My Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos are the perfect cure for a Tex-Mex craving. They are cooked on the Traeger Timberline 850, giving them the best smoky flavor. They’re seasoned with my signature sweet and spicy rubs and braised in tangy vinegar sauce. If you like loaded tacos, you’ll love my version! I added peppers and onions to give the tacos fajita flair.
These tacos are done in an authentic style with a BBQ twist. They’re flavorful yet mild enough that anyone can enjoy them. Serve this delicious dish for family dinners, Super Bowl parties, or cookouts. Add a few toppings, and you’ll have a winning spread. It’s bound to be a hit!
If you’ve never had braised tacos before, you’re in for a treat! The pork simmers until it’s juicy and tender, giving all the flavors a chance to soak in. Carnitas are one of the best types of tacos, and now, you can enjoy them from the comfort of your home. This recipe is easier than it looks, but your buddies don’t have to know!
Fancy tacos with less than 10 ingredients; you’ve got my attention! This dinner is proof that sometimes, less is more. Here’s what you need to add to your shopping cart.
- Cheshire Pork CT Butts. In the BBQ circuit, we call this cut of pork the “money muscle.” Pork collars are different than pork shoulders because they’re center-cut. Like the pork shoulder, the collar is beautifully marbled with fat, giving you tender results. If you can’t get your hands on a pork collar, you can use a pork butt.
- Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub. This amazing rub contains multiple notes of garlic and a little heat on the back end. It’s not surprising it’s our #1 best-seller! You can use it on beef, pork, chicken, and popcorn.
- Heath Riles BBQ Honey Chipotle Rub. I love this rub because it gives meat and veggies a gorgeous golden color. It features the best mix of honey notes and high-quality chipotle peppers. It tastes great on steak, pork roasts, and chicken.
- Heath Riles BBQ Tangy Vinegar Sauce. I created this sauce to fill a need in my life. Many people must have had the same thought because it was an instant hit! If you want a vinegar-based sauce that isn’t too tangy, grab a bottle. You won’t be disappointed.
- Chicken broth. A little chicken stock gives the pork added moisture without altering the natural flavor. Chicken stock adds a nice touch, but you can add whatever broth you have on hand.
- Veggies. Give your tacos added bulk by including veggies. You can’t go wrong with a classic mixture of onions and peppers! I like using different colored peppers to add color to my plate.
- Tortillas and toppings. Corn tortillas are the most authentic option, but you can use flour. You’ll want something sturdy enough to hold your meat and toppings. Speaking of toppings, some of my favorites include homemade guacamole, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime, raw onions, and taco sauce.
The Smoker Setup
Here’s the main equipment I used for these Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos. You can find more of my favorite grilling accessories in the Equipment and Tools section.
- Pellet grill/smoker. I used a Traeger Timberline 850 for this cook. This pit is incredible because you can use it to grill or smoke. The Traeger Timberline 850 has many excellent features, like a pellet sensor, a super smoke button, and easy transportation.
- Pellets. Traeger Hardwood Oak Pellets gave the tacos a traditional BBQ flavor. I love Traeger’s pellets because they’re long-lasting and high-quality.
The Process for Making Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos Recipe
You can see this recipe's detailed demonstration in the video and recipe card. Here’s a quick rundown of how I pulled these tasty tacos together.
- Fire up the Traeger. I stoked the Traeger Timberline 850 with Traeger Hardwood Oak Pellets and fired it up to 300℉.
- Prep the pork butts. I removed the pork from its packaging. I trimmed the pork butt into small cubes, removing any large pockets of fat on the end.
- Add seasoning. I added a little olive oil to my pork cubes so the seasoning would stick. Then, I added a good layer of Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub, followed by a sprinkle of Heath Riles BBQ Honey Chipotle Rub. I tossed the cubes to coat them evenly and re-seasoned any bare spots.
- Cook the pork. I placed the pork cubes on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath. Then, I set the meat on the Traeger Timberline 850 and let it go for 2 hours.
- Braise the meat and veggies. I laid my sliced onions and peppers in an aluminum pan, then set the pork cubes over the top. I sprinkled a little more Heath Riles BBQ Honey Chipotle Rub, and Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub over the meat, then poured in the broth and Heath Riles BBQ Tangy Vinegar Sauce. I covered the pan with aluminum foil, then put it back on the pit to braise for 1- 2 ½ hours.
- Build the tacos. To build my taco, I doubled up my corn tortillas, then added a scoop of meat, guacamole, pico de gallo, onion, cotija cheese, and cilantro. Once the meat was tender, I took it off the pit and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. Then, I rough-chopped the pork so it would fit in my tortilla. The only thing left was to dig in!
The pork came off the pit looking beautiful. It was juicy, rich, and tender. Every bite had the perfect amount of sweet heat. This is a recipe that any pitmaster will enjoy! It’s just that impressive.
Serving Suggestions for Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos
Serve my Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos with tortilla chips, toppings of your choice, and a Corona with lime.
Storing Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos
If you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze them for up to 4 months.
Equipment and Tools
Traeger Timberline 850, Traeger Hardwood Oak Pellets, heavy-duty aluminum foil, mixing bowls, metal sheet pan, metal tongs, olive oil dispenser, wire cooling rack, disposable cutting board, Victorinox Fibrox Boning Knife, Nechtik BBQ Gloves, aluminum pans, ThermoWorks Hi-Temp Silicone Basting Brush.
Smoked BBQ Carnitas Tacos Recipe | Traeger Timberline 850
Cube pork butt into small pieces
Cook on Traeger (or grill of your choice) at 300º for 1.2-2 hours
Add cubed pork to a bed of sliced onions and peppers, add chicken stock and Heath Riles BBQ Tangy Vinegar Sauce.
Braise for 1 hour and check for tenderness. Once meat is tender, let it rest for 20-30 minutes and then shred for tacos.
Build your taco to your liking