Foolproof Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder Recipe

Roasted pork shoulder
Photo © Danilo Alfaro
  • 2 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Ratings (25)

Spicy, sweet and succulent, this slow roasted pork recipe is definitely one for the ages. It's made with boneless pork shoulder (sometimes also called a Boston blade roast or Boston butt).

First, we smear the roast with a spice rub made from dried chilis, brown sugar, Kosher salt and a few other ingredients. Then we roast it — first at a very high temperature to brown the outside, and then finish it at a very low temperature, to maximize juiciness.

The secret here is that by using a digital probe thermometer, we take all the guesswork out of getting the temperature right. Just insert the probe into the deepest part of the roast, set the device to 140°F and it will beep when it's time to take it out.

As long as you insert the tip of the probe into the very center, and take care not to hit bone (which isn't a factor here since we're doing a boneless pork shoulder), the technique is foolproof.

And by the way, if you're thinking to yourself, "Wait, I thought we had to cook pork to 160°F, that was before 2011 when the USDA changed their recommended target temperature for cooking pork to 145°F. Which is great, because 160°F was always too high. You can read more about that here: How to Cook Pork (Without Overcooking it)

You can use this technique for a smaller roast. For instance, I did it with a 3-pound roast, and all I did differently was roast it at 500°F for 15 minutes instead of 20. Everything else stays the same (although a smaller roast won't need as much of the spice paste).

What You'll Need

  • 3½-4 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 1 Tbsp dried crushed red peppers
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1½ Tbsp Kosher salt (NOT sea salt or table salt)
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together (everything but the roast itself) in a small bowl to form a paste. Smear it all over the roast. (You might have some left over, depending on the size of your roast.)
  3. Roast at 500°F for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 250°F and cook until your probe thermometer reads 140°F, which will take another 2 hours or so. It'll be a beautiful brown color on the outside.
  1. Remove the roast from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes, during which time the temperature will continue to rise until it reaches the target temperature of 145°F. Then slice, serve, and enjoy, while marveling at its perfect juiciness.