Slow cooker pulled pork

slow cooker pulled pork trimmed meat

BAM! Look at that beautiful hunk of meat. There are few things that make me happier than pulling out a giant slab of pork shoulder and getting it ready for the slow cooker. First of all, it means I’m about to eat a large number of pulled pork sandwiches slathered in one of my favorite condiments (BBQ sauce!). But since anything made in a 6 quart slow cooker produces a large amount of food, it usually also means that a large number of friends are about to descend upon my apartment.

My original inspiration for slow cooker pulled pork came from the always excellent An Immovable Feast. He doesn’t give recipes so much as just say what he made, but with pulled pork that’s not an issue. At its core, this amazing meal involves a giant hunk of meat, some kind of liquid, and about 9 hours.

slow cooker pulled pork ingredients

Slow cooker pulled pork

Equipment: 6 quart slow cooker

6-8 lbs pork shoulder (sometimes known as pork butt or Boston butt)
Enough liquid to cover the pork (root beer, Guinness, whatever)
1 large onion
chili sauce
bread of some sort (for sandwiches!)
barbeque sauce

Long-winded version

I know I’m usually pretty explicit about exactly how much of various ingredients to put into recipes. That will not be the case here. Pulled pork is all about experimentation. It’s almost impossible to mess up, and it produces one of the most delicious meals you will ever eat. Let’s get to it!

Chop the onion up into 1/2″ chunks. Layer the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion. Throw some garlic in as well (a couple tbsps should be good).

slow cooker pulled pork onions

There are two key elements to this recipe. The first is to trim the pork shoulder of any major fat chunks (the white stuff). It’s not necessary to get it all off, but there are probably going to be some big chunks you can get rid of. Compare the picture above with the one at the top and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t sweat it too much, any leftover fat will melt away during the long cooking period. Place the pork shoulder into the slow cooker, on top of the onions.

Here’s where it gets a little weird. See, slow cookers have a tendency to really mellow out flavors, so if you’re using liquid most of it goes straight towards making the meat tender. Not a lot comes through in the end result. However, it smells hella good, so you might as well use a bunch.

At this point you can add spices if you want – chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and dry mustard are good candidates. You can rub them into the meat if you’d like. Now is also a good time to add some Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and liquid smoke. These will make your house smell awesome and will add a little something extra to whatever your main liquid is.

Now comes the second key part of the recipe. Take whatever liquid you have chosen (on this occasion I used root beer, but I have used Guinness to great effect as well) and pour it into the slow cooker until it comes about 3/4 to 4/5 of the way up the pork.

slow cooker pulled pork cooking

Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. At this point the pork will be practically falling apart. Remove it from the slow cooker as best you can, then shred it up. A fork or salad tongs are perfect for this task.

slow cooker pulled pork done

slow cooker pulled pork shredded

Just seeing this picture makes me hungry. Anyway, my favorite pork-to-mouth delivery method is the pulled pork sandwich. Put some pulled pork on a bun, then top with coleslaw. If you think putting coleslaw on a sandwich is weird, do it anyway. It provides the perfect counterbalance to the pork, and I can’t begin to tell you how many skeptical people I’ve turned into believers over the years. Add a bit of barbeque sauce, and you’re good to go!

slow cooker pulled pork building

slow cooker pulled pork built

slow cooker pulled pork sandwich

Short and sweet version

Look, this is impossible to screw up. Cut up the onion into large chunks and layer it on the bottom of the slow cooker. Trim any large bits of fat (the white stuff) off the pork, then put it into the slow cooker on top of the onions. Add some Worcestershire and chili sauce, then add root beer or Guinness (or a dark beer) until the liquid is about 4/5 of the way up the pork. Cook it for 8 hours, then make sandwiches with barbeque sauce and coleslaw.

The result

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is probably my favorite thing in the world to cook. It’s super easy, super cheap, super delicious, and pretty much everyone who eats it will love it. If you have a 6 quart slow cooker, this should be on your menu the next time you’re having a bunch of people over.

slow cooker pulled pork

Sorry, I had to include a picture of me enjoying it.

The freeze

Oh, did I forget to mention the best part? You can freeze your leftovers! I throw about two servings’ worth of pulled pork into a ziplock bag for easy reheating. When I’m ready to reheat, I just plop it into a skillet. If it starts drying out a bit, add a little low sodium chicken stock. It’ll probably still get a little crispy, but that just makes it delicious in another way. The leftovers work great in sandwiches and tacos, and can be added to eggs or rice for a tasty alternative.

  • Ian Young

    This is truth. It doesn’t matter if you have always hated coleslaw and questioned why it would exist at all. Trust Nick and eat your pork sandwich with slaw. It makes all the difference.