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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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5 from 2 votes
A fool-proof slow cooker method of preparing southern style pulled pork.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Pulled pork barbecue sandwich on a white serving plate.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – My fool-proof method for preparing southern style pulled pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Less than 10 minutes of prep time!

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!

Pulled pork barbecue sandwich on a white serving plate.

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, fat side up!) The pork 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 :-)

How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Season the Pork

Four pound pork shoulder roast sitting on paper towels on a cutting board.

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.

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and water needed for the recipe.

Sprinkle the roast liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Cook the Roast Low and Slow

Place the pork roast in a slow cooker with the fatty side up. 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

Pork shoulder roast (Boston butt) after cooking for 7 hours.

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

Cooking juices in a fat separator cup.

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 pulled into shreds on a cutting board.

Using two forks or “meat shredding claws,” pull the pork into shreds. I usually do this on a plastic cutting board that can go straight into the dishwasher. Just makes my life a little easier :-)

Add Cooking Juices and Sauce

Photo collage showing adding the cooking juice and barbecue sauce to the pulled pork.

Return the pulled meat to the slow cooker along with the de-fatted cooking juices and barbecue sauce.

The barbecue sauce in the photo is my homemade sauce. It’s thin, tangy, and not sweet at all. I know most people prefer a sweet sauce, so use whatever recipe or bottled brand you prefer.

Finish Cooking

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

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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 your pulled pork into a meal, you can always go with the traditional sides of baked beans and potato salad. Or try fresh corn, hot cabbage slaw, 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!


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: 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.

How many pounds of pork roast should I buy per person?

In general, one pound of uncooked pork should feed 2-3 people depending, of course, on portion sizes. Remember that a pork shoulder loses a good bit of weight during cooking. One pound of raw, uncooked pork shoulder will cook down to just over 1/2 pound after the fat has rendered.

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. 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 :-)

Can you freeze barbecue pork?

You can! It’s great to freeze for nights when you’re just too busy to cook. Just thaw, reheat, and serve! 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.

How do you reheat pulled pork?

To reheat pulled pork, 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 pork 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.

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Pulled pork barbecue sandwich on a white serving plate.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

A fool-proof slow cooker method of preparing southern style pulled pork.
5 from 2 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


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


  • 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.


Note: 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.
For the barbecue sauce, use whatever recipe or bottled brand you prefer.

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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  1. 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. 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.

  2. 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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! :)

  5. 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

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

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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. 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!

      1. 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.