Slow cooker pulled pork is one of the easiest, foolproof recipes to make in the CrockPot. Since it makes plenty of leftovers, it should be a staple for every home cook’s meal prep plans.
Pulled Pork in the CrockPot
Whether serving to a crowd to cheer for on game day, or adding to your weekly meal prep plans, slow cooker pulled pork made in the CrockPot 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 CrockPot 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
You can also take these same methods and cook this pulled pork recipe in the oven.
Let’s do this.
What’s in This Slow Cooker Pulled Pork?
The key to making the best pulled pork is getting the pork rub just right. Lucky for you, I’ve done the legwork for you and have created the perfect pork rub and sauce for this slow cooker pulled pork.
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
Vinegar and ketchup add a tang to the sauce that’s flavored with the rest of the rub spices, and I also added onion and garlic to flavor the slow cooker pulled pork even further.
I used beef broth as the liquefying factor, but you can use chicken broth if you like too.
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What’s the Best Meat for Pulled Pork?
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.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Stir together the homemade pork rub, then divide it so half is massaged into the pork butt while it’s raw and half is added to the sauce the pork is cooked in. 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.
Then, although 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.
Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker and place the pork butt on top. Whisk together the sauce with the remaining pork rub seasoning and pour it over the pork butt.
Cook the pork until it’s fork tender, then shred. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth, then add 1 to 2 cups back to the homemade pulled 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 Pulled Pork
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 Pulled Pork
Follow the same browning instructions as for the slow cooker, but braise in a 325°F oven for 4 – 4 ½ hours or until tender. *Same timing rules apply.
Instant Pot Pulled Pork
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.
How to Store Pulled Pork
Let the slow cooker pulled pork cool significantly before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll last for up to a week, assuming your family doesn’t gobble it up before then.
How to Reheat Pulled Pork
You put so much effort into making super moist, juicy pulled pork so don’t ruin it by reheating it in the microwave! I recommend reheating this easy pulled pork in a saucepan with some of the sauce you pureed. Heat it over medium-low heat with the lid on the keep the pulled pork nice and juicy.
Can You Freeze Pulled Pork?
Yes, you can easily freeze pulled pork. Let it cool completely before storing it in a freezer bag or another freezer-safe container. It’ll stay fresh up to three months if stored correctly.
When you’re ready to eat the frozen pulled pork, place it in the fridge overnight to thaw.
Tips for Making the Best Pulled Pork
If desired, you can make this slow cooker pulled pork with your favorite pre-made pork rub (although I highly recommend making the seasoning blend listed in the recipe card below). I would just caution you to look at how much salt is in the seasoning blend before using it, since you’ll need a lot of pork rub to properly flavor the entire pork butt and you don’t want your pulled pork to be too salty.
Also note that you should 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
- German Potato Salad
- Heavenly Funeral Potatoes Recipe
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- The Best Potato Salad
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- The Best BBQ Baked Beans
- 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
- 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
- ½ cup beef or chicken stock
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ 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
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Why is the brown sugar divided? And when do you add the 2nd half of it?
nice recipe and tips, I like how how you include oven and slow cooker options with instant pot, thank you, appreciate since I haven’t cooked pulled pork from scratch in forever