Smoked Pulled Beef

Smoked Pulled Beef

Create deliciously shredded smoked pulled beef on any style smoker or charcoal grill with this easy to follow tutorial.

If you’re looking for the perfect smoked shredded beef recipe, look no further (and skip the slow cooker)! Smoking beef is a simple way to take more affordable and less desirable cuts of beef and create something absolutely incredible.

This is a great way to create a lot of delicious BBQ without having to spend a lot of money. Pulled beef can be made into countless other recipes like pulled beef sandwiches or sliders, beef birria, shredded beef tacos, or even a ragu.

Why This Recipe Works:

Slowly smoking beef on the grill works because it allows the heat to penetrate the meat gently and evenly, breaking down the connective tissues and collagen in the beef over a longer period of time.

This makes the meat fork tender while retaining juice and moisture (making this an ideal method for leaner or lower quality cuts of beef).

As the beef cooks, the natural flavors are also able to develop and intensify, creating a more complex and delicious taste and making your friends and family more than happy to go back for seconds.

Additionally, slow cooking methods such as braising or stewing while smoking can allow the meat to be cooked in flavorful liquids such as broth or wine, allowing for a wide variety of ways to prepare beef for other recipes (think birria, stew, ragu, or other Mexican shredded beef dishes).

Smoked Pulled Beef

“School” Supplies:

  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Spray Bottle
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Aluminum Foil (or a dutch oven or foil pan)

“Class” Notes:

Welcome to my virtual classroom! Use the guided notes below where I often answer commonly asked questions I get from readers and cooks just like you. 

This information is meant to help you have a stronger understanding of this recipe and the process so you can find success all on your own. 

Ready to begin cooking? Simply jump to the recipe card below and begin. 

Ingredients:

  • Beef Cut – You can technically use a lot of different cuts to make shredded beef but the best option is to use a chuck roast. Chuck roasts are lean but do have some marbling, they’re very common and super affordable and yield a lot of pulled beef. Use a roast that’s around 3-4 lbs.
  • Binder- The binder is important for getting your dry rub to stick to the outside of the smoked chuck roast to build the bark. A thin layer is required and you won’t taste it when the meat is done cooking. Common binders include mustard, mayo, olive oil, or even hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
  • Dry Rub – Season the outside of the roast with a store bought or homemade dry rub. Flavors that easily complement beef are the simple SPG rub (kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder). You can experiment with other seasonings like paprika, oregano, onion powder, etc. Plan to use about 1/4 cup of rub for a standard pulled beef cook.
  • Beef Broth- I like to use beef broth to spray the meat every hour to help build up the beef rub to create a nice dark bark and also for the wrapping or braising process of the cook (if choosing this method). You can use other liquids like beer or even diluted BBQ sauce if you prefer.
  • Butter- I like to add some pads of butter to the broth or to the foil I wrap the roast in to help add flavor and moisture to the bark.
smoked pulled beef ingredients

How To Make Pulled Beef On The Grill:

Step 1: Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the chuck roast and season it well with the dry rub. Let the rub sit for at least 30 minutes before smoking if possible or even prepare the night before and leave the chuck roast seasoned and uncovered in the fridge for best results.

Prepping a chuck roast for the smoker

Step 2: Preheat the smoker to 225-250°F. and set it for indirect heat. Add wood chunks of your choice (you can use oak, hickory, mesquite, etc.).

Step 3: Place the chuck roast in the smoker and close the lid. Allow it to smoke for about an hour or so before spraying the outside bark with beef broth. Spraying helps build the bark and allows more smoke flavor to adhere to the meat. Repeat this every hour until you wrap the meat.

Smoking pulled beef on a charcoal smoker

Step 4: After the roast has been smoking for roughly 3-4 hours you can wrap it in foil, pour in the beef broth and add the butter, seal it well and return it to the smoker. I usually wrap when the internal temperature stalls around 165 F.

Wrapping a chuck roast

Step 5: Once the roast reaches the desired temperature (use a thermometer probe to check for tenderness and an internal temperature that may range from 195-203 F.). Once it feels tender, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least an hour wrapped in a towel before shredding.

Step 6: Slice or shred the roast and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce or toppings.

chuck roast shredded into pulled beef

Note: Make sure to check the temperature of the roast every hour, and add more wood chips or chunks as needed to maintain the desired level of smoke.

Flavor Variations:

Smoking pulled beef can allow for very versatile flavor profiles. Here are some of my favorites-

  • Add beef broth, and pepperoncini, and use an Italian seasoning base for the rub for a Mississippi pot roast style pulled beef.
  • Instead of beef broth during the wrap, try adding your favorite salsa verde for shredded Mexican pulled beef. Adobo sauce is also a great option here.
  • Braise in tomato sauce and add pasta to create a smoked, shredded beef ragu!
Quesabirria Beef Tacos (Smoked Taco Ring) with smoked birria

Expert Tips:

Here are some expert tips for making pulled beef with a chuck roast (or other beef cuts) on the smoker.

  • Choose a good quality chuck roast: Look for a cut that has a good amount of marbling for better flavor.
  • Season the roast well: Experiment with different seasonings to find a flavor profile that you like. Season the night before if desired and let it rest uncovered in the fridge (optional).
  • Cook Time: Smoking time will often vary on several factors (size of the roast, grill and meat temperature, marbling of the meat, and the braising process). Most of my pulled beef recipes take on average 6-7 hours and additional time is needed for resting too.
  • Let it rest: After smoking, let the roast rest for at least an hour before shredding to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. This helps break down any additional connective tissues that may not have during the smoking process.
  • Wrap in foil: wrapping the roast tightly in foil will help to trap the moisture and keep the meat moist and tender. If you like the bark to be tighter on the meat, exposing the top for the last 30-45 minutes of the cook to help it tighten back up.

More Recipes:

Smoked Pulled Beef

Smoked Pulled Beef

Create deliciously shredded smoked pulled beef on any style smoker or charcoal grill with this easy to follow tutorial.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Grilling
Cuisine: American
Keyword: smoked pulled beef, smoked shredded beef recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Resting Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Calories: 423kcal
Author: Bon Appeteach

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lb. Chuck Roast
  • 4 tbsp. Mustard or other binder
  • 1/4 cup Dry Rub see notes above for making your own
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1/2 cup Butter

Instructions

  • Preheat the smoker to 225-250 F. Set it for indirect heat and add preferred wood chunks.
  • Start by trimming and large pieces of fat off the sides of the chuck roast and remove any silver skin.
  • Add a light coating of the mustard binder to the top bottom and all sides of the roast in a thin layer.
  • Make your own dry rub or use a store bought rub and lightly coat the entire roast on all sides with the rub. Pat it to adhere and set the roast aside for 30 minutes (or prep the night before and leave uncovered in the fridge).
  • Place the chuck roast on the smoker and insert a meat thermometer into the center of the roast. Allow the chuck roast to smoke for about 1-1.5 hours. Lightly spray the outside of the roast with the beef broth to encourage more smoke adherence to the meat in the beginning of the smoking process.
  • Repeat this step every hour until the roast reaches and internal temperature of around 165 F. to help build the bark.
  • Remove the chuck roast from the smoker and place it into a foil wrapping with sliced pads of butter (butter under and on top of the roast) and a few sprays of the beef broth. Wrap it tightly in the foil and place the chuck roast back onto the smoker.
  • The chuck roast is done when a thermometer probe is inserted to various parts of the meat and the texture feels like softened butter. Alternatively, you can check the temperature of the meat starting around 195 F-203 F.
  • Remove the chuck roast from the smoker and leave it wrapped in the foil. Wrap it in a towel and place in a cooler to rest for at least and hour before shredding to ensure perfectly shreddable beef.
  • After resting, shred the chuck roast into pulled beef, discarding any large pieces of fat that didn't bread down during the cooking process. Serve the shredded beef on its own or with BBQ sauce and enjoy!

Notes

If you prefer the bark to be “tighter” in texture, leave the top of the chuck roast exposed and not covered in foil during the wrapping process. This will give more texture to the bark but may make the cooking time longer as a result. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 534mg | Potassium: 627mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 439IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 5mg

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