Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is incredibly easy to make and wonderful to have on hand to add protein to meals. We make a batch every week, and after testing various methods for doing it (like searing vs no sear), this is my favorite way to make it.
Pulled pork is the next best thing to chicken breast as far as keeping protein on hand goes, if you ask me. You can do SO many things with pulled pork.
Even though you can make pulled pork with other cooking methods, like in the oven, in the smoker, or even braised on the stove for several hours, I think making it in the slow cooker is the easiest method by far.
Plus, you won’t be heating up the entire kitchen for several hours like you would if you used the oven. If you don’t own a slow cooker yet, the one that I purchased was a $17 investment (lol) and has lasted me for 5 years with no problems. It’s one of the cheapest and best kitchen purchases I have ever made. Plus you can make tons of recipes in them, like Slow Cooker Beef Ragu or Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Dip. On my list next are these crockpot Baked Beans from my friend Mary.
Alright, let’s get into the details for slow cooker pulled pork.
What Cut of Meat to Use for Pulled Pork:
The classic cut for pulled pork is a pork shoulder, which you may also see named at the store as pork butt or Boston butt.
I prefer a boneless roast that has been tied, but you could do a bone-in cut as well.
For a leaner pulled pork, you can get away with using the top loin boneless roast, but it won’t be as moist as your typical pulled pork. I have a method below for removing excess fat from the pulled pork that you may find helpful.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork:
First you want to season the pork shoulder. This could be as simple as salt and pepper, though I absolutely love rubbing on some homemade Sazon Seasoning:
Another simple flavoring is to cook the pork in pineapple juice, which is a magical flavor combination with pork. Simple add a small 6-ounce can to the crock along with the other ingredients.
Note: it is not necessary to add any liquid to the slow cooker if you’re just doing a spice blend.
Next, place the pork shoulder into the crockpot, and no, I don’t sear the pork beforehand. I’ve tested searing and don’t think it makes much difference here. Most of the meat you’ll be eating later is interior, and doesn’t get a sear anyway. I’ve concluded it’s not worth the effort, which is nice because honestly it’s a pain to sear a 4 pound hunk of meat.
How Long to Cook Pulled Pork:
Cook the pork for 8 hours on low, until the interior reads 190F. There will be liquid in the crockpot that the pork gave off while cooking:
Remove the pork to a board and let it rest for 20 minutes. Then shred it with a fork:
The pork should yield quite easily to the fork, and fall apart nicely.
Now, collect the remaining liquid from the crockpot. You can see that most of it is pork juice, but there’s a small layer of fat at the top:
If the fat bothers you, chill the measuring cup in an ice bath and in the fridge until the fat hardens on top:
Then you can easily discard the fat.
Pour the remaining liquid through a strainer all over the pork:
(And if you skipped solidifying the fat, you can just pour the liquid through a strainer all over the pork right after cooking).
This pulled pork is also gluten-free, dairy-free, Whole 30 compliant, low carb, paleo, and keto friendly.
I love serving the pork with a side of homemade Coleslaw.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tips:
Can you overcook slow cooker pulled pork? Yes, definitely. The best way to combat this is to first get a feel for your own slow cooker, since models can vary in heat intensity, and also the size can impact cooking time. If you’re cooking a smaller pork shoulder that’s 3 pounds, you should check the temperature earlier than you would for a 5 pound pork shoulder. The pork is done when it reaches 190F and shreds easily with a fork.
How to reheat pulled pork: While you can reheat it in the microwave, I think it tastes best when it’s reheated in a skillet. Add a small amount of fat like neutral olive oil, butter, or lard, and cook the leftover pulled pork for a few minutes until warmed through.
What temperature to cook slow cooker pulled pork: I always cook pulled pork on low in the crockpot. In my opinion, the high setting is just too much for the pork. If you do high, it still typically takes a minimum of 4 hours. Stick with the low setting if you can.
Can pulled pork be frozen? Yes, it freezes beautifully! Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
For the Pulled Pork:
- 4 lb boneless pork shoulder (aka pork butt)
- Sazon seasoning optional
- Season the pork all over with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you'd like, then place it in the slow cooker.
- Cover with a lid and cook on low for about 8 hours, until it reaches an internal temperature of 190F.
- When the pork is done cooking, remove it to a board, and let cool for at least 20 minutes before shredding with a fork.
- Take the leftover liquid from the crockpot and strain it to remove any solids.
- If you don't mind the fat, add the liquid back to the shredded pork and toss well. If you want to remove the excess fat, chill the liquid in an ice bath in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until the fat solidifies, then discard, and pour the remaining liquid over the pork. Enjoy!
Post updated with more tips, instructions, and photos in June 2018. Originally published in September 2013. This post contains an affiliate link.