A pork roast tastes best when it has been smoked low and slow in an electric smoker until the meat is fall-apart tender and delicious.
This pork roast is juicy and filled with flavor. Use it to make the perfect pulled pork sandwich topped with your favorite bbq sauce.
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Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Smoking a pork roast on a pellet smoker is a fairly hands-off cooking method. There is minimal prep work and once the roast is on the smoker all you have to do is monitor the temperature.
- Pork roast is easy to customize. Just switch up your chosen spice rub for a new flavor.
- One pork roast can feed a lot of people.
- Smoked pork butt is versatile. Use it to make pulled pork sandwiches, add it to macaroni and cheese, make tacos, or add it to a salad.
- Leftover cooked pork freezes really well making it a great way to have a quick meal later.
What is a Pork Roast Cut?
Pork roast is a pretty general term that can be used for several cuts of pork. In my grocery store, the most common pork roast cut is labeled as pork butt roast. It is also known as a Boston butt or pork shoulder. Despite its name this cut of pork does not come from the butt of the pig.
It comes from the upper shoulder portion of a pig making it a hardworking, fatty tough cut of pork with lots of connective tissue. When smoked low and slow the connective tissue breaks down and the fat melts creating a flavorful tender cut of meat.
Look for a pork roast that is light pink with firm compact muscle. There should be a thick white layer of fat on top. Remember fat equals flavor.
A few years ago we bought a Traeger grill during a Father's Day sale. Initially, I was reluctant to spend the money on a second grill but it has been one of the best purchases we have ever made. Not only does it produce amazing results, but it’s also incredibly easy to operate!
I don't remember the last time we went out for barbeque because we get such great results at home for a fraction of the cost. I know our Traeger grill has already paid for itself with the money we have saved on eating out.
If you just purchased a Traeger grill check out the Trager website for help with getting started along with tips and tricks for getting the most out of your grill during the smoking process.
Looking for more recipes to prepare for your smoker? Try these smoked chicken wings or this smoked meatloaf.
What is the Best Wood for Smoking a Pork Roast?
When smoking a pork roast, choose wood pellets with a complementary flavor. The type of wood chips you choose will affect your pork roast's flavor. Apple or Hickory are my two favorite choices.
- Apple Wood pellets have a subtle sweet fruity flavor that pairs perfectly with pork. There is a reason depictions of a roast pig always have an apple in the pig's mouth. Apple and pork pair beautifully together.
- Hickory pellets produce a stronger smoky flavor and are one of the most popular choices for smoking.
Probe Thermometer: An instant-read probe thermometer is an essential kitchen tool. It's great for monitoring the temperature of your steak. This one from ThermoWorks is my favorite. It is recommended by America's Test Kitchen and is super fast and accurate.
Chef's Knife: A sharp knife is the safest and best way to slice your steak. I purchased this chef's knife from Shun a few years ago as a birthday present to myself. It is a beautiful knife that cuts well and is comfortable to use. Unfortunately, it is a bit pricy.
For a more economical option, I recommend this chef's knife from Victorinox. It is also America's Test Kitchen's top pick.
Enjoy a delicious pork roast with just a few simple steps.
The first step is to trim and remove any fat that is thicker than ¼ inch. If the fat is too thick the smokey flavor won't be able to penetrate into the meat.
Score the roast by slicing the top fat layer in a diagonal pattern. Scoring the fat helps the heat pass through the fat layer and allows the fat to render down into the meat keeping it moist.
Pat the surface of the roast dry with a paper towel. Drying the surface of the roast will help to create a crisp outer crust.
Season the pork roast. Rub the outside of the roast with olive oil and season with your favorite dry rub.
Note: These directions are specifically for a Trager grill because that is what we own. These instructions should work for other brands of smokers but the specifics may vary slightly. If in doubt my best advice is to refer to your owner's manual.
Load wood pellets into the hopper of the smoker. See my suggestions above when selecting the best wood pellets for smoking a pork roast.
Preheat the smoker. On a Traeger grill, open the lid and select the SMOKE setting and let it preheat and smoke for 5-10 minutes. If you have a different smoker, consult your manual for specific directions.
Increase the heat to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the pork roast on the smoker's grill rack with the fat side up. As it smokes the fat will melt basting the meat below.
Smoke the pork roast for 3 hours. Try to limit how often you open the lid of the smoker. Opening the lid too often will increase the smoke time.
Increase the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and move the pork roast to a large aluminum foil pan. Cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Approximately 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of your roast.
Trager grills come with probe thermometers that connect the grill and display the internal temperature of the item you are smoking so that you can monitor its progress without opening the lid.
If you need to purchase a digital thermometer I recommend this thermometer from ThermoWorks.
Remove the pork roast from the smoker and let it rest on the counter loosely tented with aluminum foil for 10 to 20 minutes.
Resting the meat allows the juices to evenly distribute rather than pooling on the plate when you slice it into pieces.
For the most tender slices of pork slice against the grain of the meat.
How to Shred Pork
One of the best and most common uses of smoked pork butt is to make shredded or pulled pork.
Once the pork roast has finished cooking, let it rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 1-2 hours. This allows the juices to redistribute so they don't run out of the meat and all over your cutting board creating dry pork.
Pork is safe to serve as long as the internal temperature doesn't drop below 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Resting the meat also allows it to be cool enough to handle comfortably.
Wait to pull the pork until just before you are ready to serve. This will help to keep it fresh and juicy.
There are several methods for shredding pork. You can use:
Two Forks: Hold one fork in each hand and use them to pull the chunks of pork in opposite directions until it begins to shred. This method can be tedious and take a long time if you are shredding a large quantity of pork.
Meat Claws: This tool looks similar to bear claws. Slip your fingers through the handle on the meat claws and close your hands into fists. Use the claws to pull the pork in opposite directions until it begins to shred.
Pork Puller Drill Attachment: When we smoke a pork roast we actually usually smoke more than one at a time so that we have plenty of leftovers to freeze for future meals. Because of this we always have lots of meat to shred which can be tiring for the hands. We bought this shredding attachment for our drill which always makes quick work of shredding the pork roasts.
To use it we typically place the pork roasts one at a time in a clean 5-gallon bucket that we save for kitchen tasks like shredding meat or brining a turkey. The bucket helps to contain any meat or juices that might splatter out.
Tip: After pulling the pork, sprinkle your favorite bbq rub over the shredded meat. Because pork roasts are so large, the rub and smoke flavor will not penetrate throughout the whole roast. Sprinkling additional rub over the pork will help to flavor every bite.
After smoking and shredding a pork roast we will often mix it with some barbeque sauce and keep it warm in a slow cooker. This is one of our favorite ways to prep for a party.
For a lighter side dish option, I love serving a fresh green salad like this Kale and Apple Salad. The sweetness from the apple pairs beautifully with smokey pork. This Grilled Bok Choy would also make a delicious light side dish.
If you want a traditional BBQ side dish I would suggest the rich and creamy Baked Provel Macaroni and Cheese or this Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad.
Since your smoker is already heated up I would also suggest making one of these two easy-smoked side dishes.
You could also use some of the leftover shredded pork to make these BBQ Pork Potato Skins.
Store leftovers in an airtight container or freezer zip-top bag. Label with the contents and date.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to four months.
To Reheat: Place the pork roast, pork juices, and any sauce in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake in an oven preheated to 250 degrees Fahrenheit until it is heated through. The length of time will vary depending on the size of your leftovers.
Check out my blog post on How to Store and Reheat Pulled Pork for even more information.
- Trimming excess fat from a pork roast is easiest when it is still cold from the refrigerator. A cold pork roast is firmer.
- Cooking the pork roast with the fat cap side up helps create a juicy flavorful roast. As the meat cooks the fat melts and bastes the roast keeping it moist.
- If you are in a hurry you can increase the temperature of the smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit to decrease the cook time.
- To reduce the cooking time even further, remove the pork roast from the refrigerator up to an hour before you plan to cook it. This will allow the temperature of the roast to rise closer to room temperature. Allowing the roast to cook quicker and more evenly.
Frequently Asked Questions
I typically plan on ½ pound of pork per person if it is being served as the main course and about ⅓ pound per person if it is being served alongside other options.
When smoking a pork roast it is more important to pay attention to the internal temperature rather than the length of time it has been cooking.
You will want to monitor the internal temperature with a meat thermometer and remove it from the heat once it reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the roast in foil and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. As the pork roast rests it will continue to cook.
Generally, you should plan to cook a pork roast for 30 to 40 minutes per pound of meat.
The average pork roast should take 2 to 3 hours to reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the size of the roast.
You can but it will be more difficult. Once chilled the fat and collagen within the pork will solidify making it harder to shred the pork.
The most common reason pork is difficult to pull is that it didn't reach a high enough internal temperature. Pork needs to reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit to break down the connective tissue, fat, and collagen making it easy to pull.
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