This easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is made from scratch with my homemade BBQ sauce – it smells incredible and comes out tender and delicious.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
BBQ pulled pork is one of those dishes you can serve all year round. It’s perfect for feeding a crowd at potlucks or large gatherings and doesn’t require much time in the kitchen. I created this leaner pulled pork recipe using boneless pork loin roast and homemade BBQ sauce, which gave me complete control of what was added. Try these pork carnitas for Mexican pulled pork, and check out my slow cooker recipes for more easy dinner ideas.
Pulled Pork Ingredients
- Pork: The best cut of meat is usually the fattier cuts but I like to use a leaner center-cut boneless pork loin roast which has less saturated fat and tastes great. Pork butt or Boston butt will also work. If it’s bone-in, add 1 more hour to the cook time.
- Liquid: Two teaspoons each of red wine vinegar and hickory liquid smoke
- Seasoning Spice: Garlic powder and salt, black pepper optional to taste
- Barbecue Sauce: I love to make Kansas City BBQ sauce from scratch, but if you have a favorite BBQ sauce you like to buy, you can use that instead.
How to Make Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker
- Season the Pork: Place the meat in the slow cooker and season it with vinegar, liquid smoke, salt, and garlic powder.
- Cover and cook the pork on low for eight to 12 hours until tender.
- Shred: Remove the pork, transfer it to a large dish, and pour all the liquid into a cup. Shred the pork with two forks and return it to the slow cooker with ¾ cup of the reserved liquid and the BBQ sauce.
- Finish Cooking: Cook the pork on high for one more hour.
What to Serve with Pulled Pork
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Sandwich the meat between a bun and make a quick slaw with shredded cabbage, carrots, a little vinegar, salt, and a touch of olive oil.
- Traditional BBQ Dinner: If you’re having a party, serve a BBQ feast with all the classic sides, like coleslaw, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, potato salad, and baked beans.
- BBQ Baked Potato: Stuff a baked potato or baked sweet potato with pork, and add your favorite toppings, like cheese, sour cream, and green onions.
- Tacos: Wrap the meat in flour or corn tortillas and top it with shredded cheddar cheese and diced onions.
- With Side Dishes: Serve slow cooker pulled pork with grilled corn on the cob, corn salad, or rice pilaf.
- Vinegar: Sub apple cider vinegar for white wine vinegar.
- Smokiness: If you don’t have liquid smoke, season the pork with smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
- Pork Swap: You can use pork shoulder if you prefer.
- BBQ Chicken: If you want to try this recipe with chicken, use boneless thighs and cook on low for four hours.
- BBQ Sauce: If you don’t have time to make the pulled pork sauce, buy a BBQ sauce from the store – just make sure it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup.
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork: Follow the same directions, but cut them meat in 4 pieces and use the “Meat/Stew” function on the Instant Pot, add one cup of chicken broth, and cook for about 40 minutes high pressure until the pork easily shreds with a fork.
Frequently Asked Questions
What pork is best for pulled pork?
Pulled pork is typically made with pork shoulder, but I used pork loin for a leaner cut of meat. If you want to use shoulder meat, go for it!
Should pulled pork be covered in liquid in a slow cooker?
You don’t need much liquid to slow cook pork since it releases juices while cooking when using the low setting. I use just enough to flavor the pork along with the reserved juices of the pork and serve the extra BBQ sauce on the side. If you wish to add liquid, you can add 1 cup of chicken broth.
Do you put BBQ sauce on pulled pork before cooking?
For my recipe, I add the BBQ sauce to the shredded pork at the end. The size of your pork loin will determine how much sauce you add. Here are two things to keep in mind:
- Pork shrinks after it is cooked, so you will want to weigh the meat cooked. I added two tablespoons of BBQ sauce for every three ounces of cooked pork, along with some reserved pork juices.
- If your kids don’t like BBQ sauce, set some pork to the side for them before putting it back in the crock pot with the sauce.
What is the secret to pulled pork?
The secret to tender pulled pork is to cook it low and slow. That’s why the slow cooker is the perfect way to make it. How long you cook it depends on the size of your pork. I used the smallest roast I could find since I was making it for my family, so it took about eight hours, but it could take up to 12. Here are a couple of tips:
- If your slower cooker runs too hot, you may need to add a half cup of water or broth or possibly replace the appliance.
- Your BBQ pork may only need five to six hours. I recommend checking it at the five-hour mark – if it easily shreds, it’s ready.
What slow cooker do you use?
I have the 6-Quart Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker. I love it because you can adjust the time you want the crock pot to cook, and it automatically turns to warm when it’s done. It also has a probe for meat that automatically shuts off when done. This slow cooker is so great that I own several!
How to Freeze Pulled Pork
You can eat leftover pulled pork for up to four days after it’s cooked. Just reheat it in the microwave until warm. For the freezer, pack it in airtight containers and freeze up to three months. You can store it in one large container or multiple smaller single-serving ones. Thaw it in the refrigerator the day before you plan on eating it.
More Pork Slow Cooker Recipes You’ll Love:
- Mexican Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Slow Cooker Pork and Green Chili Stew
- Slow Cooker Jerk Pork with Caribbean Salsa
- Slow Cooker Filipino Adobo Pulled Pork
- Crock Pot Kalua Pork
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe
- Place pork in the slow cooker and season with salt, vinegar, garlic powder and liquid smoke.
- Cover and cook low 8 to 12 hours, until tender.
- Remove pork and transfer onto a large dish; reserve all the liquid into a cup and set aside.
- Shred the pork with two forks and put it back into the slow cooker along with about 3/4 cup of the reserved liquid and the BBQ sauce (for every 3 oz cooked pork, I used 2 tbsp BBQ sauce).
- Cook on high 1 more hour.