Pork Butt Money Muscle: What is it?

By Dylan Clay
Last Updated 
April 26, 2022

When following a pork butt/pulled pork recipe online, you might see or hear the person mention the "money muscle."

Its something that you'll more-so hear about in competition barbecue as Pitmasters will serve up pull (pulled pork), pork medallions from the money muscle, chunks, and tubes in their turn-in boxes.

All of these cuts showcase technique and ability to smoke pork butt proficiently.

Where Does the Money Muscle Come From?

The money muscle is a cylindrical/tube of muscle that's found on the opposite end of the blade-bone on a Pork Butt (Boston Butt). The pork butt comes from the upper foreleg of a hog.

money muscle location on pork butt

The money muscle is easily identified on a pork butt as it has striations of intramuscular fat that run through its length.

This is actually uncharacteristic of pork cuts which is why it's so prized by Pitmasters and folks who do barbecue.

Most cuts of pork have intermuscular fat (fat that separates individual muscles) as apposed to intramuscular fat (fat found between lean muscle tissue) also called marbling.

Why is it Called the "Money Muscle"?

The reason it's called the Money Muscle is because it's what most folks would consider to be the single best muscle on an entire hog.

pork butt money muscle

The Money Muscle resembles a smaller pork loin. However, unlike the loin which has very little fat, the money muscle has large striations of intramuscular fat.

In terms of a barbecue competition, it's what gets competitors "in the money." Which simply means that they score high enough to win money by placing well.

Most folks aren't barbecue competitors and simply smoke pork butt to pull the entire cut. However, in the case of competition barbecue, these folks are turning in individual muscles to showcase their skill.

Smoking the Money Muscle is troublesome for a couple of reasons:

  • Since the muscle is located on the outer edge of the butt, it is going to cook and finish faster than the rest of the muscles.
  • Most folks are smoking pork butt until it reaches 203-205, which is perfect for pulling. While you could technically bring the money muscle to this temperature, it's best to bring it to about 180-185F so that it can be cut into medallions.
  • The Money Muscle will shrink due to the rendering of fat and moisture loss. In a competition, if you are to turn in any meat, you need 6 bites. In some cases this muscle can shrink so much that you don't have 6 symmetrical bites which isn't as aesthetically pleasing for judges.

You might think that the easiest way to combat all these problems is to simply separate the money muscle from the rest of the butt. However, in a competition, this isn't allowed.

money muscle smoked

With that said, at your own home nobody is going to slap you on the wrist. Meaning, you could very well separate this muscle and smoke it separately.

In most cases, the people you're cooking for are just looking to eat good barbecue and won't understand the work you put into separating the money muscle; Offering them the money muscle likely isn't super fruitful unless they love barbecue.

Other Names for the Money Muscle

Aside from being called the "Money Muscle," more scientifically, it's the pectoralis profundi muscle.

Non-scientifically, you might hear it be called pork collar (neck fillet), faux loin, or tiger muscle.

  • Tiger Muscle refers to the stripes or fatty striations found in the meat.
  • Faux loin is in reference to its tube-like shape that resembles pork loin or pork tenderloin.
  • Pork collar (neck fillet) - Technically, the collar is a muscle that is cut from the shoulder portion that runs from the neck to the tip of the loin; The pork collar cut includes part of the "money muscle."

Final Thoughts

The obvious issue with the money muscle is that it's a super small part of the pork butt itself - which is disappointing; You basically have the best meat on the pig and yet you get so little of it.

Again, for backyard barbecue, most folks won't appreciate the money muscle. However, it's still worthwhile to smoke properly every once and a while.

If I'm cooking for a large crowd and I'm serving lots of pulled pork, I'll forego separating the muscle; My goal is just to get as much meat yield as possible.

If I'm smoking pork butt for my family and intimate friends, I'll separate it and treat it as a "Pitmaster tax." Meaning, I get to eat it and appreciate the hard work I put into smoking it.

Dylan Clay
I've grilled and smoked meat for roughly half my life. While i'm not a professional Pitmaster, I've worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands on guide to teach them BBQ. It's my hope that Barbecue FAQ can be that helping hand.

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