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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwich

I had such success with my slow cooker french dip the other week, I couldn’t wait until I had the opportunity to break out my slow cooker again for another dish. My trip to Dallas put me in the mood for some barbecue and I decided to try and adapt one of my favorite recipes to the slow cooker: pulled pork. Pulled pork is traditionally cooked by smoking the meat (usually a pork shoulder or pork butt) for hours at a low temperature, infusing the meat with a nice, smoky bbq flavor and creating a super tender texture where the meat simply falls apart at the touch of a fork. You don’t really get the smoky flavor with a slow cooker, but you can easily replicate the long, low-heat cooking process with excellent results.

I picked up a nice big pork shoulder at Whole Foods and put it into my slow cooker with some homemade barbecue sauce. I noticed, when I was researching various different pulled pork recipes, that most don’t call to use that much cooking liquid/bbq sauce in with the meat. I’ve always found that things in my slow cooker work best when there is quite a bit of liquid and so I ended up making a really big batch of sauce. I put half into the slow cooker to infuse the meat and reserved half, pouring it onto the finished pulled pork when I served it on top of my homemade yogurt sandwich rolls. More barbecue sauce is generally a good thing in my book, especially with a tangy one like this.

The pork turned out to be incredibly moist and tender. It’s hard to find good barbecue out here in So. Cal., so I would even venture to say that it is the best I’ve had in a while – high praise, considering that the meat wasn’t smoked and the recipe took virtually no “active” work time! I’ll make this again and again and it’s definitely something I would break out to serve at a big, casual party. You can use a different bbq sauce if you have a favorite, although tangy sauces are pretty standard for pulled pork.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
5-6 lb. pork shoulder/pork butt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup water

Place onion on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork shoulder, trimmed of any obvious excess fat, into slow cooker on top of onions.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients to form the barbecue sauce. Feel free to adjust salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and cover. Set remaining sauce aside.
Cook over low heat for about 8 hours (or according to your slow cooker’s presets).
Remove pork to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Transfer meat back into slow cooker and cook for a few more minutes, until meat has soaked up the sauce. Pulled pork can be held on the “warm” setting in the slow cooker for serving.
Serve on soft sandwich rolls, topped with extra barbecue sauce.

Serves 10-12.

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  • oooh, homemade rolls, and BBQ sauce! Looks great! Gotta try these!

  • AkiraSabine
    April 28, 2008

    Yummy, I just feel like taking a bite this instant!

  • dancing kitchen
    April 28, 2008

    I did a bone in pork shoulder that was tremendous in the slow cooker. I rubed the meat with kosher salt and then rubbed it with 4 tbsp liquid smoke, placed it in the crock pot for 20 hours and the amount of juice surprised me. I stirred it with a fork and it broke apart without effort. The bone removed easily. The pork was incredible tasting by itself, and with a bit of bbq added was out of this world. This is my new go to easy easy recipe…and considering that pork shoulder is cheap…W00T!

  • Karen
    April 29, 2008

    I have made a similar pulled pork (using a Bon Appetit recipe as a guideline) in my pressure cooker. For those of us like me who work and never remember to take the meat out of the freezer the night before to defrost, I’ve been able to cook the pork roast in my pressure cooker, frozen, for about 40 minutes with excellent results. Thanks for the recipe – I’ve got a pork roast in my freezer I can use with your recipe using my pressure cooker!

  • Kara
    April 29, 2008

    This looks really delicious – definitely going to try the homemade BBQ sauce next time! I forget from your earlier post – can you freeze the rolls you made so they are ready when you get home to the pork? Any other slow-cooker recipes you’d recommend?

  • Cap'n Jack
    April 29, 2008

    Wow, I’ve actually been looking for a good slow-cooker pulled pork recipe, and this looks fantastic!! Can’t wait to try it!

  • Mellisa
    May 1, 2008

    I have the pork in the slow cooker and the roll ingredients on the counter. I cannot wait until dinner tonight. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Kacey
    June 11, 2008

    I agree that there aren’t a lot of places in So Cal to get good BBQ, but I suggest you try Baby Blues on Lincoln Blvd. It is excellent.

  • Miso Doll
    June 28, 2008

    i have been eyeing this recipe and finally made it today. It is delicious and although i bought a lamb leg instead of pork it came out exactly as you describe. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  • Jane
    June 30, 2008

    Excellent recipe! I made this for a party and it was great! I added a healthy dose of liquid smoke to the sauce and then again at the end and I think it gave it a nice bbq flavor. I served it with coleslaw, which added some crunch. Really yummy pork dish, I highly recommend.

  • FrankieB
    August 23, 2008

    I have been a barbeque purist for years, smoking dead animals using a traditional barrel smoker with a side fire box. Half of the fun was the cold beer consumed while the meat was smoking all day. However in the twilight of my years, I look more and more for convenience and I am now a true believer in crock pot pulled pork! Here’s what I do… I fire up the smoker and cook the meat for a couple of hours to get some smoke flavor in the pork. Then I put it in the crockpot for 6 or 7 hours and I am telling you, it is every bit as good, if not better than if it had been on the smoker for 10 hours!

  • kristin
    February 2, 2009

    I made this for superbowl sunday and it was a huge hit! of course i did my own little variations here and there (what cook is there out there that doesn’t use all five senses to get it just right?!) Thank you for the GREAT recipe! I don’t think I’m ever gonna buy bbq sauce again!

  • Judy
    February 7, 2009

    Wow! I’m getting rave reviews from the family on this recipe as I write! Of course, I, too, made a few adjustments to suit our needs: like doubling the amount of pork butt and sauce; degreasing the pork and cooking down the liquid; and fiddling with the spicing to please my boys (more cayenne and pepper).

    And if I had had some ‘liquid smoke’ I probably would have added that, only because I had heard a food commentator on Public Radio regaling its merits (which surprised me), not because it really needed it.

    We served this on flour tortillas with cucumber pickles and some pickled peppers. And cold beer! Really good! Thanks!

    And p.s. That’s a really nice Barbecue Sauce recipe just to have in the fridge!

  • Jane E
    February 24, 2009

    If you live in So Cal, you might want to try Bad to the Bone in San Clemente for some delicious Bar-B-Que. The place is fairly new and at the shopping center on the southeast corner of Ortega Highway and whatever Marguarite Parkway becomes–just a couple of lights east of I-5. I will try the recipe, too, as I’m a bit further north and eating out gets expensive, but just FYI.

  • Heather
    February 28, 2009

    GREAT RECIPE! I add a little Ken’s Chicken Wing Sauce and some Dinosaur BBQ sauce to it, to extend the sauce and give it more kick… I use this instead of the Cayenne Pepper

  • Dan the chef
    March 5, 2009

    tried it and i love it.Great job, I shared it with family and friends,down in southern VA,Its a big hit.Thanks keep up the great work.

  • Tina from NC
    March 16, 2009

    I have used your recipe over and over, and it is the BEST slow cooker recipe for pulled pork I have found. The tangy BBQ sauce is to die for and gives the pork a great flavor. Thanks for the recipe.

  • AP
    April 4, 2009

    This a great and easy recipe. I do a similar one. Instead of using water, use a beer. I have found a craft micro brew that is actually smoked and full of flavour, and works great for bbq sauce and braising pork. I suggesting trying to support the little guy, so get out there and check out the micros.

  • holly_44109
    April 17, 2009

    made this for my baby’s 1st birthday party and it was a hit. loved the bbq sauce!!!

  • RDR
    April 18, 2009

    FYI, I used a ductch ovwn inside my oven set at 230 degrees. 7 hours was enough. Made my own BBQ sauce. I was going for the sweet molasses vinegar glaze. It came out great.

  • April
    May 12, 2009

    I live in SoCal too but I am a transplant from Kansas City so I love pulled pork sanwiches! I have had many here and sad to say it soesn’t compare to home. I tried the homemade bbq sauce and i had a flashback. It was delicious. Thank you so much!

  • Anonymous
    May 17, 2009

    I tried this for a get together. Great recipe. I must say this was a hit. I want to make it again but Wegmans ran out of pork shoulders. I must make this again the flavor was awesome. Thanks..

  • jim
    May 17, 2009

    I tried this for a get together. Great recipe. I must say this was a hit. I want to make it again but Wegmans ran out of pork shoulders. I must make this again the flavor was awesome. Thanks..

  • agilebeth
    June 30, 2009

    I made this for a women’s wilderness kayak trip and it was a huge hit – my friends want me to bring it again next year. I made it ahead of time – of course – and then served it on rolls along with cole slaw. It was a GREAT camping meal.

  • Judy
    December 5, 2009

    Great recipe – made it today – everyone loved it and asked for the recipe. Very juicy – great sauce

  • Jessie @ simplysifted
    February 26, 2010

    I just made this for my boyfriend’s birthday dinner. He said it was the best meal he’s ever had. Thank you so much for the recipe! It was also the first time I used a slow cooker and am so pleased with the results. I can’t wait to try the ribs with root beer sauce!

  • Stephanie
    November 12, 2010

    I tried this recipe yesterday. I put all, instead of half, of the sauce in that the recipe above calls for, but this morning dumped it all out because the fat from the pork made it more of a juice – gross. So I whipped up another batch of the sauce and added a little extra water and simmered it on low for about an hour to serve as a BBQ topping for the sandwiches. Otherwise the meat was so tender it fell apart as I was trying to take it out of the slow cooker. I served them at a work food day and they were a hit. Thanks!

  • catherine
    July 14, 2011

    can you cook this on high for 4 hours?

  • Tim
    January 1, 2013

    You talking about pork makes me want to make bacon today. I love bacon. Bacon and eggs is the most amazing combo around.

  • Nichole
    January 11, 2013

    Just wondering what kind of mustard?

  • Wendy
    February 13, 2013

    Hi there, I have the same question as Nichole…. dried mustard powder or just cheap yellow mustard in a squirt bottle? LOL

  • DaveT
    June 6, 2013

    I’ve done this one several times, and it’s fantastic. I have modified it just a bit: I put the meat in the cooker without the sauce…I add a can of sprite for the liquid, then let it cook for 8 to 10 hours. I mix the sauce and let it get happy in the fridge for a few hours, then add it after I pull the pork. The only thing that I add to the sauce is a little bit of hickory liquid smoke. After I add the sauce I leave it on low for another couple of hours…it’s perfect!!! The yogurt sandwich rolls that are linked on this recipe are very good…give them a try. This is a great, easy recipe!!!!

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