Butt Naked…or Wrapped?


If you spend much time in the online BBQ forums you’ll see plenty of opinions in favor of wrapping a pork butt when it hits about 165* during the smoking process. You’ll also find just as many opinions against wrapping. I’ve smoked pork butt using both methods and turned out delicious BBQ. For this blog I decided to do my own direct comparison by cooking 2 pork butts under as identical conditions as possible but only wrapping one in foil. I decided to use my Yoder YS480 for this test because it gives me the most control over temperature and I wanted to eliminate that as a variable. Since all smokers have hot and cool spots I also cooked each butt separately so that I could place them in the same location. For fuel I used hickory pellets from BBQR’s Delight and pre-heated the Yoder to 225* before putting the pork in.


To minimize weight and thickness as variables I looked for 2 bone in pork butts that were similar in shape and as close to the same weight as possible. The weights of these 2 were very close – 9 lb. 8 oz and 9 lb. 12 oz.. Each was prepped with yellow mustard, Three Little Pigs Kansas City Championship rub and Three Little Pigs Touch of Cherry rub.


Each pork butt was placed in the center of the bottom rack of the Yoder after it was pre-heated to 225*. Each butt had the temperature probe placed in the same way. I used an iGrill to track the internal temp on my phone throughout the cook. When the butt on the left reached 165* I wrapped it in foil and placed it back in the smoker. Ready_to_cook

Here are the butts when they reached an internal temperature of 203*. The wrapped butt finished in 9 hours and 54 minutes and showed more shrinkage. The unwrapped butt took longer at 12 hours and 17 minutes. Next each went into a Cambro to rest for 1 hour.Done

I broke them apart after they rested in the Cambro for 1 hour. The wrapped butt is still on the left and the naked butt on the right. The pork butt that wasn’t wrapped had a deeper, crispier bark.


Finally I shredded each and did a taste test with several fellow BBQ lovers. We all agreed that both had smoky, balanced flavor. Both were juicy and tender with flavorful bark. Three of us preferred the bark from the butt on the right that didn’t get wrapped and the other two didn’t have a strong preference for either one. My personal conclusion is that either technique will turn out great ‘cue – probably the best your friends and family have eaten but if you can take the extra time to let the pork butt cook through the stall without wrapping it’s well worth it.


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