Easy Traeger Smoked Pork Butt for Pulled Pork in Cider Brine Recipe

Traeger smoked pork butt (often called pork shoulder or Boston Butt as well) is the perfect cut of meat for pulled pork. It is especially delicious when placed in a cider brine for pulled pork which adds acidity, sweetness and acts as insurance against your smoked pork butt drying out.

When you brine it first in a cider solution you also allow the meat to take on lots of extra flavour, and ensure optimal results for Traeger smoked pork butt.

It’s a very straightforward process that is optional but also very useful.

We’re going to smoke our pork butt over apple wood slow and low at 250F until it reaches an internal temperature of 203-205F (95C), at which point it will be tender enough to pull.

You can use a bone-in pork shoulder or a boneless one, but just remember to remove the bone before shredding if it is bone-in. This recipe is for a 6-8 pound pork butt and you may will to adjust a little in terms of brine, rub and time in the smoker if your pork butt is smaller or larger.

The target internal temperature will remain the same of course.

Easy Traeger Smoked Pork Butt for Pulled Pork in Cider Brine Recipe

Cider Brine Recipe

  • 6 Cups Good Quality Apple Cider
  • 1/2 Cup Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3-4 Whole Peeled Cloves of Garlic
  • Optional – bunches of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme

Heat the ingredients through in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved.

Leave to cool or add in a handful of ice cubes.

Put the cooled brine into a large container big enough to hold your pork butt.

Place the pork butt in the container with the cider brine and leave to infuse in the fridge overnight.

Easy Pulled Pork Butt Steps

Preparing Traeger Smoked Pork Butt
Preparing Traeger Pork Butt For Smoking

1 Prepare the Pork for Smoking

  • Remove Excess Fat if Necessary (Or Get Your Butcher to Do this)
  • Remove Pork from the Brine and Pat Dry
  • Slather the Pork Butt all over with Mustard/Butter or Oil to Use as a Binder
  • Cover Liberally all over with BBQ Pork Rub – Meat Church Honey Hog is a Good Option (See Recipe Notes for Homemade Pork Rub)
  • Set Aside to Marinade While You Prepare Your Traeger Smoker

2 Smoke the Pork Butt at 250F

  • Place Apple or Cherry Pellets in Your Traeger
  • Get your Traeger Grill (or whatever BBQ smoker you have) up to 250F
  • If you Have a Super Smoke Setting Use it for Extra Smokiness
  • Let the Grill Burn off With the Lid Open for 10-15 Minutes
  • Place Pork Butt Directly on the Grills and Smoke Until Internal Temp of 160F is reached (around 4-5 hours)
  • Spritz Every Hour or So with Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Wrap the Pork Butt

  • Place Take the Pork Shoulder off the Grills and Place in a Disposable Aluminium Tray
  • Add a Tablespoon of Butter and Cover Tightly with Foil
  • Return to the Grill for Another 3-4 Hours Until the Internal Temp is 203-205F

4 Shred the Pork Butt

  • Rest the Pork in Foil for 15-20 Minutes
  • Pull Apart with a Fork (Remove Bone if Using Bone-In Pork)
  • Serve with your Favourite BBQ Sauce in Buns or On Its Own
Pulling Traeger Smoked Pork Butt
Pulling Smoked Pork Butt

Recipe Notes

If you want to make your own signature Pork rub instead of using one bought from a store, try this one as a guide. You can add a little more chilli if you like heat, a little more sugar if you like sweetness or take them both down a notch to customise your BBQ rub.

Homemade Pork Rub

  • 3 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sweet Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder (or more if you like heat)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder 
  • 1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fine Sea Salt

Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl to combine. Make sure you break up any clumps to give you a smooth rub.

FAQ’S About Traeger Smoked Pork Butt & Brine For Pork Butt

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Pork Shoulder at 225?

As a very general guideline it takes around 2 hours per pound of pork meat to smoke a pork shoulder at 225F (107C).

This means that:

  • A 5 pound pork shoulder takes about 9-10 hours
  • A 10 pound pork shoulder takes 18-20 hours
  • A 12 pound pork shoulder takes 22-24 hours

Smoking times depend on a variety of factors; the size of the meat, how consistently your grills maintain temperature, as well as the environmental conditions outside.

You want to cook your pork shoulder to an internal temperature of 203-204F to make sure it is fork tender.

Is Pork Shoulder the Same as Pork Butt?

Pork shoulder and pork butt are similar cuts of pork that come from the animal’s shoulder, and are often used interchangeably. In reality pork butt comes from the upper part of the shoulder and pork shoulder comes from the lower part. This makes pork butt the fattier and less muscular cut of the two.

How long to smoke a pork butt at 300?

Should you Brine a Pork Butt?

While brining a pork butt isn’t strictly necessary it does offer some advantages when smoking the cut.

  • Brining helps to add moisture to the meat, which can help to prevent it from drying out during smoking. This is especially important for large, tough cuts of meat such as pork butt
  • Brining also helps to improve the flavour of the meat by adding salt and other seasonings, making for a more flavourful and juicy pork butt.
  • Using a brine helps to tenderise the meat making it easier to pull it apart and improving the texture
  • A pork butt brine helps to stop the pork meat becoming tough – the salt in particular helps to break down proteins and collagen in advance of smoking. This can help to reduce smoking time and help bring about a better end result

How Long Should you Brine Pork?

You can brine pork for 2-24 hours. The longer the better – most people brine it overnight for best results. You don’t want to brine it for more than 24 hours as it will be too salty and over-brined.

Do you Rinse Pork After Brine?

It’s best to rinse the brine off the pork so that you can add further flavour to it. Dry rubs and seasonings usually contain salt so you don’t want to overdo it.

Pork Butt Injection

As an alternative to brining a pork butt, you could try a pork butt injection for extra flavour and moisture. This involves using a syringe to inject the pork butt with a injection solution in a few different places throughout the fat cap.

It is an optional step because pork butt already has a lot of fat and flavour as is.

If you would like to try this approach you could use the following injection recipe:

  • 1 cup apple cider (apple juice an work too)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (stock)
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 (8-pound) pork butt, or pork shoulder

Further Helpful Ideas for Pulled Pork Butt

Here is another good recipe for smoked pork butt from Chef Billy Parisi.


You might also enjoy this Instagram video on pulled pork butt with a bourbon, maple and orange glaze.

Smoked Pork Butt Recipe

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