Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down?

Don’t know smoke pork butt fat up or down? Is there a right way and wrong way to roast pork butt? It’s one of the most popular cuts of meat in barbecue, but there’s still some debate about whether fatty side should be up or down when cooking. That’s because if you don’t get it just right, that fat can cause flare-ups and smoke patterns you weren’t expecting-or worse, an unevenly roasted piece of pork! In this blog post, I’m going to give you all the answers for smoking pork butt fat up or down so that you know how best to position your pork butt for succulent perfection every time.

Do You Put The Fat Side Up Or Down When Smoking A Boston Butt?

For a very long time, people have asked and thought about this subject. Many people have argued both in favor of and against cooking food with the fat side up.

So: Which side of the meat is fattier when you smoke it?

The answer, however, will vary depending on the type of smoker you are. The top or bottom of the smoker contains the heat source.

Place the pork butt fat side up if the heat source is near the top of the pan. The pork butt must be rested with the fat side down if the heat source is below.

After learning about pork butt fat up or down. You can check out my other article – Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down to get better. You’ve got your response, which is great, but why is this the case? Well, here it is…

Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down
Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down

Why Does The Placement Of The Pork Butt Depend On The Heat Source?

As you may know, there are a few distinct uses for the fat cap on pig butt. Most people are aware that the fat cap gives the pork butt moisture and flavor, which is why it is kept on.

However, some individuals are unaware that the fat cap might shield the meat from direct heat.

See, this portion of the cut will cook first if you lay a fresh pig butt with the meat facing the source of heat. The meat will, however, most certainly dry up and perhaps even burn if it is left in the heat for an extended period of time.

But when you position the pork butt with the fat cap facing the heat, it acts as a protective barrier.

Do You Cook Pork Shoulder Fat Side Up Or Down In Oven?

While the meat is being cooked all over at a lesser temperature, the fat bears the full force of the heat. Although rendering is improbable, some fat does partially melt. The melted fat cap is still serving as a barrier.

Therefore, the heat can pass through the fat side of the pig butt before reaching the meat; nonetheless, there is no need to worry about the meat becoming overcooked.

If you want to create pulled pork that is as luscious and soft as possible, it is very crucial to place the hog butt fat side facing the heat.

Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down

The fat side of the pig butt should be facing up during cooking, in my opinion. As the fat renders, it will slowly baste the pork, keeping the meat juicy and tender. By using this technique, you may also prevent flare-ups that might happen if melting hog fat came into touch with the heat source directly. Now you know the answer to the question of pork butt fat up or down.

Cooking A Pork Butt Fat Side Up

Only the fat cap will be cooked when the pork shoulder is served. They claim that the main benefit of doing this is that the fat may be used to baste the meat as it renders.

Some people even go so far as to claim that doing so will enable the fat that has been left on top to melt and seep into the meat. Not true, counters New York Times best-seller Meathead Goldwyn, who is eager to point out that fat cannot enter the cooked meat for a variety of reasons.

He simply explains that meat is mainly water and fat is primarily oil, among other things. Oil and water don’t mix. The fat will not penetrate deeply into the meat while it cooks; instead, it will remain on top of the meat, maybe render away, and melt off of it, basting the flesh.


A melting fat cap may not accomplish much, but as it renders away, it will essentially baste the meat on the surface of the pork shoulder.


An evident drawback of this method of smoking pig butt is that part of the rub applied to the pork shoulder’s outside may wash away when the fat cap melts and runs down over the meat.

Cooking Pork Butt Fat Side Down

Similar to how some individuals insist that cooking with the fat cap up is the only method, others insist that cooking with the fat side down is significantly preferable.


The main argument in favor of cooking meat with the fat cap down is that many people believe doing so will prevent the meat from drying out by acting as insulation and shielding the meat from direct heat. Additionally, cooking pulled pork with the meat side up prevents grill grate impressions from affecting the pulled pork’s bark.


Depending on how your smoker is set up, placing the fat cap on the bottom may expose it to direct heat and result in flare-ups because of fat burns.

Additionally, this can lead to a crispy and burnt pork shoulder, which would not be ideal.

Video: Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down

Do You Flip A Boston Butt When Smoking?

There can be no doubt that smoking pork butt with the fat side facing the heat source extends the cooking time.

This is due to the fact that the meat on that side of the pork butt doesn’t start to cook until the fat cap melts. Now, to get around this, you can partially turn the pork butt over as it cooks.

But should you do this? Personally, I prefer to let the hog butt alone during the cooking process.

This is due to the fact that I really don’t want to take the chance of the pig butt drying out, especially if I plan to create pulled pork later and want the meat to be tender.

The Top Tips For Smoking Pork Butt Fat Side Facing The Heat

Now that you are aware of how to position the piece of pork, keep reading for additional advice.

Trim The Excess Fat

  • Yes, some fat is beneficial, but too much fat can result in an undercooked pig butt. For this reason, you must trim the fat cap.
  • Make sure the thickness is no more than 1/4 inch. You can ask the butcher to take care of the trimming if you are unsure about doing it yourself.
  • Avoid purchasing slices that have a very heavy layer of fat on top of them because you will be cutting the fat from them.
  • Remember that you are paying for the cut’s weight. And because you’ll be removing the majority of it on later on, you are simply wasting money.

Season The Fat

  • Even if the fat will eventually melt, the food still needs to be well seasoned.
  • All of the fat should first be covered in a thin layer of yellow mustard. The ingredients will be able to adhere to the surface because this will function as glue.
  • Sprinkle the seasoning rub over the meat and pat it down.

Check The Smoker

  • You probably haven’t given the placement of the heating elements on your smoker any thought up until now.
  • Now is the appropriate moment to look. Put off smoking your cut until you are certain of the source of the heat.
  • You can decide whether to place the pork butt with the fat side up or down once you’ve determined the direction.

Place A Drip Pan Below The Pork Butts

Contrary to popular belief, the meat will not absorb the fat that is melting off the cap. Instead, it will drip to the ground.

This means that if you’re using a charcoal smoker, the fat may flow down onto the hot embers and set them ablaze.

Put a drip pan underneath the cut so that the drippings fall into it in order to stop this from happening. You should employ this technique with all types of smokers because it also makes cleanup much simpler.

Track The Internal Temperature

  • It can take longer to cook the pork butt if the fat side is exposed to the fire. This does not, however, imply that you ought to take any chances.
  • Before placing the pig butt in the smoker, always insert a meat thermometer. Keep an eye on the inside temperature the entire time.
  • When it reaches 190 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it.

Let The Meat Rest

  • Always remember to complete this crucial step before moving on.
  • After the meat has finished smoking, set it aside on a wooden cutting board to rest for up to an hour.
  • The meat’s tissues unwind at this point and take in any lost fluids. You thus receive a pig butt that is more soft and juicy.
  • Always let the meat rest before shredding it, even if you are making pulled pork.

Wrapping It Up

Now you know for sure whether to put the fat side of the pork butt up or down in the smoker.

Now that you know what to do, be sure to always proceed in this manner. This will ensure that every time you prepare smoked pork butt, it will be delicious, soft, and cooked to perfection.

What It Really Comes Down To

When determining whether to cook your pork butt with the fat side up or the fat side down. It all comes down to taste and what matters most to you in the finished product.

Regardless of the cooking method, you select. You simply can’t go wrong when deciding whether to make your smoked pig butt more delicious or juicy.

Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down
Pork Butt Fat Up Or Down


After testing both ways, I have come to the conclusion that it does not matter whether you cook your pork butt fat up or down. The taste and juiciness are exactly the same. However, if you are cooking for appearance’s sake, then cook it fat up so that when you slice into it, there is a layer of beautiful crisp skin on top. Now you know how to smoke pork butt fat up or down, Sweet Basil’s Cafe hopes you have an enjoyable and delicious experience!


Hi, My name is Mariana. I have been a chef at Sweet Basil's Cafe for five years, and my loves every minute of it. I takes great pride in crafting delicious dishes that bring pleasure to people's palates, as well as creating an inviting atmosphere where customers can relax and enjoy their meals. I am especially known for my creative interpretations of classic dishes, as well as my signature desserts. With great patience and dedication, Mariana ensures that every dish is cooked perfectly and served with a smile. My passion for cooking has earned me the respect of customers and staff alike, resulting in many loyal patrons who return time and again to enjoy my creations. Whenever you visit Sweet Basil's Cafe, you can be sure to have an unforgettable culinary experience. Mariana's vibrant personality and enthusiasm for cooking is always a treat!

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