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How Long To Roast A Pork Shoulder In The Oven

Few things are tastier than slow-roasted pork shoulder. Slow cooking renders the connective tissue of this tough cut of meat into the kind of stuff that falls apart with your fork.

It’s great for dinner and for making pork sandwiches too. Actually, it’s great for making lots of things and feeding a large crowd with good, wholesome food.

A Delicious Pork Recipe

pork shoulder sitting on a cutting board. The pork is sliced.
Photo by myviewpoint

But how long do you roast a pork shoulder to render it to perfection? For smaller roasts, plan on four to seven hours. For larger roasts, it will be about 7.5 to 10.5 hours. Here’s what to know.

Choosing Your Pork Shoulder

Ideally, you should find pork shoulder with some marbling. Look for a Boston butt or a pork shoulder. Boneless pork shoulder roast is fine too.

Pork shoulder on parchment paper. There are leaves, garlic, and peppers next to the pork shoulder.

Whatever you do, avoid pork tenderloin. Only roast pork butt or whole pork shoulder will work for this cooking method.

Size will matter on how long you roast your pork. The weight of the pork needs to be factored in to ensure it is fully cooked. 

Three Pound Roast

If your cut of meat is three pounds, you’ll need a high temperature 450° F oven for just 20 minutes. Then you’ll want to turn down the heat to a lower temperature of 250°F and cook for 4 to 5 hours.

Incidentally, you’ll want to use a digital probe thermometer to check that the interior registers to 180°F, the magical number for proper doneness for any slow roasted pork shoulder. 

Four Pound Roast

You’ll follow the same steps for a 3-pound roast. Only once you turn the heat down you’ll cook for 4.5 to 5.5 hours. 

Roasted pork shoulder on a pan with garlic on the sides.
Photo by bartoszluczak

Five Pound Roast

When you have a pork shoulder this size, you will also cook it following the same directions as previously mentioned. After lowering the heat, you will cook for 5.5 to seven hours.

What About Larger Pork Shoulder Roasts?

Glad you asked! For these, you will use the same high heat first as with a smaller roast, followed by slow cooking at a lower temperature for the rest of the time.

Keep in mind these cooking times are merely a guideline. As you get toward the shorter range of the cooking time, start checking it about every 30 minutes in your roasting pan to ensure a tender texture. 

For most settings, a 5-pound roast should be plenty. But if you’re having more than ten guests gather around the table, you’ll want a larger piece of meat. 

For seven pounds, this will be seven to 8.5 hours. For eight-pound pork roasts, you will want to cook for 7.5 to 8.5 hours. At nine pounds, the roast should be cooked for eight to 10 hours, while a 10-pound roast pork shoulder will need 8.5 to 10.5 hours.

Pork shoulder burger. There are two of the pork shoulder burgers with coleslaw, lettuce, and tomato.

How To Roast Pork Shoulder

Before you even begin roasting, you should let your pork shoulder come to room temperature. Set it out on the counter for about 30 minutes to one hour. When it’s warmed up a bit, you can preheat your oven to that higher temperature.

Trim away some of the fat on the fat side. Not all of it though, leave a thin layer. You can render it if you like and then enjoy the crispy crackling. Yum!

Of course, you’ll want to season your pork shoulder roast too. And you can do that in a number of ways. Some coarse salt and black pepper are a must. Garlic powder and chicken broth are other simple ingredients you can use. 

pork shoulder uncooked and sitting next to a cutting board with seasonings.

The best part of pork shoulder is that you can roast it with your favorite seasonings to make it different each time. Use barbecue sauce or a spice rub. Squeeze on some lemon and throw in a bay leaf or two. Some people even use brown sugar or root beer for a hint of sweetness or to get a nice brown on top.

Roasting Pan

Be sure you choose a large enough roasting pan to contain your pork shoulder recipe. As you position it into the pan, put the fat side up.

The liquid needs to go in there too, which is why you’ll want the chicken broth. About half an inch of coverage should do the trick.

You’ll also want to roast your pork shoulder meat uncovered. This will ensure that when it’s on that higher heat, it will get a lovely color on the outside.

Should I Use Boneless Pork Roast Or Bone-In?

This will be entirely up to you. With the right seasonings, it won’t matter. You will still get delicious meat.

However, when there’s a bone, you will need to keep in mind it takes longer to cook. If you’re not sure that the meat is done, let your trusty thermometer tell you with that 180°F internal temperature.

A digital thermometer next to some meat that is in aluminum foil

Can I Use A Higher Temperature To Roast Pork Shoulder?

Yes, you can roast your pork shoulder at higher than 250°F. Start it high to begin with, and you can drop it to 300°F oven temperature if you’d rather speed things up slightly.

Just remember that the whole point of roasting is that it’s a slow process. This slow-cooking method is what renders the most tender and tasty meat. 

If you’re going to dial up the heat, then time it at about 40 minutes per pound. Generally, a 5-pound roast will feed about ten people.

If that’s the size you have, you can estimate that after turning the initial heat down to 300°F, at 5 pounds, you’ll need to cook it for about three to 3.5 hours. 

Always check it first, though. It’s better to be safe than sorry you’ve dried out the meat. Then the next day, you’ll have leftovers for pork sandwiches, pork nachos, or anything else you can dream up!

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