A foolproof recipe for slow cooker pulled pork with a really good (and easy) homemade bbq sauce.
It's one of my favorite weeknight dinners because it's so easy to make, and the leftovers are great too!
Dinner doesn't get any easier than this recipe! Quickly mix a homemade bbq sauce (or use a store-bought one), pour it over the pork, set, and forget. Eight hours later, come home to a tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked dinner!
Pulled pork is such a classic comfort food, and making it in the slow cooker is a foolproof way to achieve truly tender, succulent meat that mixes perfectly with the sweet-tangy sauce.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Pork roast: The classic cut to use is pork butt - see the detailed discussion below. This is a great cut for slow cooking because it's fatty and flavorful, and the fat melts away as it slowly cooks. You don't want to use a lean cut that would end up dry.
Barbecue sauce: Either store-bought or homemade, this is completely up to you. For a homemade sauce, I mix together tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and a small amount of sweetener.
It's so easy to make pulled pork in the slow cooker! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to quickly mix the bbq sauce in a bowl or a jar. There's no need to cook this sauce - simply mix it and pour it over the meat.
Now, place the meat in the slow cooker pan. There's no need to brown it first, and there's also no need to add water to the slow cooker pan.
Add the barbecue sauce. Make sure it covers all surfaces of the meat.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. You will love the smell that will fill your kitchen after the first few hours!
When the meat is fully cooked and very tender, use two forks to shred it and mix it with the sauce, right inside the slow cooker pan, then serve.
Normally I'm not a fan of buying specialty ingredients. But in this recipe, I find that smoked salt (available on Amazon) really does enhance the flavor of the BBQ sauce and of the entire dish. So it's highly recommended.
Frequently asked questions
Pork shoulder is the best cut. If you have a choice between pork shoulder (the lower part of the shoulder) and a pork butt (the upper part), go with pork butt, aka Boston butt. It's tasty and fatty and won't dry out during the slow cooking process. Pork shoulder is best when making a pork roast.
I don't recommend using pork loin in this recipe. It's leaner than pork shoulder and will produce drier, inferior results.
Thickening the cooking juices isn't strictly necessary, since you simply shred the meat and mix it into the juices.
But if you'd like a thicker sauce, you can raise the slow cooker heat to HIGH after shredding the meat and mixing it with the sauce and keep cooking for 30 more minutes.
"Pulled" refers to the way the meat is pulled into small shreds once it's cooked and very tender. In other words, it's the same as shredded pork.
The only way I sometimes vary this recipe is by making it spicy. If you like your food spicy, try adding ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the BBQ sauce. You can also omit the sweetener for less sweetness and more tang.
If you use a store-bought sauce, you can obviously vary this recipe simply by using different brands each time you make this recipe.
Traditionally, you would serve shredded pork on buns. Sometimes I serve it on cloud bread as a substitute.
But I usually just skip the bun altogether and serve this dish over cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower. I add a simple green side (such as microwave broccoli) for a complete meal.
As with most slow-cooked meats, the leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. They taste great even on the last day, and in fact, they improve as the flavors are allowed to meld.
To prevent them from over-drying, gently reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
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Perfect Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 3 lb. pork butt roast
- 7 oz tomato paste (¾ cup)
- ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon stevia glycerite (or 2 tablespoons honey)
- Place the pork in your slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce ingredients. Pour over the pork and use your hands to make sure the pork is well-coated.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
- Carefully remove the lid (hot steam will escape). Increase the heat to HIGH. Use two forks to shred the meat and mix it well with the sauce (remove the butcher twine if needed). Cover and cook until slightly thickened, 15-30 more minutes, then serve.
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