Cooked low and slow and seasoned to perfection, this recipe for Crockpot Pulled Pork delivers tender, flavorful pork with minimal effort and maximum flavor.
You don't need a smoker to enjoy tender, flavorful pulled pork! Using this recipe for Crockpot Pulled Pork, you can have fall-apart tender pork that is irresistibly good and much easier to make!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Hands-Off Recipe. Crockpot Pulled Pork is the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Pop a pork roast into the slow cooker in the morning and by dinner time, you will have fall-apart tender pork.
- Unbelievable Flavor and Texture. Thanks to the flavorful dry rub and the slow cooking process, the pork is tender and juicy, and incredibly flavorful.
- Feeds a Crowd. Pulled Pork is one of my favorite recipes to entertain with, as it stretches to feed a ton of people. Especially when served with buns and coleslaw for pulled pork sandwiches.
- Family Favorite. The flavor and tenderness that this recipe for slow cooker pulled pork delivers makes it a crowd-pleasing recipe. Even the picky eaters love it.
- Versatile. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork can be served as a main course, piled high on a bun for a BBQ sandwich, served on an Instant Pot Baked Potato with tons of cheese, as a topping for pizza, or in tacos. The sky is the limit!
Notes on Ingredients
To make Crockpot Pulled Pork you really only need a pork roast, spice rub, and a bit of liquid. I like to toss the pulled pork with barbecue sauce after it has been slow-cooked, but that is completely optional.
- Pork Roast: Use a pork butt or pork shoulder for best results. You can use a bone-in or boneless pork roast, just keep in mind that it is easier to shred or pull a boneless pork roast.
- Seasonings: To season the pork roast, this recipe uses a combination of spices that mimics my homemade dry rub. It is made with kosher salt, brown sugar, paprika, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder and is sweet, savory, and slightly spicy.
- Onion: The onion will help elevate the pork roast off the bottom of the slow cooker and helps to add flavor to the overall recipe as well. It is best to use a yellow onion or sweet onion, not a red onion.
- Cooking Liquid: I absolutely love using 100% apple juice as the cooking liquid when making crockpot pulled pork. The apple juice infuses the pork roast with a sweet flavor, almost as though it has been smoked with applewood chips, and helps to balance out the flavor in this recipe.
- BBQ Sauce: If desired, toss the pulled pork with your favorite store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce after the pork has been shredded.
Best Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork
When it comes to creating irresistibly juicy, tender, succulent pulled pork, the cut of pork roast you use is key. I recommend using a pork butt, also referred to as a Boston Butt, or pork shoulder roast, for this pulled pork recipe, as it is highly marbled. The fat will render off as the pork cooks, creating insanely flavorful, tender pulled pork.
For leaner pulled pork, you can opt to use a pork loin roast or a top loin roast. It won't be quite as moist as if you use a pork shoulder roast, but still delicious and significantly lower in fat and calories.
I don't recommend using pork tenderloin for pulled pork. It is super lean and is best served cooked at 145 degrees F and sliced thin. If you have pork tenderloin, I recommend trying out Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin or Balsamic Pork Tenderloin instead of making pulled pork.
I love the sweet and spicy dry rub used in this pulled pork recipe, as it adds an incredible flavor to the pork and pairs beautifully with the addition of barbecue sauce. However, you can opt to use different spice blends to create unique spins on this classic pulled pork recipe.
- Tex-Mex: Replace the dry spice rub with 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning. Cook the pork roast in pineapple juice or water and then toss with enchilada sauce or leave plain after shredding.
- Latin-American Twist: Replace the dry rub with Homemade Adobo Seasoning. Cook the seasoned pork using orange juice mixed with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. The result is a sweet and savory Caribbean-inspired pulled pork recipe.
- Jerk Pulled Pork: Use jerk seasoning and pineapple juice to create a spicy, tangy, pulled pork with a Jamaican twist.
- Add a smokey flavor: Add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the crockpot, along with the apple juice for smokey undertones.
∗ Tips for the Best Crockpot Pulled Pork ∗
- Don't overcook the pork. The pork is done when it reaches 200 degrees F and shreds easily with a fork. You don't want to cook the pork much past 200 degrees, as it will begin to become tough and dry out.
- Let the meat rest before shredding. After slow cooking, let the pork roast rest on a cutting board for 15-20 minutes before shredding. This will allow time for the juices to redistribute through the pork, keeping it tender and juicy.
- Season well. Pork, like chicken, is a blank slate and really needs to be seasoned well to be flavored well. Use the spice rub or another seasoning blend to generously rub over the pork roast before slow cooking to ensure the best flavor.
- Don't throw away the cooking liquid. After the pork has cooked, there will be quite a bit of rendered liquid in the slow cooker. That liquid has a lot of flavors and should be added to the pulled pork--even if you plan to add additional sauce to the pork. Strain off the solids a bit back to the pulled pork. This will help keep the pork super flavorful and moist.
What is the Best Way to Shred Pork
There are several options pull or shred the pork after it has slow cooked. But however you choose, it is crucial to let the pork rest for 15-20 minutes before trying to shred it. Not only will it make it easier to pull the pork, but it will ensure the meat stays tender and juicy.
- With Two Forks: The pork should be tender enough to easily shred using two forks. I find it is easiest to do this in a large mixing bowl, which will allow you to add in some of the cooking liquid as well.
- With a Stand Mixer: The easiest way to shred the pork is to use a stand mixer. Cut the cooked pork into large chunks and place it into the bowl of the stand mixer and mix on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment. Alternatively, you can use a handheld mixer.
Pulled Pork Serving Suggestions
Pulled Pork is incredibly versatile and can be served in a variety of ways.
- Dish the pulled pork out onto buns and top with homemade coleslaw for a delicious BBQ Pork Sandwich.
- Top Instant Pot Baked Potatoes or Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with a scoop of the pulled pork and top with cheese and barbecue sauce for a delicious BBQ Pork Loaded Potato.
- Replace the chicken in BBQ Chicken Salad, with some slow cooker pulled pork that has been tossed with BBQ sauce.
- Add shredded pork to pizza dough, drizzle with BBQ sauce, cover with shredded cheddar cheese, and bake for a fun spin on pizza night.
- Use the shredded pork to make pork tacos--with or without the added bbq sauce.
This recipe for crockpot pulled pork makes a ton, so if you are not intending to serve a crowd, you will likely have leftovers, which is never a bad thing.
- Refrigerate: Allow the pulled pork to cool and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Reheat it in a dry skillet over medium heat until warmed through or in a microwave-safe dish, covered with a heat-safe lid until warmed through.
- Freeze: Place cooled pulled pork into a freezer-safe bag or storage container and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat frozen pork, let the pork thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, place in a microwave-safe dish and heat for-2-3 minutes per cup of pork. Add in a splash of apple juice, water, or stock to loosen up the pork if needed.
Unlike my recipe for Crockpot Pork and Sauerkraut, this crockpot pork recipe is best if you skip searing it before slow cooking. The spice rub can easily burn when the pork is seared, which will result in bitter pulled pork. The crockpot will work its magic to make this roast super tender.
No! While it adds a nice flavor and helps balance out the spice, you can opt to omit it to keep this recipe free from refined sugars.
Yes. Pineapple juice is a delicious option and will help to flavor and tenderize the pork as it cooks. Beer is another good option. If neither of those work, stick with water over broth.
If you want to strain off the fat that accumulated prior to pouring the liquid over the pulled pork, place the collected cooking liquid in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. The fat will solidify on the top and can be scooped out and discarded.
Yes! Follow my tried-and-true recipe for Instant Pot Pulled Pork for fabulous results.
As the pork cooks, it will render quite a bit of fat, which can make the sauce a bit greasy. However, I often opt to cook the pork in a mixture of 1 cup of apple juice mixed with ¼ cup of honey, ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, and 8 ounces of tomato sauce. After slow cooking the pork roast, strain the mixture, skim off the fat if desired, and then mix that mixture back into the shredded pork to season the pork as you would use BBQ sauce.
More Crockpot Favorite Pork Recipes
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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 3-4 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast (pork butt) or pork loin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika or regular paprika
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 onion diced
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1-2 cups barbecue sauce optional
- In a small bowl, mix together the salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar together.
- Remove the pork roast from the packaging and pat it dry with a paper towel. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork roast, generously coating.
- Lay out the diced onion on the bottom of the slow cooker, pour in the apple juice, and place the seasoned pork on top of the onion.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove the pork roast from the slow cooker and place it into a large bowl and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Strain cooking sauce over a large bowl to remove onions. If you want to remove some of the fat that rendered into the cooking liquid, place the liquid in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then scoop the solidified fat off the liquid.
- Add ¼ cup of the cooking liquid over the pork, and shred the pork using 2 forks, a handheld kitchen mixer on medium-low speed, or a stand mixer on low speed with a paddle attachment. Add in additional cooking liquid and/or barbecue sauce as desired.
- You can opt to place the shredded pork back in the crockpot and keep on warm for 2-3 hours if desired. Serve as desired.