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Do you trim pork shoulder before cooking?

Pork shoulder is a versatile and flavorful cut of meat that is perfect for barbecuing, slow-cooking, and roasting. However, when it comes to cooking pork shoulder, one question that often comes up is whether or not to trim the fat before cooking. The answer might surprise you – it depends on what you’re cooking and how you plan to prepare it. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of trimming pork shoulder, and give you some tips on how to get the best results from this delicious cut of meat.

What is Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder is a cut of meat that comes from the upper part of the pig’s front leg, also known as the pork butt or Boston butt. This cut is tough, fatty, and full of connective tissue, which makes it ideal for slow cooking or smoking to break down the collagen. Pork shoulder is prized for the deep, rich flavor it brings to dishes like pulled pork, carnitas, and barbecue ribs.

The Pros of Trimming Pork Shoulder

The main benefit of trimming pork shoulder is that it allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat and infuse it with its flavors. When you remove the surface fat, you expose more of the meat to the rub, marinade, or seasoning mixture you’re using, which enhances the flavor and helps tenderize the meat. Additionally, trimming the fat can also help the meat cook more evenly and prevent flare-ups on the grill.

The Cons of Trimming Pork Shoulder

However, there are some drawbacks to trimming pork shoulder. The first is that the fat is what gives the meat its flavor. Without it, the meat can be dry, tough, and lacking in richness. Additionally, if you over-trim the pork shoulder, you risk removing too much fat and losing some of the natural moisture and juiciness of the meat. Finally, trimming pork shoulder can be time-consuming and messy, especially if you are dealing with a large cut of meat.

How to Trim Pork Shoulder

If you decide to trim your pork shoulder before cooking, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, use a sharp knife and be careful not to cut into the meat itself. Second, remove any large pieces of external fat, but leave a thin layer of fat on the meat to help it stay moist during cooking. Third, take your time and don’t rush the process. Depending on the size of your cut, it could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to trim the meat properly. Finally, be sure to dispose of the trimmed fat properly, as it can clog drains and attract pests if not disposed of correctly.

When to Trim Pork Shoulder

So, when should you trim your pork shoulder? The answer depends on how you plan to prepare it. If you’re making pulled pork, you’ll want to trim the pork shoulder before cooking to allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat. If you’re smoking or slow-cooking the pork shoulder, you can leave most of the fat on the meat to help it stay moist and tender. Finally, if you’re cooking pork shoulder on the grill, you’ll want to trim the meat to prevent flare-ups and ensure even cooking.


In conclusion, trimming pork shoulder before cooking can be a great way to enhance the flavor and tenderness of the meat, but it’s not always necessary or desirable. The key is to consider what you’re cooking, how you plan to cook it, and how much fat you want to leave on the meat. By following these tips and experimenting with different methods, you can find the perfect way to cook your pork shoulder and enjoy its delicious flavor and texture.


Should you trim pork belly fat?

Pork belly is a popular cut of meat primarily used for making bacon, but it’s also a fantastic cut to roast or grill. It’s prized for its rich, juicy flavor, and, as its name implies, its high fat content. While the fat in pork belly is typically what makes it so delicious, it’s also what makes some people hesitant to cook it.

So, should you trim the fat from pork belly? The answer, like most things in cooking, is that it depends. While some people swear that cooking with the fat intact is essential to getting the best flavor and texture, others prefer to trim away some or all of the excess fat to make it a healthier option.

If you are looking to get the best possible flavor out of your pork belly, cooking it with the fat intact is the way to go. The fat helps to keep the meat juicy and adds a richness that is hard to replicate with other cuts of meat. However, if you’re concerned about the amount of fat in your diet, or if you’re simply not a fan of the texture, trimming some of the fat may be a good option.

When deciding how much to trim, keep in mind that the fat in pork belly is actually made up of two layers: the skin on the outside of the pork belly and a layer of fat under that. While it’s generally recommended to leave some fat intact for flavor and texture, the skin is often removed entirely. This is because the skin doesn’t render well during cooking and can be tough and chewy.

If you do decide to trim some of the fat from your pork belly, it’s essential to use a sharp knife and a steady hand. Start by making gashes horizontally across the top of the piece of pork belly, peeling away the top layer of skin and fat as you go. You can then use your knife to remove any remaining pockets of pure fat, leaving enough fat to keep the meat moist and flavorful without being too overwhelming.

Whether or not to trim the fat from pork belly ultimately comes down to personal preference. While cooking it with the fat intact is preferred by many for its rich, juicy flavor, trimming some of the fat away can make it a healthier option or a better texture for some. Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to use a sharp knife and take care not to remove too much fat.

What temp does pork shoulder fall apart?

Pork shoulder is a versatile and popular cut of meat for slow cooking. The perfect cooking temperature of pork shoulder varies depending on the cooking method. However, when cooked low and slow, the goal is to reach an internal temperature of around 200F-205F degrees.

Pork shoulder meat is quite tough with connective tissues and a thick layer of fat. These factors make it necessary to cook it for a more extended period to make it tender and juicy. These tissues can break down at low and slow cooking temperatures with the help of moisture, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

At around 165F-170F degrees, the collagen starts breaking down, which can make the meat tough. However, the meat does not become tender until it reaches an internal temperature of approximately 200F-205F degrees. These are the temperatures that cause the connective tissues to break down entirely, allowing the meat to fall apart easily.

After the pork has reached this temperature range, it’s time to shred it. There are several ways to shred slow-cooked pork shoulder, such as using forks, a stand mixer, or meat claws. No matter what shredding tool you prefer, the pork should quickly fall apart and be easy to shred with minimal effort.

If you want tender and juicy pulled pork, you need to cook the pork shoulder low and slow to reach an internal temperature of around 200F-205F degrees. Only then would the connective tissues have broken down enough to make the pork melt-in-your-mouth tender.