How to Cook Pulled Pork in an Electric Smoker

Pork Shoulder Getting Smoked for pulled port
Pork shoulder cooks on the grate of a smoker grill. (Image: hrt2hrt/iStock/Getty Images)

Where there's smoke, there's barbecue. Although staunch barbecuing enthusiasts may hail charcoal as the only true method for barbecuing foods such as pulled pork, electric smokers are user-friendly, reasonably priced and reliable, making them an effective choice for home smoking. Although using an electric smoker simplifies this “low and slow” method of cooking, transforming a large pork roast into melt-in-your mouth, flavorful pulled pork takes a bit of finesse. Once you understand the quirks of using an electric smoker, you can create authentic, smoky pulled pork that tastes like it came from your favorite barbecue joint.

Step 1

Rub the pork with your favorite dry rub. You can use a pre-made blend or make your own by combining seasonings such as garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dry mustard, salt and black pepper.

Step 2

Cover the pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate, letting the seasonings marinate for at least 3 to 4 hours. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it warm up a bit at room temperature for roughly one hour before putting it in the smoker.

Step 3

Turn the electric smoker on to preheat it for about 15 minutes before placing 2 chunks of wood between the smoker's elements. Aim to keep the smoker's temperature between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to adjust the vents to increase or decrease the heat.

Step 4

Prepare your mopping sauce while the smoker’s heating up. The mopping sauce can be as simple as apple cider vinegar, or a more complex mixture of apple cider vinegar, fruit juice and red pepper flakes. You’ll also need to add liquid to the water pan. Some examples of the liquids that you can use include plain water or equal parts water and apple cider or juice.

Step 5

Add the pork to the smoker and let it cook for roughly 10 hours, mopping it every hour after the first 2 hours.

Step 6

Maintain the smoke by adding 1 or 2 wood chunks or chips every hour during the first 6 hours of smoking. You might need to refresh the wood chips within 2 to 3 hours after that.

Step 7

Insert an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. A reading of at least 145 F is considered safe, according to the National Pork Board. Typically, the meat needs to reach higher temperatures of 180 F to 190 F to become as tender as you want it to be.

Step 8

Remove the pork from the smoker and let it rest for roughly 15 minutes before you pull or shred it. Toss the pork with your favorite sauce or serve the sauce on the side.

Things You'll Need

  • Seasonings

  • Plastic wrap

  • Wood chunks or chips

  • Mopping sauce

  • Basting brush

  • Instant-read thermometer

Tip

Choose a cut of pork such as picnic shoulder or Boston butt. These cuts are prized for making pulled pork since they both of have plenty of fat and connective tissues, which melt during the long cooking time, leaving you with incredibly tender meat.

Although you can use a single type of wood for smoking pork, creating a blend gives you more depth of flavor. Some wood that works well with pork includes apple, hickory and pecan.

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