This smoked pork picnic roast is incredible. Learn how to smoke a perfect picnic roast using your own rub to take it to the next level.

How did we end up with a Traeger smoker?

You are watching: How To Cook Smoked Pork Shoulder Picnic Roast

Because, somehow, even though we don’t have “real” TV, I found a cooking show on Netflix talking about smoking meat and then we fell into a rabbit hole, people.


Once you’re in that spiralling funnel of convincing yourself you need something it’s hard to get out.

I am here today to report we are VERY glad we didn’t snap ourselves out of buying a smoker when we have a “perfectly good propane grill”.

This smoked pork picnic recipe is dedicated to smokin’.

Smoked Pork rub ingredients in a stainless steel bowl.

Jump to:

  • Tips + Tricks
  • What Is A Pork Picnic?
  • Smoking Time
  • What’s up with the water pan?
  • A cooler? Really?
  • Why does my meat need to rest?
  • Smoked pork internal temperature
  • What about the rub?
  • Got Leftovers?
  • Store and freeze
  • Recommended Tools:
  • Love your smoker? Try these!
  • 📖 Printable Recipe
  • Pin this smoked pork picnic recipe

Tips + Tricks

No. 1 -> Use a rimmed baking sheet when you’re applying the mustard and the rub! This keeps in any and all juices and greatly reduces the amount of rub you’ll be wiping off your counters for the next 3 days. I’ve determined that rub is the glitter of the culinary world.

No. 2 -> Disposable tin foil pans are some of my favourite accessories for our Traeger. Disposable doesn’t mean one use only – especially if I’m using them for the steam bowl. I just wash out and reuse over and over.

No. 3 -> Shred or slice, that’s up to you! This smoked pork shoulder picnic recipe is great either way. If you want to make shredding a breeze, get some of these awesome meat claws.

No. 5 -> Start your roast early. The rule of thumb is 90 minutes per pound plus a 1-hour rest. We prefer to get the smoked pork roast on the smoker and have the estimated time of doneness to be at least 2-3 hours before we plan on eating. Don’t worry, it will stay hot till serving time.

No. 6 -> I used smoked kosher salt, from my recipe. You can certainly use any kosher salt you like, but the smoked salt is TOP notch.

A raw pork roast sitting on a rimmed baking sheet with rub sprinkled on it.

What Is A Pork Picnic?

Read more: Indian dinner recipes (Vegetarian dinner recipes) | Guide to the Kitchen – Coral

The roast that I used for this recipe was a pork picnic roast. Pork picnic is a part of the pig’s front shoulder. While pigs walk on all 4 legs and technically have 4 shoulders, the rear shoulders made into ham.

A pig’s front shoulder is actually two different cuts. The top half is the pork butt, or pork shoulder. While the lower portion is a pork shoulder picnic roast.

Pork picnic is usually smaller in size, but we’ve found they are more flavourful meat, even though the picnic roast can have less fat and marbling.

This recipe would work as both a pork butt and a pork picnic recipe, but I do have a dedicated smoked pork butt recipe.

Roasted pork picnic on peach butcher paper.

Smoking Time

It’s really hard to estimate smoking times, as each piece of meat is different. Although the rule of thumb is to cook it for 90 minutes per pound of meat, we strive to have that bad boy done at least 3 hours before we want to eat. This gives us a huge margin and fudge factor, as our experience is that it usually takes longer than you expect.

Collage of photos showing the pork shoulder getting the rub applied.

What’s up with the water pan?

Adding a water pan to the smoker will help to increase the humidity. This serves a couple purposes:

  1. Most importantly, water helps aid in bark formation. If you’ll looking for a kick ass bark, this is the way!
  2. Foods with moisture on them tend to attract smoke better than dry foods, the evaporative nature of the water pan will undoubtedly moisten the surface of your meat, allowing better smoke adherence.

This step is optional, but adds almost no extra work to your cook. Feel free to go either way!

Close up of the smoked pulled pork and two stainless steel forks.

A cooler? Really?

Yes. But the trick is to use the cooler to keep the meat warm, the same way a cooler keeps things cold, it can keep things hot!

When your smoked pork roast reaches the proper internal temperature, remove it from the smoker, wrap it tightly in a fluffy towel, then slide the fluffy towel into the cooler. Leave the pork in the cooler until it’s been resting for at least 1 hour, or you’re ready to slice and serve.

Don’t fret if your smoked picnic roast is done well before dinner, simply keep in in the cooler until you’re ready to slice or shred for serving. I’ve rested smoked meat for almost 8 hours, and it came out of the cooler nice and hot!

A hand holding a stainless steel bowl containing the pork rub.

Why does my meat need to rest?

During the cooking process, the muscle tissues tighten, squeezing out a lot of the juice (water) that is present in the meat. By allowing your meat to rest, you are allowing it to suck up some of the juices that have flowed out of the meat. Resting leads more juicy, tender final product.

Smoked pulled pork piled high in a rimmed baking sheet.

Smoked pork internal temperature

Technically, for safe consumption, pork only needs to be cooked to 145F internal temperature.

BUT we are cooking a well-used muscle here, with lots of tendons, which makes it a tougher cut. Cooking your pork to a ~200-205F internal temperature enables the breakdown of connective tissue and leave you with a deliciously soft, tender, delicious piece of meat.

Refer: What Vegetables Go Well With Shrimp | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

We love using our awesome wireless InkBird thermometer. It helps us keep tabs on our meat while we are doing other stuff!

What about the rub?

Listen, you could buy rub. Or you could take an extra 5 minutes and make it yourself. Not only is it cheaper to make your own pork rub, but it’s also actually tastier because you get to customize it.

This rub is incredibly easy, it’s got 5 ingredients;

  • brown sugar
  • fresh ground pepper
  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • smoked paprika

Trust me, you wanna make your own!

Pulled pork piled high in a rimmed baking sheet. You can see a dark red smoke ring around the edges of the pork.

Got Leftovers?

We love smoking pork because we’ve always got leftovers! They can be used in a number of dishes, like pulled pork tacos, pulled pork nachos, pulled pork poutine, pulled pork omlettes. The options are endless!

If you’re wanting to reheat just plain pulled pork, you can reheat it:

Microwave: in a covered dish with a splash of water, in one minute intervals, stirring in between until heated through.

Oven: in a covered dish with a splash of water at 300f for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during the cooking time.

Sous vide: toss the pulled pork in a silicone sous vide bag, or zip-top freezer bag and heat in a water bath at 165f for 30-45 minutes until heated through.

Raw pork picnic shoulder roast with a light coat of rub.

Store and freeze

Your pulled pork leftovers can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container for 3-4 days. Smoked pork can also be frozen, seal it in a vacuum sealed bag and it will last for 6-9 months in the freezer. Alternatively, you can use a freezer zip-top bag and remove as much air as possible before freezing.

Recommended Tools:

Can’t have a smoker recipe without a smoker. Kevy and I sprung for a top of the line Traeger Timberline 1300. OMG. I cannot say enough good things about that big black beauty. That said, any smoker will work for this recipe.

Traeger Timberline 1300 in the fall.

Love your smoker? Try these!

  • Smoked Beef Jerky
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Read more: How To Cook Dried Cranberry Beans | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

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