BBQ Guide: What is Picnic Pork Roast?

Pork picnic shredded
Picnic pork is one of the cheapest cuts of pork, and is found above the front foot of the hog, below the Boston butt. It is also called pork shoulder and contains more meat than other cuts. It is a tougher piece of meat and lends itself to low and slow cooking methods like grilling, roasting, and smoking.

Is Picnic Pork the Same as Pork Shoulder?

Yes. Picnic pork roast is also called pork shoulder, picnic shoulder, picnic ham, pork picnic, or picnic roast. All of these names refer to the same cut of meat—the upper portion of the pig’s front leg. You can use any of these terms interchangeably.

Please keep in mind that the primal shoulder cut is also called pork shoulder. This part has two sub-primal cuts including the pork butt (top/blade shoulder) and the pork picnic (lower arm shoulder).

Additionally, the pork butt/Boston butt is also sometimes called a pork shoulder (as a general term) because it’s part of that primal shoulder cut.

When in doubt, you can ask your butcher for clarification.

Are Picnic Pork and Boston Butt the Same Thing?

Boston butt and picnic pork roast are different cuts from the pork shoulder, but they’re not the same. Here is an in-depth comparison of both of them:

Boston Butt (Pork Butt)

A common misconception about this piece of meat is that it comes from the pig’s rear end. The Boston butt actually comes from the upper part of the shoulder blade, and it is often sold bone-in with a layer of fat on top. 

The Boston butt has a great deal of intramuscular fat, which makes it best suited for braising, roasting, or smoking slowly over low heat. It’s also ideally suited for grilling, stir-frying, or grinding into sausage. It’s considered one of the most versatile pork meat cuts because it has so many uses.

Pork Butt

  • The top part of the shoulder
  • Has a rectangular shape
  • Marbled with a lot of intramuscular fat
  • Usually sold with untrimmed fat cap
  • Great for pulled pork

Picnic Pork (Picnic Roast)

Picnic pork is a triangular-shaped pork cut that comes from further down in the shoulder blade than the Boston butt. It has less fat on top and contains more lean meat. It also comes with the bone in and skin on.

It lends itself better to grilling or roasting over high heat which ensures the picnic pork forms a nice crispy skin.

Some dishes you can make with picnic pork include pork roast with crackling, whole roasts, carnitas tacos, and char siu. Picnic pork works perfectly using reverse-sear cooking methods.

Picnic pork

  • Located at the top part of the leg, below the butt
  • Has a triangular shape
  • Has fat marbling – more than pork chops, but less than pork butt
  • Usually sold with skin on
  • Great for pork roast with crackling

Pork picnic roasts are amazing when they are allowed to cook slowly over a grill for several hours until they become tender. They are often used to make pulled pork because the meat falls apart easily after grilling.

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Picnic pork roast on grill

BBQ Picnic Pork Roast Recipe

  • Total Time: 12 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


This pork picnic roast is grilled to perfection until it reaches the ideal temperature – the result is tender meat that melts in your mouth and comes packed with smoky BBQ flavor!


  • 5 lbs pork picnic shoulder
  • Barbecue sauce (your favorite)

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Before buying a pork shoulder, ask your butcher to trim the picnic carefully.
  2. Pat your picnic pork with a dry towel. Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl, and then liberally sprinkle the dry rub evenly over the meat.
  3. Wrap the picnic pork and store it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours – ideally overnight. This way, all the flavors will infuse into the meat, making it more tasty and tender.
  4. Before cooking, take it out of the refrigerator until it reaches room temperature.
  5. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F and add hickory wood chunks (or chips).
  6. Put the picnic shoulder on the grill grate with the fat side closest to the heat source.
  7. Wait at least 4 hours until you open the lid again to check the roast.
  8. Check the internal temperature of the meat (the ideal is 190°F) and look for dark bark formation. It will take about 6 to 10 hours to cook an entire pork picnic, depending on the size.
  9. When the temperature starts to stall (usually at 165°F), you have two choices: either ride it out or wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper so it cooks faster. It's best to coat the picnic with the BBQ sauce, foil it and leave it until you see it reaches 190°F.
  10. Allow the meat to rest for 15-20 minutes after it has finished cooking.
  11. Pull the pork meat and use it in a sandwich, burger, or together with other side dishes like mashed potatoes for a delicious meal!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 219

Can You Use Picnic Pork Roast for Pulled Pork?

The answer is yes. 

The picnic cut is a large muscle usually tougher than other cuts of meat, making it perfect for slow cooking (like in a slow cooker) at low temperatures over several hours. The picnic shoulder is often used for pulled pork recipes because it has a lot of connective tissue that breaks down during the cooking process, making it perfect for shredding into pieces.

It’s easy to use in your favorite pulled pork sandwiches to replace the more traditional Boston butt cut.

What Does a Picnic Pork Roast Weigh?

Pork picnic weighs 4 to 10 pounds uncooked. This meat cut will shrink by about 40% to 50% when cooked. So an 8-pound cut of meat will end up weighing 4 pounds. Not only is this an excellent weight for roasting and carving, but it’s also the perfect amount of meat for 6 to 8 people!

How Many People Will a Picnic Pork Roast Serve?

⅓ pound of pork picnic typically feeds one person. Depending on the size of your roast, a pork shoulder can serve from 5 to 20 people.

What is the Best Way to Cook a Picnic Pork Roast?

There’s no doubt that barbecuing is the correct answer here – the best way to cook a pork picnic is over an open fire or on a grill.

There are many reasons for this:

  • The charring and grilling process will give the meat a unique flavor profile that you can’t replicate in any other way.
  • Grilling allows you to infuse your picnic with smoke from wood chips, giving it even more flavor.
  • Grilling allows you to control the temperature and cooking time. You can take your time to tenderize the pork shoulder when using a grill because you can cook it low and slow, ensuring the meat softens.
  • Grilling ensures your pork picnic will turn out tender in the middle and crispy on the outside – the perfect combo!


Alexandra is a passionate writer who loves everything related to food: from buying local produce and sourcing the best ingredients to finding the perfect spice mix and sauce to complement each dish. She loves getting together with friends near a campfire and grilling up some barbecue goodness while having quality conversations - no screens allowed.

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