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Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork

Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork takes your typical crock-pot version and puts it RIGHT TO SHAME. Like, there’ll always be a place in my heart for a braised pork sandwich, but there is no pulled pork like a smoked pulled pork, and doing it at home is definitely the way to go when you are feeding a crowd.

Traeger Smoked Pulled Pork

When most people list their favorite smoked dishes, you’d better bet that a great pulled pork sandwich is near the top of the list.

There’s something pretty magical about pork butts that are smoked for the better part of a day until they are so tender that the bone just falls right out of the meat when you grab it.

It is also really easy to do. It takes a while, sure, but with my fool-proof method you’ll both be able to eat at a normal hour, but you also won’t have to smoke overnight, either.

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Traeger Pulled Pork

Smoked Pulled Pork Shopping List

Wondering if you have to hit the store? Here’s the list of items you’ll need to make this recipe. For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • bone-in pork shoulder (aka pork butt)
  • your favorite bbq rub
  • your favorite bbq sauce
  • hard apple cider (or apple juice or beer)

More Easy Traeger Recipes here!

How to make Traeger Pulled Pork

This is just the overview so you can see what you’re actually getting into here. When you are cooking, you’ll want to use the full recipe at the bottom of the page.


Rub it

Don’t skimp on the rub, here. Give it a thorough coating. Some people like to use a binder like mustard for the rub, and I’ve done that quite a few times with great success. It is optional, and I never have issues with my rub sticking to the pork.


Smoke it

On the smoker the pork butt goes. Don’t let it run out of pellets, and flip it over once or twice during the 10-12 hours it is on the smoker.


Slow cook

Pull the pork off the grill and place it into a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or a high-sided casserole dish. Throw in some hard apple cider along with your favorite BBQ sauce, and cover. Cook overnight and shred in the morning, removing the bone and any gross bits you come across.



Pile it up on some buns, top with coleslaw if that’s your thing, and chow!

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Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwiches

How long does Pulled Pork take to cook?

Smoked Pulled Pork requires one major thing – patience. With my method, you’ll be smoking the pork butt for 10-12 hours over the corse of an entire day. Then it gets tossed into the slow cooker or Instant Pot on slow cook mode overnight with some barbecue sauce and a bottle of hard apple cider.

In the morning, you can pull the bones out and shred the roast and season with some more rub before letting it ride until it is time to eat.

Good luck waiting all the way until dinner, though.

If you don’t have a slow cooker or pellet grill you can also place the pork butts into an oven-safe high-sided baking dish, add the liquids and then cover tightly with foil. Place that into a 200° oven or grill.

Traeger Pulled Pork

How do you tell when your Pulled Pork is done?

With most meats you really need a good thermometer to check internal temperature. That’s still a tool that will be very helpful with pulled pork, but it isn’t actually essential here. You can just poke it or go at it with a fork. If it shreds easily, it’s done. If not, keep on cookin’!

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What if your pulled pork isn’t tender and/or flavorful enough?

Sometimes, in the Facebook groups, I sometimes see complaints about people making pulled pork being using various recipes from across the web and the end result being “bland” or “tough”. Here’s what I tell them to fix that problem. 

  1. More salt 
    There’s SO MUCH meat there, and people don’t put nearly enough salt in the rub to account for it.
  2. Don’t wrap it, douse it in liquid and then cover it
    Instead of wrapping in foil, stick it in a roaster or disposable foil grill pan and throw in some liquid and cover it tightly. I like to use hard apple cider or beer. A lot of people use apple juice.
  3. Cook until it is tender and shreddable
    For pulled pork I cook it until it shreds easily. Sometimes that is right at 205, sometimes not. Kind of like brisket, start poking around in it and if there’s tough resistance anywhere it probably isn’t done.
  4. Re-season it once it is shredded
    You have to season it again after you shred it. It is a whole piece of meat, and that dry rub doesn’t penetrate all the way inside of it. Sprinkle your favorite rub on the shredded meat. This is also the reason why a lot of people mix IN some bbq sauce to the shredded meat before serving.
  5. Give it a final hit of smoke at the end
    Forgot one. The last thing I like to do with my shredded pulled pork is sauce it and throw it BACK on the smoker for like 20ish minutes on smoke right before serving.
Traeger Pulled Pork

What should I serve with pulled pork?

You should serve this with my favorite rolls, OWYD coleslaw, and one of my awesome pasta salads!

I’m also a huge fan of serving a big casserole dish of Smoked Mac and Cheese with this too. Go big or go home, right?

More recipes to love

Smoked Pork Butt
Yield: 12 servings

Traeger Pulled Pork

Traeger Pulled Pork

This Traeger Pulled Pork takes a while to get on the table, but the long cook is mostly hands-off and totally worth it. This one needs to be started the day BEFORE you want to eat!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Smoke Time 12 hours
Slow Cook time 12 hours
Total Time 1 day 15 minutes


  • 6 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • copious amounts of BBQ Rub
  • 3 cups dry hard apple cider
  • 1 - 8 ounce bottle barbecue sauce


  1. Fire up your pellet grill according to manufacturer instructions. Place the grill on "smoke", or turn to 220° if your grill doesn't have a "smoke" mode.
  2. Liberally rub the bbq rub into the outside of the shoulder on all sides. Place the shoulder on the grill grates and smoke for 10-12 hours. Make sure to stir your pellets every hour or so to make sure they don't tunnel.
  3. Remove the pork shoulder to a slow cooker, foil pan, or Instant Pot. Pour in a bottle or can of hard cider and then pour your favorite barbecue sauce over the top too. Don't be shy!
  4. Slow cook overnight. In the morning, pull the bones out of the roast and shred, removing any unappetizing bits as you shred things.
  5. Add in some more Everything Rub and serve with buns.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 723Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 204mgSodium: 351mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 53g

Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate.

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Nicole Johnson

Nicole Johnson, a self-taught expert in grilling and outdoor cooking, launched Or Whatever You Do in 2010. Her blog, renowned for its comprehensive and creative outdoor cooking recipes, has garnered a vast audience of millions. Nicole's hands-on experience and passion for grilling shine through her work. Her husband, Jeremiah Johnson, also plays a pivotal role in recipe development, adding his culinary flair to the mix. Together, they form a dynamic duo, offering a rich and varied outdoor cooking experience to their followers.


Friday 27th of May 2022

Hello and thank you for this recipe, I am going to use it for my husband’s 65 birthday next month. I have 2 questions, first can you recommend an additional liquid with the apple juice besides bbq sauce. We have a byobbq. Policy here because everyone has a favorite. Some like very spicy some like sweet. Would there be enough flavor and juice not adding bbq sauce in the oven/ crockpot phase? Also do you think this method would also work for a brisket? Thank you so much

Nicole Johnson

Friday 27th of May 2022

I think for this one you should pick a relatively neutral vinegar-based bbq sauce and still use it, and then let people BYO for the final serving sauce after the pork butt is shredded. They'll still be able to customize the flavor that way. But if you realllllly don't want to, you can skip the bbq sauce. I'd probably add some extra bbq rub though during that phase.

This method would probably work well for a brisket, but most people wrap their briskets in butcher paper to get that traditional smoked brisket end result, as opposed to outright braising it in a covered pan. That being said, braised brisket has been a thing for a very long time to much fanfare, so a hybrid bbq/braised brisket would probably be good eats! If you try it, let me know how it goes!


Saturday 15th of January 2022

Hi Nicole ! I’m planning on smoking the shoulder tomorrow and then putting in the slow cooker over night… so do I pull the meat off the traeger when it hits 205 and then put it in the slow cooker on low for the night ? Is there a danger of over cooking it or it becoming too dry in the slow cooker over night ? Or do you recommend a different temperature to pull it off smoker ? Thanks !!

Nicole Johnson

Saturday 15th of January 2022

Hi Peter! When I do pork shoulder this way, I don't tend to worry about temps too much. I just try and smoke it for at least 8 hours before it goes into the slow cooker, and make sure to give the slow cooker at least as much time to do its magic. The slow cooker isn't going to overcook it, and it won't dry out either. Just make sure to put it in the crock with the beer and bbq sauce, or some kind of liquid. Usually I'll smoke from like 1pm - 10pm, crock pot with beer or hard cider and bbq sauce from 10pm - 10am, and then shred the meat and pick out all the ugly bits that no one wants to bite into. Then I mix some of that braising liquid back into the meat and keep it on low in the slow cooker until it is time to eat. Have never had a shreddable roast come off the bbq after only 8 hours personally, but we buy big roast (big family = lots of meat). If you get a really small roast, I would probably keep a closer eye during the smoke stage, but it is pretty hard to overcook a pork shoulder running on lower temps.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

James Adams

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

Hi Nicole, I see you're still looking at these so I figured I'd post. Your original post was a while back. That one guy up above that said it took 25 hours to do a 9 lb roast - I can't imagine that long of time. I did an 8 pounder the other day on my pellet smoker. Like you said started out on the smoke or 180 to 200 for a few hours to get a good smoke. I then put it up to 275 to get internals to 160. After 160 I wrapped it in butcher paper and put it in the oven at 275 to finish it off. Didn't want to keep the pellet smoker going that long! It took a few hours then I had to take it out and it was late so I put it in the fridge. Got it out the next day had a warm it back up again so I could pull it. I totally love your idea of putting it in the crock-pot! The next time I'll def do that. I'll do an all day smoke to get it up to Temp and then put it in the crock pot overnight. Thanks for the idea!

Nicole Johnson

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

Hi James! I sure am. I always read the comments. I agree, 25 hours seems like a really long time for that size roast, but I guess stranger things have happened! Personally, I LOVE the crock-pot method after a LONG day of smoking. Seems like the best of all the worlds, to me. Thanks for visiting and for sharing your experiences!


Monday 20th of September 2021

Cooked a 3.5 lb butt this weekend. 12 hours at 180 on the Traeger with chipotle/garlic rub and 10 hours in the crockpot with apple juice and spicy sweet bbq sauce. AMAZING! Thank you again, Nicole!


Saturday 18th of September 2021

I didn't see my first attempt go thru. Anyway, just saying I've never had a need to use anything other than the smoker to do a butt. If I see it's not getting to temp after 5-6 hrs I turn it up to 225-250. I'm talking 3-5 lb butt. I've had butts in the 8-10 range stall and I've wrapped them in foil and towels and placed them in an insulated, lunch box-sized ice chest overnight. Meat is a great heat sink and you won't have to worry about your meat lowering to danger levels as long as it's over 160 when you put it in. It'll be falling apart in the morning. Shred it and keep it warm, over 140, until your ready to eat it.

Nicole Johnson

Saturday 18th of September 2021

Your first attempt went through just fine, and I replied. It should show just above this comment. Thanks, Jeff!

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