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