Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork (4 Easy Steps for Smoked Pork Butt Shredded)

I often reminisce on delicious recipes I’ve done.

Like that delicious smoky pork butt, I did last summer!

Half was used for a cookout and the rest was shredded and turned into pulled pork for sandwiches

If your not careful with pork it can go a little dry.

So make sure you follow my steps for smoking and pulling pork butt!

There is also a bonus section where I share my secrets for shredding the pork and making deeelsious pulled pork!

Table of contents

The Basics of a Pork Butt 

Are you wondering what a pork butt is?

The pork butt is one of the 4 primal cuts but it comes from the pork shoulders instead of the, well, butt.

The pork butt is cut a tad shorter from the shoulder of the animal.

Usually with the bone out which distinguishes it from a bone-in shoulder cut. 

FUN FACT: The reason the cut is called butt was that it was the name for the barrels the pork was stored in during the revolution in the late 1700s in New England.

The pork butt is the perfect meat to cook because it has…

Uniformed Shape

We sometimes fail to realize the shape has a drastic effect on the cooking process for a quality result. 

A pork butt is taken shorter down from the shoulder and is usually quite evenly spherical with dense meat.

Because of the shape, we can control the consistency of the cooking processes or commit a lower and slow temperature to break it down over time. 

Fat Marbling

Fat = flavor and texture which we all know by now.

All that juicy fat breakdowns when we smoke low and slow!

Inexpensive

If you’re worried about the wallet then I’ve got good news. 

It’s not uncommon for one of these pork cuts to go as little as $0.99 per pound of meat.

Are You Hungry Yet?

So there we are.

A little insight into the reasoning behind this porky goodness and why it could be classed as a right of passage for any aspiring pitmaster.

How to Cook a Pork Butt 

Are you now asking yourself the best way to cook a pork butt?

Before I start breaking down the actual recipes (because I know that’s why you’re here), let me briefly introduce you to my top 3 cooking methods.

Smoked Pork Butt on a Traeger

This method utilizes indirect heat in a pellet smoker over a long period.

The smoking process using hardwood pellets incorporates flavor and keeps the meat moist. 

When combined with a spiced pork rub the extra time is always worth it to get a beautiful outer crust which is known as the bark.

Did You Know? We covered a whole article on ‘bark’ which can be found here. (input link)

Pulled Pork Butt on a Traeger

This might be considered more of the preparation rather than a cooking process.

But I wanted to add it because it is a precursor for so many recipes!

The smoked meat, chunks of fat, and the beautiful bark are shredded or ‘pulled’. 

This cooked pork is decadent, moist, and flavorsome, not to mention versatile! 

Roasted Pork Butt on a Traeger

Last but by no means the least, the humble roasted pork treated evenly with direct heat over a long period will have the taste buds dancing. 

This pork butt recipe may be considered simple but I think this classic gives off a true pork flavor.

Let’s Get Cooking

So there we have it but before we finish this section, I wanted to note a common theme along with these recipes.

Low & Slow

All 3 require the pork butt to be cooked at a lower temperature and slowly for the best results.

This is necessary because the shoulder is worked and used throughout the animal’s life. 

The best flavor comes from these proteins but you need to break them down a little first as they put up a fight. 

Always remember this whatever cooking method you choose to do. 

Why the Traeger?

Are you asking why a Traeger pellet grill and smoker is the ideal tool to be utilized while cooking?

In my opinion and as such for other BBQ purists, a Pellet grill is the no-nonsense way to be cooking meat.

Period. 

The Traeger pellet grill was made with you in mind to enhance, broaden but also simplify your cooking.

These are ‘butt’ a few reasons why a pellet smoker is the most versatile part of your BBQ arsenal!

How to Prep the Pork Butt

Are you asking yourself how long it takes to prepare the pork butt and have it ready to season and cook?

Lucky for you this cut requires minimal effort and may not even require anything.

If you want the easy way out then just ask your butcher to do this for you by telling them how you are going to cook it.

If not then grab a sharp knife and trim any excess and thick fat on the outside and look for any surface silver skin. 

TIP: The pork shoulder has fat marbling which will be rendered down. Don’t start hacking like Freddy Kruger and only look for unwanted surface fat. 

Should You Brine a Pork Butt?

Are you wondering if you should brine a pork butt?

The answer is… Yes. Yes… Yes!

For all of these recipes or heck, for every BBQ meat recipe, there needs to be some type of brining. 

It helps to tenderize the pork butt, season it and break down those tough proteins.

Did You Know? Yes, we have covered brining in an article here

We know this cut of pork is dense and can be tough if not cooked slowly.

If you aren’t a seasoned cook then sometimes a low and slow cooking method can make the pork butt dry.

Now, if you follow our instructions and have a play around then we minimize this.

You should apply wet brine before cooking.

Then leave for at least 2-3 hours or 1 hour per pound and cover in the refrigerator. 

For the ratio of table salt, add a heaped tablespoon (14 grams) for every cup (230ml) of cold water used to cover the meat.

Well go on, what are you waiting for? 

Open the refrigerator door!

TIP:  Lightly flavor the brine with a bay leaf and some yellow mustard seeds!

The Seasoning Behind a Pork Butt?

Are you wondering about the best seasoning(s), marinade(s), or spice rub(s) to add to your pork butt?

We want to slowly start building up the flavor and after the brining and patting it down with a paper towel, we are ready to add seasonings.

Below you can see I’ve broken it down depending on the method but always remember to be creative at this stage. 

Do you want to add some Chinese 5 spices or extra chili? 

Go crazy.

Smoked Pork Butt

For smoking a pork butt, I recommend a hearty spice rub with a little bit of sugar so we can get a nice caramelization. 

You can buy packaged rubs which are easy but go the extra mile to take full control.

Combine the below ingredients into a fine powder or grain and cover the pork. 

Ratio them to your taste.

  • Large grain salts like sea flakes or kosher salt (maximum 20% as we already brined)
  • Brown sugar (only 10% as we don’t want it to burn)
  • Smoked paprika 
  • Onion & garlic powder
  • Cayenne or another chili powder 
  • Black & white pepper 
  • Dried oregano 

Pulled Pork

I’m not going to add a specific seasoning here because I want you to be creative. 

Ask yourself what you will be using the pulled pork for? 

Are you going to make steamed dumplings? Or even tacos? 

Get into it!

Roasted Pork Butt

For a pork butt roast, we may want to incorporate more traditional flavors. 

Apply the below ingredients with some olive oil to obtain a wet rub all over the pork butt and focus on any pieces of fat.

Ratio them to your taste.

  • Large grain salts like sea flakes or kosher salt (maximum 20% as we already brined)
  • Black pepper
  • Dried thyme 
  • fresh lemon zest 
  • Garlic powder & Onion powder

How to Prep the Traeger Pellet Smoker

How do we prepare the Traeger for cooking?

Well, first we want to make sure it’s clean and primed.

Make sure you get into the habit of cleaning it after use and have enough fuel (hardwood) in the ignition fuel to be ignited. 

If you don’t have enough fuel then no cooking and no tasty meal.

Add the pellets into the hopper and click on the prime button. 

Priming a Traeger Pellet Smoker will take around 12 minutes until the pellets have made their way into the chamber.

Set the desired temperature and that’s it!

What Temperature to Cook a Pork Butt

The best temperature to cook our pork butts is going to be the around 220°F mark on indirect heat. 

This is low enough for all the flavors to penetrate and not dry out the protein.

Put the butt directly on the grill grates with the fat cap facing any hot spots and let heat and time do the hard work.

NOTE: If you’re roasting then you can go to the higher 270F mark as it doesn’t need as much time. If you do this, make sure you wrap the pork in foil. 

How Long to Cook Our Pork Butt

You need to smoke a pork butt for around 8-10 hours or until it reaches 204°

Smoked Pulled Pork Butt

The longer the better!

8-10 hours is roughly the time it takes to maximize and get the best out of the smoking process.

TIP: Make sure you keep an eye on how many pellets are in your hopper before you leave it for this amount of time!

Roasted Pork Butt

A roasted pork butt will likely take around the 5-hour mark if you have a higher temperature.

You want a slightly different consistency than the pulled pork.

It needs to be more dense but still very moist.

What Internal Cooking Temperature Does the Meat Need to Be?

The ideal internal temperature for a pork butt that will be shredded is 203°F.

The easiest and safest way to track the temperature is with a meat probe.

Put the meat probe in the center of the cut which will be the thickest part and ensures you have an accurate and even temperature!

What If You Don’t Have a Pellet Grill?

You don’t have a pellet grill yet?

Don’t worry, a conventional oven, charcoal or electric smoker will do the trick.

Just make sure you wrap with foil to keep as much moisture from leaving the meat.

Our Method for Smoking a Pork Butt 

Right, I hope after all that I’ve satisfied your hunger for knowledge.

Now it’s time for the main show.

In this recipe, we are using smoked pork in a Mexican street food dish.

Hope you enjoy it and please note that it takes 2 days but I promise that it’s worth it.

Ingredients

  • A quality and free-range pork butt
  • Soft tortillas
  • Dijon Mustard (for binding the rub
  • Apple juice or apple cider vinegar

Dry Spice Rub

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion & garlic power
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

What You Need for The Salsa-Verde

  • 2 cups of cilantro leaf
  • 1 cup of basil leaf
  • 1 cup of parsley
  • 1 fresh garlic glove
  • Salt & pepper
  • Hot chili flakes
  • Lemon juice
  • Dash of olive oil

Or Try Homemade Smoked Salsa

Want to try a new homemade salsa? Just throw some extra tomatoes, garlic and onion in the smoker with the pork.

Then follow my homemade smoked salsa recipe here.

Equipment for Pulled Pulled

  • Traeger  Smoker with hardwood pellets
  • Meat claw
  • Sharp knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray bottle
  • Container 
  • Pestle & Moter or food processer
  • Paper towels
  • Heatproof dish

How to Prep the Pork Butt

-Cut off any top silver skin with a sharp knife but leave on the fat cap.

Preparing the Traeger

– Check that your Traeger is clean from the last time it was used.

Then load the pecan chips into the hopper and set the temperature to 215F.

Smoked Pulled Pork Butt Carnitas With Salsa Verde

Step 1: Brining the Pork Butt

Weigh the meat and apply tbsp salt as per directions above and ensure it has been dissolved.

Cover the pork butt with the brine solution in the fridge overnight. 

– Take out and pat dry with a paper towel.

Step 2: Adding a Spice Rub to the Pork Butt

– Brush the pork shoulder with Dijon mustard.

Then take the spice rub ingredients and apply liberally all around the pork butt. You can try injecting your pork butt if you want to add some extra flavor).

– Cover and rest the pork butt for 2 hours at room temperature.

Step 3: Smoking the Pork Butt

– Whisk together apple cider vinegar, apple juice and raspberry juice in a bowl and pour into a spray bottle for spritzing

– When the Traeger Grill is at 215F insert a heat-proof tray wrapped in foil.

– Put the Pork Butt on the tray.

– Check for hot spots and adjust accordingly so the fat cap is facing them.

– Add the meat probe.

Leave smoking with the lid down.

– Every 60 minutes open and spray cider vinegar or apple juice all over the pork.

– Visually monitor for a nice colored crust and an internal temperature of around 203°F.

-The rough total should be around 8-10 hours.

TIP: If the cust on the pork seems too hard but it’s not at temperature you can wrap it in foil early or consider turning the Traeger down to 200F.

Step 4: Making the Salsa Verde

Mix the ingredients into a pestle & mortar or food processer. 

Grind or blend to a rustic consistency and add the oil.

Step 5: How to Shred the Pork

Shred the pork shoulder using meat claws or pull it apart with your hands.

If you use your hands, you should wearnitrile kitchen gloves.

Step 5: Serve & Enjoy

Serve in the tortillas and a nice Mexican beer. 

– Ensure you run the shutdown cycle on your Traeger

Not Sure What To Serve With Your Pulled Pork?

Looking for some pulled pork sides? Below are some of my favorite recipes!

Sour Cream Corn Bread

Smoked Mac and Cheese

Smoked Beans

Want More Recipes For Your Traeger?

There are so many delicious recipes for the Traeger!

Here are some of our favorites

Traeger Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoked Brisket on a Traeger

Smoked and Grilled Brussel Sprouts

Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork Recipe

This recipe will reveal the secrets for shredding the pork and making delicious pulled pork from a pork butt or shoulder smoked on a Traeger
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time10 hrs
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, bbq, dinner, grill, lunch
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 500kcal
Cost: 20

Equipment

  • Traeger Smoker with hardwood pellets
  • Meat claw
  • Sharp knife
  • Aluminum foil
  • spray bottle
  • Container Pestle & Moter or food processer
  • paper towels
  • Heatproof dish

Ingredients

  • A quality and free-range pork butt
  • Soft tortillas
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Apple juice or apple cider vinegar

Dry Spice Rub

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion & garlic power
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

Salsa-Verde

  • 2 cups of cilantro leaf
  • 1 cup of basil leaf
  • 1 cup of parsley
  • 1 fresh garlic glove
  • Salt & pepper
  • Hot chili flakes
  • Lemon juice
  • Dash of olive oil

Instructions

How to Prep the Pork Butt

  • Cut off any top silver skin with a sharp knife but leave on the fat cap.

Preparing the Traeger

  • Check that your Traeger is clean from the last time it was used and then load the pecan chips into the hopper and set the temperature to 215F.

Smoked Pulled Pork Butt Carnitas With Salsa Verde

    Step 1: Brining the Pork Butt

    • Weigh the meat and apply tbsp salt as per directions above and ensure it has been dissolved.
    • Cover the pork butt with the brine solution in the fridge overnight.
    • Take out and pat dry with a paper towel.

    Step 2: Adding a Spice Rub to the Pork Butt

    • Brush the pork shoulder with Dijon mustard. Then take the spice rub ingredients and apply liberally all around the pork butt
    • Cover and rest the pork butt for 2 hours at room temperature.

    Step 3: Smoking the Pork Butt

    • Whisk together apple cider vinegar, apple juice and raspberry juice in a bowl and pour into a spray bottle for spritzing
    • When the Traeger Grill is at 215F insert a heat-proof tray wrapped in foil.
    • Put the Pork Butt on the tray.
    • Check for hot spots and adjust accordingly so the fat cap is facing them.
    • Add the meat probe.
    • Leave smoking with the lid down.
    • Every 60 minutes open and spray cider vinegar or apple juice all over the pork.
    • Visually monitor for a nice colored crust and an internal temperature of around 200F.
    • When the pork is at the correct temperature, wrap it in foil and smoke for a further 3 hours.
    • The rough total should be around 8-10 hours.

    Step 4: Making the Salsa Verde

    • Mix the ingredients into a pestle & mortar or food processer.
    • Grind or blend to a rustic consistency and add the oil.

    Step 5: How to Shred the Pork

    • Shred the pork shoulder using meat claws or pull it apart with your hands, protected by nitrile kitchen gloves.

    Step 6: Serve & Enjoy

    • Serve in the tortillas with friends and family and a nice Mexican beer.
    christmas-ham-on-bbq

    Smoke On!

    Charlie

    Author: Charlie Reeves
    Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

    You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

    You can read more on our About Us page.

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