Smoked Pulled Beef is a home run of a recipe. Think of the best Sunday pot roast you’ve ever had and add that extra mouth kiss of smoked flavor you never knew you wanted. Tender, melt in your mouth, full of beefy flavor. Everything about that roast being slow smoked and then braised in a flavorful onion infused broth. Oh yes. That is exactly what is going on here. It is like pot roast on delicious, totally legal, steroids.
For this recipe, I used a fairly unique cut of beef. I bought a whole primal cut of beef chuck roast. One whole beef shoulder is about 18-20 pounds, which is a whole lot of beef. Normally if you are buying from the grocery store meat counter, you will see chuck roasts that are cut into 3-4 pound roasts, but what you don’t realize is that they cut those smaller roasts down from the primal cut (which they usually have just hanging out in the back!) It is totally possible to cook these smaller roasts, just follow the adjustments in the “notes” section of the recipe below. I was cooking for 400 people when I was developing this recipe, so that’s why I went with the larger roast but I am so glad I did. Having the large shoulder in tact, I was able to cut it down into 4 pieces each about the size of a normal Boston butt pork roast. When the roasts were done cooking, I was able to get those long gorgeous strands of pulled beef that just wouldn’t have been possible with the pre-cut chuck roasts.
Quick tip for shredding: use your mixer with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed to pull your meat. Works like a charm!
Moral of the story: if possible, get a whole primal cut of a beef chuck roast. Cut it down into 4 sections (about 5 lbs each) and either make a whole bunch of smoked pulled beef all together and then freeze the finished pulled product or freeze the sections you aren’t cooking right away and save for another day. Once you’ve got the whole roasts broken down into a more manageable size, the smoking process is pretty similar to smoking pulled pork. But it’s smoked pulled beef!!
- 1 chuck roast (cut from the whole chuck) 5-6 pounds
- 1 yellow or white onion sliced
- 3 cups beef stock divided use
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons coarse black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
When ready to cook, start your smoker going at 225 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Combine all of the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl and rub liberally onto your beef roast, using your hands to massage the rub across every surface of the meat. (Optional, rub your meat the night before smoking and refrigerate)
Put the roast directly on your grill grate, fat-side up, and cook for 3 hours, spraying with 1 cup of the beef stock every hour (reserve the other 2 cups of stock).
After 3 hours it is time to turn up the heat! Place the sliced onions in the bottom of a large disposable aluminum foil pan and pour the remaining 2 cups of stock in the bottom of the pan. Transfer the roast into the pan on top of the onions and set the pan in the grill.
Increase your grill temperature to 250 degrees F, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (about 3 more hours). If you're watching a thermometer, you'll notice the temperature will stay between 155 and 165 degrees for quite a while. This is called the stall period and is totally normal.
Once your roast hits 165, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and continue cooking until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers between 195 to 202 degrees F (this step can take anywhere from 3-5 hours). Every roast will be done at a slightly different temperature, so look for your probe to slide into the meat like it is sliding into softened butter.