20 minute read

I have been grilling and smoking for over a decade. I got my first Traeger smoker in 2014. This document is a collection of my smoking notes that I have compiled over the years1.

My fav things to make have been:

  • about twice a year (usually once in the summer and then at Christmas), I smoke a brisket. It is usually a little stressful to time it, but I think my brisket is as good if not better than anything that I can get locally here in VA. 💪
  • about 4-6 times a year (including 4th of July), I will do a pork butt.
  • about once a month, I will do a whole chicken
  • about once a month, I will do wings
  • about once a week, I will do some type of beef (fajitas, steak, etc)

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is great. It is forgiving, and is an economical way to feed a large group, is flexible to eat plain or sandwiches or tacos or nachos.

I based my approach off of: Traeger Pulled Pork and vindulge. Since then, I have adjusted, adapted, and improvised. It is quite an easy adventure.


Suppose 6pm game time

  • D-1 (night before): time/brine
  • t-13 (5am): fire up the smoker, rub
  • t-12 (6am): put butt on smoker
  • ?? (160 temp): wrap, put in foil pan
  • t-1 (5pm) (204 temp): take off smoker, rest
  • t-15min (5:45pm) (5:45pm): pull
  • t (6pm): serve!

What to buy

  • Although it is often referred to as a pork shoulder, look for a boston butt bone-in (what is the difference).  This can be found in grocery store for less than $20 ($1-$2 / lb)2.
  • Size will vary, and often can be 6-12lb.
  • A typical 8lb butt will yield about 5lbs of meat, which will serve 10-12 people.


  • The night before, trim excess fat.  This includes taking off the large solid white fat cap. Although a bunch of the fat will render into goodness, the fat cap will not, and you will lose a bunch of crispy bark.
  • If you want to brine it, add pork + brine to a large pot.  
    • Note: I NEVER brine mine.


  • About an hour before I am going to smoke it, I apply the rub.
  • Rubs are so flexible for pork. (see section on my fav rubs)
  • I recommend to first add a binder - I use yellow mustard. I put on a pair of food prep gloves, and spread mustard all over.
  • Shake the rub all over, with the binder, well, binding the rub in place.


  • Choose your fuel. If using pellets, consider hickory pellets.
  • Set the smoker to 225. (250 works as well)
  • Put directly on the smoker (fat side down3).  
  • Spray apple juice/cider every 30-60 mins.
  • At about 160 internal temp, transfer to a foil container so it does not fall apart!.
  • If worried about the stall, wrap tightly with butcher paper.
  • Continue until meat temp is 204-206.
  • Remove.  Let rest (about 45 mins).  Pull it!  
  • It always takes longer than planned!  Expect 8-12 hours from start to finish.

Pull it

  • Put the butt into a large container or cutting board.
  • Pull out the bone (it will slide right out).
  • If there are LARGE huge chunks of fat, scrap those off. This sucks because you will lose some great rub/bark in the process.
  • Pick the best parts. You deserve it. If you have a favorite child or guest, sneak them a bite too.
  • Using forks or claws, shred the pork and put into serving container.

Ways to serve pulled pork / leftovers

  • The norm is to eat the pork pulled as-is or on a bun.  Yum.  
  • Best way is to enjoy the meat and a little hint of sauce.  My fav sauces are east carolina style (vinegar with some heat) rather than Texas / KC style (ketchup / sugar).
  • Dill pickles are a great addition to pulled pork.

Reheating pulled pork

  • Add cooking oil to pan and get heat to medium/high.  Once oil is hot, add in pork (2-3 cups for four people).  Once warm, turn off heat and add a sauce bbq sauce (if concerned about it drying out).  The residual heat will allow the sauce to coat the pork without burning the sugars.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

  • Use thick white bread or hamburger buns.  Add a nice scoop of pulled pork.  Top with dill pickles and BBQ Sauce (east carolina).
  • I am not a coleslaw person, but many love that on top as well.  Go to someone else’s house for that!

Pulled Pork Tacos

  • Tacos are a good way to use the pork on day two

BBQ Sauces for Pulled Pork


Overview: https://www.traegergrills.com/smokenomics/how-to-smoked-brisket 

What to buy

The two parts are point and flat.  The flat is the thinner and leaner end.  The point is two muscles stacked with a layer of fat between, and much more marbled.  Sometimes in grocery stores these are sold separately.  Buy the whole packer (both flat and point).

Wherever you buy, aim for grass fed or USDA choice/prime.


If you froze the brisket, make sure you give it two days to thaw.  Not that cooking a frozen brisket is bad, just will take longer.

Plan ahead on timing.  Give yourself 18-24 hours.  (I can now reliably cook it 12 hours in good weather, but expect 18 hours in the winter).

About 4-8 hours before you will put on smoker, prep the meat.  Trim fat, leaving about ¼ inch.  Cut off the large hard white chunks of fat - these will not render.  Season meat with rub.  Let sit in the fridge with seasoning for 4-8 hours.


I like to use Texas Blend pellets for brisket.

Set the smoker to 225.

Put directly on the smoker (I typically put fat size down).

At about 160, it will stall.  Crutch if desired using butcher paper.

Continue until meat temp is 204-206.  It is super hard to plan for brisket timing!

Note on temp: my brisket tends to be more overcooked.  I may try to take off earlier, like 200 or even getting brave at 190-200 temp next time.  The brisket is at a safe temp.  A good way to see if you are over or under done ends up being on slicing.  An overcooked brisket tends to crumble.

Optional: take off crutch for the last hour of cooking.  I do not think this is required, but some swear by it.

Rest for at least one hour before slicing.  My technique is to pull off at 206 degrees, if not wrapped, re-wrap (butcher paper or foil), wrap that with a beach towel, and put it in a cooler.  Fill up any open spots in the cooler with towels or newspaper to best hold temp.  It can hold temp for about 4 hours (my Yeti held it nicely for 6 hours).  If temp drops to 165, put it back on the smoker to get it back to 175.


Flat: slices

Point: burnt ends

First slice the flat (thinner end).

About half way through you will get to the point (when you have two layers of muscle separated by layer of fat).  Rotate 90 degrees and slice.

Consider burnt ends for the point (maybe even a day 2 project)


Timing a brisket is impossible.  I give myself 24 hours for smoking to table.  The following schedule assumes 4pm eat time.  Noon (t-28): trim, rub, set in fridge

3:30pm (t-24.5) start smoker, get to 225

4pm (t-24): smoke meat

4am (t-12): hits 160, wrap

10am (t-6): hits 200, take off and put in cooler

3pm (t-1): take out of cooler, slice

4pm: eat

I have had a brisket take 12 hours, and I have had it take 24 hours.  This is so hard to plan!

I am going to test this on 4th of July, at 225.  I have a 16lb brisket, and will start smoking at either 4pm or 5pm.  If it falls behind I can always crank to 250.

Can accelerate at 250 by all means.  Faster in summer vs winter.

Rule of thumb: 1.5 hours / lb at 225; 1 hour / lb at 250

Burnt Ends

Take the point.  Cut into 1” cubes.  Combine with BBQ sauce (sugary kind, like a KC BBQ sauce).  Cook 275 for 1 hour.  

DivaQ shows technique to cut burnt ends

Simple Beans

1 can red kidneys

1 can white beans

(optional) 1 can pork and beans

Diced onions (1 small)


½ cup Brown Sugar

¼ cup Molasses

1 tbsp Yellow mustard

Dice and cook onions.

Rinse beans.

Add beans, onions, spices to the pot.

Cook for a few hours.  If smoking meat, cook there.

Texas Pinto Beans

I started with this recipe.  Next time I will make modifications (it came out really dry but amazing flavor).

16 Ounce Pinto Beans, dried

6 Cup water

5 pieces of bacon

1 medium onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves

2 jalapeño (other peppers work fine)

2 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp black pepper

3 tsp cumin

2 tsp of your favorite rub (could probably put in more than this)

Optional ¼ lb salt pork (I had never bought this before, but it is sold in grocery store next to the hams)

Soak the beans: rinse the beans, then add beans and the 6 cups of water to big bowl (or dutch oven), cover, and soak. You can add flavoring salt (1.5 tbsp of cajun salt is called for in the original recipe) but I did not do this.  It says 3-4 hours to soak, but I think longer is better here (otherwise you have to cook the beans way too long to get them soft).

Cook the bacon to medium crispy and place on a paper towel to drain. Put the finely chopped onion into the remaining bacon grease and sauté until translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes.

(optional) smoke the garlic.  I skipped this step.

Set smoker to 350

Combine beans, spices, onions, bacon, 2 whole peppers, garlic to dutch oven.

Optional: cut salt pork into 6-8 pieces and add to dutch oven.  It will make it salty

Put dutch on the smoker.  Stir every 30 mins.  Cook until the beans are tender (approx 3-4 hours)

Optional: take the peppers out at about 90 mins (longer if you want more kick).

Optional: consider adding water if the beans start to dry out prior to getting soft.

Optional: if by some chance it is too saucy, you can thicken it up by adding some crumbled bread pieces.  I do not think you will have this problem.

Baked Beans from hey grill hey


Whole Chicken

Trick is to oil and then LIGHTLY season.  Don’t go crazy.  

Can do 225 for about 3 hours.

Smoke until 160-165 (temperature will rise to 165 once it rests).


There are two methods I am interested in: 3-2-1 and smoke ‘em.


I have based this off this Diva Q recipe.

  1. Remove silverskin
  2. Add sauce (mix of apple juice and worcestershire sauce) to the ribs and then season.
  3. Smoke at 180 or 225 for about 3 hours.
  4. Wrap in foil (make bottom layer, add some liquid like apple juice, foil on top, crimp sides so no leaking), smoke at 225 for about 2 hours.
  5. Unwrap, add sauce, smoke for about 1 hour.


Smoke for 30 mins + 225 for ~45-60 mins.


Start with thick cut bacon.  I usually do 2 packs at once.

Season LIGHTLY.  LIGHTLY.  I always over season.  I have used lots of different rubs, they are all good.  But sprinkle LIGHTLY.

Best choices are:

Smoke at 250 for about 2 hours.  If you like it crispy, crank it up to 325 for the last 20 mins.

I once did 325 for about 4 hours to make bacon bits (got so crispy that I could crumble for salad topping)

Taco Al Pastor

This stuff looks amazing.  It is a way to make slow smoked pork tacos with lots of sauce in a tower.  Think about the rotisserie shawarma approach.

Here is a standard pork recipe and here is Diva Q making a similar recipe, and her is Hey Grill Hey.  Some reviews show me that some people suffer from a mushy outcome.  Lets see how it goes.

This could also be done with dark meat chicken.

Serve as tacos!


This stuff is amazing.   Based on Traeger recipe: https://www.traegergrills.com/recipes/not-your-mamas-meatloaf

  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 Cup milk (use less than the original recipe)
  • 2 Tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground sage
  • 4 teaspoon Dead cow rub, or any beef rub (subbed from 2 Teaspoon salt)
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 2 Pound ground beef
  • 1/4 Pound ground sausage (can use breakfast or italian)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (recommend to use something with some sugar like Sweet Baby Ray’s)

Set smoker to 225

Combine breadcrumbs, milk, onion, sage and rub. Add beaten eggs. Add both ground beef and ground sausage, mix well. Form mixture into a loaf, packing tightly.  (Note: with 1 cup of milk, it was very hard to make a good loaf, so next time I will use less milk.  Lets see if that results in a dry loaf next time.  If very wet, put into foil pan to hold it)

Time to smoke it.  I put into a foil container so that it would not fall apart on the smoker and transferred to the smoker.  Smoke until temperature reaches 160, which will take about 2-3 hours.

During the last 30 mins, glaze with your sweet bbq sauce.  Lather it on!

Take it off the smoker once it reaches 160.  Let it rest for at least 10 mins.  Slice and serve.

Cowboy Chicken Sandwich

Adapted from Hey Grill Hey (recipe, YouTube)

This is a massive bbq chicken sandwich with cheese, bbq sauce, pickles/jalapenos, onion rings.

Preheat oven and cook the onion rings (video does from scratch, I am using frozen)

Season chicken with a poultry rub (prefer a sweet rub).

Smoke chicken (let’s assume 350, at about 10-15 mins per side).

Put bacon on smoker (add a tiny bit of maple syrup)

When chicken reached 145 temp, glaze with BBQ (favor sweet)

Toast the buns

Sandwiches, assemble!

Bottom Bun + Ranch + Chicken + Lettuce + Pickled Jalapenos (alt: pickle) + Bacon + Onion Rings + Top Bun

Armadillo Eggs

Adapted from Hey Grill Hey (recipe, YouTube)

Preheat grill 250

In bowl, combine cream cheese (4oz), cheese (4oz), 1 TBSP rub (favor sweet)

Core jalapenos (about 6 good size ones) and stuff with mixture

Wrap each jalapenos with sausage (about ⅙ lb each)

Wrap with bacon (prob 2 pieces per jalapenos)

Smoke (250, about 2 hours, get meat to 165 temp)

Consider raise temp to 400 for about 5 mins to crisp bacon

Brussel Sprouts

These came out really good.  

Start with Brussels sprouts chopped in half (cheat and buy them already chopped).  

Put them in an aluminum pan.  Lightly drizzle with oil, then season with salt and pepper (bonus: add a little veggie rub).  

Smoke at 400 for about 30 mins.  Will come out almost like steamed.  

Pork Tenderloin

225 x 3 hours => 145


I will be trying this for Thanksgiving for the first time.  Use Hey Grill Hey instructions.

Purchase a spiral cut, pre-cooked ham.  Mine is about 10 lbs.


  • 1, 8 pound spiral sliced ham
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Sweet BBQ Rub

Set Smoker to 225.  (Start warming it up at 11:00)

Put ham, cut side down, on grill. (Put it on at 12pm)

Smoke for 1.5 hours. (12pm until 1:30pm)

Put ham on cast iron pan.  Add 1 cup of chicken.  Cover tightly with foil.  (at about 1:30pm)

Close lid, up temp to 300.  Cook another 2 hours, to 140 degrees.  (1:30pm to 3:30pm, will probably take a little longer since it is a bit larger)

As the ham gets close to done, make the glaze.  Combine ingredients in sauce pan, cook over med heat, continue to whisk  (about 4:15pm)

Remove ham as it reaches 140.  Drain it.  Brush with glaze.

Broil the ham for a few mins and then serve (4:30-4:40)

Sausage Stuffing

Based on this recipe from Traeger.  Ingredients below assume 8 people.

(start prep at 2:45pm)

Fry sausage (2lb)

Add onion (1 cup) + celery (1 cup).  Cook until softened.

Drain fat.

Move to mixing bowl.  

Add 28 ounce of stuffing mix

Add cup dried cranberries.

Warm the chicken broth (4 cup) on medium-low

Add butter (12 tbls)

Add broth to mixing bowl with stuffing.  Mix.

Butter dish and add mixture (I will use foil container).  Cover

Preheat smoker to 350 (start preheat at 3pm)

Smoke for 35-45 mins (put on at 3:30pm).  Take off cover half way

Spicy Corn Casserole

  • 1 (11oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (11oz) can of cream-style corn, don’t drain
  • 1 (8oz) container of sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • 8.5oz of cornbread mix (Jiffy is what I used in the past but opted for Bob’s Red Mill this year for gluten-free alternative)
  • 1 (4.5oz) can diced green chilies
  • 1oz of green onions
  • 3 jalapenos cut up
  • 1 (8oz) block of sharp cheddar
  • 1 block of smoked gouda

Preheat the oven to 350. Begin by shredding your block of sharp cheddar. Once shredded, combine whole kernel corn and sweet corn, sour cream, melted butter, eggs, cornbread mix, green chilies, green onions, and jalapenos into a mixing bowl. Then add in ¾ cup of sharp cheddar. Mix until fully combined. Then put the mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. While baking, shred the smoked gouda cheese and combine it with the remaining sharp cheddar. Remove the casserole from the oven, cover the top with the cheese mixture and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.

New Years Day

Collard Greens

Preparing collard greens is relatively straightforward, but it does require some time and care to ensure they are tender and flavorful. Here’s a basic recipe for preparing collard greens:


1 bunch of collard greens (about 1 to 1.5 pounds)

4 slices of bacon or a ham hock (optional, for flavor)

1 medium onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water)

1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider or white vinegar)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Red pepper flakes (optional, for heat)

Hot sauce (optional, for added spice)


Wash the collard greens thoroughly: Start by rinsing the collard greens under cold running water. Remove any dirt or grit from the leaves. You may need to soak them in a large bowl of water and rinse them a few times to ensure they are clean.

Remove the tough stems: Lay each collard green leaf flat on a cutting board and use a knife to trim away the tough stem that runs down the center of the leaf. Discard the stems.

Chop the collard greens: Stack the trimmed collard green leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly. Then, slice the rolled leaves crosswise into thin strips, creating ribbons of collard greens.

Cook the bacon or ham hock (optional): In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until it becomes crispy. If using a ham hock, brown it on all sides. This step adds flavor to the greens. Once cooked, remove the bacon or ham hock and set it aside.

Sauté the onions and garlic: In the same pot with the bacon drippings, add the chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook them over medium heat until they become soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the collard greens: Add the chopped collard greens to the pot and stir them with the onions and garlic. They will start to wilt.

Add liquid: Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth (or water) to the pot until it covers the collard greens. Add the bacon or ham hock back to the pot for added flavor.

Simmer: Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the collard greens are tender. Stir occasionally.

Season and finish: Season the collard greens with vinegar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if desired). Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Continue to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Serve: Remove the bacon or ham hock (if used) and discard it or chop it into pieces to garnish the greens. Serve the collard greens hot, with hot sauce on the side if desired.

Collard greens are often served with cornbread and black-eyed peas as part of a traditional Southern New Year’s Day meal, but they can also be enjoyed as a side dish with other main courses throughout the year.





Would like to get a Kettle Grill, like the weber

Comparison of Traeger


Types of smokers and grills

Good explanation from Aaron Franklin.

Offset Smoker (stick burner)

Charcoal Ceramic: Big Green Egg, Kamado

Drum Smoker: Pit Barrel Cooker

Pellet Smoker: Traeger, Camp Chef

Gas/Electric Smoker

Kettle Grill: Weber



A good meter thermometer is a must.  I like to have one regular one (like this) and one that offers the ability to monitor remotely.

The remote monitoring ones come in several approaches including:

  • Wired to a base at the smoker, then a separate pieces that you can read from somewhere else in the house
  • Wired to a base, and the base connects via blue tooth or wifi to your mobile phone
  • Wireless thermometer that connects to base and base connects to wifi

Getting one that can connect to wifi is great so you can monitor if you leave the house.

The ones that I have used

  • ThermoPro: this worked fine for monitoring in the house.  It has wired probes that you leave at the smoker, and a second device that you use for a monitor within the house.  Worked well, but did not have an option for monitoring outside of the house
  • Weber iGrill: this is really meant for a weber grill.  I am not sure where I got this, but ended up not using it very long.
  • FireBoard: this was a great option.  It has wired probes to a base at the smoker, then connects to wifi.  It worked really well.  Was not cheap.  Then I left it in the rain.  That was stupid.  I did notice that I did not always trust the readings.
  • MEATER: this is a really cool option.  It is small wireless probes which connect to a base, and the base can bridge to wifi.  Great idea.  I have a hard time keeping it connected though.  I have to put the base right next to the smoker, and sometimes it still loses connectivity.  

The newer Tragers have a wifi bridge built in, with a single prob.  It is even better because you can raise/lower temperature remotely if needed.  It is indeed cheating.  I may still need a supplemental thermometer for when I cook multiple things at once.


  1. The original version of this was on google docs. I ported it from there to my site, not sure if that was good idea or not. original 

  2. this price has varied a bunch over the years. I have found it for $1.50/lb x 8lbs < $15. During peak of COVID, I am pretty sure that I paid $5/lb ~= $40. 

  3. oh, the debate! Some swear that you should put brisket/butt fat side up, others say fat side down. Here is the truth: it does not REALLY matter. I put it fat side down so that there is less run-off of the rub. Pick a side, become religious about it, and laugh at the n00bs that do it differently.