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Juicy Pork Shoulder

This is the best recipe for making a pork shoulder in the oven. It is so easy to do and so delicious to eat that it will become one of your favorites for years to come.

Tender Pork Shoulder Roast

If you have ever had a pork shoulder, in my opinion, it is the best type of ham, so likewise it makes a great pork roast. It is a good size so you get a lot of meals out of it, or it feeds a lot of people. It is also very meaty with a little bit of fat for extra flavor and tenderness.

I have eaten smoked pork shoulders my whole life, so when we have a ham that is the only cut I would buy. So it’s obvious that when I feel like making pork in the oven, the shoulder cut comes to my mind. 

It is a good size roast with a lot of flavors and by cooking it slowly it comes out tender on the inside and a little crispy on the outside. If it is on sale, then buy an extra one and freeze it to make another day.

What is Pork Shoulder?

Juicy Pork Shoulder Roast

Pork shoulder is a tougher and inexpensive cut of meat that has layers of fat in it and usually has a large bone in it, weighing in at 6-10 pounds.

It may start out tough but once you cook it slowly for hours it transforms into a tender and juicy piece of meat that will shred with the touch of your fork.

It comes from the pig’s shoulder and has a big fat cap on the top, with marbling running through it which will keep your meat tender while it cooks, and more flavorful when you eat it.

What Does it Taste Like?

Pork shoulder has a nice strong pork flavor and after it is cooked for a while the meat is very tender and has a slight sweetness to it. It is one of the tastiest cuts of pork there is.

Is Pork Shoulder the Same as Pork Butt?

How to Cook Pork Shoulder

Both pork butt and pork shoulder are frequently confused with each other, but they are different.

The names are confusing because you would think the pork butt is from the back end of the pig, instead it’s right next to the pork shoulder, which is on the shoulder of the pig. 

The pork butt is higher on the foreleg, and the shoulder is further down. They are both tough and fatty cuts which require a longer cooking process to break the meat down so that they will go from tough to tender.

Check out our recipe for Boston Pork Butt for another incredibly easy and tasty meal.

Is Pork Shoulder Bone-In?

Yes, pork shoulder is bone-in, which is different from other cuts. It has a very large bone which makes the meat very flavorful. And when you are done picking the meat off of it, share the bone with your doggie, he or she will love it.

Cooking Methods

Pork Shoulder Roast

There are several methods of cooking a pork shoulder that we will explain to you:

  • Oven Roasted – I love to cook my pork shoulder in the oven because it’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. And if you get a piece with the fat cap on top, the fat gets crispy too.
  • Slow Cooker/Crock Pot – Using a crock pot is a good way to prepare foods, especially when you need to attend to other things while it is cooking. Even though the outside will not be crispy, the inside will be quite tender.
  • Instant Pot – This is a modern-day pressure cooker that shortens the cooking time at the same time making foods tender. This method is especially good when you have a short time to get dinner on the table.
  • Smoked – When the shoulder is smoked it tastes like ham and in my opinion, it is the best ham that you can eat. It is tender and juicy, not at all dry. My family loves it when there is a smoked shoulder in the refrigerator for a few days. We just pull it out with a small knife and cut off pieces to eat….it’s fun.

What Ingredients are in Roasted Pork Shoulder?

Pork Shoulder Ingredients
  • Pork shoulder – This is a unique cut of pork from the shoulder of the pig and when cooked slowly is very tender and flavorful, with a crispy skin over the top part of it.
  • Salt – Any kind of salt will work well to enhance the flavor of the meat.
  • Pepper – Black pepper is the best.

Different Variations

Making a pork shoulder will take on the flavors of what you put on it after it’s cooked. Here are just a few suggestions of different ideas:

Sauces:

  • BBQ Sauce – A common flavor sauce to have with pork. Get your favorite roll, and add your pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. Try our Keto BBQ Sauce for a low carb option.
  • Beer-Braised – Pour a little beer over your pork shoulder while cooking.
  • Pork Ragu – Eat your yummy pork shoulder with some tomato sauce poured over the top.
  • Garlic/Butter Sauce – Mix in some fresh parsley with fresh garlic and butter and pour it over the pork shoulder.

Spices:

  • Mustard – Dried type sprinkled over the outside before baking. 
  • Pork and Chili Pepper – Add some chili pepper to the existing spices and rub it onto your pork.

Ways to Use Pork Shoulder

Tender Oven Roasted Pork Shoulder

There are so many ways to eat your pork shoulder. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sandwich – A favorite sandwich of many is pork, BBQ sauce, and coleslaw on your favorite roll.
  • Salad – A great big salad for lunch or dinner, with pork shoulder on top is a low calorie/low carb meal.
  • Omelet – Eggs go so well with so many meats, and try them scrambled in an omelet with your favorite veggies, cheese, and some pork shoulder meat. 
  • Burritos – Pork shoulder meat makes a great burrito with beans and any other of your favorite Mexican spices.
  • Soup – Use pork shoulder in your favorite soup instead of chicken or beef, along with your favorite veggies, for a low calorie/low carb meal.
  • Stew – Use pork instead of beef to make a stew, with carrots, potatoes, onions, and your favorite spices.
  • Chili – Once your pork shoulder is cooked, cut it up and blend it with your favorite chili ingredients and you have a very tasty meal.

Shopping for Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder Roast Recipe

Shopping for your pork shoulder is easy. Here are a few ideas on how to get the best roast for your needs.

What to Look For?

You should be able to buy this piece of meat in your grocery store. When purchasing a pork shoulder, I look for one that is a good size and that has a larger fat cap on the top because I like to eat it after it gets crunchy. 

Make sure that it is pink and healthy-looking, not tan or light brown in color because that means the meat is not fresh.

How Much Pork Shoulder Per Person?

Depending on how many people will be eating your pork shoulder will help you decide on the size of the roast. 

Some people eat a lot so you will need a bigger portion for them. Some people eat like tiny birds, and if there are children they are going to eat a lot less than a man, so you need to know your friends and family.

On average it ranges from 3-12 oz per person. 

I would say that an average pork shoulder roast that I usually buy ranges from 7-8 pounds. If each person eats 8oz, a pork shoulder that size should feed approximately 16 people.

Buy When On Sale

Finding a sale on the foods that I love always makes me happy. Just buy 2 or 3 pork shoulders and freeze what you are not going to use right away. It’s easy to do and that way you can get a lot more for your money.

Should I Buy a Pre-Seasoned Pork Shoulder?

I have never seen a pre-seasoned pork shoulder. Don’t stress over it, just season it yourself…it’s easy to do.

Storing Pork Shoulder Before Cooking It

Usually, when you buy a pork shoulder it comes in a vacuum-packed wrapper with an expiration date that should give you a week or two to use it before it goes bad. 

Refrigerate it according to that date. If you are not going to use it right away then by all means stick it in the freezer until you are ready to prepare it.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder in the Oven

Cooking a pork shoulder in the oven is my favorite way to do it and it always comes out perfect every time. Let me share with you the step-by-step instructions of how easy it is to make this way.

STEP 1: Preparing Pork Shoulder

The first step is to place the pork shoulder on a large cutting board or baking sheet.

Raw Pork Shoulder on a cutting board

Next, season all sides with salt and pepper. Make sure to cover all sides well and the more seasonings you put on it, the more flavor it will have.

Get your baking pan and stick a baking rack in it and place the meat on top with the fat cap on the top.

Placing Pork Shoulder on a baking rack

STEP 2: Roasting it in the Oven

Now it’s time to preheat the oven to 325-350 degrees. When the temperature is reached, stick the pork into the oven.

Baking Pork Shoulder in the oven

How Long Does it Take to Cook Pork Shoulder?

How to Cook Pork Shoulder in the Oven

If you start your pork shoulder at a low temperature it will break down the connective tissues in order to make the meat more tender. Then by finishing the pork on high heat it will quickly crisp up the skin for a nice finishing touch. 

It takes about 20 minutes per pound to cook, but use a meat thermometer to make sure it is done. The meat is cooked when it reaches 145 degrees.

STEP 3: Rest for Best Results

Take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes before slicing it.

Slicing Pork Shoulder

Resting is a necessary step when making all kinds of meats, including pork shoulder. If you cut into the meat when it first comes out of the oven, the juices will run out all over the cutting board and the meat will be drier.

Instead, when you rest the meat the juices stay inside and make the meat more tender.

You can cut it into bigger slices or cut it into smaller pieces.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder

When you are done, serve with your favorite vegetables or other side dishes and enjoy!

Baked Pork Shoulder on plate with broccoli and mashed cauliflower

FAQs & Best Tips

Now we are going to attempt to answer some of the questions that may be running through your head, especially if you have never made this meat before.

And we will also share with you some helpful tips that we feel will be useful to you in making this yummy meat. 

  • When cooking any meat, always look for a fresh piece, by looking at the color of the meat and also checking on the date. In this case with a pork shoulder, look for one that is pinkish-red and has no brown or pale sections on it. Also, look for some marbling running through it.
  • I find it best to bake it on a rack so that it doesn’t sit in its own grease.
  • Cook it slowly and steady at a low temperature.
  • The fat side goes up so that it will baste the meat as it cooks. 
  • If it has a thick fat cap on the top, either cut the fat into squares for easier eating when it is done or leave it whole, whichever you prefer. 
  • It is always important to take the pork shoulder roast out of the oven at 145 degrees and let it rest for about 15 minutes. It will continue to cook while it rests and it gives the meat time to absorb the juices instead of letting them run out if you cut it while it is hot right out of the oven. So as a result it stays more tender.
Juicy Pork Shoulder Roast Recipe

Should I Cover a Pork Shoulder in the Oven?

Covering your pork shoulder in the oven is not a necessary step, in fact, I like to leave it uncovered for better cooking results. I like it to bake and form a crustier exterior, instead of steaming it underneath the foil.

Do I Need to Use a Cooking Rack?

You do not need to use a rack when cooking your pork shoulder in the oven if you do not want to, but when you are making a piece of meat that has fat in it, I like to raise it up off the pan so that it doesn’t sit and sit in its own grease.

Is Pork Shoulder a Tough Meat?

Pork shoulder is a more muscular piece of meat and can be tough unless you cook it properly. If you cook it slowly at a low temperature the fat and cognitive tissues break down and then it becomes more and more tender the longer it cooks.

Do I Have to Brown Pork Shoulder Before Cooking It?

It is not necessary to sear pork shoulder in a frying pan at the beginning of the cooking process, but some people start off the roast at a high temp for a few minutes in the beginning and then turn the temperature down for the rest of the cooking.

You can also cook it slowly at a low temperature and then brown it up the last few minutes of cooking at a high temperature.

What Is a Pork Picnic Roast?

A pork picnic roast comes from the shoulder of the pig, which is also alongside the loin and belly.

It is a muscular piece of meat that has a lot of flavor and requires slow cooking at a low temperature in order for it to come out tender and juicy. It also is one of the cuts that people will use for pulled pork.

What to Serve with This Recipe?

Tender Pork Shoulder Roast Recipe

There are a lot of good side dishes to serve with roasted pork shoulder.

How to Store

It is so easy to store your pork shoulder leftovers. Just put them in an airtight container or in a Ziploc bag, seal it up, and then store it in the refrigerator.

Pork shoulder will last in your refrigerator for about 5 days if it hasn’t been all eaten up by your family by then.

How to Use Leftover Pork Shoulder

I love leftovers because once you do the work to make something in the first place, you can reap the benefits for several meals afterward. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Salad – Pork shoulder makes a great salad topper.
  • Stir-fry – Pork stir fry is fantastic. Mix it with your favorite veggies, rice, or noodles, and add some oil, garlic and spices.
  • Chili – Cut up the meat and mix it with beans, veggies, spices, and sauce to make a prize-winning meal.
  • Mac and Cheese – This is a favorite dish of so many people from childhood up and a good combo with any of your favorite meats including our pork shoulder.

How to Reheat

Tender Roast Pork Shoulder

You can reheat your pork shoulder leftovers several ways:

  • In the Microwave on a plate with a paper towel draped loosely on the top of it for 1-2 minutes, depending on how hot you like your meat.
  • In the Oven spread out on a baking sheet at 325-350 degrees.
  • Wrapped in Aluminum Foil and heated in the oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes at 325-350 degrees.

Can You Freeze Pork Shoulder?

Juicy Pork Shoulder Roast Recipe

Pork shoulder, like other meats, will freeze well, as long as it is properly wrapped.

  • One way to freeze leftover pork shoulder is to place it in an airtight plastic container and then stick it in a Ziploc bag for double protection. 
  • Or you can do the reverse by wrapping the meat in a Ziploc bag and then putting the bag of meat into a plastic container.
  • A third way is to wrap the meat in plastic wrap and then a layer of freezer paper over that. What’s nice about the freezer wrap is that you can take a marker and write the info on it, like the contents, the date, and the portion.

Tools to Use

Only a few simple tools are needed to make pork shoulder roast in the oven, and you probably have them all in your kitchen already.

  • A baking pan or tray – A pan that is obviously big enough to fit your pork shoulder in without crowding it.
  • A baking rack – This is used to put on top of your baking tray in order to elevate your roast so that it does not sit in its own grease while cooking. It will also cook more evenly if the air can flow underneath the meat.
  • Large cutting board – Make sure your board is big enough to accommodate the size of your meat.
  • Sharp Knife – You can’t cut the meat without it and a sharp knife will make it much easier to slice.

Is Pork Shoulder Healthy?

Best Pork Shoulder Recipe

As with most meats, they do provide our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals, along with the protein that we need on a daily basis. So for me, along with most people, protein is something we all need to eat and this pork shoulder fills those daily needs for our bodies. 

Pork shoulder has zero carbs which is a great thing for everyone that needs to keep their carb intake low because of losing weight or health reasons.

How Many Calories in Pork Shoulder?

3.5 ounces or 100 grams of pork shoulder is about 185 calories. There are no carbs in the meat but about 60% of its calories come from fat and 40% comes from protein.

Diets This Recipe is Good For

  • Keto/Low Carb – Since there are no carbs in this pork shoulder it is good for eating low carb.
  • Gluten-Free – There is no gluten in our pork shoulder.
  • Nut-Free – No nuts in this recipe.
  • Dairy-Free – Also no dairy in this recipe.
  • Paleo – All meats are good for paleo.
  • Sugar-Free – There is no sugar in this pork shoulder.

Other Delicious Pork Recipes

We have a few other pork recipes on our website that you are going to love:

Pork Loin Roast

All of them are easy-to-make dinners and will have your friends raving!

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Tender Pork Shoulder in the oven

Juicy Pork Shoulder


  • Author: Leigh Oskwarek
  • Total Time: 3 Hours
  • Yield: 21 Servings (6 oz per Serving) 1x
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Description

Pork Shoulder cooked in the oven is one of my favorites. I love the shoulder portion of the meat because once it is slowly cooked it turns out to be tender and juicy, with the best flavor. If you have ever had a smoked pork shoulder then you already know that it is the tastiest ham you can buy because of the marbling running through it. They are a large cut of pork and will feed several people at a lower cost than if you made tenderloin.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 78 lb whole pork shoulder, bone-in 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 

Instructions

Notes

0 NET CARBS 

Use a baking rack to elevate the pork shoulder so that it doesn’t sit in its own grease.

Put the fat side up so that it will baste as it cooks.

If you cut the thick fat cap into bite-size pieces before baking the pork shoulder then it will make it easier for you to enjoy the crispy skin on top. 

Like all meats, resting it when it comes out of the oven will always make your meats remain tender and juicy.

Storing: To store your pork shoulder after it is cooked, just wrap it in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag and put it in the refrigerator. It will keep about 5 days if wrapped properly.

Reheating: In order to reheat your pork shoulder without drying it out, you can heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, loosely covered. Or you could spread it out on a baking tray that is covered in foil and heat it in the oven at 325-350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Freezing: Place the leftover pork shoulder meat in an airtight container and then stick it in a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze it. You could also do the opposite by putting the meat in the Ziploc in single-serving portions and then put the baggies into the plastic container. The meat will stay fresh for 3-4 months in your freezer if you wrap it properly.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 1/2 – 3 hours
  • Category: Main Courses
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

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