Indulge in the irresistible flavors of Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Made with a Boston butt, BBQ sauce, and dry rub seasonings, it's the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Whether you're serving it up in sandwiches, tacos, or exploring creative culinary possibilities, this mouthwatering Southern dish is a guaranteed hit.
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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is an iconic gameday dish that’s been filling the stomachs of hungry tailgaters, game watchers, and barbecue lovers for generations. It has its roots in the culinary tradition of the South, where industrious rural cooks developed the low-and-slow method to make tough cuts of the pig better to eat.
Dressed with a bit of sauce or served alone, the best pulled pork is so tender it falls apart when shredded, with savory spices and sweet sugar melding with rich porkiness. It’s a do-it-all protein, equally tasty served on sandwiches, on its own, and in a massive selection of other delicious dishes.
Why This is the Best Recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
To be sure, you can always make pulled pork on a home smoker, carefully monitoring the heat and tending the fire all day. Or, you can use this recipe, which is ideal for busy people who can’t dedicate their entire day to barbecue, no matter how mouth-watering it may be.
Other than a few minutes of setup and shredding, it’s entirely hands-off for the eight-hour cooking process. This slow cooking method lets you set it up before bed or before heading out for work, with the low, slow heat of the crock pot ensuring it’s ready when you return to the kitchen.
It’s also easy to tweak for your desired flavor profile and only requires one or two ingredients not already found in most pantries or spice racks.
Crock pot pulled pork comes together with just a few common spices and seasonings to dress up the porky star of the show:
- Boston butt pork
- Barbecue sauce
- Brown sugar
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
While Boston butt is the best cut of meat for this recipe due to its higher fat content (meaning more flavor), those who can’t track down a pork butt can substitute pork shoulder, another similar but leaner part of the pig.
The spice mix is also highly customizable, with those sensitive to garlic or onion able to swap in alternative seasonings or leave them out altogether.
Brown sugar is the preferred method of adding a sweet balance and subtle flavor to the sauce, though white sugar will do in a pinch, as will honey, which contributes its own unique flavor.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Those making pulled pork in a crock pot for the first time may be surprised how little work is needed.
- Place the Boston butt in the slow cooker, trimming to fit if necessary.
- Add the seasonings and olive oil and rub them on the surface of the meat.
- Top with brown sugar and pour the barbecue sauce on top.
- Cook on low for eight hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take the pork out of the slow cooker and place it in a large bowl or container to shred.
- Shred it using two forks to your desired consistency.
We recommend waiting an hour to allow the meat to cool before serving. It can be topped with the slow cooker barbecue sauce or a ready-made, store-bought version.
Pulled Pork Recipe Variations
It doesn’t take a professional chef to see that a crockpot or slow cooker is critical to this preparation for pulled pork. But pulled pork can be prepared in various ways, from stovetop and oven recipes to sous-vide or traditional smokers.
One of the top alternative preparations, if a slow cooker is unavailable or time is short, is a pressure cooker like the popular Instant Pot. These devices offer the advantage of achieving a similar fall-apart texture for the pork but with a far quicker cooking time.
In addition, one of the best ways to change things up is to alter the barbecue sauce you use. Try out everything from traditional tomato-based sauces to sweet-and-spicy versions, mustard-based sauces, and whatever else fits your taste and the occasion.
You can also add a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke for a smoky flavor.
What Goes Well with Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
There’s a whole world of barbecue sides and accompaniments that are the perfect match for slow cooker shredded pork. Naturally, it’s right at home on a slow cooker pulled pork sandwich, which can be enhanced even more with toppings like cole slaw, cheese, crunchy onion straws, pickles, and more. Pulled pork sliders are great mini sandwiches to serve for an appetizer.
Pulled pork is a great topping for a baked potato, either regular russet or a sweet potato.
Of course, you can’t forget about pairing it with classic sides like cornbread, baked beans, potato salad, mac and cheese, corn salad, and corn on the cob.
How to Store Pulled Pork
Slow cooker pulled pork is best made in large batches, with our recipe making eight to 10 servings. But if you’ve got leftovers, never fear. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to five days. That’s plenty of time for a few extra slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches, ensuring little, if any, goes to waste.
How to Freeze Pulled Pork
It’s also possible to preserve pulled pork for plenty of game days and parties to come by freezing it. The pork can be frozen in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to three months.
It’s possible to freeze it all together or in individual portions for more convenient defrosting. The pulled pork can also be frozen with or without sauce. It should be thawed in the fridge before cooking.
More Main Dish Game Day Recipes
Check out more of the best main dish recipes here on Game Day Eats.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 5-7 pounds Boston butt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- Add Boston Butt to the bottom of a large slow cooker.
- Top with olive oil and seasonings and massage into the meat. Cover with brown sugar and BBQ sauce.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
- When done, remove from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Allow the meat to cool for about 1 hour before serving.