Slow cooker pulled pork is one of the easiest, foolproof recipes to make in the crock pot, and since it makes plenty of leftovers, it should be a staple for every home cook’s meal prep plans.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Whether serving for a crowd to cheer for on game day, or adding to your weekly meal prep plans, slow cooker pulled pork is one of those meals that keeps the masses happy. And since it’s so easy to make, it’s a natural favorite of the cook in the kitchen, too.
Next to classic baked chicken breasts, pulled pork is pretty much the gold standard for batch cooking. It’s plentiful in portions yet still leaves enough for leftovers to be turned into loads of different recipes stemming from just one base.
With just a few basic rules to follow, the method for making Crock Pot pulled pork is a cinch to master:
- Choose the right cut of meat
- Layer your flavor builders
- Low and slow is the way to go
- And finally, shred it like you mean it
Let’s do this.
There are a few tricks to make slow cooking one of your fastest weeknight or weekend culinary secrets.
Subscribe below to download my FREE DOWNLOAD of 10 Commandments of Slow Cooking for Success for my tips to get slow dinners on the table fast.
The Best Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork: The Butt
The sure sign of a fabulous pulled pork is in its tenderness, and there are a couple of important factors that contribute to the pork’s love me tender ways.
Choosing the right cut of meat for a good pulled pork is key, and like so many meats, it’s all about the amount of fat in the meat, because fat equals flavor.
The best cut of meat for pulled pork is the pork shoulder, commonly known as the pork butt (even though it is far from the pig’s rear end.) This meat has plenty of marbling (aka fat) that renders down and flavors the meat as it cooks.
Choose a bone-in pork butt with a fat cap on one side for even more flavor and tenderness.
Divide the simple spice rub so half is massaged into the pork butt and half is added to the sauce the pork is cooked in. I like this sauce because it doesn’t overwhelm or become too sugared or cloying, with simple ingredients including:
- Brown sugar
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
I’ve tested the rub on the pork overnight, and also added it right before cooking, and in the end they both tasted about the same, so do what you have time for.
While it’s an extra step, I brown the shoulder roast before adding it to the slow cooker for those crispy bits that add flavor. The brown sugar caramelizes as it cooks so watch the pork as it cooks so it doesn’t burn.
Get Saucy With It
Vinegar and ketchup add a tang to the sauce flavored with the rest of the rub spices that are added to the pork with the onion and garlic.
I used beef broth as the liquefying factor, but you can use chicken broth if you like too.
Once the pork is done cooking, transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth, then add 1 to 2 cups back to the pork as desired.
How Long to Cook Pulled Pork
I may be repeating myself, but the key to good pulled pork is cooking it low and slow, and the internal temperature reaches 190°F. This recipe is for cooking the pulled pork in the slow cooker, but of course it can be adapted for the oven and Instant Pot.
Slow cooker: Just like your oven, remember to preheat your slow cooker and try to add time for your meat to rest at room temperature so it comes up to temperature quicker. Cooking for 8-10 hours on LOW is preferable but if you must, plan on 4-5 hours on HIGH.
*REMEMBER! Slow cookers cook at different times, especially if you have an older slow cooker, so please use the timing as a guide and know it is dependent on how big your pork butt is as well.
Oven: Follow the same browning instructions as for the slow cooker, but braise in a 325°F oven for 4 – 4 1/2 hours or until tender. *Same timing rules apply.
Instant Pot: Trim the pork butt into 6 pieces, and brown on the SAUTÉ setting. Add the other ingredients and cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 1 hour. Natural release for 15 minutes, then quick release.
Shred It Like You Mean It
Allow the pork butt to rest and cool before shredding. Use two forks, or if you’re like me, get in there with your hands and shred away.
The fat cap on top of the roast renders flavor into the roast, but isn’t very tasty to eat and is most often discarded.
I find my favorite pieces of pork are the crisped outer edges, with the most tender bites under the shoulder blade bone.
Serving Ideas for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
To serve for a crowd, transfer the shredded pork and sauce back into the slow cooker insert for guests to serve up alongside:
- Easy Mexican Coleslaw Recipe
- Heavenly Funeral Potatoes Recipe
- How to Make Classic Macaroni Salad
- How to Make the Best Potato Salad
- The Best BBQ Baked Beans And 5 More Baked Beans To Love
- How to Make the Best Creamy Coleslaw
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats
Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Slow cook this pork butt on low for 8 hours for the most tender, fall apart pieces.
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar divided
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 5-pound bone-in pork butt (shoulder roast)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium white onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
Set a 6 quart slow cooker to high to preheat.
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, paprika, cumin, coriander, kosher salt and black pepper together. Rub half of the mixture on the pork, setting aside the remaining spice rub. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or high sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork to the pan and brown evenly on each side, about 5 minutes per side.
Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker and top with the pork butt. In a bowl or measuring cup, mix the remaining spice rub with the stock, ketchup, and vinegar then pour over the pork. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours, or until fork tender.
Place the pork on a baking sheet or cutting board and let rest for 20-30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Shred the pork into pieces and place in a bowl or back into the slow cooker insert.
Skim the fat from the cooking liquid and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth then pour 1-2 cups of the liquid over the shredded pork and toss to combine. Serve warm with extra dipping sauce if desired.
More Recipes to Make with Shredded Pork
Enchiladas, pork fried rice, pork sandwiches, quesadillas, shepherd’s pie…there’s a bevy of bountiful dishes to make with this simple batch cooking basic. Plus, these:
- White Bean And Pumpkin Pork Chili Recipe
- Crockpot Pork Posole Stew Recipe
- Korean Pulled Pork Sandwiches With Caramel Apple Crumble
- Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork Tacos
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
We send good emails. Subscribe to FoodieCrush and have each post plus exclusive content only for our subscribers delivered straight to your e-mail box.
As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. There are affiliate links in this post of which I receive a small commission. All opinions are always my own.
Subscribe and have every FoodieCrush post delivered straight to your e-mail inbox