Looking to serve a crowd? Cook up this tender slow cooker pulled pork for a hand-off, easy meal that everyone will love.
Our slow cooker pulled pork recipe is made with a delicious pork dry rub and bbq sauce and then is slow-cooked for hours in your crockpot!
Keep This Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Your Back Pocket
I think we should rename this post to Back Pocket Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. It’s a recipe that everyone should truly keep in their back pocket for busy nights.
You can serve this yummy pulled pork recipe on a Hawaiian bun, in a bowl, in a burrito, the list goes on. It’s truly an all-purpose recipe that you should have on hand.
Why you’ll love it!
Seriously this pulled pork crock pot recipe is a fan favorite and for so many reasons.
- Serves a crowd
- Set it and forget it!
What kind of pork do you need?
We’re recommending a pork 4-5 lb. bone-in pork shoulder or 3-4 lb. boneless pork shoulder. We love using pork shoulder in the slow cooker because of its fat content. When cooked low and slow, it will come out fall-off-the-bone tender.
You can also use a pork butt for this recipe if you can’t find a pork shoulder.
We do not recommend a pork loin or pork tenderloin because of how lean they are. It’s difficult to get lean pork to shred, so avoid using those cuts.
How to Make Pulled Pork in Crock Pot
- Season Pork: the start of every yummy pulled pork recipe should start with a delicious seasoning. In this recipe, we’re using chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Sear Pork: sear pork shoulder over medium/high heat in olive oil for a few minutes on each side.
- Slow Cook: add the pork shoulder along with the onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, bbq sauce, bourbon, and Worcestershire sauce to the slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or until the pork can be easily shredded.
- Shred Pork: remove the cooked pork from the slow cooker discard the bone and an=y excess fat. Then, use 2 forks to shred it. Mix it with 1 – 1.5 cps of the leftover liquid. Option to add more bbq sauce, too.
- Serve: Serve crock pot shredded pork any way you wish! Scroll down for ideas.
Have our pork rub on hand? Use that instead of making your own pork seasoning blend.
Top Tips for Perfect Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Sear Before Slow Cooking
We love searing pork shoulder before slow cooking because it helps infuse your meat with the yummy spices. It also creates a crust, making for amazing texture in every bite.
Always Add Liquid
Adding liquid to your crock put with pork shoulder is always a good idea. It adds moisture and will prevent your pork from drying out.
Cook Low and Slow
We recommend cooking your pork shoulder low and slow. This is to ensure it gets that fall-off-the-bone texture and comes out nice and tender!
Before shredding, we recommend discarding any large pieces of excess fat. This is to prevent your pulled pork from being overly fatty and greasy.
Do you need liquid in slow cooker for pulled pork?
You don’t technically HAVE to add liquid into your slow cooker for pulled pork because the pork will generate moisture. However, we do recommend adding some kind of liquid to the crock pot to make sure things stay nice and moist.
Should I sear pork before slow cooker?
It isn’t necessary to sear pork before slow cooking, but we do recommend it. By searing the pork you create an amazing “crust” that will add flavor and texture.
Can you overcook pulled pork in a slow cooker?
It is very difficult to overcook pork in a slow cooker, but it is possible. Make sure you have enough moisture in your slow cooker so that things don’t get tough and cook your pork on low to prevent overcooking.
Is it better to cook pulled pork on high or low?
We recommend cooking pulled pork in crock pot on low so that it can cook low and slow and become nice and tender.
Instant Pot Instructions
We have a great recipe for Instant Pot Pulled Pork HERE, but if you were hoping to use this exact recipe in your Instant Pot, here are some quick instructions below.
- Season pork as directed in the direction.
- Add olive oil to Instant Pot. Turn on the saute feature and sear on all sides for 2 minutes on each side. Remove pork.
- Deglaze Instant Pot with 1/3 cup of water or broth and the bourbon and use a wooden spatula to scrape up the brown bits. Then, place the trivent into your Instant Pot.
- Add the pork shoulder back in and then add the rest of the Ingredients.
- Seal Instant Pot and cook on high for 90 minutes. Quick release the Instant Pot.
- Depending on how big your pork shoulder is, your pork might be done and ready to shred. If it’s not fall-off-the-bone, continue cooking in incriments of 10 minutes.
- Once your pork is done, use 2 forks to shred it. Mix in the liquid and add more bbq sauce, if desired.
Make it spicy: Add in a (or a couple!) sliced jalapeño to make the shredded pork nice and spicy.
Pork Enchiladas: instead of BBQ sauce, swap it for enchilada sauce. Then, once the pulled pork has cooked, add 1/2 cup more enchilada sauce.
Pork Tacos: swap the spices for some homemade taco seasoning and then add 1/2 cup of salsa instead of BBQ sauce. Serve in a tortilla.
Let leftover pulled pork cool completely. Then, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
How to Reheat
Microwave: microwave on high for 1.5 to 2 minutes or until hot.
Stovetop: add a little olive oil to a frying pan. Heat pulled pork over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until thot.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5-6 lbs. bone-in pork shoulder or 4-5lbs. boneless pork shoulder
- ½ medium white onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic smashed and diced
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup bbq sauce + more for serving
- 1/4 cup bourbon*
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- Add the chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, mustard powder, thyme, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to a bowl and mix until well combined.
- Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the pork and massage the spices into the pork. Be sure the spices are covering the pork.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat and add olive oil.
- When the olive oil is fragrant add the pork to the skillet. Brown for 2-4 minutes on each side (8-10 minutes in total).
- Meanwhile, add the onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, barbecue sauce, bourbon, and Worcestershire to a bowl and mix until combined. Set aside.
- When the pork is browned, place the pork into the slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce over the pork.
- Set the slow cooker to low heat and cook for 6-8 hours or until the pork shreds easily with a fork.
- When the pork is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and place it into a casserole dish or a plate with edges and shred the pork. Remove the bone (if using a bone-in pork shoulder) and any excess fat and discard.
- The amount of sauce left in the slow cooker varies by what type of pork shoulder is used. About 1-1.5 cups of the barbecue sauce mixture is ideal to mix with the shredded pork. You can also add more bbq sauce if you wish.
- Add the pork and the sauce that is being used back into the slow cooker and mix.
- Serve over Hawaiian buns or on a tortilla
Tips & Notes
- Can't do bourbon? Swap it for broth of water.
- The larger the pork shoulder you use, the longer your pork will need to cook.