Traeger Pulled Pork – Recipe and Cooking Guide

Hey Smokers and welcome to my post where we will run through my Traeger Pulled Pork recipe and cooking guide. As you may or may not know, this site is all about cooking on my Traeger Pro 22 Pellet Smoker and seeing where we can take things. And today, that is into the land of the pork shoulder !

Traeger Pulled Pork - Header

Now, at time of cooking, I am fairly new to the whole pellet smoking thing so to be honest, it was quite fun to really have a play with it on a longer cook to see how the smoker behaved. So let’s get into it all below:

Check out my: Traeger Carolina Pork Shoulder – Recipe and Cooking Guide

Traeger Pulled Pork: What You’ll Need

Ok, so below is what I used to smoke me some pork shoulder:

Traeger Pulled Pork - pork shoulder and rub

Ingredients

  • 1 whole pork shoulder (about 8-10 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup (or more depending in size) of your favorite BBQ rub (see below)
  • Dijon mustard for binding (optional – maybe)
  • Apple cider vinegar (for spritzing)
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce for serving

Paul’s rub (the one I used)

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic Powder (Cayenne if you like it extra spicy)
  • Chili Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Raw brown sugar

I use a around 2 to 3 tbs of each then around a half cup of sugar. Add more or less of whatever suits you. If you don’t like spice, leave the chili out.

Equipment

  • Pellet smoker
  • Preferred pellets (I used hickory but Apple or Cherry are popular of pork ribs as well)
  • Meat thermometer x 2
  • Aluminum tray and foil (alfoil) (for post stall wrap)
  • Tray with water
  • Spray bottle with 1/3 apple cider vinegar and 2/3 water if you like to spritz

Check out my: Traeger 321 Ribs Recipe and Cooking Guide

The Smoking Process

This is what I did and when:

1. Prep the Shoulder

This part obviously includes getting the pork ready for the smoker and usually entails:

  1. Lay the pork shoulder on a clean surface and trim the fat layer from the top. Try to remove as much as possible as the more you leave on top, the longer the pork will take to cook.
  2. If using a binder such as mustard, apply liberally to the meat as this point.
  3. In a bowl, combine your chosen BBQ rub ingredients, or if using a store made option, get it ready and then apply generously over the whole shoulder, ensuring every inch is covered.
  4. Let the pork sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature too allow them to absorb the rub’s flavor. Bringing the meat to room temperature help it will smoke more evenly as well.

Tip 1: For extra absorbsion, apply the rub to the pork and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight.

Tip 2: I have never bothered with this as I use boneless shoulders however should you be using a larger cut or bone in option, some cooks will advise to inject the meat with apple juice or apple cider vinegar. This will assist with moisture levels if a linger cook is required.

2. Fire Up Your Pellet Smoker

Whilst the pork is sitting, fill a small tray with water (I use an oven tray myself) and place underneath the grill plate – this ads extra moisture to the smoker.

Then, make sure your hopper is full with your chosen pellets (hickory, apple, cherry etc.) and preheat your pellet smoker to the optimal temperature of 225°F (107°C). Ensure the smoker reaches and maintains the set temperature before you proceed to the next step.

My findings: When you fire up a pellet smoker (well my model anyway) they tend to spike in temperature at the start before settling to the preset temperature. It usually advisable then to wait until the temperature starts to fall from that spike before placing your meat inside.

Check out my post: Pork Shoulder vs Pork Butt

3. Smoke the Pork

When it comes time to cook, place the pork in the center of the grill plate then close the lid and let the meat smoke. After that, open the lid quickly each 30 to 60 minutes and give the meat a good spray with your spritz bottle until you can see the meat ‘glisten’.

My findings: During this time, in my experience the internal temperature will rise fairly quickly in the first and second hours until the temperature reaches around 50°C/122°F. From here it will enter it’s stall.

4. Ride the Stall

When fatty meats such as pork are cooked, the fat content inside melts and evaporates, which actually ‘cools’ it down a little. Depending on the size of the pork, this can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours where temperature rises are small and at times, non existent.

As the stall completes, usually at around 65°C /149°F, the meat will start to cook again with temperatures rising a little faster.

5. Wrap

Once the stall completes, the meat is not actually capable of absorbing any more of the smoke flavor so it is usually advisable to wrap it at this point to complete the cook. To do this:

  1. Prepare an aluminum tray and empty some of the spritz contents from the bottle into it – this will add moisture.
  2. Remove the heat probe and then the pork from the smoker and place in the tray.
  3. Wrap the tray with aluminum foil and return to the smoker.
  4. Re-attach the heat probe, close the lid and let the pork cook until the temp reaches around 100 – 105°C /220°F

4. Rest and Serve

Once the pork is cooked, leave the meat under the alfoil, wrap in and old towel and then place in a cooler for 1 – 2 hours – the longer the better. At the end of this time, remove the pork from the cooler, remove the towel and then the alfoil. Then use some meat claws, forks or even your gloved hands to pull the pork above.

The pork should almost ‘collapse’ into perfect strings of meaty goodness.

Tips for Perfect Pellet Smoked Ribs

Ok, so as a summary of above, here are some cooks for cooking pork on a Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet Smoker:

  • Moisture: This is key as if the meat dries out, it will not pull regardless of what you do. For larger pieces, consider injecting and you can also place a water tray under the grill plate during the first part of the cook.
  • Pellet choice: The type of pellets can significantly influence the flavor profile of your meat. Experiment with different types to find your perfect match.
  • Temperature is key: The advantage of a pellet smoker is its ability to maintain a consistent temperature. This allows you to experiment with the cook times to cook the perfect rib.
  • Watch the stall: I mentioned this above but I have found that if you are patient with the stall and wait for the temperature to rise past that 65°C /149°F, the results are much better.
  • Rest it well: Again as I mentioned above, the longer you can rest the meat after cooking, the better it will pull. In my experience, pork will pull anywhere from around 85°C /185°F as long as it is rested properly (usually over 2 hours).

At the end of the day, enjoy the process and the delicious results! Afterall, smoking pork on a pellet smoker is meant to be a fun experience! And as always, i cooked my pork on the Traeger Grills Pro 22 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker.

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07/22/2024 11:35 pm GMT

FAQs

Can I Use Any Type of Pellets for Smoking Pork Shoulder?

Yes, you can use various types of wood pellets for smoking pork shoulder, but the choice of pellets can significantly influence the flavor profile of the finished dish. Different woods impart different flavors, so it’s worth experimenting to find your preference. Hickory pellets are popular for their strong, smoky flavor that pairs well with pork. Apple and cherry wood pellets offer a sweeter, more subtle smoke that complements the natural flavors of the meat without overpowering it. Ultimately, the best type of pellets for smoking pork depends on your personal taste preferences.

Conclusion

So there you have it, my recipe and cooking guide for some puller pork on the Traeger. I hope it has been of assistance but as usual, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out by commenting below. I would also love to hear of your own experiences, preferences or suggestions here as well.

Are there any other products you have been looking at but want to know more about? If so, please comment below and I will do my best to get some details for you.

Until next time

Have fun and get smoking!

Paul

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