Pork Shoulder Brine – Our Favorite Recipes

These are two best pork shoulder brine recipes we could find. Follow our easy step-by-step instructions!
Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
Research Writer
Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
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Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous read more
Last updated: August 15, 2023
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As far as pork cuts go, the pork shoulder is one of the best, especially if you know how to prepare and cook it right. Some of you may be unfamiliar with the pork shoulder since it goes by a few different names. The terms picnic shoulder and picnic roast also refer to the same thing. That said, pork shoulder and pork butt are sometimes used interchangeably, although they technically do not mean the same thing.

With the pork shoulder, you have a variety of cooking/preparation methods to choose from. You can braise it, make a stew, make ground pork or prepare pork shoulder brine before roasting, grilling, or roasting it. Notably, pork shoulder brine is one way you can get the best flavors from the pork, and we can tell you how in the sections below.

What is brining?

Pork Shoulder Brine - Our Favorite Recipes

Juices are essential to the flavor of any type of meat when cooked. However, some cooking methods, e.g., roasting and smoking, dry out the meat, therefore, robbing you of the taste that you desire. However, brining is a method to prevent this from happening by soaking the meat in a solution of salt and water for a relatively extended period. Other spices are also acceptable.

It denatures the proteins whether you’re soaking lean meats Trusted Source How to Incorporate Lean Meats in Your Diet According to the USDA My Plate campaign a person should consume 3 ounces of lean protein per day. You may ask yourself the question, “What is considered lean?” Lean meat can be anything from pork, chicken, beef, lamb, or fish. meatscience.org like chicken and turkey or fatty meats like pork. This allows the meat and the cells to retain moisture through the cooking process, thereby giving a better cooking result.

Pork shoulder brine: recipe 1

For those with smokers, smoked pork shoulder brine is one way to enjoy the juiciness of the meat. However, it’s wise to collect the necessary ingredients first to ensure a smoother cooking process.


  • 8 pounds pork shoulder
  • 10 cups of water
  • ¾ cup of salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ onion
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of peppercorns

Preparing the brine and cooking the pork shoulder

Step 1

Start by getting a large bowl that will fit the brine for the pork shoulder. Mix the water, sugar, ¾ cup of salt, bay leaves, chopped onion, rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic. Of course, you’ll need to peel and crush the garlic as well before you add it to the mix.

The Ultimate Pantry seasoning set of spices and herbs comes highly recommended by previous users for people who prefer to avoid preparing their spices by hand. There are forty spices in the set with no preservatives, and they’re also gluten-free. Once mixed, you can pour the liquid into a sealable bag while being careful to reserve two cups of brine on the side.

Step 2

Add the pork shoulder to the bag as well before sealing it and leaving it in the fridge. For those curious about how long to brine a pork shoulder, it depends on the size. For the eight pounds of meat prepared for this recipe, leave it for between eight and 24 hours. If the meat is smaller, you can get away with leaving it for a shorter period.

That said, if you leave it to brine overnight, it should be ready by the morning, so plan ahead.

Step 3

Turn on and set your smoker to 225°F before adding the pork shoulder that you pull out of the brine. Have your two cups of brine ready as well. The heat will cook the meat slowly, and you can check on it every so often to see the progress. The goal is a 190°F internal meat temperature. As you’re checking, use a brush to apply the extra brine to the surface of the pork as well.

Step 4

Once the meat is at the right internal temperature, remove it, and wrap it in tin foil. Come back after 30 minutes to portion it and serve.

Apart from the brine you make, you can also use a specialized solution like the Sweet Brine O’Mine dry brine in a can. Our team recommends it because it’s easy to use. You mix it in water, add the pork and refrigerate to get the results.

Pork shoulder brine: recipe 2

This next recipe is the pork shoulder brine with apple cider vinegar. Here’s what you need, starting with the ingredients.


  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of kosher salt
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 celery stalks cleaned and cut into 2” pieces
  • 3 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 7 cups of apple juice
  • 8 pounds pork shoulder

Also, set aside some salt, ground peppers, paprika, and sugar to add later in the recipe.

Preparing the brine and cooking the pork shoulder

Step 1

Excluding the pork, mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Add this mix to a sealable bag, although you should leave out two cups of the same. It’s now time to add the pork and store it in the fridge overnight. You can also extend this time as long as you don’t go past 24 hours. That said, remember to debone the pork shoulder before cooking.

Step 2

Mix the extra dry ingredients, i.e., the salt, ground peppers, paprika, and sugar, in a small bowl. When you remove the meat from the refrigerator and the brine, rinse it with water and then dry it with paper towels. This will allow you to add the dry rub of ingredients on the shoulder before you start cooking. You can try other BBQ rubs as well. This layers the flavors giving you a richer experience as you eat the pork.

Step 3

Cook the meat under low smoker heat of 225°F. For ovens, the settings should be bumped up to 350°F. Check periodically on the meat and use a brush to apply the brine you separated from the rest of the mix. Once it reaches a 190°F internal temperature, you take it out and wrap it in tin foil. After that, you let it rest for 30 minutes before cutting it up and serving.

Final thoughts

After you’ve perfected the above pork shoulder brine recipes, you can attempt to experiment with a few more ingredients. Coming up with original recipes that you and your family love shouldn’t be too big of an uphill task. Also, the smoker tends to give the best results so if you have one, use it.


How to Incorporate Lean Meats in Your Diet
According to the USDA My Plate campaign a person should consume 3 ounces of lean protein per day. You may ask yourself the question, “What is considered lean?” Lean meat can be anything from pork, chicken, beef, lamb, or fish.

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