Hot-And-Fast Pulled Pork (Pork Butt)


The hot-and-fast style of barbecue has become a popular trend in recent years. This style goes against all the low-and-slow principles, but hot-and-fast isn’t about perfection. The H&F idea is to get a delicious barbecue in only a few hours. 

Hot And Fast Pork – Step By Step

  • Fire up your smoker, and get the temperature stabilized at 350° F to 400° F.
  • Make sure you use a thermometer probe in the smoker to track the temperature and place a thermometer in your meat to track the internal temperature.
  • Place the meat in your smoker, and cook until the meat reaches about 160° F internal.
  • You want to wrap the pork butt with a couple of layers of thick aluminum foil.
  • You can skip the wrap, but it will take longer. However, smoking a naked pork butt will have more smoke flavor.
  • Smoke the pork butt until the internal temperature reaches about 200° F.
  • Test for probe tenderness; it needs to feel you’re poking a stick of butter using a toothpick or a thermometer probe.
  • Allow your pork butt plenty of time to rest.

Start Slow, Finish Fast

Another technique is to start the pork shoulder at about 250° F and leave it in the smoker for about 2 or 3  hours to let the bark form. This will also allow the pork time to absorb some smoke flavor. After about 2 hours, increase the temperature to 350° F to 400° F and wrap it up in foil. As always, experiment and track your cooks in a journal. If you have a thermometer with graphing capabilities, look at the cook data and see what does and doesn’t work. 

How To Buy A Good Pork Butt

  • Buy a pork shoulder with a nice money muscle, as this is the most flavorful part of the pork butt.
  • Look for a pork shoulder with a decent amount of fat and marbling, as this will help the meat survive the hot-and-fast cook. Marbling will help keep the meat moist and prevent it from drying out. Fat will also shield the pork from the heat.
  • Buy a pork butt that contains a bone. This will help the pork stay moist, but it will also serve as a useful tool when trying to do a tenderness test. If you want to tell if a pork butt has reached the perfect temperature or tenderness, twist the bone, and if it looks like it can almost fall off, then the pork has reached the perfect tenderness.

Where To Lay The Pork On The Smoker

Always place the thicker side of the pork shoulder towards the heat source, so if you’re using an offset smoker, place the fatty thicker side of the pork shoulder towards the heat. Direct the pork fat side towards the heat. So if you have a charcoal smoker with the heat source below, place the pork shoulder fat side down.

WeightTemperatureTotal Cook TimeResting Time (1 hour)
6 pounds220°F9 hours10 hours
10 pounds220°F15 hours16 hours
6 pounds250°F6 hours7 hours
10 pounds250°F10 hours11 hours
6 pounds(Hot and Fast) 300°F5 hours6 hours
Estimated total cook times for pork butt

The Cons of Hot-and-Fast Pulled Pork

A standard low-and-slow pork shoulder/pork butt will take around 8 to 10 hours to cook in a smoker. Especially if you’re cooking in the low ’n’ slow 220° F to 250° F range. A hot-and-fast pork shoulder can be pushed out in only a few hours when cooking at about 350° F to 400° F. However, you will notice a few differences between hot-and-fast pork and low-and-slow. Saving time is the big advantage with hot-and-fast pork, however this method has several cons. 

Hot-and-Fast Pork Has Less Smoke Flavor

A hot-and-fast pulled pork butt will absorb less smoke in the smoker, which means it will have less smoke flavor. Compare this to a slow-smoked pork butt which will spend hours in smoke.Typically, a low-and-slow pork butt will sit on the smoker for about 4 or 5 hours before being wrapped. That’s about 4 to 5 hours of smoke absorption. A hot-and-fast pork butt will have a total cook time of 3 to 4 hours. Half of that time the meat will be wrapped, which means it will only have about 1.5 hours in smoke. It might be tempting to skip this step, however, wrapping is important for a hot-and-fast pork shoulder because it will help speed up the cook. 

Hot-and-Fast Pork Is Less Tender

A slow-cooked pork shoulder will be more tender than a hot and fast pork butt. Pork shoulder contains a lot of fat and connective tissue, and the only way to break in down is by slow cooking. A hot-and-fast pork shoulder won’t have as much time to break down the collagen, making the meat less tender. However, that’s not to say you can’t get a tender H&F pork butt. You just need to get everything else right. 

Less Bark on Hot-and-Fast Pork

The bark is such an important part of the smoked pork shoulder. When making a low and slow roast, you’ll spend a lot of time nurturing the bark during the first stage of the cook. The bark combines dehydrated meat, dry rub, smoke, and fat. Usually, pitmasters will wait until their bark is really firm before wrapping. When smoking a pork shoulder hot and fast, you may not get the bark you normally do low and slow. 

Less Smoke Ring

You will also notice less of a smoke ring with a hot-and-fast cook. This is because the pork will spend less time in the smoke. A low-and-slow pork shoulder will have more time in the smoke, and therefore a more prominent smoke ring. However, the smoke ring makes no difference to the taste. 

Trimming

Trim your pork butt, taking up any excess fat. Remove the skin; you do not want the rind on pork because the smoke will not penetrate.Leave 1/4 an inch of fat on the top. Remove any disgusting blood clots or anything that will not render. 

Help The Pork Survive By Injecting

When cooking at high temperatures, the pork is going to need all the help it can get. A handy tip is to inject the meat with stock, broth, or marinade such as butcher barbecue. The high temps will draw more moisture out of the meat, so injecting will help replace some of that fluid. 

Have you tried injecting brisket? All you need is one of these Simple Meat Injectors.

Pre-Brine Your Pork Butt

Another useful method to help your pork survive a hot-and-fast cook is to brine the meat prior to smoking. Brining can be as simple as rubbing salt into the meat the night before cooking. Salt not only helps the pork hold in the moisture during the hot and fast cook, but it also gives the meat an enormous flavor boost. 

The Rub

Apply the barbecue rub to the pork; just be careful with the salt and sugar content. If you’ve pre-brined the pork, just don’t double salt the roast; otherwise, you’ll ruin it. Be careful with sugar and rubs, as sugar burns and will turn your pork black, so just hold back a little or use a sugar such as a turbine with a high heat threshold.

If you want a good rub recipe, check out this article. This is a very generic, well-rounded, all-round barbecue rub you can use on anything, and you can add and subtract ingredients. If you want a pre-made rub, I recommend Harry Soo’s Slap Yo Daddy rub, or Malcolm Reed’s Killer Hogs rub.  

Slather

You can slather or put a binder on the pork butt prior to adding the rub. This will help the rub stick, and you’ll have a better bark that is less patchy. The added moisture will also assist with the high temperature. You do not have to add a binder; you can just use a bit of water. The best binders are yellow mustard or olive oil. 

Resting

Cooking meat at high temperatures is extremely risky because the meat can dry out easily, which is why techniques like resting and wrapping are so important. Allow your pork time to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hours, so those muscles can relax and reabsorb some of the moisture. If you slice or shred your pork too soon; you will lose all that precious juice on the cutting board.

Holding

If you’re not ready to slice or shred, you can place the pork butt into holding. This allows you to plan, so you can have the pork roasted before your guests arrive. To hold the pork, leave the meat in aluminum foil and place it into a dry cooler where it will stay hot for 4 hours or even longer. Insert a thermometer probe inserted into the pork so you can keep track of the internal temperature. As long as the meat doesn’t drop below 140° F, it will be safe to eat. Holding is ideal if you are cooking the pork for dinner or lunch. If this is the case, you can fire up your smoker in the morning and have it done by lunchtime. 

Experiment With Hot-and-Fast

Hot and fast cooking isn’t about getting the perfect pulled pork. Although you can still get delicious pulled meat. The thing is, it’s not about perfection, but it is still delicious. I can guarantee you it will still be better than most people’s roasts if you do everything else right. Do your spritzing, mopping, injecting, wrapping, brining, and dry rubs, do all those things with quality meat, and you can smash it out in half the time, and it will still be a good barbecue. 

My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.

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