Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Pulled pork in a Crock Pot is tender, juicy, and hands off easy! Enjoy the melt in your mouth flavor on its own, atop a fresh bun, over grits, in a tortilla, or in an omelette, the possibilities are endless!For the full details keep reading, for just the recipe card click this link!
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Slow cookers are amazing. You can haphazardly throw some ingredients in, close the lid, turn it on, and in hours have a delicious meal ready to enjoy. One of my favorite things to make in my slow cooker is meat. I often cook a large amount at a time, then portion and freeze the cooked meat for easy dinners.
One of the best meats to make in the slow cooker is by far pork shoulder, aka pork butt. It’s incredibly versatile depending on how you season it, and it’s generally an inexpensive cut of meat.
This Crock Pot pulled pork recipe does not use bottles of thick and sugary bottled sauce. Instead, a mixture of simple ingredients are used to gently season and tenderize the pork shoulder meat in order to amplify its deliciousness, not hide it!
- Pork Shoulder: also known as pork butt, this inexpensive cut of pork transforms into tender and juicy meat that falls apart perfectly.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: the sweetness in this vinegar is key to the flavor, I do not recommend switching it out for another variety.
- Molasses: this contributes to the sweetness of the sauce without it being overly sugar, in addition to adding a nice depth of flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce: because every pulled pork recipe can be improved with a little umami.
- Tomato Paste: the concentrated nature of tomato paste is best for this recipe, but if you need to you can sub it out for tomato sauce or even ketchup, but the flavor will be affected.
- Paprika: I always have the standard paprika on hand, but you can kick up the smokiness by using smoked paprika.
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
How To Make Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot
Making your own Pulled Pork at home is SO easy. All you need is a few ingredients, a slow cooker, and time!
- Start off by mixing up the marinade.
- In a small bowl combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. Add the apple cider vinegar and mix well.
- Next, add the molasses, Worcestershire, and tomato paste and whisk until you have a smooth liquid.
- Place the pork shoulder in your slow cooker and pour the marinade over the top.
- The roast doesn’t need to be completely submerged in the marinade, just make sure the top is coated and that there’s at least an inch of liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Close the lid and set the time and temperature.
- If you’re going to be gone all day, set the slow cooker to low and it can cook for 8-10 hours.
- You can also cook it a little faster by setting the temperature to high for 6 hours.
- Use tongs to check to see if your Pulled Pork is ready by gently pinching off a piece of the meat. It should easily pull apart…hence the name.
- Take the pork shoulder out of the slow cooker and place it on a work surface like a cutting board.
- Use a slotted spoon to fish out all remaining solid pieces from the liquid.
- Pull the pork apart and discard any excess fat, and the bone if there is one.
- You can use meat claws, tongs, or forks, but I just get in there with bare hands.
- I generally like to reserve some of the cooking liquid to add back into the shredded meat to help retain more flavor and moisture. How much you add is up to you.
- Note: this does not create a thick, sugary, saucy sauce.
What to Serve With Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is excellent as a main dish and can accompany almost endless sides.
- Corn on the cob
- Baked beans
- Potato salad
- Macaroni salad
- Roasted veggies such as carrots, Brussels Sprouts, asparagus, etc.
- Mac and cheese
- Salad – like this Brussels Sprout and Broccoli Salad
- Fresh fruit
You can also feature Pulled Pork in a number of other recipes.
- On a bun with some BBQ sauce
- Pile it atop a bowl of corn grits with sharp cheddar
- Tacos are another excellent vehicle for the juicy meat!
- In a stuffed baked potato
- With eggs, omelette or hash style
As far as adult beverage pairings, choose something with bold flavor.
- For wine I prefer a flavorful Tempranillo or Merlot.
- If beer is more your style a Pale Ale would go nicely, with a strong hop flavor to compliment the meat.
- To really take it up a notch sip an Old Fashioned alongside your Pulled Pork meal!
Storage and Reheating Tips
Slow cooker pulled pork is great for meal prep since you can cook so much at once, then portion and freeze!
- Keep leftover pulled pork in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days.
- If you’re like me and like to have cooked meat on hand, freeze for up to 3 months.
- Allow the pulled pork to cool completely.
- Seal in an airtight container or bag.
- Vacuum sealing (love my FoodSaver!) is the best!
- Reheat and enjoy!
- The BEST way to reheat is with the help of a sous vide. Place the sealed bag of frozen pork in the water bath for at least 1 hour at 145°F.
- If you don’t have a sous vide, reheat in a skillet on the stove, in BBQ sauce in a pot or slow cooker, in the oven, or worst case the microwave.
What temp should I cook pulled pork?
The ideal internal temperature for fall apart pulled pork is 204°F. Pork is safe to eat at 145°F, but the fibers won’t tenderize enough to pull apart until about 190° and up.
What cut of pork is best for pulled pork?
The absolute best cut of pork for shredding is pork shoulder, AKA pork butt due to the fat content. Pork loin can be used as well, but since it is a leaner cut it will not be as tender and may take a little longer.
Do you need liquid in a slow cooker for pulled pork?
Technically no since the pork will create its own juices while cooking, but your results will be much better with some kind of liquid added. I generally pour enough sauce over the top of the pork shoulder to coat it and cover the bottom of the slow cooker by about 1 inch.
How Can I Make It Spicy?
If you love heat on your meat, Tabasco is the most recommended hot sauce for this Pulled Pork recipe. Louisiana hot sauce is another good option. Or you can also coat it with your favorite spicy BBQ sauce.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 3-5 pound Pork Shoulder (aka pork butt)
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Molasses
- 2 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- In a small bowl mix paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and stir well.
- Add the molasses, tomato paste, Worcestershire and whisk until you have a smooth liquid.
- Place pork shoulder in slow cooker and pour the marinade so it coats the roast.
- Cover with the lid and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove the meat and all solids from the slow cooker, reserving the juices.
- Shred the meat with tongs or your hands, discarding any bones or excess fat.
- If you'd like mix the shredded meat with some of the reserved cooking juices.
- Serve warm, or store for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.