Pork Shoulder VS Pork Butt - Everything You Need To Know

pork butt or pork shoulder

At first sight, you will believe that pork butt is obviously from the rear of a pig. A pork shoulder is then a complete shoulder part of an animal. Actually, both of these come from the shoulder of a pig just from different sections. They are not completely different parts of the animal nor are they completely the same. Let's explain the differences more.

They Come from the Upper and Lower Part of the Shoulder

Many people believe that pork shoulder and pork butt are the same things or two terms for the same part of the meat. They may sound confusing to some of you and they are commonly mixed by us many.

The truth is that pork butt is a piece of meat at the upper part of the foreleg. Pork shoulder, on the other hand, is located below on the pig's front shoulder. There are some similarities here. For example, both parts of meat are rich in fats and they are preferably used for slow cooking methods. The best ones are stewing, roasting and braising. Nevertheless, many of them prefer pork butt. It is more delicious and comes as a softer type of meat.

Characteristics of Pork Butt

perfectly grilled pork butt

In order to get a complete idea and imagine how these mats look, we have created an interesting section below. First, we will take a deep look into the pork butt and explain all of the main facts, characteristics and help you in being able to tell a difference.

Pork butt is known as Boston Butt and it is actually more commonly used term than the original name. This type of meat is loaded with intramuscular fat which comes in the forms of marbles. Many of the products will be available with the whole fat cap. They won't be affected during the processing process. The shape is rectangular and has a uniform characteristic. You can get it either as boneless or bone-in.

Characteristics of pork shoulder

pork shoulder the oven barbecue style

Pork shoulder is also known under picnic roast and picnic shoulder. It has intramuscular fats but in much lower amounts than the pork butt. The biggest difference and usually the first sigh used to tell it is pork shoulder is the presence of skin. Almost all sellers leave the skin and it is present on all the meats. The shape is triangular, tapered.

Another, common way you can use to tell a difference is the netting packaging. This affects the boneless type of pork shoulder. You will have to cut the net in order to see the meat unfold. There will be multiple layers and all of them are uneven.

When you Should Use Pork Butt?

In simple words, you should use pork butt for braising and stewing. Reasons for that are obvious. Pork butt has more fats and uniform shape. Probably the most common usages are for barbecues. We all love pork butt prepared on the best charcoal grill and we enjoy the taste, period.

There are a lot of recipes that allow you to choose either pork butt or pork shoulder. If you encounter one of them, we recommend you to go with pork butt. It is easier to prepare and offers more meat in the same package.

When you Should Use a Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder is the best possible outcome when preparing pork roast with crunchy skin, period. The fact you get pig's skin over the meat makes a massive difference. Of course, if you don't like the skin you can remove it or use pork butt instead.

An interesting fact is that there are countless recipes for using pork shoulder and they are all delicious. Keep in mind that many chefs looking for a simpler alternative will go for pork shoulder.

Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt

To summarize, pork butt doesn't come from the rear of a pig. It comes from the shoulder of a pig and this is the same part of the animal that provides pork shoulder. However, pork butt is located higher on the animal, while the pork shoulder is located lower.

Emily Lopes
Emily Lopes


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