This Traeger Pulled Pork recipe is made using pork shoulder or Boston butt seasoned with a homemade dry rub and then smoked low and slow until tender and juicy. Load this onto buns for sandwiches or serve it with your favorite sides. This dish can be made with any smoker or pellet grill.
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You’re going to want to cook this one really low and slow! I love to start mine in the evening and cook it overnight for that reason! You can use a bone-in or boneless shoulder.
The Difference Between Pork Shoulder and Butt
Pork shoulder and pork butt are two cuts of meat that come from the shoulder area of a pig.
Pork shoulder, also known as pork shoulder blade or Boston butt, comes from the top part of the front leg of the pig and is typically sold bone-in. It is well-marbled with fat, which makes it ideal for slow cooking methods such as braising, roasting, and smoking. Despite the Boston butt name, it’s not actually cut from the butt (hindquarters) of the pig.
Pork butt, also known as pork shoulder butt or pork butt roast, comes from the lower part of the shoulder and is also typically sold bone-in. It is a bit more uniform in shape and has a thicker layer of fat than pork shoulder. Like pork shoulder, it works great for slow-cooking methods and is often used to make pulled pork and barbecue.
What is a Dry Rub and Marinade? How to Season the Meat
A dry rub is a combination of spices and seasoning added to the meat to enhance flavor. It’s different from a marinade which has liquid ingredients (often to tenderize the meat) like apple cider vinegar or citrus. The purpose of a dry rub is to create a crust around the meat. A dry rub will enhance the flavor of the ribs without using moisture or a liquid marinade. Rubs are usually a little more coarse than simply adding seasoning.
As a rule of thumb, when applying a rub you should apply enough to fully coat the meat. You don’t want to see any empty spots. Add more spices if necessary. I love to use my Homemade BBQ Rub and Seasoning for these. It’s a combination of the following:
Marinades are great for hearty meats that won’t necessarily get tender on their own by cooking, such as chicken or steak.
You don’t have to marinate pulled pork. Pulled pork can be made with or without a marinade.
While marinating the pork can add flavor and help to tenderize the meat, it’s not necessary because the long, slow cooking process is what really tenderizes the meat and infuses it with flavor, so a dry rub or simple seasoning is very effective.
How to Make Traeger Pulled Pork
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Rub all sides of the pork with mustard and sprinkle spices throughout.
- Place the pork on the smoker with the fat side up. Smoke the pork.
- Remove the pork from the smoker and wrap it in foil. It’s important to let it rest.
- Shred the meat using forks.
Cook Time/How Long to Cook
You definitely want to cook this low and slow until it’s tender and falls apart easily. I like to start it at night because it will take quite a bit of time. As a general rule of thumb, you can estimate a cooking time of around 1 1/2 – 2 hours per pound of meat.
If smoking 6 pounds of pork shoulder, it will take around 12 hours to smoke at 225 degrees.
What Flavor of Wood/Pellets to Use
Fruit woods such as apple, cherry, and peach are popular choices for smoking pork because they impart a sweet, mild flavor that doesn’t overpower the meat.
You can also use maple, oak, and pecan, which can add their own unique flavors and aromas to the meat. The Traeger Signature Blend also works well.
It’s important to let it rest for at least 30 minutes before pulling it apart, 60 minutes is even better. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and makes it more flavorful and moist.
Pair With these Side Dishes
More Traeger and Smoker Recipes
Smoked Pork Tenderloin
Traeger Smoked Glazed Ham
Traeger Smoked Turkey Breast
Traeger Smoked Salmon
Traeger Smoked Chicken Breast
Traeger Smoked Ribs (3-2-1 Method)
Traeger Smoked Chicken Wings
Traeger Smoked Whole Chicken
Smoked Filet Mignon
Traeger Pulled Pork
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.
- Rub all sides of the pork with mustard and sprinkle the spices throughout. Rub the spices into the meat.
- Place the pork on the smoker with the fat side up. Smoke the pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 190-195 degrees. This will ensure it pulls apart easily. For a 6-7 pound shoulder, this took around 12 hours or more. Cook time will vary greatly based on the size of the meat you are using.
- Remove the pork from the smoker and wrap it in foil.It's important to let it rest for at least 30 minutes before pulling it apart, 60 minutes is even better. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and makes it more flavorful and moist.
- Shred the meat using forks.