Pork Butt or “Boston Butt”: What Is This Piece Of Meat?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 4, 2022

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Back in the colonial days, New England butchers had a unique way of shipping out pork. They would take the “less prized cuts” of pork, pack them into barrels, and ship them off to other places.

These barrels were called “butts,” and this particular shoulder cut of pork became known as a New England specialty. Thus, it was dubbed the “Boston butt.”

What is a pork butt

The Delicious Result

Today, the Boston butt is a beloved dish that can be found in many restaurants and homes. It’s a mix of sliced pork and ribs with white bread, and it’s often served with a variety of sauces and sides. Whether you’re a fan of classic Southern BBQ or just looking for something new to try, the Boston butt is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Historical Problems

Turns out, there are plenty of historical problems with the Boston Butt origin story. For starters, Virginia and North Carolina, not New England, were the centers of the pork trade in the 18th century until Cincinnati took over in the 1830s and then Chicago. And despite extensive research, not a single printed use of the term “Boston Butt” has been found before the Civil War. 

So what’s the real story behind the Boston Butt? We may never know.

What’s the Deal with Pork Butt?

Where Does It Come From?

Pork butt is the thicker end of the shoulder cut, and it’s made up of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm of the pig. It’s got a lot of connective tissue, so it’s not the most tender cut of pork. But don’t worry, slow cooking will make it nice and juicy!

What About the Real Butt?

The real butt of the pig is actually the thigh and most of the gluteus maximus. That’s why it’s so meaty, and why it’s used to make ham. So if you’re looking for a delicious, juicy ham, you know where to look!

How Much Does It Cost?

Pork butt is surprisingly affordable, usually costing around $2.50 per pound. So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly cut of pork, pork butt is the way to go!

Storing Your Pork Butt


If you’ve cooked up some delicious pork, you can store it in the fridge for up to four days. To make sure your pork stays fresh, pop it into airtight plastic bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil, or plastic containers (squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing). 


If you want to keep your pork for longer than four days, it’s time to break out the freezer. Wrap your pork in airtight packaging and pop it in the freezer for safe storage. 

Tips and Tricks

If you want to make sure your pork stays as fresh as possible, here are some tips and tricks: 

– Use airtight packaging like plastic bags, heavy-duty aluminum foil, or plastic containers 

– Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing 

– Pop it in the freezer for long-term storage 

– Enjoy your delicious porky pal!

What Does Pork Butt Taste Like?

Pork butt is a juicy, flavorful cut of meat that’s perfect for slow-cooking. It’s got a rich, meaty flavor that’s intensified through cooking. The fat content melts and bastes the meat, making it tender and succulent.

How to Make the Most Delicious Pork Butt

– Get the right cut: Look for a pork butt that’s well-marbled with fat.

– Dry rub: Rub your pork butt with a mix of spices like garlic powder, paprika, and cumin.

– Slow-cook: Braise the pork butt in a pot with potatoes and shallots for a few hours.

– Enjoy: Serve your pork butt with a side of mashed potatoes and you’ve got a delicious meal!

Where to Find a Boston Butt

You can find a whole pork shoulder at some grocery stores, but it’s usually cut into two pieces. The upper part is the Boston Butt (sometimes called a “blade roast”) and it comes from right behind the pig’s neck. The lower part is called the picnic (“arm roast”) and includes the rest of the leg down to the hock.

The Local Butcher Shop

There’s nothing quite like getting your pork butt from a local butcher shop or farm. You know you’re getting the freshest meat around, and you can even request to have it cut to your specifications. Plus, you get to chat with the butcher and maybe even get some cooking tips!

The Supermarket

If you don’t have access to a local butcher shop, the supermarket is the next best option. You’ll usually find boneless pork butts, with most of the fat already removed. But if you’re looking for a bone-in pork butt, you may have to do some digging.

Warehouse Stores

Warehouse stores are the place to go if you’re looking for a whole boneless pork butt. They usually come vacuum-sealed, so you know you’re getting a fresh cut of meat. Some cooks prefer to use bone-in pork butt because they believe the bone adds more flavor, but you may have to search a bit to find one.

Pairing Pork Butt with Strong Flavors

Pork butt is the perfect cut of meat to pair with strong flavors, like barbecue sauce or chiles. That’s because it’s got a strong flavor of its own, so it can stand up to the boldness of sauces and sides. So if you’re looking for a way to spice up your pork butt, try adding some tangy barbecue sauce or some spicy chiles. You won’t regret it!

Spicy Stews

Do you like your food with a kick? Then pork butt is the cut of meat for you! It’s the perfect addition to any spicy stew, like New Mexican Carne Adovada, green chili, or classic Posole. The fat in the pork butt helps spread the chile flavor around, and the chunks of meat become extra tender. Yum!

Carnitas and Pulled Pork

Pork butt is also great for making carnitas and pulled pork. Here are some of our favorite recipes to get you started:

– Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Barbecue

– Slow Roasted Pork Butt

– Homemade Carnitas

– Mr-Pork Sliders with Watermelon BBQ Sauce


What’s the Difference Between Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder?

Pork Butt

– Pork butt is the thicker section of the shoulder, with more fat running through the meat.

– It usually doesn’t contain the shoulder blade bone.

– It’s great for making pulled pork or other recipes where you want the meat to fall apart easily.

Pork Shoulder

– Pork shoulder comes from the thinner, triangle-shaped end of the shoulder.

– It has less fat and marbling.

– It’s better for slicing or chopping the meat and having it hold its shape.

Pork Butt Vs Pork Loin

Pork butt and pork loin are two very different cuts of meat, and it’s important to understand the difference between them. Pork butt is a tougher cut of meat that comes from the shoulder of the pig. It has a lot of fat and connective tissue, which makes it great for slow-cooking methods like braising or smoking. Pork loin, on the other hand, is a leaner cut of meat that comes from the back of the pig. It’s much more tender than pork butt and is best cooked quickly using methods like grilling or roasting.

If you’re looking for a meal that’ll really stick to your ribs, pork butt is the way to go. It’s a tougher cut of meat that’s loaded with flavor and fat, so it’s perfect for slow-cooking methods like braising or smoking. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a leaner cut of meat that’ll cook quickly, pork loin is your best bet. It’s much more tender than pork butt and is great for grilling or roasting. So whether you’re looking for a hearty meal or something quick and easy, pork butt and pork loin have you covered.


Pork butt is a great cut of meat to cook with, as it’s packed with flavor and is relatively inexpensive. Slow cooking is key to getting the most out of it, so don’t be afraid to take your time and let the fat render and infuse the meat with added flavor. Whether you’re barbecuing, braising, or stewing, pork butt is sure to be a hit. And don’t forget, PORK BUTT is the way to go! So, don’t be a ham, get cooking!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.