Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

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Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork ShoulderEach year, we try to make something extra special with a favorite cut of pork meat. It’s usually a pretty informal affair; I try to make something that can sit all day, served alongside a simple salad and the other amazing DIY food presents we received from friends and family, so that anyone that drops by to help us with our holly-jollies can have a bite to eat. Last year, we rolled a pork loin in a huge piece of pork belly to make our own porchetta as tasty as can be. The year before that, it was a standing rib roast with dijon creme fraiche. But nothing we have made in the last decade (and I stress “NOTHING!”) compares to this recipe for slow-cooked pork shoulder, the inexpensive cut of meat rendered spoon-tender while the skin puffs and inflates to make the finished product more like a blissfully tender and moist pork roast topped with a thick layer of deep-fried chicarron.

For such impressive, foolproof results, the technique couldn’t be simpler. Find an 8-1o pound skin-on pork shoulder (often referred to as a “picnic roast” here in Maine), and rub it all over with salt and pepper. Cooking it in a 250 degree oven for eight hours allows all of the connective collagen in the hard-working pig’s shoulder to break down into gelatin, resulting in an almost otherworldly tenderness, while retaining as much moisture as possible.

This slow-and-low treatment doesn’t do the skin any favors, however, leaving it tough and almost inedibly chewy. Fixing that requires nothing but some extra heat. After letting the roast finish cooking, we take it out of the oven to rest while we bring the oven up to 500 degrees. A blast at this high heat causes all of the tiny pockets in the skin to fill with steam from the meat underneath so that it inflates, turning light, crunchy, and a beautiful golden brown, with a layer of succulent fat underneath.

The resulting roast can be picked apart with your bare hands, dipped into sauce and eaten as-is, or pulled and chopped to make into sandwiches. Encourage your guests to combine a little lean meat, a little fat, and a few bits of crunchy skin onto a Portuguese roll. The combination of textures and temperatures is stunningly delicious. For good measure, top your sandwich with a bit of homemade chimichurri.

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

Super Crispy-Skinned Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Adapted from a recipe by Serious Eats; Serves 8



Move oven rack to middle position, and preheat oven to 250.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and set a wire rack inside it. Season pork on all sides with salt and pepper (or whatever you’d like), and place on wire rack. Transfer to oven and roast until pork shows very little resistance to a fork, about eight hours.

Remove pork from oven and tent with foil. Allow the pork to rest for at least 15 minutes, although the pork can be held at this stage until just before you are ready to serve, up to several hours. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees, and allow to preheat. Remove foil and return pork to oven. Roast until skin is very blistered and puffy, rotating every 5 minutes, about 20 minutes total. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest an additional 15 minutes.

To serve, either bring the roast to the table as-is and let your guests pick at it themselves to dip in accompanying sauces, or chop in the kitchen and serve bits of meat, fat, and crispy skin on Portuguese rolls.


Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.


  1. Oh my goodness gracious. Simple and delicious? With crispy skin? Where have you been all my life.

    I’ll have to share my No-brainer duck confit recipe with you in exchange. Thank you.

  2. In Puerto Rico, we call this pernil. One thing we do is we poke holes in the meat and stuff it with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, vinegar and spices. Infuses the meat with flavor from inside to out. So GOOD!

  3. Can this technique be used with other cuts of pork? Or does it need a fat cap? I love pork but tend to gravitate toward the darker meat sections that seem much more flavorful, tender and juicy to me. I saw a recipe recently for a beef roast cooked at a very low temp for a very long period of time. I tried it and it was more evenly medium rare throughout the roast which was great but it lacked a great “crust” since you weren’t supposed to brown it before cooking. You seem to have solved that dilemma, at least for a pork roast! Can’t wait to try it!!!

    That picture is killer, too! Since I am a very visual person, it was a deal cincher…lol!

  4. Tried this today/tonight…The crispy skin came out as advertised. But 8 hours were nowhere near enough at 250 to render the entire pork shoulder spoon-tender. That which was tender was delicious. The rest is back in the oven for another 4 hours at 300.

    1. Smoke your roast till internal temp reaches 140 degrees( either in a smoker or indirect on a grill). Place in a 225 degree oven, covered, till internal temp reaches 200 degrees. Remove to ice chest and cover roast with bath towels. Let rest between 2-4 hours and the roast will reach the secret temp of 206 degrees. Moving the oven temp to 300 degrees is a dangerous move, if you want pull apart pork. These cheap cuts of meat need to be low and slow from beginning to end imho.

    2. You really can’t count on the number of hours to cook low and slow Bar-B-Que. You need a digital temp device to get it just right. The final readout after resting should be between 204 & 206 degrees internal.

  5. Made this over the weekend. It was fabulous. We served it as part of a buffet for an informal get together. I cannot remember ever getting such a big payoff taste wise for so little effort. Will definitely make again.

  6. My husband is from Germany (Bavaria) and I’ve tried SO MANY times to replicate the traditional pork shoulder – Schäuferla – and never knew the right cut to purchase. This dish is one of the most delicious things you will ever eat. Most Germans I know (the younger ‘folk) discard the skin/fat before eating but it’s value for flavor is essential! I was always wondering what cut to get in the US and was always missing the skin!!! Thank you for the great recipe.

    If anyone is interested in the seasoning for the German way check out this site:

    The Bavarians also do this cooking technique using a pork knuckle (ham hock/) but when I tried, I think the ones I found at the grocery store were no where as big as necessary. Also I think I skipped the ‘cracklin’ step.

    Thanks again! I’m eager to try one more time!

  7. Made this yesterday for the 4th…easily the simplest, yet most delicious things we’ve ever had for a “picnic.” I bought a 10 +lb picnic roast at Wal-mart, for less than $10. No joke. (that’s the only store that I’ve ever seen that cut). I bought one before for carnitas, and had no clue what i was getting into- trying to break it down and get through the skin was difficult. This recipe is the solution for that! I did leave it in the oven for 9 hours, and to be honest, another hour or 2 wouldn’t have hurt since it was so big. It was still out of this world. We made some chimichurri, and I also had some pickled onions and jalapeños from a mop sauce from the week prior…the acid of both were perfect with the pork, which obviously is super rich.
    This is definitely going into the favorites file for big gatherings. We fed 6 people last night, and I think we have enough leftover for 20 more. Not complaining one bit, though. 😉

    1. So glad to hear it worked out! This recipe truly is the gift that keeps on giving. It may have even replaced smoked pork shoulder as my go-to for big gatherings.

    2. DID you cook this at 250 degree for 9 hrs? I’m making one tommorow and am nervous about it. 250 seems high as my oven only reaches 300 degrees max

      I’m scared of drying it out

  8. Malcolm, I feel compelled to comment one more time. I made 2 of these for a gathering of 30 or so last weekend. People were freaking out about how great it was. We have lots of get togethers, and this was hands-down the crowd-pleasing winner, over beef tenderloins, rib toasts, you name it. Thank you, once again! We’re heading northeast for our annual New England trekk here in a week or so, and will also be following your advice on good eats. Cheers!

    1. Thank you so much! It’s so great to hear someone loves this recipe as much as we do. We have a party planned for Labor Day, and I honestly can’t decide whether to fire up the smoker, or just do my pork shoulders in the oven.

  9. Hi, I know it’s been a while since the last comments, but I just recently found this post when I was looking for recipes for this cut. They’re often on sale very cheap where I live but I was never brave enough to try cooking one until I found this recipe. I’m trying it today, but when I got the meat out of the package, I suddenly realized, skin side up or down?? Or does it matter? If anyone sees this today, an answer would be great! Thanks!

  10. This may sound silly but just tonight a friend gave me a pork roast she had put in a 200 degree oven, uncovered, @ 8 a.m. this morning and didn’t take it out until 7 p.m. tonight! I was very appreciative but went right home and stuck a meat thermometer and it only registered 110 degrees and to me is a pinkish brown color. I’m not familiar with this type of low/slow cooking and am worried that it might not be fully cooked, even after hours of cooking. Any comments?!

  11. I am in the midst of trying this method. And the skin on top turned black. It’s still soft, just black. I am still going to try and make it crispy. I’ll follow up when I am done. Does to oven at 500 need to be set on broil? I have never cooked anything other than a turkey at 500.

  12. I made this for our New Years Day dinner this year as it’s considered good luck. So is sauerkraut and I made that too. This was the most fabulous pork I’ve ever had and my family went nuts over it! I’m making it tomm for our Daytona 500 race day party…GO JUNIOR!!

    1. This is a little late, I realize…but I gave found that the rack is unnecessary. We did 2 of these, side by side, one on a rack and one just in the roasting pan. The one without the arch was actually better, as the pork cooked in its own fat, making sort of a confit after 10 hours. Spectacular.

  13. I was unable to find a 8lb shoulder, I am only one person so Im sure its to much anyway. I ended up buying a 4lb, I am assuming I should roast for 4 hours?

  14. Even with just the two of us for dinner this roast was like no other. My husband was like a child he was so excited with the …crunch…….he even took a picture of it. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve cooked pork roast before but…..NOTHING as …’To Die For’ as this recipe. This won’t be our last. thanks so much for the recipe

  15. Your tip about putting the butt back in the oven at 500 degrees for a few minutes is a great little secret. I will be sure and try the next time we do Boston Butt or fresh picnic ham, which is very often.

  16. Just a quick one…this looks amazing and I want to try it. However can you clarify cooking temps. Is this Fahrenheit or celsius? My oven doesn’t get up to 500!! 🙂

    1. It’s Farenheit…and if you follow the directions as they are you can’t go wrong. I don’t know the exact weight of my shoulders but it was 4 or 5 lbs.

  17. i have fixed this shoulder twice now and it is AMAZING! I have seasoned it with Mexican spices and made a Chile Colorado sauce to put it in after its pulled. I have also done it with a traditional homemade barbecue sauce. Either way it is so good…my family loves it and the crispy cracklin like fat on top is just an added bonus….

  18. I only have a 3.7 lb shoulder- any suggestions on the cooking time? I’m making this in two days and it looks amazing! I don’t want to be dissapointed.

  19. I have been scouring the internet for a slow cook AND crispy skin recipe. SO HAPPY I found this site, thank you 🙂 I do have one question though. I have a 10# fresh ham and was wondering if this cooking method would work just as well as the shoulder cut? Do you think it would result in the same tenderness?

  20. I’ve made this amazing pork a bunch of times and it always comes out perfect. I would like to make this a bit ahead… how long can I let this rest before putting in the 500* oven to puff?

    1. Edra,
      I let my shoulder roast rest 2-3 hours. I put it in an ice chest wrapped in foil then covered completely with bath towels. You will be amazed how hot it remains and how much more juicy it becomes. Take it out of the ice chest and right to a pre-heated 500 degree oven.

  21. would it be possible to do the low and slow one day and the high temp finishing the next day? thinking of an easy weeknight dinner if this method works.

  22. I made this for my husband who is not fond of pork roast & he went back for thirds… really great with the chimichurri sauce! A definite keeper. Thank you.

  23. Perfect recipe! This is now my second time making this. Like a lot of the other posts I’ve always been scared to cook a pork shoulde, mainly because of the size. The first time I made it the skin came out too hard that it couldn’t be chewed. This morning it’s been in my oven since 9am and I made cuts in the skin and stuffed it with garlic. Hopefully this time the skin will be edible.

  24. A picnic cut is not a shoulder cut. The picnic cut (aka fresh ham) is the cut just below the shoulder and has twice as much fat as the shoulder ( aka Boston Butt). Just to be safe buy the Butt not the picnic.

  25. My thoughts…
    Your friend may have cooked the pork partly frozen inside.
    Also it is important you use a grilling thermometer not length of time.
    Often there is a stall in cooking around 150-160 degrees and will need to be wrapped in foil to get over the stall.
    Remove roast when it hits 190-195 and rest insulated with towels or in a cooler for 20-30 minutes and should reach 200-210 degrees.

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