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How Long to Cook Pork Shoulder at 350 Degrees

How Long to Cook Pork Shoulder at 350 Degrees?

Cooking pork shoulder can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the cut of meat. While incredibly flavorful and tender when prepared properly, pork shoulder requires ample time and care in the oven or slow cooker to reach its full potential. The major question most home cooks have is just how long does it take to cook pork shoulder at 350 degrees Fahrenheit?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to cook delicious, fall-off-the-bone pork shoulder in your own kitchen.

What is Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder, also referred to as a Boston butt or shoulder blade steak, comes from the upper portion of the front leg of the pig. This area contains a fair amount of connective tissue, so pork shoulder has a very tough, chewy texture if not prepared properly.

The ample marbling in pork shoulder means it has a high fat content, which needs time to render and tenderize the meat. These characteristics make pork shoulder well-suited for slow, moist cooking methods like roasting, braising, stewing, and barbecuing.

Some classic dishes featuring pork shoulder include:

  • Pulled pork sandwiches
  • Pork carnitas
  • Pork ragù
  • Pork curry
  • Pork stews and soups
  • Pork sausage
  • Ground pork

The flavor of pork shoulder becomes wonderfully rich and robust when cooked low and slow. Now let’s look at the different cuts available.

Pork Shoulder Varieties

There are a few common options when it comes to cuts of pork shoulder:

  • Bone-in shoulder – This is a whole shoulder including the shoulder blade bone. It’s the most flavorful and inexpensive option.
  • Boneless shoulder – The bone has been removed before sale, making carving easier. May cook slightly faster.
  • Bone-in Boston butt – From the upper portion of shoulder, it contains part of the shoulder blade.
  • Boneless Boston butt – Same as above, but with the bone removed.
  • Picnic shoulder – From the lower portion of the shoulder. May contain some foreleg.

Cooking times can vary slightly depending on the specific cut you choose. In general, bone-in options take longer since the bone continues radiating heat while cooking.

How Long To Cook Pork Shoulder at 350°F?

How Long To Cook Pork Shoulder at 350°F?

Now we arrive at the essential question: just how long does it take to cook pork shoulder at 350 degrees? Here is a simple guideline:

Cook for 45 minutes per pound at 350°F

For example, if you have a 3-pound pork shoulder, multiply the weight by 45 minutes per pound:

3 pounds x 45 minutes per pound = 135 minutes total cooking time (2 hours 15 minutes)

This 45 minutes per pound rule applies to pork shoulder whether you cook it bone-in or boneless.

Let’s look at a few more examples:

  • 1-pound pork shoulder: 45 minutes
  • 2-pound pork shoulder: 90 minutes (1 hour 30 minutes)
  • 4-pound pork shoulder: 180 minutes (3 hours)
  • 6-pound pork shoulder: 270 minutes (4 hours 30 minutes)

Always rely on a meat thermometer to confirm your pork shoulder has reached a safe internal temperature, regardless of calculating by time.

Using a Meat Thermometer

The best way to ensure your pork shoulder reaches the proper doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding any bones.

The safe finishing temperature for whole cuts of pork like shoulder is 145°F (63°C). When the thermometer displays this temperature, your pork shoulder is cooked through and ready to be removed from the oven or slow cooker.

If you find your pork shoulder has already hit 145°F before the full calculated cooking time, you can take it out early. Always rely on the thermometer over estimations.

Post-Cooking Rest

Once your pork shoulder is cooked, resist the urge to immediately carve or shred the meat. It must rest first for the juices to reabsorb back into the tissue.

Let the pork shoulder rest on a cutting board for a full 10 to 15 minutes before slicing or pulling it apart. This post-cooking rest results in juicier, more tender and flavorful meat.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at choosing the right size and cut of pork shoulder for your cooking needs.

How To Choose The Perfect Pork Shoulder Cut

When selecting your pork shoulder at the grocery store or butcher shop, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Bone-in or boneless – Bone-in cuts take longer to cook but have more flavor. Boneless cuts cook slightly faster and carve easier.
  • Size – Choose based on number of servings needed. Allow 1⁄2 to 1 pound per person.
  • Fat cap – Some prefer to trim it, others leave it intact. The fat cap protects the meat during cooking.
  • Marbling – Look for ample creamy white marbling which keeps the meat juicy.
  • Color – Opt for reddish-pink meat color instead of pale or brown hues.
  • Envision the end-dish – Match the size and shape of shoulder to your planned meal. Shredded pork needs more surface area.

Talk with your butcher if you don’t see an ideal cut in the cooler. They can debone, tie, or trim a pork shoulder to your specifications.

Best Cooking Methods for Pork Shoulder

While you can pan-sear or grill pork shoulder steaks for a quick weeknight meal, low and slow cooking truly brings out the best in this cut.

Pork shoulder shines when slowly roasted or simmered for hours until the collagen melts away. Here are some top cooking methods to try:

  • Oven roasted – The most straightforward and commonly used technique. Cook low at 300-325°F.
  • Slow cooker – Let it simmer away in a flavorful liquid until fall-apart tender.
  • Smoked – Ideal for authentic pulled pork and barbecue shredded shoulder.
  • Braised – Braise in broth, wine, or sauce until incredibly rich and tender.
  • Sous vide – Locks in moisture and cooks the meat evenly throughout.
  • Crockpot – Similar concept to slow cooker with Set-It-and-Forget-It convenience.

Now let’s dive into a complete recipe and technique for oven roasted pork shoulder.

Oven-Roasted Pork Shoulder at 350°F Recipe

Oven-Roasted Pork Shoulder at 350°F Recipe

Roasting is one of the easiest ways to prepare flavorful, juicy pork shoulder for a Sunday supper or gathering. This method yields pulled pork ready for sandwiches, tacos, nachos, rice bowls, and beyond.

Follow this simple process for oven-roasted excellence:


  • 3 1⁄2 – 4 lb bone-in pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Remove pork from packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a baking dish or roasting pan.
  2. Make a spice rub by combining olive oil, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
  3. Coat pork shoulder evenly with the spice rub, covering all sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Roast pork for approximately 3 hours based on size. Start checking temperature after 2 hours. (Cook for 45 minutes per pound.)
  6. Cook until internal temp reaches 145°F on a meat thermometer.
  7. Allow pork to rest for 10-15 minutes before pulling/shredding.
  8. Make your favorite barbecue sauce or prepare buns while pork rests for amazing pulled pork sandwiches.

Be sure to tent foil over the pork if it browns too quickly while cooking. For even more flavor and moisture, you can add liquid like broth, apple cider, or water to the bottom of the pan.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Cooking pork shoulder can be straightforward, but there are a few pitfalls to avoid on your route to success:

  • Not seasoning – Don’t skip the salt, pepper, spices, and rubs. They provide big flavor.
  • Undercooking – Always use a meat thermometer to hit the 145°F mark.
  • Overcooking – It will dry out if cooked beyond 160°F.
  • No rest time – Letting it sit after cooking keeps juices locked in.
  • No roasting pan cover – Tent foil over it to prevent burning.
  • Forgetting to baste – Regular basting equals added moisture and fat.
  • Carving too soon – Respect the post-cooking rest time first.

Master these fundamentals for phenomenal oven-roasted pork shoulder every time.

How To Store Cooked Pork Shoulder

Leftover properly cooked pork shoulder will keep for 3 to 4 days refrigerated, and 2 to 3 months in the freezer. Follow these guidelines for storing and reheating.

Refrigerating Leftovers

  • Allow cooked pork to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Divide into smaller portions to allow faster cooling.
  • Place in airtight containers, zip top bags, or foil.
  • Refrigerate immediately and consume within 3 days.

Freezing Leftovers

  • Divide cooled pork into meal-sized portions.
  • Place in freezer bags, vacuum seal if possible.
  • Lay bags flat in the freezer to quick freeze.
  • Once frozen, the bags can be stacked.
  • Label with date and contents.
  • Use within 2-3 months for best quality.

What To Serve with Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder pairs wonderfully with a variety of side dishes. Mix up your meal with these delectable options:

  • Roasted vegetables – Carrots, potatoes, parsnips, Brussels sprouts
  • Coleslaw – Creamy, vinegary, or citrus-based
  • Cornbread – Sweet and crumbly or more savory
  • Mashed potatoes – Creamy with garlic, cheese, or herbs
  • Fresh greens salad – Arugula, spinach, kale with vinaigrette
  • Pasta salad – Fusilli, bowtie with peppers, onion, olives
  • Beans – Baked beans, black beans, or chickpeas
  • Rice – Cilantro lime, coconut, or dirty rice

Browse recipe sites for even more ways to round out your pork shoulder feast.

How To Reheat Pork Shoulder

Have leftover roasted or pulled pork shoulder? Simply reheat and enjoy:

Oven Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Place pork shoulder in a baking dish and cover with foil.
  • Warm for 15-20 minutes until heated through, 165°F.

Microwave Method:

  • Put pork in a microwave-safe dish, loosely cover.
  • Microwave in 30 second increments until warmed to 165°F.
  • Allow to rest 2 minutes before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I cook pork shoulder in a slow cooker?

Yes, cook on low heat for 8-10 hours until fall-apart tender.

How long does a 4 pound pork shoulder take to cook?

Approximately 3 hours at 350°F (45 min per pound).

What is the safe internal temperature for pork shoulder?

Cook to 145°F as measured by a food thermometer.

Will a longer cooking time make it more tender?

Yes, the connective tissue will break down more over an extended cooking time.

In Summary

Cooking the perfect pork shoulder is easy when you apply the simple guideline of 45 minutes per pound at 350°F. Rely on an instant-read thermometer to ensure the pork hits the ideal finishing temp of 145°F. Respect the resting time, add flavorful rubs and sauce, and pair it with complementary sides.

In no time, you’ll be amazed at how your own oven-roasted pork shoulder can rival the best barbecue joints in town. Just be prepared for lots of requests for seconds!

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