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Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos

Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos – Fall-apart tender, sweet, spicy, and savory meat that melts in your mouth, served on some lightly charred tortillas. These make some carnitas-style tacos that everyone will love. My mouth waters just thinking about it. 🤤

Authentic pulled pork tacos wit hot sauce.

These drool-worthy tacos will transport you to a Mexican taco stand because they’re incredibly authentic. Boasting the perfect combination of tender, savory, and crispy, plus spicy chiles and herby goodness. Your guests will be raving about these guys for years to come.

The most time-consuming part of this recipe (smoking the pork) is almost entirely hands-off. And when it’s ready, the tacos are just a matter of heating up those tortillas and dicing up the toppings. Plus, that whole pork butt will give you dozens of tacos, meaning you get plenty of food for the price.

Smoked pulled pork tacos topped with jalapenos for a real treat

How to Make Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos Taste Authentic

If you want authentic tacos, this recipe’s got you covered! Getting that classic Mexican flavor comes down to your toppings. In a traditional taqueria, you get small corn tortillas, meat, and finely chopped raw onions mixed with cilantro.

Then top it off with an amazing spicy salsa verde or roja. I like to customize my tacos a little, and you can do the same. Pickled red onions, sliced jalapenos, avocado, and pico de gallo. So good!

Recipe Ingredients

What you need for this recipe
  • Pulled Pork – I recommend getting a bone-in skinless pork shoulder or pork butt, around 8–12 pounds, for this recipe. The bone-in pork shoulder adds a lot of flavor. And pulled pork is so versatile you can use it for sandwiches or burritos.
  • Corn Tortillas – What’s a taco without a tortilla? However, you can use a flour tortilla or make a deconstructed taco for a paleo-friendly meal.
  • Toppings – Onions, cilantro, avocadoes, pico de gallo, jalapenos, and, of course, your favorite hot sauce kick an ordinary taco into the realm of amazing.

How to Make Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos

Make the rub, season the meat, and put it in the smoker

Season

  1. Make the Rub – In a medium-sized bowl, combine pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, brown sugar, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin until fully combined. Set aside.
  2. Prep Pork – Place your pork shoulder on a large cutting board, fat side up. Trim it as needed, and pat it dry with paper towels.
  3. Season – Salt the pork and then apply the rub, pressing it down as you season until every inch is covered with seasoning.
  4. Chill – Place it in an aluminum foil-lined pan and let it rest for an hour tightly covered in the fridge (or up to 24 hours).
  5. Get Ready – Remove the pork from the fridge about an hour before smoking.
Add pineapple juice, hot sauce, and onions, cover well, and slow cook for the finale

Smoke

  1. Preheat the pellet grill or smoker to 250°F/122°C.
  2. Add Pork – Place pork fat side up directly on the grill grates, and insert a probe into the pork roast’s thickest part to monitor the temperature. Another option is to measure doneness toward the end instead. 
  3. Smokin’ Time – Let it smoke for 5–6 hours, depending on the size of your roast. By that point, the pork should have a good bark to it. Spritz occasionally, if desired, and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 165-175°F.
  4. Final Stretch – Next, place the pork fat side up in an aluminum foil-lined pan, and then add ½ cup pineapple sauce, hot sauce, more pork rub, and sliced onions. This method captures fat and juices, which can be used to flavor the pork.
  5. Slow Cook – Tightly cover the pork with heavy-duty aluminum foil and put it back in the smoker. Continue smoking until the internal temperature reaches 205°F/97°C or more. You will not feel any resistance when you probe with your instant-read thermometer when the meat is fully cooked.
Heat the corn tortillas, add the meat and toppings, and enjoy

Rest and Assemble

  1. Rest – Remove the pork shoulder from the smoker and put it on the countertop to rest for one hour. If you’re not going to serve it for a while, place it in a cooler (without ice) for up to 3–4 hours to rest before shredding.
  2. Drain – Finally, drain the liquid from the pork and use a separator to separate the fat from the juice. Use the juice to mix with the pork before serving.
  3. Adjust Seasonings – Give it a final taste test and add more seasonings as needed.
  4. Assembly – Heat the tacos, and add a couple of spoonfuls of meat and the toppings. Serve immediately. (Photos 1-2)
Mouthwatering pulled pork tacos with hot sauce for the win

Recipe Variations

  • Try burritos instead of tacos. Wrap the meat in large flour tortillas filled with cooked rice, beans, and any other burrito fillings you love.🌯
  • Did someone say nachos? This meat is also perfect atop a big old share-worthy tray of nachos. Tastes delish.✅Super fun. ✅
  • Another way I love to repurpose this smoked pulled pork is to serve it over rice with a hefty scoop of pineapple salsa. This is insanely delish, and you can use your tortillas as a side too! 

 Tips and Tricks

  • Pork has a thick fat layer covering it, which can vary in thickness. When trimming the pork, leave a thin layer of fat (⅛-¼ inch thick) on the outside to help protect it from drying out as it cooks.
  • For easy shredding, use two forks or a pair of meat claws. It will be super easy since this meat pretty much falls apart on its own after smoking. 
  • When warming up your tortillas, don’t be afraid to let them char a little. It will give them a crisp texture that is ridiculously tasty. When working in batches, stack heated tortillas and wrap them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm until you’re ready to serve. 

Make-Ahead Instructions

This smoked pulled pork is great for making ahead. Simply shred and refrigerate it for 3-5 days or freeze it for 2-3 months.

When you’re ready to reheat it, put it in a cast-iron skillet on the stove and heat over medium-high heat until it’s warmed through and the edges crisp a little. Then proceed to assemble your tacos. Yum! 😋

Serving and Storage Instructions

After it’s rested, you can serve smoked pulled pork right away. It’ll still be nice and warm, super juicy, and flavorful. Place the meat on toasted tortillas and set out a buffet of toppings for your guests to load up their tacos to their heart’s content.

Store leftover smoked pulled pork will last properly stored in the fridge for 3–5 days, separate from the tortillas and other toppings. Repurpose it for more tacos, sandwiches, or burritos.

FAQs

Is smoked pulled pork the same as carnitas?

Not exactly. Carnitas is the Mexican way of making pulled pork, but it isn’t usually smoked. It’s slow-cooked until the meat falls apart and can be easily shredded. The seasonings may be slightly different, too.

How do you keep pulled pork moist when smoking?

Occasionally spritzing the meat is a good way to keep it moist, but the last steps in this recipe – where we wrap the meat in aluminum foil with pineapple juice – will keep it nice and moist during the last cooking phase. You might not even need to spritz! 😅

Can I make smoked pulled pork tacos if I don’t have a smoker?

Absolutely! Do you have a grill? You can throw your damp wood chips right on the hot charcoal. Then put your meat in there once they start smoking and close the grill. It’s not ideal, but it works. Or you can take the shortcut by slowly roasting it in the oven and adding a little liquid smoke. I won’t tell. 😉

What Goes With Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos

Serve smoked pulled pork tacos with fresh sides like coleslaw or pineapple cucumber saladPico de gallo also makes for a delicious topping. 

Make sure you have some fun, refreshing drinks to serve with these tacos too. I love to have sorrel on hand, along with some mango margaritas, for anyone craving an adult beverage.🍹

More Savory Meaty Recipes to Try

  1. Grilled Ribeye
  2. Smoked Turkey Wings
  3. Pellet Grill Tri-Tip
  4. Smoked Flank Steak
  5. Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs

Conclusion

Smoking pork shoulder is one of my favorite things to do with my smoker because the results are so flavorful! And these tacos are always a crowd-pleaser. Would you like to share this recipe? Pin it and share the love. 😍

Mouthwatering pulled pork tacos with hot sauce for the win

Smoked Pulled Pork Tacos

Fall-apart tender, sweet, spicy, and savory meat that melts in your mouth, served on some lightly charred tortillas. These make some carnitas-style tacos that everyone will love. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pulled pork, smoked, tacos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 421kcal
Author: imma

Ingredients

Smoked Pork

  • 1 8-12 pound (3.6-5.5k) pork butt or shoulder, bone-in and skinless (see notes)
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon (7g) ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (5g) garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons (2g) dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons (2g) dried oregano
  • ¼ cup (53g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) chili powder
  • ½-1 teaspoon (1-2g) cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (12g) smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon (10g) cumin
  • ½ cup (120ml) pineapple juice (or broth)
  • 3 tablespoon (45ml) hot sauce (or more)
  • ½ medium onion, sliced

Taco Ingredients

  • 2 packs corn tortillas
  • 1 medium onion (pickled onions are also good)
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • 1 large jalapeno, sliced (deseeded if desired)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Salsa or hot sauce of choice

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, combine pepper, garlic and onion powder, thyme, oregano, brown sugar, chili, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin until fully combined. Set aside.
  • Place your pork shoulder on a large cutting board, fat cap side up. Pork has a thick fat layer covering it, which can vary in thickness. When trimming the pork, make sure to have a thin layer of fat (⅛-¼ inch thick) on the outside to protect the pork as it cooks. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Salt pork and rub it with seasonings, pressing them down until every inch is covered.
  • Place in an aluminum foil pan and let it rest for an hour (up to 24 hours), tightly covered in the refrigerator. Remove pork from the fridge about an hour before smoking to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat your pellet grill or smoker to 250℉/120℃. Place pork fat side up directly on grill grates, and insert a probe in the thickest part of the pork to monitor the temperature if desired. You can also start measuring for doneness towards the end.
  • Let it smoke for 5-6 hours, depending on the size of the roast. At this point, the pork should have a good bark. Spritz if desired, and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 165-175℉.
  • Place pork (fat side up) in an aluminum foil pan, then add pineapple sauce, hot sauce, and sliced onions. This method captures the meat's fat and juices and can flavor the pork without using BBQ sauce.
  • Tightly cover it with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and put it back in the smoker to continue smoking until the internal temperature reaches 205℉/96℃ or more. You shouldn't feel resistance when you probe with your instant-read thermometer.
  • Remove from the smoker and let it rest for at least an hour. If needed, place the pork shoulder in a cooler, without ice, for up to 3-4 hours to rest before shredding. Drain liquid from the pork and separate the fat from the juice with a separator. Use the juice to mix with the pork before serving.
  • Shred pork and season to taste.
  • Heat your corn tortillas on the grill or cast-iron skillet. Fill each one with a spoonful of pulled pork and fill it with your choice of toppings. Enjoy

Notes

  • You’ll have way more pulled pork than you need for this recipe. You can freeze the leftovers for sandwiches or burritos later.
  • Pork has a thick fat layer covering it, which can vary in thickness. When trimming the pork, leave a thin layer of fat (⅛-¼ inch thick) on the outside to help protect it from drying out as it cooks.
  • For easy shredding, use two forks or a pair of meat claws. It will be super easy since this meat pretty much falls apart on its own after smoking. When warming up your tortillas, don’t be afraid to let them char a little. It will give them a crisp texture that is ridiculously tasty. When working in batches, stack heated tortillas and wrap them with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm until you’re ready to serve. 
  • Please remember that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 100g | Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 381mg | Potassium: 844mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 446IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 4mg

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