a cut that is going to be juicy and full of flavor, go with the pork butt. If you’re looking for a cut that is going to be economical, go with the pork shoulder.

Both cuts will make an excellent roast or pulled pork, so the choice is ultimately up to you!

Now that you know more about pork butts vs shoulders, it’s time to start cooking. With a little bit of research and patience, you can easily master either cut and enjoy some delicious pork in no time.

FAQs About Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder

Can you freeze pork butt or pork shoulder?

Yes, both cuts can be frozen for up to four months if stored properly in a freezer-safe container. Make sure to wrap the meat tightly so that no air is able to get in and affect the quality of the meat!

How long does pork butt or shoulder last in the fridge?

Both cuts of meat typically last up to four days in the refrigerator before they should be consumed or frozen for later use.

Make sure to store them properly and cook them within this timeframe for optimal safety and quality.

Is Pork Shoulder the Same as Pork Butt?


No, pork shoulder and pork butt are two different cuts of meat. Pork shoulder is more fatty and flavorful, while pork butt is leaner and better suited for quick cooking methods like stir-frying or grilling.

Is It Possible To Make Pulled Pork From Any Cut Of Pork?

Yes, it is possible to make pulled pork from any cut of pork.

While pork butt and pork shoulder are the most popular cuts for making pulled pork, you can also use a variety of other cuts such as ribs or loin.

The key is to cook the meat low and slow so that it is tender enough to pull apart easily.

Is Pork Butt Leaner Than Pork Shoulder?

Yes, pork butt is leaner than pork shoulder because it has less fat content.

This makes it better suited for quick cooking methods like grilling or stir-frying since the leaner meat will cook faster and won’t need as much time in the oven to become tender.

However, pork shoulder will yield a juicier and more flavorful result when cooked for longer periods of time.

How Do You Make Boston Butt Pork Roasts?

Yes, pulled pork can be made from any cut of pork.

However, the best results are usually achieved with a cut like pork shoulder or pork butt that has more fat content and marbling.

-Boston butt pork roasts can be made by rubbing it with your favorite spices, such as garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, cumin, salt and pepper.

-Place the roast in a slow cooker on low heat and add some liquid (such as chicken broth or apple cider vinegar) to keep it moist while cooking.

-Cook for 6-8 hours until the meat is tender and shreds easily with a fork. Serve over rice or in tacos and enjoy!


In conclusion, pork butt vs. pork shoulder are both great cuts of meat that can be used in a variety of recipes, but they do differ in terms of marbling, fat content, shape, and cooking methods.

If you are looking for a more tender, juicy cut of meat that is great for slow-cooking or barbecuing, then pork shoulder may be the right choice for you.

For those who prefer leaner cuts of meat with less fat and marbling, then pork butt may be the perfect choice.

Ultimately, you should consider your preferences and the recipe you are making when deciding which cut of pork is best for your needs.

Now that you know the difference between pork butt and shoulder, we hope this article has been helpful in finding the right choice for your next purchase! Happy cooking!

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