Set it and forget it. When I worked outside the home, I always search for slow cooker recipes that could cook for 8-10 hours and still taste good. Well, this is one of those recipes!
There are so many ways to use pulled pork. Sandwiches, pizzas, salads, tacos, and whatever else your imagination can dream up.
Meal prep superstar! Whether you want to prep this pulled pork the night before to start in the morning or cook it on the weekend to store in the refrigerator for quick dinners during the week, it’s up to you. You can even freeze it into portions to use in recipes later on.
Pork Butt – Bone-in or boneless pork butt is my favorite cut of meat to use for pulled pork. It’s not the leanest, but all of the marbling (fat) melts into the meat creating extra flavor and juicy fall-apart tender pulled pork.
Even though it’s higher in fat, it’s low-carb and gluten-free, so you can still enjoy it on Whole30, Keto, and Paleo.
Seasoning blend – This homemade spice rub adds a sweet and spicy flavor to the pork. Leave the sugar out for low-carb diets.
Orange juice – Pork butt doesn’t need a lot of liquid to cook in the slow cooker. But it needs some to replace the moisture lost as it cooks down. The orange juice adds to the sweet flavor.
Substitute stock if you want to keep the sugars and carbs out.
Butcher Box is my favorite source for high-quality meat. Their pork roasts are outstanding, and I add one to my custom box every 1-2 months. You can learn more in my Butcher Box review.
Pork butt, Boston butt, pork roast, or pork shoulder are the best cuts of meat to use for pulled pork. You want to choose the cut with the most marbling because this creates the juiciest fall apart tender shredded pork.
Pork tenderloin is a leaner cut of pork and won’t produce the same result as a roast or butt. However, you can use a tenderloin for pulled pork with modifications.
Cook the pork on low for a shorter amount of time, between 4-6 hours. Also, add more liquid to the crock pot to keep the pork from drying out. I recommend 1 – 1 ½ cups of liquid for 3 – 4 lbs of tenderloin.
I treat tenderloin the same way I do cooking boneless chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
After the pork tenderloin is done, remove it from the slow cooker and place it in a bowl to shred. Then spoon in extra liquid from the insert to the shredded meat or toss the pork in barbecue sauce to add moisture.
Yes. If you’re using a heavy marbled pork butt or roast, then ¾ cup of liquid will work. For a leaner pork tenderloin, use 1 – 1 ½ cups of liquid.
I like using orange juice or pineapple juice for a sweet flavor with a touch of acidity. Some people use apple cider vinegar, while others keep it simple with broth. The type of liquid you use won’t make or break the recipe, so use whatever you have available.
You sure can! That’s the beauty of this pork slow cooker recipe. Just add the roast with the other ingredients, into the slow cooker, and turn it on. You don’t need to think about it for 8-10 hours.
I recommend cooking a 3-4 pound boneless pork butt for 8 – 10 hours on low for best results. You’ll know it’s ready when you can easily pull the meat apart with two forks. If the meat is still hard to pull apart, then it needs to cook longer.
If short on time, you can set the cooking time to 5-6 hours on high heat. However, you run the risk of the meat drying out. Slow and low is my favorite way to cook pulled pork.
You can use bone-in or boneless pork butt. I’ve used both in this recipe with excellent results. Boneless cooks a little faster, so keep an eye on it during the last 1-2 hours of cooking time.
Can trim excess fat. Some pork roasts come with excess fat on the top and sides that you can trim off before cooking. Don’t worry; there’s plenty of marbling within the roast to keep the shredded pork tasty and moist.
Leave the sugar out or use a substitute. The brown sugar adds a sweet balance to the spicy rub. However, If you are trying to reduce refined sugar, leave out the sugar or use coconut palm sugar or your favorite sugar substitute.
Prep the roast the night before. I prefer to spread the dry rub over the roast the night before to marinate and give more flavor to the roast.
Salt at the end. This is my #1 tip with just about every slow cooker recipe. Long cooking times in the slow cooker tend to dull flavors. Adding salt after the recipe is done cooking makes all of the flavors pop. I start with ½ of a teaspoon, give it a taste, and then add more until I get the desired flavor.
You can substitute the chipotle powder. Chipotle powder is one of those spices that are sometimes hard to find. When available, it’s located in the spice section next to the chili powder. If you can’t find it, use 1-2 tablespoon of canned chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. Mix it with the other spices until it forms a paste, and then rub it on the roast. Or you can use chili powder with ½ – 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
How to use leftover pulled pork
When pulled pork is in the fridge or freezer, the dinner options are endless.
Here are our favorite recipe ideas:
- Pulled Pork Tacos
- Burritos or Burrito Bowls
- With barbecue sauce on a roll
- With Asian sauce and cabbage over rice
- Pulled pork macaroni and cheese or a rice bake
- In a Cuban Sandwich or pizza
- In a baked potato with cheese, onions, and barbecue sauce
- Mixed with red sauce to create a delicious ragu
How to Store and Reheat Pulled Pork
You can safely store pulled pork in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Place the cooked pork into airtight containers or bags and refrigerate.
You can freeze shredded pork for up to 6 months. Portion out the cooked pork using Souper cubes or in freezer bags and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Mix the garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, chipotle chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place the pork butt onto a cutting but. If needed, trim off any excess fat from the top and sides.
- Massage the dry rub all over the pork butt.
- Pour the orange juice into the bottom of the slow cooker insert.
- Place the pork into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low. If you’re short on time, then cook for 5-6 hours on high. When pork is fall-apart tender, it’s done cooking.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place it into a large bowl. Using two forks or claws, shred the pork. Spoon extra liquid from the slow cooker for added moisture.
- Use in your favorite healthy pulled pork recipe.
Cooking tip: If you have time, prep the pork but with the dry rub the night before.