Slow cooker pulled pork recipes & ideas

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Simple slow cooker pulled pork recipes for a hearty make-ahead meal.
Pulled pork is hearty, delicious, filling, and very easy to make if you own a slow cooker. Even better, all you need to do is cook slow cooker pork once and you have meals for days. There is, however, a catch. No matter how easy slow cooker pulled pork is to make, it's not a quick process. Most slow cooker recipes are going to require at least four hours to make pulled pork and most would do better if they had six or eight hours.

Not that the long cooking times are a bad thing. First, your kitchen (and whole house) is going to smell fantastic. Also, over those six or eight hours, that pork shoulder is going to soak up whatever flavors it was cooked with and it's going to be so tender, it practically shreds itself.

What cut of pork is best for slow cooker pulled pork?

If you are now ready for some delicious pulled pork, there are a few things to consider before turning on your slow cooker. First, let's consider what cut of pork we are going to cook. Pulled pork can come from any slow cooker pork roast, but the best piece of meat is the pork shoulder (aka the pork butt.) Pork shoulders have great flavor, but they are tough pieces of meat that are just begging to be cooked low and slow. 

Any pork butt will do, but when buying pork shoulder, don't be afraid to go big. Buy as large a piece of meat as you can fit into your slow cooker and do not worry, it will be done in six to eight hours.

>>>Click here for Easy Oven Roasted and Barbecued Pulled Pork Recipes

What flavors work best with pulled pork?

Next, consider the flavors to use in cooking the pork. Just about any flavors will work, depending on what type of cuisine you are cooking. If you want BBQ pulled pork, cook it with barbecue sauce. If you want Italian pulled pork, cook it with tomato sauce, basil, onions, and fennel. If you want Chinese pulled pork, cook it with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a touch of sesame oil, etc.

However, whatever you do, do not slow cook the pork shoulder with a lot of liquid. During the cooking process, the pork will release a lot of its natural juices. If you add too much extra liquid, you end up boiling the pork instead of slowly braising it and that can make the pork tough. Instead, try to add a wet paste (see the Mexican pulled pork recipe below) or a very small amount of liquid like the basic pulled pork recipe.

With these tips firmly in mind, let's examine two different pulled pork recipes. One is a standard pulled pork that you may use as a starting point for your own pulled pork recipes. The other is a spicy, garlicky slow cooker Mexican pulled pork recipe that makes the best tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas.

>>>Click here for Cheri's spicy barbecue sauce recipe

Basic Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe

As its name suggests, this pulled pork recipe uses only basic flavors. This makes it very versatile. You can make this pulled pork and have meals from several different cuisines over the course of the next few days.


  • 1 six to eight pound pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons each salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, optional
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

  1. Cut the twine on the pork shoulder if it has been tied.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make shallow incisions on both sides of the pork shoulder. Rub the salt, pepper, garlic, and the zest into the incisions. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker and pour in the lemon juice and broth.
  3. Cover and cook for eight hours. After eight hours, remove from the slow cooker and let the pork rest for 5 to 10 minutes before shredding.

>>>Click here for 3 Easy meals to make with pulled pork

Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork Recipe

This pulled pork recipe is not quite as versatile as the basic pulled pork above, but what it lacks in utility, it more than makes up for in flavor. This recipe features dried chilies, citrus, oregano, and garlic, which combine to create a savory, spicy pork that goes great in any Tex-Mex or south of the border favorite.

  • 3 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 1 dried habanero
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 six to eight pound pork shoulder
  • Cut the twine on the pork shoulder if it has been tied.
  • Put 2 cups of water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Put the anchos and the habanero in the water, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain.
  • Remove the stems and seeds from both types of chilies. Put them back in the saucepan with the onion, orange juice, wine, garlic, oregano, and white pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend until you have a smooth paste. If you don't have an immersion blender, use a food processor.
  • Score both sides of the pork shoulder, then place it in the slow cooker. Spoon a few tablespoons of the chili paste onto the pork and rub it into the incisions. Flip the pork over and pour the rest of the paste over the pork.
  • Cover and cook for eight hours. When the pork is done, remove and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Shred with forks and serve on warm tortillas.