Should You Wrap Your Pork Butt? Tin Foil Vs. Butcher Paper?


pork butt bark

To wrap or not to wrap. One of the most common questions when it comes to smoking pork butts. As someone who has cooked many pork butts, many different ways, here is what you need to know when it comes to wrapping pork butts.

Should I wrap my pork butt?

You should wrap your pork butt in tin foil or butcher paper if you want to reduce cook times, make your pork butt juicier, protect it from burning, or to prevent your pork butt from taking on too much smoke. You shouldn’t wrap your pork butt when you are looking for a well developed bark on your pork butt. It all comes down to personal preference.

Pork butt wrapped in aluminim foil

Reasons You Should Wrap Your Pork Butt

  • Retain More Juice.

When smoking a pork butt, the moisture in the meat draws to the surface and evaporates. When you wrap you pork butt, you are capturing this moisture and retaining it in with the pork butt. While the moisture won’t add more juice to the meat, it does create a humid cooking environment which prevents your pork butt from drying out.

Here are the 7 most common reasons your pork butt is dry!

When you wrap your pork butt, you are also capturing the fat rendering off the pork. These fat renderings and moisture can later be poured onto your pork for further juiciness and yumminess.

  • Speed Up The Cooking Times

Another great thing about wrapping pork butts, is it allows you to speed up the cooking times. When you wrap pork tightly in tin foil or butcher paper (affiliate link), it retains more heat allowing the pork butt to cook faster. It also allows the pork butt to push through the stall much faster.

Not only does it cook faster, but when you wrap your pork butt, you can turn the temperature in your smoker up. The tin foil protects the meat allowing for you to cook at a higher temperature to finish. By wrapping and turning the heat up, you can greatly reduce the amount of time spent smoking your pork butt.

  • Protect The Pork Butt From Smoke And Heat

Whether you do not like a lot of smoke flavor or your smoker is running too hot and you are starting to burn your pork butt, wrapping in tin foil will help protect your pork butt. It adds a layer of protection that will keep high heat and smoke out.

If you are looking for less smoke flavor or notice your pork butt is getting too much heat and starting to burn, wrap it in tin foil or butcher paper and finish cooking.

Pork Shoulder

When You Shouldn’t Wrap Your Pork Butt

While wrapping your pork butt is extremely popular, it is not necessary. In fact, many people including myself prefer not to wrap for one reason. Bark!

When you smoke pork butt, you will notice the surface of your meat progressively darken and firm up. This is known as the bark. The bark is where all the smoke flavor and spices are. When you wrap your pork butt, you will sacrifice some of the bark formation.  

Does Wrapping Your Pork Butt Ruin The Bark?

Wrapping your pork butt in tin foil or butcher paper will ruin the bark. When you wrap your pork butt, the moisture evaporating from the meat is trapped inside the wrap. This steams the pork butt which will break down and loosen the bark.

It all comes down to personal preference. If you prefer faster cook times and a juicer pork butt, then wrapping is for you. If you have the time and prefer a better bark formation, then leave your pork butt unwrapped.  

What Do The People Say

Out of curiosity, I conducted a poll online to see what people like you and I did. In my poll I found that majority of people like to wrap their pork butt.

Do you wrap your pork butt

How To Wrap Your Pork Butt

  1. Lay down a couple layers of tin foil or butcher paper. Make sure the sheets are large enough to completely wrap around the pork butt. I like use 2-4 sheets.
  2. Place your pork butt in the center of your layers.
  3. Add any juice, sauce, or seasonings of your choice for further flavor. I have tried adding many different things when wrapping pork butt; however, my absolute favorite is brown sugar and honey. Before placing the pork butt in the center, add a thin layer of brown sugar. Place the pork butt on the bed of brown sugar and drizzle honey over top. This add the perfect amount of sweetness to your pork butt.
  4. Wrap tightly and return to cooking as normal. Because the meat is wrapped it will not take on more smoke giving you the option to finish cooking in the oven.

Should I Wrap My Pork Butt In Foil Or Butcher Paper?

Wrapping your pork butt in tin foil will make your pork butt juicer but will break down your bark formation. By wrapping your pork butt in butcher paper you will lose some juiciness, but it allows some of the moisture to evaporate through the pores of the paper helping to keep more of your bark intact.

Think of it as a scale. Decide which qualities you prefer and wrap accordingly. I typically wrap my pork butts in foil, but many people use butcher paper (affiliate link) as well.

No Wrap Butcher PaperTin Foil
Least JuicyIn The MiddleMoist Juicy
Best Bark FormationIn The Middle Least Bark Formation
Longest Cook Time In The Middle Shortest Cook Time
butcher paper pork

When Should I Wrap My Pork Butt?

You should wrap your pork butt when the bark on your pork butt has set. Your bark has set once it turns a dark mahogany color, and the surface of the pork butt is firm to the touch. This usually happens once your pork reaches an internal temperature of 160°.

Wrapping too early can cause you to lose out on some flavor. You can use the 160° as a guide, but really look for that bark as the indicator to when its time to wrap. Your pork butt should look similar to the one pictured below. If you touch the surface of your pork butt and the rub smears off, you are not ready to wrap. I have had pork butts that where not ready to wrap at the stall and had to be left on longer.

Pork Butt

Interested in more? Check out my complete guide to smoking pork butt!

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.

Interested in more?