This slow cooker pulled pork has a secret ingredient that makes it so tender and full of flavor! With minimal prep time, this recipe leaves you with perfectly shredded pork- great for parties, BBQs, and entertaining. Top with coleslaw for the best pulled pork sandwich!
What is slow cooker pulled pork?
This recipe for slow cooker pulled pork is made with all whole ingredients. From the dry rub to the dressing, the result is flavorful, saucy pork that you can easily shred with a fork!
This dish rivals any pulled pork sandwich you would order from a BBQ restaurant. Since you make it in the slow cooker, it is an effortless recipe you can throw together on busy days.
Which cut of pork is best for pulled pork?
When making pulled pork, it’s best to use the whole pork shoulder because of its fat content and how well it shreds.
Pork shoulder can be hard to find, so you can substitute Boston butt (or Boston roast) and picnic roast for pulled pork.
How much pork should I buy?
I got a great pack of pork shoulder from Costco! If I am hosting a party, I’ll use the whole pack, which is about 8 pounds, or I’ll use half and freeze the rest.
Note: The pork will shrink while cooking, so you’ll want to get about ⅓lb (uncooked) per guest.
This pulled pork recipe is easy to scale if you’re hosting a large party; I just double the ingredients!
Best size of slow cooker for pulled pork
You should always figure about one quart per pound of pork. If you are making 8 pounds of pork, a 6-quart slow cooker might work, but it will be really full. An 8-quart (or larger) will do better.
Prepping the pork
When preparing the pork for the slow cooker, make sure to trim extremely fatty areas to ¼ inch.
If you leave too much fat, it will take longer to cook and will prevent the flavors from infusing into the meat. Plus, fat makes shredding more difficult after it is cooked.
Pork shoulder/roast will release a ton of juices, so you don’t have to add any liquid. However, I like to add a little bit of zesty Italian dressing. The vinegar in the Italian dressing helps break down the connective tissues making the pork extra tender.
You can also substitute the Italian dressing with some beer. If you do use beer, I suggest something that is a lighter ale and not too bitter.
Best spices for pulled pork
Next comes the most important part – the spices! This is where the flavors of the pork are enhanced. I use a blend of:
- Ground cumin
- Smoked paprika
- Garlic powder
- Dried oregano
- Onion granules
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
If you have fresh spices, use them! Fresh herbs pack a lot more punch and have stronger aromatic properties. You can certainly use sliced onion and minced garlic instead of the powders.
To season and cook the pork:
- Mix the spice blend and sprinkle half over the pork.
- Lay more pork on top, then sprinkle the rest of the spices on top.
- Using tongs, mix up all the pork so that the seasoning gets evenly distributed.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
How to shred pulled pork
- Using tongs, remove each piece of pork from the slow cooker.
- Then, using two forks (the method I use), shred the pork into pieces.
- Reserve some of the juices from the pulled pork to keep it moist, especially if you’re planning to freeze some.
I’ve heard of some people using an electric mixer to shred pulled pork. I have not tested this method myself, but I can see it working if the mixer is set to low!
Serving slow cooker pulled pork
You can serve the slow cooker pulled pork as it is, but I love to make it into pulled pork sandwiches! Slather your favorite BBQ sauce on the pork and add cold coleslaw on top or on the side.
The best type of buns for pulled pork should be soft and slightly sweet. Either serve sliders on Hawaiian rolls or serve larger sandwiches on brioche buns.
Storing pulled pork
This pulled pork recipe is the perfect thing to make ahead for the rest of the week. Simply store leftover cooked pork in an airtight food storage container or bag and keep it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
You can also freeze this pulled pork! Place it in a freezer-safe food storage bag and remove as much air as possible. It will stay fresh in the freezer for up to six months.
Reheating pulled pork
It is best to reheat slow cooker pulled pork on the stove in a small saucepan. You might have to add a few more spices to make it taste as full as it tasted fresh.
Perfect for BBQ cookouts, family gatherings, or delicious meals during the week, this slow cooker pulled pork recipe is going to be in your recipe lineup forever!
Looking for other pork recipes?
- Chorizo Potato Breakfast Skillet
- Zucchini Involtini
- Hot Italian Stuffed Peppers
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Chicken Chorizo Paella
- Meatballs and Homemade Sauce
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- 4 lb boneless pork shoulder (or Boston butt) trimmed of excess fat
- ⅓ cup zesty Italian dressing
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried onion flakes
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Fresh bread rolls
- Favorite BBQ sauce
- Trim excess fat off boneless pork shoulder to about ¼ inch. Add the pork shoulder to a crockpot/slow cooker. Add in the ⅓ cup of Italian dressing and spread the mixed spices over the top. Using tongs, mix/turn the pork until it is fully coated in the spices.
- Turn the slow cooker on low heat for 8 hours and allow the pork to slow cook.
- After the 8 hours, remove the pork with tongs and place on a cutting board. Using two forks, or meat shredding claws, shred the pork. Reserve about ½ cup of the excess juices to keep the pork moist.
- Serve alone, or use your favorite BBQ sauce to slather on the pork and put it on a fresh roll with coleslaw on top!
- When making pulled pork it's best to use the whole pork shoulder because of it's fat content and how well it shreds. Pork shoulder can be hard to find so you can substitute Boston butt (or Boston roast) and picnic roast for pulled pork.
- To scale pork, figure about ⅓ lb uncooked per guest. 4 pounds will serve about 8 guests. Double the ingredients to serve about 16.
- When preparing the pork, make sure to trim extremely fatty areas to ¼ inch. Having too thick of fat will affect the cooking time of the pork, not allow the flavors to get into the meat, and trimming will streamline your shredding later.
- You can substitute the Italian dressing with beer instead (use a lighter beer). Reserve some of the juices from the pulled pork to keep it moist, especially if I'm going to freeze some.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 791Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 201mgSodium: 626mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 65g
*Note: Nutrition information is an estimate. Values vary based on different brands and ingredients*