Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Slow cooker pulled pork is my favorite way to serve a crowd! This pork is coated in a homemade spice rub, then it’s simmered in the Crockpot until it’s perfectly tender. Shred the meat and dinner is ready to serve! Crockpot pulled pork is easy to make, incredibly delicious and everyone always loves it!
With just about 10 minutes of prep, this recipe is great to add to the slow cooker before heading out for the day. You’ll come home to tender, juicy pulled pork, perfect for sandwiches and so much more.
On busy days when I know I won’t have much time to prepare dinner, I love to use my crock pot. My family is crazy about this simple, yet satisfying pulled pork. It’s so tasty, I personally think it’s the best slow cooker pulled pork. And it makes for such an easy and versatile dinner option – it can be used in so many different ways. It’s also a great meal idea for a huge family dinner, for game day or even parties. I make this recipe at least once a month!
Let the slow cooker do all of the work, and then pile this pulled pork on toasted buns and top with some fresh homemade coleslaw for a meal that’s always a hit! We also often enjoy this pork stuffed in baked potatoes or served with Cauliflower Au Gratin or Mac and Cheese.
Other than the pork, you probably already have everything needed to make this recipe. This list is short and sweet! Here’s the lineup:
- Pork. I like to use part of the pork shoulder for this pulled pork recipe, specifically the pork butt. Yes, I know, it’s called butt, but it’s actually a cut of meat that comes from the pig’s shoulder. So confusing!
- Spices. We’re using a delicious blend of paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt. Feel free to use as much or as little of each spice, as you prefer. If you’d like your pork to have a kick of heat, add in a dash or two of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Brown sugar. For just a hint of sweet flavor that balances out all of the savory spices.
- Onion. It breaks down so much you’ll almost forget it’s there, but gives the pork amazing flavor!
How To Make Pulled Pork in the slow cooker
Succulent, juicy, and bursting with flavor, making pulled pork in the slow cooker is a lot easier to make than you might expect. Here’s the simple process, but for the full, printable recipe, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Mix the rub. In a small bowl, stir together the spices and brown sugar.
- Rub the pork. Place the pork in your slow cooker or on a large serving tray and rub it down with the homemade seasoning blend.
- Brown the pork. Browning the outside of the pork is optional, but highly recommended to give the meat so much extra flavor. Heat a large pot or skillet with about 1 to 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Place the pork butt into the pan and brown all sides for about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Cover and cook. Add the pork to the slow cooker and cook it until tender, about 8 hours on low heat setting.
- Shred pork. Once the pork is fully cooked, shred with two forks and stir back into the liquid juices.
- Serve. I love it straight from the slow cooker, but if you’d like, you can add BBQ sauce to the meat. Serve on toasted buns or rolls, preferably with coleslaw!
Pulled Pork in the oven
If you prefer to cook the pulled pork in the oven, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Follow the above steps, 1 through 3. Then, place pork in a Dutch oven pot. Cover pot with lid and cook in the oven for 3 hours. Remove lid and cook for an additional 1-2 hours, until pork is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork.
Pulled pork in the instant pot
Follow steps 1 through 3 above, then place pork in Instant Pot. Cook on Manual/High pressure for 70 minutes. When timer beeps, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, about 15 minutes longer.
How do you know when pork is fully cooked?
It is possible to overcook pulled pork. You want your pork to be pull-apart tender—an indication that the connective tissue has broken down—but not so cooked that the muscle fibers themselves start to lose structure and turn to mush. According to Kingsford, once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 205 F, it is ready to be pulled. I actually prefer to pull my pork at a temperature of around 203 F. You’ll know that it’s done when the pork is fork-tender, meaning just a hint of pressure from the tines of a fork causes it to absolutely fall apart. I like using this meat thermometer (affiliate link) to check for doneness.
What Is the Best cut of meat For Pulled Pork?
For juicy, tender pork, you want a cut of meat with some marbling for flavor and to keep the pork from drying out. The best cut of meat for pulled pork is pork shoulder. Pork butt and pork shoulder both come from the shoulder of the hog and either will work great. Either part of the pork shoulder will result in a wonderful taste and texture. However, if you have a choice between the top of the pork shoulder (the Boston butt) or the bottom of the pork shoulder (the picnic roast), choose the Boston butt. It will be the most juicy, tender, and super flavorful!
How do you pull pork?
Pulled pork is just a fancy way of saying shredded pork. Pulling pork is super easy. Here’s the simple process:
- Once pork is fully cooked, keep the pork in the slow cooker and garb two forks.
- Use the two forks and pull apart the pork until it is fully shredded.
- Stir the pulled pork in all of the juices to soak up all of that saucy flavor. Done!
How much pulled pork per person?
If you’d like to determine about how much pulled pork you should make for an event or get together, keep in mind:
- One pound of pulled pork will feed approximately 3 people (about 5 ounces per serving).
- Cooked pulled pork will loose about half of its weight as it cooks (so a 5 pound raw cut of pork will cook down to about 2.5 pounds of meat).
Use this simple formula to figure out how much pork you’ll need per person:
- Number of guests multiplied by .33 (⅓ pounds of meat per serving) = amount of cooked pulled pork you will need.
- Times that number by 2, since the meat will cook down 50%.
Here’s an example, if you’ll be needing to feed 50 guests.
50 X .33 = 16.5 lbs cooked pulled pork needed
16.5 X 2 = 33 pounds raw pork butt needed
It’s important to keep in mind kids won’t eat as much, so if there are lots of kids at the event, you may not need as much. Also, if you’re serving the pork as the main dish with some light sides, you will need more than if you’re serving it as sandwiches or tacos.
Tips For Recipe Success
This slow cooker pulled pork recipe really is so simple, but here are some tips to make sure it’s absolutely perfect every time you make it!
- Browning the meat before adding it to the slow cooker is optional. If I have the extra time, I like to brown it because it gives a lot of extra flavor to the pulled pork.
- Spice rub. The spice rub listed in the recipe card, below, is very tasty and so easy. However, you can use a store bought spice mix, if preferred.
- Bone-in or boneless. You can use bone-in or boneless pork shoulder. If you use bone-in pork shoulder, simply remove the meat from the bone before you shred it.
- Low and slow! For the best results and most tender meat, I recommend slow cooking the pork on low for 8 hours. I would NOT turn the setting to high and only cook the pork for 4-6 hours.
- BBQ pulled pork. If you prefer saucy pulled pork, simply add about 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce to the meat once it is shredded.
There are pretty much endless options when it comes to serving this dish. Here are some of my favs:
- Pulled pork sandwich. My favorite way to serve this is piled high on a toasted bun and topped with fresh, creamy, crisp coleslaw! Use my easy homemade coleslaw recipe that is absolutely delicious. I give instructions for shredding your own cabbage or using a bag mix.
- As a topper. Pulled pork is also wonderful spooned over baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes or even baked macaroni and cheese.
- Pulled pork tacos. Use the pork in tortillas topped with avocado, sour cream and cheese for taco night.
- Leftovers. To use up leftovers, use it as a pizza topping, for nachos or add it to soup or salad.
- Pulled pork sliders. Make delicious cute and tasty sliders! These pulled pork sliders are brushed with a flavorful onion poppy seed butter and baked in the oven to golden brown perfection. They are absolutely drool-worthy.
How to store, reheat & freeze
- Storing leftovers. If you have leftovers, simply store it in an airtight bag or container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To reheat. Rewarm over the stovetop or in the microwave, with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep the pork from becoming too thick or dry.
- Freezing. Divide the pork into airtight, freezer-safe containers of your desired size. Freeze for up to 4 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Slow cooker pulled pork is honestly one of my favorite meals. It always comes out so tender, flavorful and delicious. It’s amazing in a sandwich, on pizza, for tacos, or to simply eat as-is with some chips and potato salad. Using a Crockpot makes it such an easy meal too! This one is definitely a crowd pleaser!
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 3-4 pounds pork shoulder, bone in or boneless, can also use country style pork ribs, pork butt is the part of the shoulder that I prefer to use
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt and brown sugar. Rub this all over the pork.
- Heat a large skillet or pot with about 1 to 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pork shoulder on all sides about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Place pork shoulder in the slow cooker with the onions and cook on the low setting for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred the pork with two forks and mix it all up with the "pan sauce" that's inside the slow cooker.
- Serve on toasted buns with coleslaw.