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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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 :-)

🛒 Ingredient Notes


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 Powder – The spices are kept simple so that the flavor of the barbecue shines through!
  • Barbecue Sauce – Use 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

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card 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.

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.

Fat separator cup with fat that has risen to the top.
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 pork shoulder 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 :-)

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

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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 5 votes
Print It Rate It
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 on low 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 healthcare 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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Recipe Rating




46 Comments

  1. I see the carbohydrates as 7 grams but with the buns, it’s a lot more. In case someone is watching their carbs.

    1. Yes, the recipe is for just the pulled pork, not pulled pork sandwiches so the buns are not included in the recipe card at all. This is also why I include a nutrition disclaimer on all recipes – the nutrition info is calculated by a software program, not by me personally.

  2. 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 :)

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      You’re welcome, Karra! I hope you both enjoy it.

  3. Simply delicious!! And super easy!!! Loved it.

  4. This is the best pulled pork recipe out there! I took it to work an everyone loved it!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! It’s our favorite, too.

  5. Hi Lana. I did a pulled pork thing a couple years ago for the Fire Dept – got rave reviews. Well, Sunday we have last part of a 27 hour training program and I never miss a chance to cook for my guys (and gals) so I had to find a quick and easy recipe. This looks like it! We have our final written test, then a lot of practicals testing on ladder training, so I’m guessing all will have worked up an appetite. We’re in the worst winter in years, and this is NY ski country, so that says a lot, but hot food will mix well with hungry firefighters and the minus double digits in the forecasts. Thanks for the help. Rock at EOFD

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Rock! It sounds like the firefighters have a hard day of training coming and they’ll need a good meal after that! This one will definitely fill them up and warm them, too, after all that work. I do hope you and they enjoy it.

  6. Meat is sitting on the counter ready to pot in the crock pot before I go to bed…Going to try just a low setting…Can hardly wait but will try to refrain until dinner, ok maybe lunch…..I love that I don’t have to add lots of ingredients….Thanks, will let you know tomorrow how it turned out…

    1. Please do! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

  7. christine says:

    Hi. Looks yummy! Do you cook it on low or high for 7 hours? Thanks!

    1. Christine – it really depends on your slow cooker. Some have lots of settings and some just have high and low. The cooking temps really vary from brand to brand. I’d start it out on high and check after about three hours or so. If you feel it’s cooking too quickly, turn it on down some. It’s just one of those things you have to use your own judgment and knowledge of your slow cooker.

  8. Azgrannie3 says:

    Wonderful, Fast, and Easy recipe!!!
    I just bought the new 1 1/2 qt slow cooker from Proctor Silex and had to try this recipe. I live alone so the mini slow cooker is perfect for me and this new one is wonderful. It has 3 heat selections and has everything the large 6 qt cooker has. Actually, it’s better than my large cooker. Anyway, I had a pork roast in the freezer that I had cut in half before I froze it and wanted to try this recipe so I thawed a piece of the pork roast and seasoned it (without the garlic) and put it in the cooker with the 1/4 c. water. Checked it after about 5 hrs and the thermometer said was Med/Rare so I left it in about 4 more hours. It was wonderful. It tasted so good I didn’t add the BBQ sauce to the shredded pork. I did add it to the meat that I made the sandwich with. I cooked it on low the whole time. I love this recipe, it is so easy to make. Most recipes have 42 ingredients and forever on prep time. The only time spent here was waiting for the roast to thaw. I didn’t do the fat separator thing either, but my roast was so small it hardly had any fat on it.

  9. This really looks fabulous! I’m gonna see if I can adapt it for the pressure cooker as my Doula work can be pretty irregular and it can be a quick fix for a healthy and delicious meal! :)

  10. Sounds marvelous! I make mine in the slow cooker too :)

  11. Okay, here’s a hint, I need one of those fat separator cups for Christmas. Of course, if you could manage a way to separate fat from my thighs, that would be better…….

    Miss P

    1. If I could work out how to keep the fat off our thighs, I’d be a wealthy woman.

  12. Hi,
    Do you have a favorite BBQ sauce? The sandwich looks delicious. :) -Tien

    1. Hi Tien. I use only my homemade barbecue sauce. Most of the commercial ones are just too sweet for me.

  13. SMITH BITES says:

    it’s not lunchtime yet Lana but boy howdy, do i want one of those!!!

    1. Wish I could wrap one up and transport it right over to you, Debra! Did you want chips and a pickle with that?

  14. Mary at Deep South Dish says:

    One of my favorites too for sure!

    1. It’s a favorite at our house, too! Thanks for stopping by, Mary.

  15. My favorite BBQ meal is pulled pork. This looks delicious! And I love the ease and peace of mind using my slow cooker. Excellent!!

  16. Jennifer @ Jane Deere says:

    This looks delicious…and so simple! I love slow cooker recipes!

  17. looks pretty darn tasty! I would loke to sink my teeth into some of that right this instant. Can you make that happen, please?

    1. Meet you halfway between here and there with a couple of sandwiches :-)

  18. pulled pork is a southern tradition and anyone with a drawl in their gabble ought to have a handful of great recipes just like this one….

    1. Well, well. Proof that great minds really do think alike :-) Had no idea you’d just posted pulled pork yesterday! Love your combination of spices.

  19. Big Boys Oven says:

    lovely and awesome, I love the way the pork being pulled gorgeous! :)

  20. Liz @ Blog is the New Black says:

    Love the simplicity of this recipe. This is a favorite in my household- need to make it soon!

    1. Hi Liz – Hope you will make it and your family enjoys it as much as ours!

  21. Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food says:

    Pulled pork is one of my all-time favorite main courses, but I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never actually cooked it. Rather, I always buy it as take-out from my favorite local smokehouse. You’ve really inspired me here to get with the program, finally buy a crock pot, and make it myself. Many thanks for this excellent recipe, Lana!

    1. You’re quite welcome, Barbara. Hope you’ll give it a try!

  22. This looks delish! I will have to make something similar (Grumpy has stopped eating pork!) I love your recipe!

    1. Thanks, Shelby! You could also use this same recipe with boneless, skinless chicken to make pulled bbq chicken.

  23. Cookin' Canuck says:

    There is nothing better than knowing that there is a pork roast cooking in the crockpot, ready to full apart and eat by dinner time. Perfect recipe for these cold evenings.

    1. Isn’t it nice to come home to something ready in the slow cooker after a long, cold day?

  24. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says:

    Looks great! That’s how I like it too, maybe just a splash of vinegar-dinner is served:@)

    1. What’s great about this kind of recipe is that you can add spices and seasonings to suit your personal tastes. Add a little vinegar, use a different sauce…whatever you like!

    2. Thanx for this recipe … Got my shoulder roast in the crock pot as we speak.

      1. Lana Stuart says:

        I really hope you enjoy it, Cheri!

    3. it doesnt say cook on high or cook on low? any one?

      1. Lana Stuart says:

        It depends somewhat on your brand of slow cooker, but I cook it on low for 7 hours with one additional hour in the slow cooker after pulling.