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10 Things To Know About Using A Smoked Pork Shoulder Drip Pan

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There’s a lot to learn about smoking meats, which might be intimidating if you’re new to the field.

You’ve probably heard the jargon and specialized terminology associated with smoking, but you may not completely understand what they represent.

For example, you’ve probably heard the term “drip pan” thrown around and wondered what it was.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about drip pans and whether or not you should use one!

Does Pork Shoulder Need a Drip Pan?

What Does It Do for Pork Shoulder? 

A drip pan’s purpose is to capture the rendered drippings from the smoking pork shoulder.

During the smoking process, the fatty tissues in pork shoulder break down and convert to liquid.

While the majority of the juices redistribute within the pork, the excess liquid drips into the smoker, causing flareups. With the drip plan in place, the amount of flare ups is significantly reduced. 

Secondly, these drippings from pork shoulder are precious cargo.

These delicious liquids can be saved and utilized to make a variety of stocks and sauces. In fact, there are some recipes that will call for the use of a drip pan.

Certain recipes, for example, call for filling a pan with a little water, carrots, onions, parsnips, or any other vegetable of your choice, and placing it in the smoker.

By the time the meat is smoked, you’ll have a ready-to-use smoked pork/vegetable stock to utilize as the base for gravy. 

They can also make fantastic cooking oils. No part of the pork is wasted this way. 

Do I Need to Use a Drip Pan to Smoke Pork Shoulder?

A drip pan is very convenient when smoking a pork shoulder. It prevents the rendered fat from dripping into the heat and causing flare ups. This can happen often, especially with cuts with huge fat caps. If the flare-ups occur frequent enough, the pork may cook slightly unevenly. 

Can Protect the Water Pan

The drippings can occasionally cause oils to splash into the water pan, coating the water in oil. A drip pan, on the other hand, can prevent this from happening, or at the very least reduce it. 

Where Does the Drip Pan Go?

As you might expect, the drip pan is placed directly beneath the smoked meat, directly in the smoker. This is true regardless of the type of smoker used. Some smokers will use multiple drip pans if there is enough clearance beneath the grates.

Depending on how much meat you’re smoking, a vertical smoker may have trouble fitting both a water pan and a drip pan. 

Use to Baste the Pork When Reheating

The rendered juices can be used to baste the pork while it is being reheated. It’s a wonderful technique to heat pork while keeping it moist and juicy. So, collecting it can be well worth it. 

What Is a Water Pan? 

A water pan is exactly what it sounds like, a pan of water placed directly into the smoker. Its function is to help maintain the temperature of the meat as it smokes.

The water pan functions as a “heat sink,” deflecting direct heat away from the pork shoulder, allowing it to be protected and cooked more evenly.

The water evaporates as the smoker heats up, regulating and lowering the temperature to a safe range.

Using a water pan is a popular method to use when cooking most foods for an extended period of time. Baked goods, for example, almost always use a water pan when being baked.

Can Pork Shoulder Be Smoked in a Pan? 

Absolutely! This is a very common strategy. There are numerous advantages to smoking pork shoulder in a pan.

For example, after it hits 150 degrees(F), it will be lot easier to wrap. Instead of covering the counter and wrapping the pork, simply wrap the top of the pan and you’re done.

The pan also makes it much easier to transfer the pork shoulder. Simply remove the pan without using tongs. This also helps to keep the smoker clean. There will be no greasy drippings messes to clean up afterward! 

Place Skin-Side Down When Smoking in A Pan

When smoking pork shoulder in a pan, the released fats and juices will ultimately pool.

This can be harmful to the seasonings and rub. The liquids can also soften and degrade the bark’s quality. So, as an added layer of protection, place the pork shoulder skin-side down in the pan. 

Final Thoughts

As I previously stated, utilizing a drip pan is more of a case of “why not?” You have nothing to lose by using one, but a lot to gain if you do.


• The caught drippings are excellent for making sauces and gravies.

• The drip pan absorbs the majority of the heat and redistributes it more evenly, resulting in more complete cooking.

• If you chose to smoke pork in a pan, make sure to do so with the skin side down to maintain the delicious flavor and savory bark.