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Traeger Pork Shoulder

Our Traeger pork shoulder recipe creates a delicious smoked pork shoulder with a deep flavor and dark, crisp bark on the crust. The pork butt is infused with a citrus marinade which helps gives the meat an incredible flavor!

This simple smoked pork recipe is the best way to make a pork shoulder in a Traeger smoker (or any pellet grill), and the recipe is incredibly easy, too!

A fork pulling shreds off a smoked pork shoulder.

If you’re looking for the very best pulled pork, this is it.

Tender, juicy and smoky with great flavor, this meat is perfect for pulled pork sliders, tacos, soups, etc.!

There are so many different ways to enjoy smoked pulled pork. We especially love it in our Chipotle pulled pork tamale pie and spicy pulled pork empanadas.

This recipe will be a huge hit for a large gathering, summertime barbecues, or even for weekly meal prep since you’ll be left with a lot of tender meat for later uses.

Why this Recipe Works

Our Traeger pork shoulder recipe is slow cooking at its finest. Keeping a very low temperature on your Traeger grill gives the pork shoulder a deep, smoky flavor. It also helps maintain a constant and accurate temperature.

Pork shoulder, also known as a pork roast, Boston butt, and pork butt, is a rather inexpensive cut of meat that is best prepared with a low and slow cook time so the connective tissues break down and the meat gets nice and tender.

What’s great about this Traeger pulled pork recipe is that it will give you incredible results (better than a restaurant!), yet it’s an easy one for the home chef and smoked meats novice.

It is:

  • super delicious with incredibly flavorful meat (thanks to a citrus marinade and a long and low smoking time)
  • extra moist and tender
  • easy to prepare
  • a great choice for any kind of gathering
  • a pellet grill makes it easy to control the temperature and smoke

Whether this is your first time making Traeger pulled pork or you’re already a pro, this smoked pork butt recipe won’t disappoint! By the way, this recipe works with any pellet grill or even an offset smoker.

Shredding pulled pork to show the smoke ring.

Ingredients for Traeger Pork Shoulder

The ingredient list is a basic one!

To start, you’ll need to make a citrus marinade. And when it’s time to slide that pork roast into your Traeger pellet grill, you’ll first prep it with a flavorful mix of mustard and a smoked chipotle dry rub.

Here are the simple ingredients you’ll need to make the best Traeger smoked pork shoulder:

  • Orange juice and lemon juice: The base of our fresh citrus marinade!
  • Brown sugar: This lends a subtly sweet flavor to the marinade that goes great with pork and citrus.
  • Worcestershire sauce: For a nice umami flavor.
  • Olive oil: This will round out your marinade and help infuse flavor into the pork butt.
  • Salt: Every good meat marinade needs it!
  • Tabasco sauce: Just a few dashes of this hot sauce will give the pork a tasty flavor and a little bit of heat.
  • Bone-in pork shoulder: Choose a 8-10 pound pork shoulder. Make sure you’re not using a boneless pork shoulder otherwise it will affect the smoking time.
  • Yellow mustard: You’ll rub this all over the pork shoulder before smoking.
  • Dry rub: We like this Smoked Chipotle Mezcal from Spiceology (affiliate link), but just about any rub will work. You can even mix up your own blends like our Santa Maria rub or sumac spice rub.

A Flavorful Traeger Pork Shoulder Recipe

We’ll briefly walk you through the steps of preparing this Traeger pork shoulder below. But to check out the full recipe with all of the ingredient amounts and instructions, scroll to the bottom of the page for the printable recipe card.

Here’s how to make pork butt in the Traeger:

Injecting a pork shoulder with marinade.

Combine the marinade ingredients, trim the pork shoulder and inject the marinade in several places. Discard any marinade that leaks out. 

Slathering mustard on a pork shoulder.

Pat the pork dry with paper towels and slather it with mustard. (If you don’t dry it first, the mustard won’t stick).

Pro Tip: Place the pork shoulder on a large rimmed baking sheet to collect the marinade if some of it leaks out. 

Covering a pork roast in dry rub.

Coat the pork with a dry rub, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You can go straight to the smoker if you are in a hurry but if you have time, let it sit in all the flavors from the marinade, mustard, and dry rub. 

Smoking pork shoulder on a grill.

Place the pork shoulder on a pre-heated grill grate and stick a meat probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Make sure the probe does not touch the bone. 

Wrapping pork shoulder in butcher's paper.

Optional step: Eventually, the internal temperature will reach a stall, and it feels like you will never finish the smoke for pulled pork. If you want to push it through the stall faster, wrap it in either butcher paper or aluminum foil.

A pork shoulder wrapped in butchers paper on the grill.

If you wrap the meat, place it back on the grill and stick the thermometer probe back in.

Wrapping the roast will insulate it and help push the temperature up faster. If you choose not to wrap the pork, the stall can last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours.

Dealing with the Stall

About four to six hours into the smoking time, the pork shoulder will hit a stall, and it may appear like the internal temperature has stopped climbing.

This stall is completely normal, but it can sometimes last so long that you might start wondering if your Traeger pellet smoker or your meat thermometer has stopped working.

You have a few options for dealing with the stall. You can wait it out and let the meat continue cooking (it will eventually finish!). Or, you can wrap the pork shoulder in pink butcher paper or aluminum foil.

Aluminum foil will insulate the meat and bring the temperature up quickly, but it will also block out most of the smoky flavor (and isn’t that the main reason why we love Traeger pulled pork?!).

If you can’t wait out the stall, we recommend wrapping the pork shoulder in pink butcher paper. The paper helps to insulate the meat and brings it out of the stall, but it also lets that smoke flavor come through. Butcher paper will also help keep a nice and flavorful bark on the outside of the pork roast.

But the very best way to go? Be patient and wait out the stall! This will give you a Traeger smoked pork shoulder with the most flavor and the best crusty bark coating.

A smoked pork shoulder with a dark bark.

Tips for the Best Results

  • You can use your favorite dry rub, but we love this Smoked Chipotle Mezcal from Spiceology (affiliate link). It has a peppery, citrus-y flavor thanks to a blend of garlic powder, chipotle chili powder and lime. Other flavorful and easy homemade spice rub options are our Santa Maria tri-tip rub and our BBQ seasoning.
  • If you want Traeger pulled pork (shredded meat), cook the pork shoulder until the internal temperature reaches 200°F to 205°F. If you want to slice the pork, you only need to cook it until it reaches an internal temp of 175°F.
  • Make sure that you base the finished pork shoulder on the internal temperature and not the estimated cook time. The cook time will vary based on the size of the pork butt, but you can make a rough estimate based on the following:
    • For pulled pork (cook to an internal temp of 200°F), estimate 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours per pound.
    • For sliced pork (cook to an internal temperature of 175°F), estimate about 45 minutes to 1 hour per pound.
    • If you increase the temperature on your Traeger to 275°F, the pork shoulder should only take about 1-1/2 hours per pound.
  • When the smoked pork shoulder is done and if you want pulled pork, use a fork or a pork shredding tool like meat claws to pull apart the meat. If you find large chunks of cartilage or fat in the smoked pork roast, toss them out.
  • If the pork finishes cooking before you are ready to serve it, an insulated cooler will keep it warm for several hours. 
  • When the meat is done, remove it from the smoker and cover it in aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for at least an hour at room temperature.
A fork pulling shreds off a smoked pork shoulder.

This Traeger pork shoulder recipe makes the best pulled pork! It’s juicy and tender and shreds up perfectly. The end result is BIG flavor that is sure to be a big hit.

Helpful Tools

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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Baked beans go perfectly with Traeger pulled pork! Serve up a hefty scoop of homemade baked beans for your next picnic or summer cookout. These beans are packed with flavor and cook up nice and tender. A mix of molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and aromatics make this dish the best of comfort food.

No picnic is complete without a slice of our buttery cornbread! Each bite is tender, rich, and buttery and this simple recipe comes together in just a few minutes.

Looking for more Traeger recipes? Try out this Traeger smoked sea bass! The fish turns out deliciously smoky and flaky, and it’s served with a light and refreshing lemon sauce that adds a vibrant finish.

Showing the smoke ring on a smoked pork shoulder.

Traeger Pork Shoulder

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 hours
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 19 hours 20 minutes

A citrus marinade gets injected into the pork shoulder and gives the meat a delicious flavor.

Keeping a low temperature on the Traeger grill lets the pork shoulder develop a deep smoky flavor and delicious, dark bark on the crust. The pellet grill makes it easy to maintain a constant and accurate temperature.

If you hit a long stall, you can wrap the meat to speed up the smoking time and bring it out of the stall quicker. If you are patient and have the time, skip the wrap and let it come out of the stall on its own.

Ingredients

Injection Marinade

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 5 dashes of Tabasco sauce

For the Pork Shoulder

Instructions

Prep the Pork Shoulder

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 
  2. Trim the excess fat from the pork shoulder. Leave about 1/4 inch of fat on the pork (a thicker layer of fat will not render down). 
  3. Place the pork in a dish or rimmed baking sheet to contain the juices when you inject the marinade. Load a meat injector with the marinade and inject the pork shoulder in several places. Discard any of the marinade that leaks out. 
  4. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Smear the mustard all over the surface of the meat then coat it with a dry rub. 
  5. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours. 

Smoke the Pork Shoulder

  1. Preheat the Traeger to 225°F.
  2. Place the pork shoulder directly on the grill rack, fatty side up. Place a meat probe thermometer in the meat and close the grill. 
  3. Smoke the pork shoulder until it reaches an internal temperature of 200°F to 205°F (this should take about 15 to 20 hours if you keep the Traeger set at 225°F). 

Dealing with the Stall

  1. Approximately four to six hours into the smoking time, the pork shoulder will hit a stall and it will look like the temperature stopped climbing. The stall is normal. Sometimes it lasts so long that you might start to think your grill or meat thermometer stopped working.
  2. When the pork gets to the stall point, you can either wait it out, or push it out of the stall a bit faster by wrapping it in pink paper or aluminum foil. 
  3. Aluminum foil will insulate the meat and bring the temperature up quicker but it will block out most of the smoke flavor. Our choice is to use pink butcher's paper or simply wait it out. The paper will help insulate the meat and bring it out of the stall while still letting in some smoke flavor. Paper will also help keep a flavorful bark on the meat.
  4. Patiently waiting out the stall will give the pork shoulder the most flavor and the best crusty bark coating.

Finishing the Pork Shoulder

  1. When the pork shoulder reaches 200°F to 205°F, remove it from the smoker, cover it in aluminum foil, and let it rest for at least an hour. You can place it in an insulated cooler to keep it warm. 
  2. When you are ready to serve the pork, use a fork or a pork shredding tool like bear claws to pull the meat. If you find large chunks of cartilage or fat, toss them out. 

Notes

  • You can use any storebought rub or make your own. Our tri-tip rub and our BBQ seasoning are easy to make. For this recipe, we used Spiceology Smoked Chipotle Mezcal.
  • If you want pulled pork (shredded meat), cook the pork shoulder to an internal temperature of 200°F to 205°F. If you want to slice the pork, you only need to cook it to an internal temperature of 175°F.
  • Base the finished pork shoulder on the internal temperature and not the estimated cook time. The cook time will vary but you can make a rough estimate based on the following: 
  • For pulled pork (cooked to an internal temperature of 200°F) estimate 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours per pound.
  • For sliced pork (cooked to an internal temperature of 175°F) estimate 45 minutes to 1 hour per pound. 
  • If you increase the temperature on the Traeger to 275°F, the pork shoulder should only take about 1-1/2 hours per pound to reach an internal temperature of 200°F.
  • The internal temperature will hit a stall somewhere between 145°F and 160°F. The length of time the meat stays in the ‘stall’ varies with every cook. Wrapping the meat in foil or butcher's paper will help push it through the stall and get the internal temperature to start rising again. 
  • Wrapping the meat in foil will help increase the temperature faster. Wrapping the meat in paper will help the meat keep that crunchy bark layer. The paper wrap will also let the meat continue to infuse with smoke flavor. 
  • If the pork finishes cooking before you are ready to serve it, an insulated cooler will keep it warm for several hours. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 63Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 341mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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angiesrecipes

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

The pork looks literally melt-in-mouth and to die for, Dahn. angiesrecipes

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

This looks really terrific! Such a nice, thorough, complete recipe -- really good. And this looks really delish! Thanks.

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 24th of August 2022

Thanks John

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