No Wrap Pork Butt – The Easiest Way to Smoke Pulled Pork

This is hands-down the easiest way to smoke a pork butt. All you have to do is season the meat, slap it on the smoker, and let it cook! 
a cooked piece of no wrap pork butt on a shelf in the smoker

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There are a hundred different ways to smoke a pork butt, but sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go.

This easy, no-wrap pork butt is a great way to get a delicious, smoky bark with tender, juicy meat with minimal effort. 

If you prefer to wrap your pork for extra flavor, check out my Competition-style Pulled Pork recipe

a pile of shredded pulled pork on a wooden board

No Wrap Pork Butt

This is an easy recipe, and there’s no easier way to smoke a pork butt than on the pellet grill.

You can be a lot more “hands-off” with it. As long as you keep your hopper full of pellets, you don’t have to fuss with the smoker too much – you can even run the cook overnight while you’re sleeping, so you have delicious pulled pork ready for lunch the next day!

Of course you can use whatever type of smoker you want for this recipe.

Ingredients you’ll need 

  • Pork Butt – you want to choose a larger pork butt for this recipe, as the meat can dry out quickly when you skip the wrap mid-cook. Around 8lbs is my sweet spot. 
  • BBQ Rub – the seasoning that you choose all depends on the flavor you’re going for. For this recipe, I used our Smoke Kitchen Beef Rub because I wanted a more savory final product. It’s a great blend of salt, pepper, garlic and spices that really tastes good on anything. Our ultimate dry rub for ribs would also work great.
  • Yellow Mustard – I use yellow mustard for a binder when I cook pork, but it’s completely optional. You can’t taste the mustard when the pork is done cooking, but it helps the seasoning stick to the pork better. If you’re not a fan of using binders, just skip this step. 
a raw piece of pork butt on a white board

Equipment you’ll need

  • Boning Knife – when you’re trimming your pork butt and scoring the fat cap, you want to use a sharp knife to make it easier. I love our Smoke Kitchen 6.5” Boning knife for trimming and scoring meat. It’s a workhouse that can be used in so many places around the kitchen.
  • Smoker – while this recipe works on any smoker, I cooked this one on the Grilla Grills Mammoth. It’s a heavy-duty vertical smoker with a massive hopper capacity. It can run for 48 hours at 250°F without having to add pellets, making it a great option for long cooks such as this. 
  • Pellets or smoke wood – pork is extremely versatile, and you can use just about any pellets you like. For this recipe, I used the Bear Mountain Bold BBQ pellets. They blend oak, mesquite and hickory and create an amazing flavor and bark on pulled pork. 
  • Instant read thermometer – a good quality instant-read thermometer will be your best friend. I use the Themoworks Thermapen to check the temperature towards the end of the cook.

Should you trim the fat cap? 

To trim or not to trim, that is the question! You’ll find pitmasters on both sides of this argument, but it comes down to personal preference.

I prefer to leave the fat cap intact and use a knife to score it in a cross-hatch pattern to let the seasoning penetrate the meat.

I like using the fat cap as a barrier to prevent meat overcooking. If I’m cooking on a smoker where the heat source comes from below, I will position the fat cap facing down. 

If you prefer trimming the fat cap a little bit or removing it entirely, that’s fine. I do end up with more tender and juicy meat when I leave the fat intact tho. 

How to make no-wrap pulled pork

1. Prep

You want to start by laying the pork butt on your cutting board with the fat cap facing upward.

slicing into the raw fat cap of a piece of pork butt

Take a sharp knife and score the fat cap in a cross-hatch pattern. This will allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat and give you a more flavorful end product. 

hand holding knife making cuts into the fatcap of a raw piece of pork butt

The next step is to coat your pork butt in a binder. I like to use yellow mustard, but you can alternatively use olive oil or Worcestershire sauce.

black gloved hand rubbing mustard onto the surface of a piece of pork but
The binder will make the seasoning stick to the meat more evenly and help create a beautiful bark. 

Once your pork butt is coated with a binder, you can season it liberally with your favorite BBQ rub.

bbq rub sprinkling onto a raw piece of mustard coverd pork butt

I love to use our Smoke Kitchen Beef Rub for this recipe. It’s a flavorful combination of salt, pepper, and spices that tastes great on anything. This will give you a more savory pulled pork, but if you’re looking for something sweeter, then our Honey Garlic Rub and Pitmaster’s Pick are also excellent choices! 

a jar of bbq rub being sprinkled over a raw piece of pork butt

I like to let my pork butt sit on the counter at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to let the seasoning adhere to the meat.

The whole butt should look slightly shiny, and you’ll know it’s ready to go.

2. Fire up the Smoker to 225°F.

I prefer to cook at a low temperature when I’m cooking a no-wrap pork butt because it builds a beautiful bark, and you really get that great, smoky flavor. 

For the pellets, you can use just about anything you want, but I recommend something like Oak, Pecan, or fruitwood like Apple or Cherry. Pork doesn’t have a lot of inherent flavor, so I like to use milder woods or wood blends when I’m cooking it. 

3. Smoke 

Once your smoker is fully preheated, you can place the pork butt directly on the grates with the fat cap facing down.

raw seasoned pork butt on a shelf in the smoker

The reason I like to smoke pork butts with the fat cap down is because the fat acts as a barrier between the meat and the heat. This will protect the bottom of your pork butt from drying out and give you the most tender and juicy final product. 

Now, pork butt takes quite a while to cook. You can expect anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours per pound on average, so an 8lb pork butt will take about 16 hours total. That’s why I love cooking them on a pellet smoker because I can put the meat on and go to bed, then wake up the next morning and have pulled pork ready to eat by lunch. 

cooked piece of pork butt on a shelf in the smoker

You’ll know the pork is done when it reaches about 200°F and the probe slides in like it’s going into a stick of softened butter (AKA: probe tender). 

4. Rest 

It’s a good idea to let your pork rest for at least 30 minutes before shredding it. This allows the meat to cool a bit and let the juices redistribute into the meat.

a piece of cooked pork butt resting on a white board
It also makes it easier to shred by hand because no one wants to stick their hands into a pile of 200°F pork!

5. Shred

You’ll know you did it right when the bone comes out perfectly clean and the meat is easy to shred. You won’t need a knife, and the meat should pull apart with little resistance.

This is one situation where putting on a pair of cliche black BBQ gloves will make the job a heck of a lot easier.

shredded no wrap pork butt on a white board

The many ways to make pulled pork

a cooked piece of no wrap pork butt on a shelf in the smoker

No Wrap Pork Butt – The Easiest Way to Smoke Pulled Pork on a Pellet Grill

5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 hours
Total Time: 18 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 303kcal
Author: Breanna Stark



  • Lay your pork butt down with the fat cap facing upward and pat the entire roast dry.
  • Score the fat cap in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife.
  • Use the mustard to coat the entire roast – this will act as a binder to help your seasoning stick to the meat.
  • Season the pork butt liberally on all sides with the BBQ rub.
  • Let the pork sit at room temperature while you preheat your pellet grill to 225°F.
  • Place the pork butt directly on the grates of the smoker with the fat cap facing down.
  • Smoke for 16-18 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F and the pork butt is probe-tender.
  • Remove from the smoker and let rest for 30 minutes, then shred and serve immediately.


Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 778mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.05g | Vitamin A: 29IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximation only. If you’re worried you could always add a side of kale.

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