How Long To Rest Your Pork Butt: A Complete Guide To Resting Pork

Resting meat

There is no one way to do things when smoking meat. Being successful with smoking meat is trial and error and finding something that works for you. Resting your pork butt is another one of those instances. There are people out there who don’t rest their pork butt while there are people who swear by resting.

I have pulled pork right away and I have also rested my pork butts before pulling. From my personal experience, I believe that resting your pork butt can help enhance the flavor and juiciness of it.

How Long Should You Rest Your Pork Butt?

You can rest your pork butt for as little as 15 minutes to as long as 5 hours; however, the ideal time to rest your pork butt is between 1 and 2 hours. This gives your pork butt enough time for the meat to relax and for juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

I ran a simple poll asking people how long they rested their pork butts before pulling. From the data below, you can see that an overwhelming majority of people rest their pork butt between 1 and 2 hours. Very few people rest less than an hour and even fewer rest longer than 2.

How long should you rest pork

Again, finding what works for you is the best, but based on the table above, the ideal resting time for pork butts is between 1 and 2 hours. My advice would be to start your pork butt early and get it done, then rest it however long it takes until everyone is ready to eat. This will help prevent you from rushing to finish your pork butt and even delaying dinner.

How To Rest Pork Butt

Resting a pork butt is best done in a faux Cambro. Cambro’s are insulated boxes that are used to keep food above 140° Fahrenheit and are heavily used in the catering business; however, you can create your own version of a Cambro at home using common household items.

Wrap Your Pork Butt.

Many people will wrap their pork butt in tin foil or butcher paper to help push through the stall during the cook. If your pork butt is already wrapped, then there is no need to rewrap, and you can move on to the next step. For those who have yet to wrap, you will need to wrap your pork butt in tin foil or butcher paper.

Tin foil is preferred, as it will hold the heat in better than butcher paper, but butcher paper will work as well. Lay out two sheets of tin foil on the counter, large enough to wrap around your pork butt. Place your pork butt in the center and wrap the tin foil around the pork butt. Make sure you are wrapping your pork butt tightly.

Pork butt wrapped in aluminim foil

Most people will double wrap their tin foil, as the added layers will help hold the heat in. If you are planning on holding your pork butt less than 2 hours, then 1-2 wraps will be sufficient. If you are planning on resting your pork butt longer than 2 hours, adding an extra layer of foil would be a good idea.

Grab A Cooler.

The next step is to grab a cooler which will act as our Cambro. The key here is to find the smallest cooler that will fit your pork butt. The larger the cooler, the more empty space and air there will be inside the cooler which will increase the cooling effect of your pork butt.

You will see a lot of people fill the cooler with hot water, but this is not necessary unless you are resting your pork butt longer than 5 hours.

Grab Some Towels.

Next you need to grab a couple towels. There are two ways to do this. You can either wrap your pork butt in the towel, or you can scrunch up the towel and place it in the cooler. When you put your pork butt into the cooler, there will be a lot of open space. The air in this space will absorb heat from your pork butt and will cool quicker. The towels help to reduce the amount of air in the space and keep your pork butt warm longer.

Holding Brisket

Close The Cooler And Wait.

Once you have your pork butt wrapped and placed in the cooler, close the lid, and wait. The tin foil wrap, the towels, and the cooler will all help capture and retain the heat coming from your pork butt. Refrain from opening and closing the lid as you will lose that heat.

You can hold your pork butt in your faux Cambro until the internal temperature of your pork butt drops below 140° Fahrenheit. According to the USDA, once food drops below 140° F, it should be stored and refrigerated.

These DIY Cambro’s can usually keep meat above 140° F for up to 5 hours, sometimes longer. This will give your meat plenty of time to rest. It is also great for when you need to transport meat to and event.

What Is The Max Amount Of Time I Can Rest My Pork Butt?

Using a faux Cambro, the max amount of time you can rest your pork butt is 5 hours. Pork butt size, cooler insulation, and how much tin foil you use will all effect how long you can rest your pork butt. Once your pork butt reaches 140° Fahrenheit, your pork butt needs to be served or stored.

The video below is a great experiment showing just how long you can rest a pork butt in a faux Cambro. Skip to 7:44 to get to the pork experiment.

Can You Rest A Pork Shoulder Overnight?

It is not possible to rest a pork shoulder overnight as the internal temperature of your pork butt would drop below 140° Fahrenheit at which point bacteria starts to grow. If you plan on leaving your pork butt to the next day, you will need a heating element like a food warmer to safely hold your pork butt otherwise you should store and reheat.

I have heard of people who were able to get 6 and even 8 hours of resting periods by using a faux Cambro. To do this you have to preheat the Cambro by pouring boiling water into the cooler.

You also want to make sure you have extra layers of wrap on your pork butt, and you have as little free space in your cooler as possible. Also, the more cooked meat you have in your cooler, the longer your faux Cambro will stay warm.  

Given the perfect environment, you could possibly rest your pork butt in a faux Cambro overnight; however, there is no guarantee and once your pork’s internal temperature drops into the danger zone, it needs to be stored. To be safe, it is best to store it in the fridge and reheat it the next day.

Can You Rest A Pork Shoulder In The Oven?

You are able to rest a pork shoulder in the oven for up too 2 hours or until the internal temperature drops below 140° Fahrenheit. Wrap your pork shoulder tightly in a couple layers of tin foil and place it in an unheated oven. To rest your pork shoulder in the oven longer, bring the oven temperature up to 150° and turn it off before placing your pork shoulder in.

Michael W.

Half of my family lives in Texas and we would visit them often. As a food lover, naturally I fell in love with smoked meat. Smoked brisket and peach cobbler is a staple around where my family grew up and quickly became a favorite of mine. Unfortunately we didn't have good BBQ where I grew up. After enough years, I finally decided to get a smoker so I didn't have to wait for good BBQ until I went to Texas. Getting into a new hobby can be overwhelming. When I first started smoking meat, there was so much conflicting information and so many different styles and techniques that I didn't know where to start. I started this website to help people BBQ better and learn the ropes by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

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