Combining sous vide and smoke makes for the best pork shoulder roast. A simple rub is all you need to create this easy, sous vide smoked pork shoulder! Sous vide at 165 degrees F for 24 hours, then finish on the smoker at 200 degrees F for 6 hours. To make this recipe, you’ll need an immersion circulator and a smoker.

Shredded sous vide pork shoulder on a white plate with two forks, on a yellow background with a white cloth.

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This recipe for sous vide and smoked pork shoulder combines two of my favorite kitchen gadgets: my immersion circulator and my smoker!

My parents gave me a gift for Christmas that was a total game-changer. It’s a Green Mountain Grill that’s just the perfect size for the little balcony off our kitchen. Are you familiar with Green Mountain Grills? It’s like a Traeger – a cross between a grill and a smoker. The smoker is the part I’m so excited about.

This recipe makes shreddy, flavorful sous vide and smoked pork shoulder. The long cook and high temp are what give you that fall apart texture – this will not be “meaty”.

This sous vide and smoked pork shoulder is meat crack. Once you take a bite, you can’t stop grabbing pieces off the plate. Truly.

Pork is one of my favorite proteins to prepare sous vide, and you can find several different sous vide pork recipes around here, like sous vide pork chops. If you’re looking to make this pork into sandwiches, I highly recommend going big and making homemade rolls, too. The ones from my pulled pork on homemade rolls recipe are perfect for this!

Why sous vide and smoke?

Sous vide, cooking your meat low and slow, results in the most tender, melt in your mouth meat. Especially in the case of sous vide pork shoulder.

It’s also less wasteful and way easier than the low and slow smoke: you don’t need bags and bags of pellets and you don’t have to worry about babysitting a smoker for days on end.

By sous viding first, you tenderize the pork shoulder without the hassle of using a smoker, then simply finish it on the smoker for a few hours to get that flavor and bark.

Time and Temperature for Sous Vide and Smoked Pork Shoulder

Let’s talk method. I’ve tested this recipe on pork shoulder/butt roasts that are about 7 pounds in weight.

Most pork shoulder/butt roasts are between 5 and 8 pounds. For roasts of this size, here is your method:

Sous vide: 165 degrees F for 24 hours

Smoke: at least 6 hours at 200 degrees F (or until you’ve achieved a good bark)

If your roast is smaller than 5 pounds, decrease the sous vide time to 18 hours. If it’s bigger than 8 pounds, up the sous vide time to ~30 hours.

Pro-tip for the sous vide cook: weigh that pork shoulder down. The rendered fat will create air pockets and this sucker will want to float. Make sure to keep it submerged for the entire cook! I do this by placing a ceramic plate or bowl in the water on top of the vacuum sealed roast.

Once it’s done in the sous vide bath, let it cool on the counter for at least 30 minutes. If you have the time, refrigerate it for a few hours. It makes it much easier to transfer to the grill without it falling apart. Otherwise, find a buddy to help you make the switch!

How to Season your Pork Shoulder

Rubbed pork shoulder on white surface

You can use any good barbecue rub for this pork shoulder. I am a firm believer that using a quality spice blend is just as okay as making your own, so don’t overthink this. My go-to spice blends are always from Primal Palate, so for this recipe, I used their Barbecue Rub.

If you do want to make your own rub, I recommend this barbecue rub recipe from Hey Girl Hey.

Equipment Needed for Sous Vide and Smoked Pork Shoulder

The bare minimum of equipment you’ll need to make this recipe for sous vide and smoked pork shoulder is:

  • An immersion circulator. I highly recommend the Imersa Elite from Vesta Precision. It’s a beast that can handle long cooks like this one.
  • A smoker. We have the Green Mountain Grill Davy Crockett and love it! You can also finish in the oven, but you won’t get the same smoky flavor.

Some equipment that will make this process easier:

  • A vacuum sealer. You can use a zipper top bag, but vacuum seal bags are able to withstand high heat for long periods of time better, and for long cooks, you want to truly remove as much air as you can. I like the Vac n Seal from Vesta Precision.
  • A large cooking container, like a Cambro. You can buy these online or at a restaurant supply store (I get mine at Smart Foodservice).

How to Prep Sous Vide Pork Shoulder in Advance

Fun fact: I actually prefer to do the sous vide part in advance, and then finish on the smoker before serving. Here’s why:

  • I’m in more control of my time.
  • The pork shoulder is easier to handle after it’s been cooked if it’s cold – it won’t fall apart as easily on you.

To really plan ahead, after purchasing the pork shoulder, season the roast and vacuum seal it. Write the date and contents in Sharpie on the outside of the bag and freeze. When you’re ready to cook, defrost in the fridge for 1 day. It doesn’t need to be completely defrosted before sous viding.

Vacuum sealed pork shoulder on white surface

I wouldn’t sous vide more than 3 days in advance of smoking. My usual process looks like this:

  • Day 1: put the pork in the water bath and cook for 24 hours.
  • Day 2: remove pork from water bath and place in fridge after it’s cooled on the counter for about 30 minutes. Keep it in the vacuum seal bag.
  • Day 3: remove from fridge and bag. Scrape any fat and gelatin off the roast. Smoke for 6 hours, or until a good bark is achieved.

How to Select a Pork Shoulder

The number of people you’re feeding will dictate the size of the pork shoulder you need.

  • 2 people: 3 pounds
  • 4 people (or for 2 with leftovers!): 5 pounds
  • 6 people: 7-8 pounds
  • 8+ people: 10-12 pounds

Why so much? There’s a lot of fat in a pork shoulder roast which gives it incredible flavor, but a lot of that fat is inedible. I always err on the side of getting a bigger roast than I need – you can freeze the finished pork shoulder!

The higher quality meat you use, the better it is going to taste. However, don’t overthink this and get what you can. I recommend a Porter Road Pork Butt. Their meat is some of the best quality stuff you can get at reasonable prices.

Have fun with this sous vide and smoked pork shoulder. I’m obsessed with this technique!

You can also view this recipe as a step-by-step web story here.

shredded sous vide pork on a white plate and yellow background
5 from 1 review

Get the Recipe:

Tender Smoked Sous Vide Pork Shoulder

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 d 6 hrs
Yield: 10 servings
Combining sous vide and smoke makes for the best pork shoulder roast. A simple rub is all you need to create this easy, sous vide smoked pork shoulder! Sous vide at 165 degrees F for 24 hours, then finish on the smoker at 200 degrees F for 6 hours. To make this recipe, you’ll need an immersion circulator and a smoker.

Ingredients
 

  • 5-8 pound pork shoulder/butt roast, Porter Road is a great resource
  • 1/4 cup barbecue rub, like this one from Primal Palate

Instructions
 

  • Set up water bath and preheat water with immersion circulator to 165 degrees F.
  • Rub pork shoulder/butt roast thoroughly with barbecue rub. Place in vacuum seal bag, remove the air, and seal.
  • Add pork shoulder to water bath. Cook for 24 hours.
  • Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes on the counter. If you have time, refrigerate for a few hours.
  • Preheat smoker to 200 degrees F. Remove the pork shoulder from the bag and transfer to your smoker. Cook for at least 6 hours, or until a bark has formed.
  • Remove to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Notes

When smoking, you’re ultimately looking for a good bark on the outside. For a smaller roast, you may not need as many as 6 hours. Once a bark is achieved, pull it from the smoker.
If your roast is smaller than 5 pounds, decrease sous vide time to 20 hours. If it’s larger than 8 pounds, increase sous vide time to 30 hours.
Cuisine: Southern
Course: Dinner
Author: Chelsea Cole
Calories: 210kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 106mg, Potassium: 484mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 54IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 2mg
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