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Traeger pulled pork in a pot with tongs.
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Smoked Pork Butt (Traeger Pulled Pork)

With shreds of succulent pork in a rich BBQ sauce, this is the ultimate smoked pork butt recipe. For the best flavor, rub the pork butt with the spice rub 1-2 days before smoking. The secret to achieving tender pulled pork is to first smoke the pork directly on the grates, infusing it with smoke flavor, then finish cooking it in a dutch oven or heavy lidded pot in a mixture of barbecue sauce and apple cider vinegar. This allows the pork to braise, turning it succulent and juicy, not dry. You can braise the pork in the smoker (set the pot right inside the smoker) or in an oven. You can even finish it in a slow cooker! Transfer the pork to a slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce, vinegar and butter, then cook on high until tender.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time7 hrs
Total Time7 hrs 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: smoked pork butt recipe, traeger pork butt, traeger pulled pork
Servings: 8 people

Equipment

  • Smoker

Ingredients

Pork

  • 5 to 6 pound boneless pork butt

Spice Rub

  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper

Smoker

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

Instructions

Rub the pork with the spice rub

  • If your pork butt has a very thick layer of fat on top (more than ½ inch thick), trim some off. Aim for about ¼-½ inch of fat (but don’t go nuts—a little more or less is fine).
  • In a small bowl, combine all of the spice rub ingredients. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork butt (you might have some extra). Cover the pork and refrigerate it for at least 12 hours, or up to 2 days.

Smoke the pork

  • Remove the pork from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before smoking.
  • Preheat your smoker to 250˚F (120˚C).
  • Place the pork directly on the grill grates. Smoke the pork butt until the internal temperature reaches 150˚F (65˚C), about 3 ½ - 4 ½ hours, depending on the size of the butt. Remove the pork from the smoker and increase the temperature to 325˚F (162˚C). Alternatively, preheat the oven to 325˚F.

Braise the pork

  • Transfer the pork to a large dutch oven or pot with a lid. Drizzle with the barbecue sauce and apple cider vinegar. Scatter the butter over top. Cover the pot and place it back on the smoker (or in the oven). Cook until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 195-205˚F (90-96˚C), about 1 ½-2 ½ hours longer.
  • Transfer the pork to a cutting board (reserve the pot) and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Shred the pork using 2 forks, discarding any large chunks of fat.
  • Using a spoon, skim off and discard most of the fat on the surface of the liquid in the pot (leave a thin layer, which will provide flavor and will help keep the meat moist). Transfer the pulled pork back into the pot. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Drizzle in more barbecue sauce if desired. Serve warm.

Notes

Do Ahead: The pulled pork can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat gently before serving.
Tips:
  • You’ll need a smoker for this recipe (I love my Traeger, but the recipe will work on any smoker!). If you don’t have a smoker, try this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
  • Shop for a 5-6 pound boneless pork butt. However, the recipe is flexible! If your cut is slightly smaller or bigger don’t sweat it. If you’re feeding a big crowd, you can even use a 8-10 pound pork butt, but you’ll likely need to increase the cooking time. 
  • A good meat thermometer is key when smoking. I love my Instant Read Thermapen.  
  • I prefer the flavor of apple wood when smoking pork, but any wood chips or pellets will work.
  • You'll need a dutch oven (I have this 5-quart model), or you can use a heavy lidded pot or even a slow cooker to finish the pork.
  • Serve the pulled pork with this Skillet Cornbread and this Red Cabbage & Sweet Corn Slaw!