This is some of the best pulled pork I’ve had in a long time (I’ve been working on perfecting this recipe for months!), and it also doesn’t include any highly processed ingredients such as refined brown sugar, corn syrup, or ketchup.
My husband says it is so good that no BBQ sauce is necessary. Now, you know it’s good pulled pork when you don’t reach for your favorite BBQ sauce. He would like me to pass on that he does like to dip it into a little hot sauce, although I for sure prefer mine with nothing added.
Try it both ways and decide for yourself. Either way, this is a great dish for serving (and pleasing!) a crowd.
What type of meat is best for slow cooked pulled pork?
Pork shoulder is the most common cut used when making pulled pork. The shoulder includes the front leg and shoulder, and will likely come with a bone and plenty of marbling. The marbling is key because the fat is what will prevent the meat from drying out during the cooking process.
A full pork shoulder is a large cut of meat, so I recommend asking your grocery store’s butcher to cut the shoulder down into two portions (3-5 lbs each). There are different names for the various parts of the pork shoulder that may be used—whether you use a pork butt, pork shoulder, Boston butt or picnic roast, they will all work just fine.
How long should you cook pulled pork in a Crock Pot?
The Crock Pot is great for pulled pork because you need to cook it low and slow for several hours. I usually cook 4 lbs of pork shoulder for 7 hours on low. Be aware though, pulled pork will dry out if overcooked.
Can you slow cook pulled pork on high?
I don’t recommend it. Pork is the most tender when cooked on low. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!
What to put on a pulled pork sandwich
Pulled pork sandwiches are a super easy dinner idea or way to serve a crowd. If you use real food ingredients for your rolls and toppings, it’s also a healthier alternative to all that junk food you get at Superbowl parties or BBQ gatherings.
Whole wheat bread or bun
Start with any whole wheat slider bun, either homemade or store bought. Whole grain brioche is another delicious option or serve pulled pork sandwich style with homemade sandwich bread.
Traditionally, pulled pork is served with coleslaw. You can also top your pulled pork sandwiches with lettuce, julienned carrots, onions, or arugula—almost any sandwich or burger fixings taste great on pulled pork!
Personally, I like to add veggies that give the sandwiches a bit of crunch. If you’re entertaining, offer toppings buffet style so people can pick their own.
My husband says this recipe is great without BBQ sauce, and we avoid it because it’s usually full of sugar. An easy alternative is to drizzle a bit of the leftover juices onto your sandwich. Just don’t go overboard or your bun will get soggy!
Some other great sauce ideas are: hot sauce, tzatziki, and salsa.
Not everyone agrees when it comes to cheese on pulled pork, but some popular choices are cheddar, mozzarella, and Havarti. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try Gruyère, Cotija cheese, or pepper jack.
How to make this pulled pork recipe in an Instant Pot
Crockpots and Instant Pots cook things differently, but this is one recipe that does adapt well to pressure cooking. Here’s how to make this pulled pork recipe in an Instant Pot:
- Note: You’ll need an additional 1 cup of liquid for this recipe. Water will work, but chicken stock will be more flavorful.
- Prep the seasoning mixture.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in the Instant Pot on the sauté setting.
- Meanwhile, cut your pork shoulder into quarters.
- Cover each pork piece with the seasoning mixture, then drop into the Instant Pot. Don’t overcrowd; you may have to work in batches.
- Brown the pork on all sides and remove.
- Turn off the Instant Pot, then toss in half a cup of water or stock and use wooden spoon to deglaze the pan.
- Place the pork back into the Instant Pot and add the remaining ingredients including the other ½ cup of water or stock. Note: Instant Pots heat from the bottom. Add the onion last and keep it mostly on top of the pork.
- Cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. Once it’s done, natural release for at least 15 minutes.
What to serve with pulled pork
I have some great side choice options here on the blog that perfectly accompany this slow cooker pulled pork.
- Collard Greens
- Simple Corn Salad
- Kale and Bacon Stuffed Potatoes
- Southern Potato Salad (without mayo!)
- Whole Grain Cornbread
- Charred Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Avocados
1,515 thoughts on “The Best Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot!”
I’ve never been one to add very much barbecue sauce to things so when I saw this recipe and it didn’t have barbecue sauce, I thought perfect. Add in the fact that it has simple ingredients, even better. I forget if this is my first or second time making this recipe, but it turned out great. The only issue is it has a little kick to it. I don’t know if I accidentally added too much of something, or if it’s just a little spicy. I didn’t see many comments about the spice level. I would for sure make it again. It turned out like it should, flavorful and pulling apart easily.
Made this twice this week for guests. Everyone raved. Easy way to feed a crowd.
I feel like there is not enough liquid. The pork has the seasoning paste on it but it’s not covering it.. or soaking in liquid. Is this ok?
Hi Tracy, sorry we can not respond back in real-time. Did the pulled pork come out ok for you? – Nicole
I had a few pounds of thick pork chops in the freezer . They should work right ?
Hi Jeff, you’ll need a pork shoulder for this recipe. – Nicole
Would this work for a brisket?
We have not tried it with brisket. Since the pulled pork has plenty of fat to keep it moist and tender, there may need to be some tweaking to make the brisket work. – Nicole
This has been my go-to recipe for years and i love it!
I’ve recently moved to the other side of the globe and unfortunately couldn’t put my crockpot in my suitcase and am in a country with no crockpots (can you believe it?!).
Could stove top or oven be an option?and if so, what changes would i need to make to the original recipe?
Thanks a lot!
Made this for the first time a few years ago and planning on making it this week!!
Thanks! Glad to hear you enjoyed it and will be again :) – Nicole
I’m confused about the onion on the bottom, It’s just 2 halves, then do you serve it with the meat?
Hi Melinda, you can either serve them with the meat if you like or not. Otherwise, they help give a great flavor to the pork. – Nicole
Can I use a 4 lb pork shoulder boneless picnic rolled & tied? If so, should I leave it tied? Making this tomorrow. Thanks.
Hi Grace, Sorry we can’t always comment back in real-time. I would untie it if you decide to use it. – Nicole
The first time I made this using 3 tablespoons pf paprika was way two much. All I could taste was paprika. Next time I reduced the paprika to 3 teaspoons or slightly over using half smoked paprika. Much better for me. A great recipe. Thank you!
Glad you were able to find an amount of paprika that fits your liking! Thanks for sharing. – Nicole
My boyfriend likes barbecue beef and loved the pork recipe! Do you think subbing beef for pork will work?
We have not tried it with beef. A really lean piece of meat won’t work that great with this particular recipe. – Nicole
I love this recipe! Would it work with chicken as well?
Hi Erin, while we have not tried it with chicken, other readers have and said it comes out great. One reader says “Just watch cooking times in the slow cooker- I find that chicken breasts are done in around 3 hours.” – Nicole
Can I use maple syrup as a sub for the honey?
Pure maple syrup would work, too. Let us know how it turns out for you. – Nicole
It turned out delicious, this will for sure be a recipe to save!
I do this every time as I am very allergic to honey. It’s always a hit (:
I assumed that the dry ingredients were to be rubbed on the pork, then placed on the onion halves, then the paste poured on the sides, but not the top?I looked for other directions but could not find.
When finished, do I shred the pork into the liquid and serve?
Hi Deb, the instructions say to add the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil in to make a paste that will then get poured over the pork.You can shred it in the slow cooker or pull it out on a separate dish if you like. It should easily pull apart for you. – Nicole
This is one of our favorite recipes!! Especially for big BBQs! I’ve recently been trying to be more mindful of the serving sizes I eat. I see the nutrition facts, but I’ve missed the serving size if it’s there. Any idea how many ounces was considered a serving? Thanks for your time and help!
Hi Cari, this recipe calls for 3 pounds of meat, and there is roughly 16 ounces to a pound. This recipe is about 6 servings. – Nicole
I think your math/conversion is a little off here. :-)
You said “there is roughly 16 ounces to a pound.” — there are exactly 16 oz to a pound.
I would assume that 3 pounds of meat makes at least 12 servings, assuming a 4oz serving size.
OR did you mean that 16oz of meat makes 6 servings? And so this recipe for 3# of meat makes 18 servings?
Thanks! I just brought home 8# of pork loin (steal of a deal at Costco) and I will be making this recipe.
Hi, it really all depends on your serving size (4-8oz). If you stuck with the recommended 4oz serving size, you will definitely get more servings. – Nicole
My all-time favorite pulled pork recipe! I always bring to camp outs with the guys … no leftovers ever.
I’m making this now. It doesn’t need any liquid? Hubby asked. lol
Hi, sorry we can’t answer recipe comments in real-time, but the answer is no. This recipe will create SO much of its own natural liquid. Hope it turned out amazing for you. – Nicole
Could this be pressured cooked in instant pot?
We have not tried it, but it could probably work. – Nicole
I make this all the time in my instant pot pressure cooker. I just add about a cup of chicken broth to the bottom and set it to cook for about 90 minutes. If you cut the pieces smaller it could probably cook faster.
Perfect! Thanks for the information, I’m sure others will enjoy making it in the instant pot. – Nicole
I can not cut the pork shoulder in half because of the bone, but it fits perfectly in the crock pot. Would you recommend trying to break it up towards the end? Will this change the flavor or cook time? Thanks!
No, it will be the same. You should be able to easily shred it with a fork when it is done. – Nicole
Love this recipe. Also added a tablespoon of liquid smoke. Makes a big difference. I also left out the red wine vinegar. Was a thick paste to start with but then the juice from the meat took care of that.
Thanks for a great recipe!!!
I’ve been wanting to perfect my pork shoulder cooking both on the grill and in the crock pot. On the grill I am 0 for 1 and in the crock pot I am 1 for 2. My 1 in the crock pot was a GRAND SLAM thanks to this simple recipe. The flavor is amazing and the pork pulls apart effortlessly. The only mistake I made was doubling the entire recipe because I had twice the meat (pork shoulder). Doubling works for everything except the cayenne. Although it’s fantastic to me (I love spicy foods) no one in my family, except my 9 year old, will touch the stuff. Next time I make this recipe, which will be soon, I’ll double the recipe but keep the cayenne as recommended. Thank you for saving my average. Looking forward to trying it again so the whole family can experience the greatness.
Can this be made the day before? And if so, how would you suggest it be re-heated?
Some of our readers have made it the day before and then re-heated in the crockpot on low. – Nicole
I don’t know why my comment didn’t take. But this looks amazing y’all!
Okay this is going on the list. It looks so good!
Can I cook this on high for 4 hours?
Hi Shawna, this one is best and most tender when cooked slower. – Nicole
Pulled pork is one of my favorite things to cook in a slow cooker. I make mine similar to yours. For added flavor, I put a dried spice rub on the pork, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator prior to cooking.
I made this for the first time for my husband’s 50th birthday dinner. It was a hit! Easy to make, the house smelled fantastic and everyone loved it. We did pulled pork tacos with marinated onions, guacamole and coleslaw. This will be a new fave. YUM!
Love, love, love this. I’ve made it multiple times and it’s always a favorite.
I tried this recipe. Followed instructions exactly and added exact amounts of required ingredients. The roast was tender and fell apart but the flavor was bland and so sweet that nobody liked it. The honey in this recipe is too much. It was “edible”, but my opinion is we ruined a fine pork shoulder.
I’m sorry to hear about this. You can always adjust the sweetness and taste to your liking. – Nicole
I made this last night. Started the crockpot before I went to bed at 11 pm and at 7 am, I shredded the meat. It was delicious. Great recipe. Very easy.
So glad to hear you liked it! – Nicole
Has anyone done this in an Instapot? Is there an Instapot conversion recipe?
We have not tried it yet in the Instapot. Let us know if you found a concersion! – Nicole
I’m making this tomorrow with about 2x the meat. Should I double the rest of the recipe and cook time?
Sorry we didn’t answer in real time. Did you end up doubling and how did it turn out? – Nicole
I would like to know this as well. Did you double everything?