Smoked pulled pork Traeger style is out of this world with our dry rub recipe! Tender fork tender pork shoulder is fabulous for tacos or sliders.
OH MY let me tell you how incredible this smoked pulled pork Traeger recipe is. With TONS of flavor in our custom rub and barbecue sauce on top it’s over the top YUM. An easy smoker recipe we love. (affiliate links present)
We started this journey creating a lot of electric smoker recipes. Those will work too if you’re looking for more ideas.
Smoked pulled pork recipe
This was one of those meals that we threw together on the fly. I found this boneless pork shoulder at the store for 30% off. That made it a whopping $5 and I knew it would feed the 4 of us for dinner and lunch the next day.
I call that a HUGE win if you ask me. When it comes to smoking pork it is just so incredibly versatile. One day you can make sliders, the next use it inside tacos and over rice if you have any at the tail end.
- If you’re looking for a cheap recipe, just keep your eye out and cook what is on sale that day.
- As long as you have a great pork dry rub on the outside it will be mouthwatering no matter how you serve it.
It is if you’re going to cook it low and slow they say. When you’re going to cook or smoke meat for a long period of time it gives this cut a chance to break down and get really fall apart tender.
The butt is higher on the foreleg while pork shoulder is farther down. As relatively tough and fatty cuts, both benefit from long, slow cooking methods
The shoulder, that is why we used it! I scored and found a boneless piece for next to nothing but bone in is fine too. Only difference is the cook time. A Boston butt or roast are great choices too.
First step of course is to unwrap your meat and I like using these disposable aluminum pans. Not only does it mean your clean up is way easier, but you can just cover the top and store the leftovers in the same pan too.
Pork dry rub
How do you make a pork dry rub?
- Brown sugar
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion Powder
If you have a much larger piece than us you might want to double this so you really cake it on the sides, bottom and top. Do NOT scrimp on this, you want a nice crust on the outside.
How long should dry rub be on pork shoulder?
Give it a good 30 minutes before putting it on your smoker. You could coat up to 24 hours beforehand but the flavors will be more intense the longer it’s on.
This is a sweet and savory mixture. It is not hot or spicy even though there is chili powder in it.
You’ll want to use a 9×13″ aluminum pan to have a bit of wiggle room on both sides of your meat. The ingredients for the rub are above and in the printable card below. Beyond that just use your favorite bbq sauce.
I do not trim the excess fat off before cooking. I think it lends to more flavor and moisture so I leave that on and trim it off when it’s done. For Easter, Cinco de Mayo or 4th of July this is always a HUGE hit when it’s served.
Time needed: 6 hours.
Smoked Pulled Pork
Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.
- Make dry rub
In a bowl mix dry rub ingredients together well. Unwrap pork and put into an aluminum 9×13″ pan.
- Coat meat
Pour dry rub on meat and press down, flip over and create a thick coat of it on the other side as well as pressing it on firmly on to all sides. Lift up meat and pour excess rub that is inside of the pan out (so it doesn’t burn).
Put meat back in pan and pour 1/2 c cider into the bottom, around meat, of the pan. Place pan on preheated smoker, close lid and do not open for 2 hours.
- Continue smoking
Open and pour 1/4 c cider over the top. Cover pan with aluminum foil now. Smoke for another 2 hours, then take off foil and pour bbq sauce over the top. Put foil back on loosely.
Close lid and smoke for another hour.
Now check the internal meat temperature. You really want center to reach 200 F for it to really fall apart when cutting. If it isn’t there put foil back on and continue adding time, about 45 minutes at a time until it reaches 200.
Remove the pork once the temperature of the meat is 180-200. Keep foil on and let it rest for 30 minutes minimum. Uncover and put on cutting board. Use sharp knife or two forks to shred. Serve!
Use your favorite sauce. I love Stubb’s and if I want some spiciness I love this one that’s called sweet heat with a bit of kick.
Yes there are MANY layers of flavor on this baby. We used apple cider but apple juice would work just fine too. You just want to keep that moisture in there so it’s fork tender.
Is pulled pork done at 180?
Yes, you can pull it off at this time but you may want to wait, it is worth it to.
If internal temp is under 200 degrees it won’t fall apart as you picture it in restaurants and love. Unlike other methods of cooking, and other pieces of meat, the longer it cooks on low heat the more tender it gets.
You need low, slow, and a long duration to break down the connective tissues and have it just. Fall. Apart.
What should I serve with pulled pork?
OH the choices my friends!! Our very favorite thing is a batch of this garlic smoked bread. That is right, you can just throw it on at the end so everything is done around the same time. NO heating up your house!
- You can serve some mixed smoked vegetables. A healthy side dish for everyone with a bunch of different goodies mixed together is key.
- If you’d rather make something quick you must try our air fryer vegetables that are done in no time and crispy.
- If you haven’t yet, I’d give smoked baked potatoes a whirl. Seriously, with some olive oil and salt on the outside the skin will be your favorite part. OR stuff the meat inside with some sour cream!
- Mashed potatoes are always a great alternative if you want something quick in your pressure cooker. Load them up however you want and bam, dinner is done.
- With leftovers I always make a quick Instant Pot casserole with it. A favorite one pot meal that has everything in one bite.
How long can you keep pulled pork in the refrigerator?
If you do have leftover pulled pork don’t throw it out!! Best suggestion is to just pull or slice what you’re eating right then and there. Leave the rest in a large chunk and store in a gallon freezer bag with all air sucked out.
- Max time you should leave it there before eating would be about 4 days.
- If you want to freeze pulled pork it will last much longer, up to 3 months!
Smoked pork shoulder
Looking for other great Traeger recipes or to make in an electric smoker? Either method works for out of this world pulled pork sandwiches y’all.
If you’re just starting smoking this is a great beginner recipe.
- If you want to wrap the pork in bacon you’ll want to try our smoked pork chops.
- Our smoked pork steaks use this same rub. If you want a faster cooking meal I’d choose this cut.
You can see that we threw in some smoked corn in foil in the bottom there. We love being able to cook “all the things” at the same time!! Usually we just leave the husks on, but this time they’d been removed at the store.
Best pulled pork recipe
Tips to remember:
- Create a thick layer of rub on the outside and cover every nook and cranny.
- Don’t remove until middle has reached 200 degrees so it falls apart and is super tender.
- Allow meat to rest for at least 30 minutes (longer is great) before slicing or pulling apart to serve.
- Low and slow cooking is always best, try our easy pulled pork slow cooker recipe too.
What is your favorite easy smoker recipe to make? Do you always veer toward chicken thighs or steak maybe? They’re an easy choice and don’t take very long. This is a bit more time consuming but so worth it!
If you tweak this and it turns out fantastic too let us know. We love trying other methods and seeing which way we love best, but it’s hard to top this rub we have going on. 😉
For some comfort food on your grate, try this Traeger pizza roll up recipe too.
Smoked Pulled Pork Traeger
- In a bowl mix dry rub together well. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees F.
- Unwrap pork and put into an aluminum 9×13" pan.
- Pour dry rub on meat and press down, flip over and create a thick coat of it on the other side as well as pressing it on firmly on to all sides.
- Lift up meat and pour excess rub that is inside of the pan out (so it doesn't burn).
- Put meat back in and pour 1/2 c cider into the bottom of the pan. Place pan on preheated smoker, close lid and do not open for 2 hours.
- Open and pour 1/4 c cider over the top. Cover with foil now.
- Smoke for another 2 hours, then take off foil and pour bbq sauce over the top. Put foil back on loosely.
- Close lid and smoke for another hour, then check the internal temperature. It needs to reach 200 F for it to really fall apart when cutting. If it isn't there put foil back on and continue adding time, about 45 minutes at a time until it reaches 200 (so it gets tender enough to shred and fall apart).
- Then remove, keep foil on and let it rest for 30 minutes minimum.
- Uncover and put on cutting board. Use sharp knife or two forks to shred. Serve!