The Best Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot!

361 Reviews / 4.6 Average
This simple pulled pork recipe for your slow cooker doesn’t include any highly processed ingredients like refined brown sugar, corn syrup, or ketchup. Make this for your next outdoor bbq or cookout!
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Slow cooked BBQ pulled pork cooked in a Crock Pot

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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. Try this Dutch Oven Pulled Pork or this Instant Pot Pork Roast too!

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! For a quicker option, try this Instant Pot Pulled Pork.

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.

Vegetable toppings

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. Try these pulled pork nachos too!

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:

  1. Note: You’ll need an additional 1 cup of liquid for this recipe. Water will work, but chicken stock will be more flavorful.
  2. Prep the seasoning mixture.
  3. Heat a small amount of olive oil in the Instant Pot on the sauté setting.
  4. Meanwhile, cut your pork shoulder into quarters.
  5. Cover each pork piece with the seasoning mixture, then drop into the Instant Pot. Don’t overcrowd; you may have to work in batches.
  6. Brown the pork on all sides and remove.
  7. Turn off the Instant Pot, then toss in half a cup of water or stock and use wooden spoon to deglaze the pan.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    This is a great pulled pork recipe when you don’t have time or the weather won’t cooperate to get the grill going. It doesn’t have a smokey flavor and the texture is a little different than when you smoke it but it’s still very tender and has excellent flavor. There is a lot of juice left over like many have mentioned but that’s where a lot of the flavor is. If you’re concerned about the fat, let it cool just until you can see the difference between the fat and the juices and you can skim the fat off the top. My pork shoulder/butt was about 7 pounds and there was little room left in the slow cooker and I cooked it for 8 hours and it turned out great. I also used apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and it didn’t disappoint.

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful. I have made this several times and it always pleases. I have gotten a lot of compliments on this pulled pork from potlucks and even making it at the firehouse (you all can imagine how hard it can be to please firemen!) Getting ready to make it again for Memorial Day!

  3. I didn’t have Red Wine Vinegar, so I substituted with Red Wine & Vinegar! Looking forward to tasting it!

    1. 5 stars
      Wow! So easy and so delicious. I made it with less meat (1kg) but didn’t change the quantities of the other ingredients. Love the fact that there is lots of liquid for the shredded pork to soak up. Didn’t find it sweet at all, just spicy and tasty.

  4. 3 stars
    Hmm… this recipe got mostly rave reviews, and I really wanted to like it. A few people mentioned it had no flavor and no smell while cooking and that’s exactly what I experienced. I followed the recipe exactly. My cut of pork even had a “perfect for the slow cooker” sticker on it. The texture of the shredded pork is perfect, but it has practically no flavor other than just… plain pork. I took the meat out and shredded it, then tasted it –bland. So I added spoonfuls of the sauce/juice and stirred, tasted, repeated. Ehn. It’s very greasy, obviously that is from the pork itself, but I would recommend omitting the olive oil. It’s completely unnecessary. I also think maybe there’s too much paprika and not enough… I’m not sure what. Also, I removed the onions rather than mixing them in with the shredded pork because they were just mushy and gummy. I will definitely make this again, but without the added oil and with a different spice mix and perhaps less honey. Or maybe using maple syrup instead? Or brown sugar. I do love all the natural ingredients, the easy slow cooker part, and the tender shredded pork though.

  5. Catherine Sevdalian

    4 stars
    I used 1:1 (or 1/2 and 1/2 of whatever amount your measurements call for if that makes more sense to you) regular paprika and smoked paprika (because I ran out of regular) and it had a really great smokey flavor. I think I will do the same thing next time I make it. I also adjusted the recipe for the size pork shoulder I had, which changed the amount of spices.

    I also used previous poster’s suggestion of removing most of the liquid and reducing it down to a sauce and adding it back in, which worked well. But I found most of the liquid got absorbed by the meat as it warmed/finished cooking after I shredded it. It’s a little more liquidy than straight-up pulled pork, I suppose, but it will be liquidy if you put a sauce on it anyway and you don’t have to with the flavor in this recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe was a huge hit at our office potluck. Everyone enjoyed the fact that the flavor of the meat wasn’t overpowered by sauce or heavy spices.

  7. My husband doesn’t like bbq sauce because it’s too sweet. Does the honey make this very sweet? Thank you in advance

  8. Is it ok to cook it on high instead of low. And if so, how long on high should I put it on for? Thank you

  9. 5 stars
    We loved this recipe!! I followed all the directions but cooked it in my instant pot steaming for 65 minutes. It was fantastic! The boys liked it better that the bottled bbq sauce…Win for Real Food!!

      1. 5 stars
        I did not add any extra liquid in addition to the recipe sauce. My piece of pork was fatty on one side. It turned so tasty!!

  10. I tried it but I didn’t have Cheyenne pepper so I used red pepper flakes it was a bit hot so I added a little brown sugar, it’s perfectly delicious! Thank you!

  11. 5 stars
    This is our go-to pulled pork recipe, and has been for several years now! My husband and I both love it. We often add a little bit more cayenne pepper for a spicier flavor, but otherwise follow the recipe as written. :)

  12. 2 stars
    Made this tonight and both husband and I were disappointed. Unlike other reviewers, we had no problem with it being too salty or spicy – it was completely flavorless. Cooked to perfection, falling off the bone, but it had no flavor whatsoever. I followed the recipe exactly and did not mix all the sauce in at the end – just added a couple large spoonfuls over shredded meat. Maybe that was the problem? Although other replies to questions about that said you didn’t need to mix any sauce in if you didn’t want to. Not sure what went wrong. We really wanted to love this, but it was a miss for us :(

    1. I have never had a problem. it is my fav. pulled pork. it is suppose to cook in the juice, the you can easily use forks to shred it apart and leave it in the sauce.

    2. 5 stars
      Katie, I always pull the meat out to shred, spoon off some of the oil, transfer juices to a sauce pan and reduce the juices for awhile. It makes a delicious sauce!

    3. 5 stars
      Any chance your spices are old and have lost their punch? I’ve made this many times and it’s a no-fail recipe for me. When this recipe was originally posted it called for TWO tablespoons of salt, which is way too much. I don’t even use the full tablespoon that it calls for. I’m not a big fan of pork shoulder, so I always use a boneless pork roast that has a nice layer of fat on it. Makes for a moist and flavorful pulled pork.

    4. 5 stars
      I usually shred the meat in the pot and let it soak in the sauce for a while, which soaks up the flavor and serve it all mixed up with a spoon. This is the first and only slow cooker pulled pork recipe I have ever used and is a hit every time I make it! So good!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hello. You really need a high fat cut of pork. A roast is lean and would not produce the necessary juices.

  13. This is the best recipe. I’ve made it several times, and it always turns out delicious. So many crock pot recipes use processed foods, but this recipe is perfect because it’s all “real” food.

    1. I have several times! Its wonderful! Just watch cooking times in the slow cooker- I find that chicken breasts are done in around 3 hours.

  14. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! Makes a bunch, so my hubby &I I have leftovers. Moist just as it is and doesn’t need additional BBQ sauce. You hit this one out of the park! Thanks!

      1. 4 stars
        We put all the ingredients in the insta pot with frozen pork. I hit the meat/stew button twice and added a cup of water. Sometime after the 1st time up to pressure I cut it into hunks, resealed it, and pushed the meat/stew button again. I pulled the pork out to shred on a cutting board and pushed the saute button to reduce the liquid. I put it all in after that on keep warm till dinner time. Awesome.

  15. Just wondering how many portions you’d say this makes? Thinking about making it for my daughter’s birthday party.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. Be sure to cut the pork in half and I would add 30 minutes to the cooking time.

  16. 5 stars
    I’ve commented before, and this is one of my long-time go-to recipes now. I think I’ve perfected the “liquid” process now that a lot of people have questions on.

    With my ~3 lb boneless (or you could do ~5-6 lb bone-in), I let it cook for 7 hours on low, then took out the meat and set aside, poured out all of the liquid and onions, dispose of onions, put pork back in crockpot and then ladle juices back into crockpot enough to submerge about half of the meat, then shred. I think it tastes best if you turn the crockpot to warm (or even to off, but leave lid on to retain heat), so the flavors still meld but its not still cooking about 30 minutes prior to serving. You’ll notice after shredding that the pork soaks in even more of the juices, so its not really sitting in as much liquid.

    If you get bone-in, you can take the bone out before putting it back in the crockpot to shred. Or just ask your butcher to remove the bone, and I actually had them trim some of the fat (although there was still a good amount of visible fat).

    Also I’ve never been successful at skimming off the fat from the liquids, but a little bit doesn’t hurt :)

  17. 1 star
    Really? 4.5 stars? I was so excited to make this and even considered buying the book the day I saw the recipe on Pinterest. If this is an indication of what the other recipes are like, I’m glad I saved my money. While it’s true that I dearly love SMOKED pulled pork and nothing can replicate that distinct flavor, this meat was absolutely tasteless. I wouldn’t have been able to identify it as pork if it had been served to me rather than my preparing it myself. I couldn’t pick out ANY of the flavors from the ingredients I used to make the ‘paste.’ And speaking of that, mine wasn’t the consistency of a paste; it was more runny….? It didn’t even smell enticing (or have an aroma at ALL, really) as it cooked in all day in the crockpot, which seemed strange to me. Maybe I’m at fault for some error in ingredients or technique,…but this certainly won’t be added to my recipe file, which disappoints me. Glad I have some King’s BBQ sauce from Virginia to spice this up!

    1. Love this recipe.I have made this a couple of times already.Love the fact that there is not any barbecue sauce in it.The rub is very flavorful.Making it again for Super Bowl this Sun.Trying it with a 4.34 lb butt boneless roast. Will adjust the spices.Hope it will be enough for 9 people!

    2. I find it interesting that you couldn’t taste the pork at all. I’ve only made this once but it turned out great. The pork flavor is great! It’s not a smokey flavor by any means but the pork flavor is great. I’m not sure why you find it odd that it needs to cook for 8 hours or so. When you smoke brisket or pulled pork, doesn’t that take about the same amount of time? You could turn the slow cooker up to high and it would take about 5 hours but it would be drier and tougher. I’m taking it that you have made pulled pork before so I’m assuming you used pork shoulder/butt. I got mine on sale for $0.99/lb and even that turned out great. If you don’t like the seasonings, change it up and use chicken broth or stock instead of red wine vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar and so maybe that’s why mine had a good pork flavor but I don’t see where anyone complained about the red wine flavor being overpowering.

    3. 100 Days Admin

      We’re sorry to hear it didn’t turn out for you. Hopefully it was just an error somewhere in the ingredients. We get rave reviews for this one. – Nicole

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      We’ve not tried but a really lean cut of meat would not work well with this recipe.

  18. 5 stars
    I have never made pulled pork because I thought it would be too complicated and I’ve never seen ingredients that seemed appropriate. I decided to try this today. AMAZING is all I can say! Do yourself a favor and use a hand mixer to pull the pork to save time! Great recipe to add to my collection. I paired this with a creamy coleslaw. Perfection! Thank you!

  19. Kendra Hackett

    Does anyone have the proteins, carbs, fat grams associated with the servings for this recipe? Oh, and it is delicious by the way! thanks

  20. Made this in my Instant Pot, 60 minutes on high (manual) I added 1/4 c water to the liquid just to make sure I had enough liquid for it to come to pressure! We love it!!