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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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Fool-proof recipe with 5-minute prep for making southern style Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Great for feeding a crowd or dinner on busy days!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
A pulled pork sandwich on a serving plate with a slow cooker in the background.

Learn to make southern style Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with just 5 minutes of prep time! This fool-proof recipe is a great way to feed a crowd or to take care of dinner while you’re busy doing other things.

When I think of barbecue, pulled pork is at the top of my list. It’s practically a staple in the south. If you’re ever invited to a southerner’s home for a get together, you’re likely to encounter a slow cooker stuffed full of this shredded porky goodness!

A pulled pork sandwich on a serving plate with a slow cooker in the background.

There’s nothing else quite like southern BBQ pulled pork shoulder. It’s slow cooked all day long with the fat side up, infusing itself with wonderful flavors. My mouth is watering just writing about it. And here’s the clincher — it’s super simple!

All you need is a pork shoulder (Boston butt), a slow cooker or instant pot with a slow cooker setting, and 6 simple ingredients, 4 of which hardly even count.

🤔 What is Pulled Pork?


Pulled pork is simply a slow cooked pork roast that has spent a day basting in its own juices (remember, put the fat side up!) It becomes so tender that the meat literally falls apart.

If it sounds really simple, that’s because it is! And when you make your BBQ pulled pork in a slow cooker, it’s almost child’s play. Just pop that big old roast in the cooker, set it, and forget it.

You could start this before you leave for work and have dinner ready when you walk back in the door. It’s also great on a busy Saturday when you have lots of errands to run. It’s wonderful for no special reason at all…just because you want some smoky southern BBQ pulled pork :-)

🥘 Ingredients You’ll Need


Ingredients for making pulled pork.

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  • Pork Shoulder Roast (Boston Butt)You can cook as large a roast as your crockpot will hold. When purchasing, keep in mind that one pound of uncooked pork should feed about 2-3 people depending, of course, on portion sizes. Pork shoulder loses a good bit of weight during cooking so one pound of raw, uncooked pork shoulder will cook down to just over 1/2 pound after the fat has rendered.
  • Salt, Pepper, and Garlic PowderThe spices are kept simple so that the flavor of the barbecue shines through!
  • Barbecue SauceUse your favorite recipe or bottled barbecue sauce. I always make my own, but I know that Sweet Baby Ray’s is a popular purchased sauce.
  • Water

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork


Season the Pork

You’ll want a three to four-pound pork shoulder roast (or Boston Butt) for this. One side of the roast will have a cap of fat all over it – don’t remove the fat cap! The fat gives great flavor to the pork. It also continually bastes the roast as it melts and drips down preventing it from drying out while you cook it.

Pork roast inside a slow cooker sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Place the pork roast in a crockpot with the fatty side up. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

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Cook the Roast Low and Slow

Pouring water into the slow cooker with the pork roast.

Add just 1/4 cup of water around the roast. Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours.

Remove the Roast and Discard the Fat

Remove the roast from the slow cooker and discard any large, visible pieces of fat.

Notice how the fat has separated and risen to the top making it easy to strain off.

Pour the cooking juices into a fat separator cup and set it aside while you pull the pork.

Pull the Meat into Shreds

Cooked pork roast being shredded into pieces on a wooden cutting board.

Using two forks or “meat shredding claws,” pull the pork into shreds.

TIP: If you do this on a plastic cutting board it can go straight into the dishwasher. Just makes your life a little easier :-)

Add Cooking Juices and Sauce

Return the pulled meat to the cooker along with the de-fatted cooking juices and barbecue sauce. Stir it together to coat the shredded pork well.

Finish Cooking

Finished pulled pork in a slow cooker.

Cook for an additional hour. Serve on toasted buns for the perfect southern BBQ pulled pork sandwich!

🍽 Serving Suggestions


To serve the pulled pork as sandwiches, you can make sliders, or just a big ole pulled pork sandwich with dill pickles and plenty of barbecue sauce on a toasted hambuger bun.

To make it into a meal, you can always go with the traditional sides of baked beans and potato salad. Or try fresh corn, KFC copycat coleslaw, fire and ice tomatoes, or sweet and sour cucumber salad.

You can also make a delicious dinner plate with crispy fried okra, homemade macaroni and cheese, potato salad, sour cream and onion cornbread, and a slice of chocolate cake for dessert… YUM!

Tongs holding a portion of pulled pork above a slow cooker.

🍚 Storage and Reheating


Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for about four days. It’s also great to freeze for nights when you’re just too busy to cook. Transfer any leftover meat with its liquid to a freezer safe, ziptop bag. Be sure to remove as much air as possible. Freeze for 4-6 months. Then simply thaw, reheat, and serve!

To reheat, I recommend placing it in the oven or slow cooker. Microwaving can cause the pork to dry out and become tough. Before reheating, allow the meat to come to room temperature. Heat in a slow cooker for about an hour, or in the oven at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes.

❓ Questions About Slow Cooker Pulled Pork


Which cut of meat is best for pulled pork?

This is one recipe where I would not recommend substituting any other cut of meat. The cut really does make all the difference. You want a pork shoulder roast, also known as a Boston butt. Note that barbecue restaurants typically use the entire shoulder, but that’s hard to find at a retail grocery store. Pork shoulder roast (Boston butt) is widely available.

When placing the roast in the slow cooker, does the fat side go up or down?

Fat side up ALWAYS on any meat that you are slow roasting whether in a slow cooker, on the stovetop, or in the oven. Placing the fat side up provides a steady source of moisture and evenly bastes the roast all during the cooking time.

How do you keep a pork shoulder moist?

A pork shoulder with a nice thick cap of fat, cooked low and slow, will take care of itself. The fat slowly melts as the roast cooks providing a source of constant basting to the meat underneath. I can’t imagine how anyone could wind up with a dry shoulder roast cooked by this method :-)

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📖 Recipe

A pulled pork sandwich on a serving plate with a slow cooker in the background.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Fool-proof recipe with 5-minute prep for making southern style Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Great for feeding a crowd or dinner on busy days!
5 from 3 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 133kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 4 pound pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • Put the pork roast into the slow cooker with the fatty side up.
  • Sprinkle the roast liberally with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add just 1/4 cup of water around the roast. Cover and cook for 7 hours.
  • Remove the roast from the cooker and discard the visible pieces of fat.
  • Pour the cooking juices into a fat separator cup and set it aside while you pull the pork.
  • Using two forks, “pull” the pork into shreds.
  • Return the pulled meat to the cooker along with the de-fatted cooking juices and barbecue sauce. Cook for an additional hour.
  • Serve on toasted buns.

Notes

  • One side of the roast will have a cap of fat all over it – don’t remove that, it gives great flavor to the pork. It also continually bastes the roast as it melts and drips down preventing it from drying out while you cook it.
  • Keep leftovers refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for about four days. To freeze, transfer meat with its liquid to a freezer safe, ziptop bag or other container. Freeze for 4-6 months. 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 277mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 44IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Pulled pork barbecue sandwich on a white serving plate.

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44 Comments

  1. So excited !! Today is my fiances bday, and he LOVES pulled pork. My but roast is in slow cooker now :) cant wait until dinner time . thank you for this awesome recipe, my fiance will LOVE it :)