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Smoked Pork Shoulder (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

A simple recipe that will give you fork tender pulled pork, this smoked pork shoulder is worth the time it takes to make it! You’ll savor the delicious bark from the rub and we even gave you an optional sugar-free BBQ sauce recipe. Simple and clean ingredients, so this recipe is Paleo, Whole30 and Keto approved!

Horizontal image of smoked pork shoulder shredded in a pan

A unique smoked pork shoulder rub

Most of the time when I do a roast or pork shoulder in the smoker, I use a simple rub made up of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and paprika. You can find an recipe for that rub in this Pulled Pork Recipe. For this rub, I really mixed up the flavors to create something new.

  • First, I coated the pork shoulder with some mustard to help the rub stick and develop a good “bark”.
  • I used some sage, cumin, allspice and ginger to create a rub that gives a unique flavor profile while blending in well with the pork shoulder meat. It’s smoky, complex and savory.
Pieces of smoked pork shoulder on marble with bowl in background

How long to smoke pork shoulder at 225 degrees?

This is a common question that gets asked when you are smoking a large cut of meat. If you keep a consistent heat of 225° Fahrenheit, it can take upwards of 10-14 hours to completely cook a pork shoulder to a “fork tender” consistency.

Smoked pork shoulder pieces in a bowl with sauce over the top overhead shot

Tips to cut down some of the smoked pork shoulder cooking time

In this recipe I used a couple of techniques to help expedite the smoking process. Of course, a smoked pork shoulder still takes a long time, so plan accordingly.

  • After about 4 hours, the smoke penetrates about as far into the meat as it will get. At this point you can wrap the meat and increase the heat.
  • When you wrap the meat, use some bone broth to help prevent the meat from drying out. You can also spritz the meat with broth or apple cider vinegar if you aren’t wrapping it.
  • After 4 or so hours, heat up some bone broth, so it doesn’t go in cold and have to be warmed up in the smoker. Pour it into a baking dish and place the roast in the dish. Cover with foil and increase the heat up to 300° Fahrenheit.
  • Depending on the texture you are looking for, you can pull the pork shoulder off as early as when it reaches an internal temperature of 195°. However, this will result in a tougher meat that will need to be chopped instead of pulled. Heat the meat to at least 205° for a “fork tender” texture that will shred easily.
  • Since the finish time is uncertain, you can easily keep the smoked pork shoulder warm for hours after you pull it off the smoker. Simply wrap it tightly with foil, wrap it in a towel, and place it in a cooler. It will retain heat and stay warm for 2-3 hours this way.
Smoked pork shoulder pieces in a bowl with sauce over the top angle close up shot

Do I need to add BBQ sauce?

Since this smoked pork shoulder has a nice, flavorful rub on it, BBQ sauce is not essential to the recipe. However, if you like some sauce on your pulled smoked pork, we included an easy sugar free sauce in the recipe. It’s tangy without being too sweet, the perfect compliment to the smoky pork.

Close up of smoked pork shoulder pieces on marble with sauce drizzled on top

Some side dishes to go with this recipe

Your turn to try this smoked pork shoulder

The next time you want to make something special, give this smoked pork shoulder recipe a try! Leave a comment below and let us know how it goes. Also, take a pic to share on Instagram and tag us @realsimplegood. Make sure you give us a follow if you don’t already, too. We’d love to stay connected!

Close up image of smoked pork shoulder in a bowl with bbq drizzled on top. Text overlay at top of image for pinterest.

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Two close up images of smoked pork shoulder with bbq sauce drizzled on top with text overlay in the middle for pinterest.

Smoked Pork Shoulder (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

4.46 from 55 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 8
Calories: 482kcal
This smoked pork shoulder recipe will give you fork tender pulled pork. A simple rub and a smoker are all you need for the the best smoked pork shoulder!
Print Recipe Rate Recipe


  • 4 lb Boneless pork shoulder (or boston butt)
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 2 cups beef broth (warmed)

For the rub:

  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ginger

For the optional sauce:

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  • Prepare the rub by combining the rub ingredients in a small bowl or jar and mixing well. 
  • Place the pork shoulder in a shallow pan or dish. Rub the mustard all over the pork to give it a light coating.
  • Rub a liberal amount of the rub all over the pork. If you have the time, you can cover the pork at this point and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. If you do refrigerate, be sure to allow the pork to sit out and come to room temperature before smoking.
  • Follow your smoker’s instructions to bring the temperature up to 225° Fahrenheit.  
  • Place the pork in the smoker. Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 140°-150° Fahrenheit (4-5 hours).
  • Once the pork has reached 140°-150° Fahrenheit, warm up the beef broth in a pan on the stove or the microwave. You want it hot so it doesn’t cool off the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan and and pour in the beef broth around it. Cover the pan with aluminum foil or tent with parchment paper.
  • Place the pork back in the smoker and you can turn the smoker heat up to 250° or even 300° F. Continuously monitor the temperature with a thermometer and cook until the internal temperature reaches at least 205° F or even up to 210°. This will take another 2-3 hours.
  • Remove the pork from the smoker and let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes, tented with foil or parchment paper. 
  • While the pork is resting, prepare the optional sauce if you are having it. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a bowl or jar and mix well. 
  • Shred the pork with 2 forks or meat forks. Serve topped with sauce and enjoy!


TIP: If your pork finishes before you are ready to eat, it can be kept warm for several hours. Simply wrap it with aluminum foil and then wrap it in a towel. Placing it in a cooler to keep it warm until you’re ready to eat it.
Nutrition facts are an estimate provided for those following a Ketogenic or low-carb diet and do not the optional sauce for this recipe.  See our full nutrition information disclosure here

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 26g | Fiber: 1g
Tried this recipe?Take a picture and tag @realsimplegood so we can see it!
Smoked Pork Shoulder (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

10 thoughts on “Smoked Pork Shoulder (Paleo, Whole30 + Keto)

  • This is a solid recipe that we will repeat over and over. Prepped the meat last night with the mustard/rub to give it time to tenderize and sink in to the skin/meat. Smoked the meat for 8 hours today for Super Bowl and all the flavors just popped famously. The smoke ring was :: chefs kiss ::! Great way to use a bunch of things you would traditionally already have in hand as well – bonus!

    Do not sleep on the barbecue sauce! Definitely a great option for dipping the pork, chips or to use with chicken wings later on. Best part = sugar free!

    We really enjoyed both the meat and the sauce and can’t wait to make them both again.

  • Spent the last 2 days making this exactly as written. This was our first use of a smoker, so I appreciate the details throughout the recipe. It is amazing! 4.5 pounds ended up taking 7 hours of the smoker plus 1 hour to rest. I can’t say enough good things about this. It turned out better than I dared to hope!!!! Thanks again and again!

    • That’s so great to hear Andrea, I’m very happy you tried the recipe and enjoyed it! Thanks so much for coming back and leaving a rating, we appreciate it 🙂

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