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Smoked Pork Shoulder Day Before (Explained)

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Most times people eat food a day later in the form of leftovers. However, some foods actually taste better when they have been cooked, left to cook in the refrigerator and then warmed up again and eaten a day later. Much of the difference has to do with moisture level inside the food.

Can I smoke a pork shoulder the day before?

For the most part, yes, any kind of cooked meat can be eaten the next day after it has been thoroughly cooked, packaged properly and refrigerated. This is how cold cuts are produced. Most sandwich meats are simply meats cooked before and then cut thin for sandwich-size preparation. Pork shoulder is no different. 

Generally, the meat the next day will be drier. Much of this is due to the fact that when the meat sits in the refrigerator, the cooling process of the appliance pulls the moisture out of the food over time. This also has the effect of intensifying the taste of the meat when it is eaten after being refrigerated. Of course, some folks don’t like it so dry, and that means putting something with moisture on it again, such as condiments. Unfortunately, these overwhelm the taste of the meat, so it’s a plus and minus, depending on how one likes their food the day after.

If the meat is cooked with a rub or heavy seasoning, eating it the next day is going to intensify the taste. Moisture does bring out the natural flavor of the meat, but when that moisture evaporates from the meat in the refrigerator, it’s the salt and seasoning that remains and has a far greater intensity as a result. 

Can I smoke pork butt overnight?

Like anything cooked, slow-cooking a pork butt is a preferred method, but there is a point of cooking a meat far too long. Any cut of meat only has so much moisture in it before it fully dries out. Larger pieces that are thick last longer, but even they will dry out eventually. When that happens, the pork butt generally starts to dry out and become hard, like leather. Yes, technically, it can be cooked for a long period, through a night even, but again, too much cooking will actually damage the meat for the purposes of enjoying it the most. 

Should you be smoking pork shoulder the day before?

Whether one does smoke-cook the day before or not really depends on how one wants to eat the pork shoulder altogether. For a full meal, slow-cooking and eating at the end of the same day is ideal. Everyone will enjoy a sizable dinner and the end of the day, the kind of eating experience that can literally put one to sleep with food so rich.

For drier meats, or for foods that will be prepared over a number of days, like wraps, sandwiches, and similar, then cooking one day and eating the next is fine and will work out well. Again, this is how deli meats are prepared and then cut for customers when you buy sandwich meats in the grocery store. 

Why would you smoke a pork shoulder the day before?

Time-wise, cooking one day and eating the next takes the stress out of the whole production. A good smoking of a pork shoulder can take a lot of time. In fact, some cooks wake up and get started well before the sun is up to maximize the amount of time needed for a slow-cook and resting before the food will be served that evening. 

Final Thoughts

Again, cooking a pork shoulder a day before won’t ruin the meat if you pay attention to the time allowed and you expect to eat a drier meat the next day after sitting in the fridge.

Planning makes a big difference in the outcome as people generally cook better and makes a more efficient use of the meat prepared when the end purpose of how it will be served is known ahead of time. Again, for meals to be served the same night, plan to cook the same day and likely expect to get up early to maximize the working hours for the cooking and resting.