How to Debone a Pork Shoulder Plus Recipes to Try

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Do you know how to debone a pork shoulder?  ​Most people will seek help from a butcher to do it, but others would rather learn how to remove it themselves ​Pork shoulder is ​great for roasting or curing to be made into ham.

Slicing it with the bone still inside can be quite tricky, so ​some choose to remove the bone and use it for other dishes. ​Continue reading below for  suggestions on how to debone pork shoulders, as well as help you learn more about pork shoulders and what types of dishes they are suitable for.

The Pork Shoulder

Americans call it pork butt or Boston butt. It is a cut of pork that came from the upper portion of the shoulder from the pig’s front leg. It may also include the shoulder bone.

This kind of pork cut is the most chosen variety when it comes to pulled pork recipes and barbecues. In other areas like the UK, they call this portion pork shoulder on the bone. If the bone is removed and the meat is rolled and tied, then they call it pork shoulder.

According to history, butchers take the less prized cuts of pork and store them in barrels called butt for transport. They call this packed pork cuts Boston specialty, which eventually became Boston butt.

This cut of meat is commonly braised, made into ground pork, or cut up for stews. The meat on this cut has a tough side that needs a proper cooking method to soften.

Boston Butt and Picnic Ham

The most common pork shoulder cut is the Boston butt. This inexpensive part comes from the shoulder blade of the hog and offers a lot of marbled and juicy fats.

The picnic ham includes the hock or the shank and has more bone compared to the other parts. Most restaurants use the picnic ham part because it is cheaper and has more flavor to it when cooked, although it takes more time to prepare compared to Boston butt. You can easily purchase this at a grocery store.

How to Debone a Pork Shoulder

Pork shoulder with the bone tastes better than the one without, but if you want to put some stuffing and flavorings inside, it is best to remove the bone.You can use any type of kitchen knife for this ​job, but ​a ​good quality boning knife is the most efficient for this task. Our personal favorite is the Smteng boning knife.

Here’s how to debone a pork shoulder:

  1. Put the pork shoulder on a cutting board, fat-side down, and then locate the bone on each side of the meat.
  2. Expose the bone from the large end of the pork shoulder. Using the tip of your boning knife, cut the meat from the bone going down to the other side.
  3. Repeat the same process of carving on the other side of the bone. Once the bone is exposed, it will be easier to slice under the bone and remove it completely.

Once the bone is completely removed, you can save it to use for soups and stocks. Put the bone inside a sealed plastic bag and remove all the air inside, and then store it inside the freezer. You can keep it frozen for up to three months.

You can stuff the deboned pork shoulder with the stuffing of your choice or roll and tie up before roasting. It is best to leave the skin and fat on the other side of the pork shoulder, so it will not dry out during roasting. The roast also looks better with the skin on.

how to debone a pork shoulder

Pork Shoulder Recipes

Here are some of the best recipes using the pork shoulder cut that you can enjoy serving your family on any occasion.

1. Pulled Pork

For this recipe, you will need a pork shoulder or a pork butt. You can either use a pork shoulder with the bone in for a more delicious and flavorful dish, although it takes longer to cook.

If you use the boneless kind, look for a four to six pounds size or a four to seven pounds bone-in. These pork shoulder sizes will provide you with at least ten cups of pulled or shredded meat.

If you want a tasty pork shoulder dish, then you need to have patience because it requires time to soften. The meat on a pork shoulder is on the tougher side, so slow cooking is the perfect procedure to use. A low and steady temperature will help melt the gelatin on the meat, basting it as it slowly cooks.

Put the meat in a heavy pot and pour in enough liquid to partially submerge it. You can either use broth, beer, or any juice of your choice to add flavor to the meat.

Cover the pot and let it cook over low heat for several hours until it’s done. You will know that you are done cooking the pork when it flakes apart as you poke it with a fork. You will also notice that the pork falls off the bone on its own.

2. Beer-Braised Pulled Pork

Season the pork with a combination of brown sugar, paprika, cumin, and curry. Sear the outside of the pork and render some of its fat.

Put carrots, onions, and garlic in a pot then pour beer into it. Put the seared pork on top of the vegetables and put it inside the oven. Cook it for 3 ½ hours over low heat, and you are done.

What to Do With the Cooked Pork?

You can use cooked pork for a lot of things. ​Maybe make a pulled pork sandwich or add it to your pasta sauce​, or even use it on casseroles, pizzas, or steamed pork buns. ​A useful tip is to freeze the shredded pork in one-cup batches, so you don’t need to thaw the whole thing every time you need it for a meal.


Learning how to debone a pork shoulder is easy and can be beneficial for you since you don’t need to go to the butcher for deboning. We have also added some recipes that you can try at home.