Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork


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Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork is one of the most magical things you can make with your slow cooker! Only three ingredients, and you’ll have dinner cooking away.

BBQ pulled pork is a classic recipe that we love serving with Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese or Root Beer Baked Beans. If you are looking for a chicken recipe, try my Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken.

close up of bbq pulled pork sandwiches

Why this recipe works

I believe this recipe was the third recipe on my blog, first published in February of 2013! Though it’s one of my oldest recipes, it stands the test of time. One taste, and you’ll be making this bbq pulled pork every week!

If I know that I need to feed a large crowd in the morning, I run to the store and grab what I need for these easy slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches. It’s a crowd-pleaser and very economical!

Recipe Ingredients

ingredients for pulled pork on a table
  • Pork Shoulder Roast: This cut of meat is often called pork butt or Boston Butt. If you use pork loin roast, your pork won’t be as juicy or flavorful, that’s a more healthy choice.
  • Barbecue Sauce: We use Sweet Baby Ray’s though any will work great!
  • Water: This keeps the roast from drying out.

Step-by-Step Directions

raw pork in slow cooker with water and barbecue sauce

Step One – Add the pork to the slow cooker, pour over the barbecue sauce and pour the water around the edges.

cooked pork shoulder in slow cooker

Step Two – Cook for 10 hours on low or 7-8 hours on high for larger roasts. If your roast is smaller, you can get away with 8-9 hours low or 6-7 hours high. The longer, the better for pulled pork; it will only get more tender.

pulled pork on a spoon

Step three – Shred the pork – If your pork is fatty remove the pork onto a cookie sheet with a rim on it, this will give you more room to sort out the fatty pieces. Shred with two forks, discard any fatty pieces. Add the meat back to the slow cooker and some of its juices; you can add a touch more barbecue sauce if desired.

3 pulled pork sandwiches on buns and bbq sauce

Variations

  • Spice is nice – Add a spicy bbq sauce or one minced jalapeno. Or add a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika as a spice rub on the pork.
  • Peachy – Add one cup of peach preserves and one tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the recipe at the beginning of cooking.
  • Beer-Braised – Use beer instead of water for a beer-braised pork butt- be sure everyone on your guest list is okay with added beer. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder and tomato paste for a perfect match with the beer.

Serving ideas

  • Sandwiches -Make sandwiches out of the bbq pork. You can use hamburger buns or our favorite- sweet Hawaiian buns! They now sell them in large-sized buns. Add a heaping pile of coleslaw on top of each sandwich if desired.
  • BBQ quesadilla – Use the pork to fill a quesadilla. Mozzarella cheese is the best with pork and barbecue sauce. Great for using up that leftover pork.
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Throw a couple of foil-wrapped sweet potatoes in a 350-degree oven for about an hour and 20 minutes. Stuff the sweet potatoes with the barbecue pork; top with a touch of cheese, sour cream, and chopped sweet yellow onion.
close up on one bbq pork sandwich on a plate

Recipe FAQs

Can I use pork tenderloin for pulled pork?

Yes, pork tenderloin will shred just like pork shoulder. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Tenderloin is less fatty and can have less flavor than pork butt, but it is a healthier option.

How much liquid should I add to the slow cooker?

Only one cup of water is necessary for pork butt, the pork will let off some of its own juices during the cooking time.

Can I use a different liquid than water?

You can use soda such as Dr. Pepper, Coke, Pepsi, or root beer. Apple juice or apple cider, beer or hard cider. All add to the dish’s flavor, and you can’t go wrong!

Can I add seasoning to this (dry spice rub)?

If you would like to add a rub to the roast, you can with the barbecue sauce and water. You can use a homemade rub or buy a pulled pork seasoning mix. Sprinkle the mixture over the pork and rub it all over. Continue with the recipe below.

Can I add liquid smoke?

Liquid smoke is an excellent addition to pulled pork sandwiches. You can use hickory, mesquite or applewood flavored liquid smoke. It doesn’t take much at all to flavor this recipe. Only add 1-2 TEASPOONS at the beginning of the cooking time. Not any more.

Can I add brown sugar?

Barbecue sauce already has sugar, so you won’t want to add too much. You can add 1/2 cup of brown sugar to this recipe if you like your pork more on the sweeter side.

Can I put raw pork in the slow cooker?

Yes! This recipe does just that. The slow cooker was meant to add meat and other ingredients, set, and forget about it (well, until dinner time).

Can I overcook pork?

No, the longer it cooks the better it gets! The meat will only shred better the longer you cook. Some people cook their pulled pork for 16 hours. Though, I don’t recommend any longer than that, it will burn eventually.

Can I freeze leftover pulled pork?

Yes! Pulled pork freezes well—place in freezer ziplock bags. Freeze for up to three months. You will want to thaw the day before you need it in the fridge.

How can I tell pork is done?

The pork will shred when you put a fork in it, though you’ll want to keep cooking it for the entire cooking time, so it will be evenly shreddable throughout.

How to reheat pulled pork

Pulled pork can dry out or get chewy after reheating. You can avoid this by reheating in a small saucepan on the stove. Add the leftover pulled pork to the pan add a splash of water and additional barbecue sauce. Cook until heated through, often stirring (it will burn).

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close up on one bbq pork sandwich on a plate

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 15
Simple two ingredient slow cooker pulled pork, great all day recipe.

Ingredients 
 

  • 6 lb. pork shoulder or butt, (or any size (smaller) will work with this recipe!)
  • 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, (plus more for serving)
  • 1 cup water

For serving (if making sandwiches):

  • King's brand sweet Hawaiian buns or rolls, (regular buns work great too)
  • coleslaw kit, (optional)
  • barbecue sauce

Instructions 

  • Remove the pork from the wrapper and add to the slow cooker. Add the barbecue sauce over the pork.
  • Add 1 cup water around the roast.
  • Cook on low for 10 hours or on HIGH for 7-8 hours (you can get away with a little less time if your roast is very small)
  • Remove the roast to a plate or a rimmed cookie sheet if it is very large. (Keep about a cup of juices from the roast in the slow cooker)
  • Shred the pork with 2 forks, discard any fat. Add the shredded meat to the slow cooker with reserved juices.
  • Serve the shredded pork on buns with additional barbecue sauce and coleslaw if desired.

Notes

Can I add seasoning to this (dry rub)?
  • If you would like to add a rub to the roast you can along with the barbecue sauce and water.
  • You can use a homemade rub or buy a pulled pork seasoning mix.
  • Sprinkle the mix over the pork and rub all over. Continue with the recipe below.
Can I add liquid smoke?
  • Liquid smoke is a great addition to pulled pork sandwiches.
  • You can use hickory, mesquite or applewood flavored liquid smoke.
  • It doesn’t take much at all to flavor this recipe. Only add 1-2 TEASPOONS at the beginning of the cooking time. Not any more.
Can I add a different liquid than water?
  • Soda such as Dr. Pepper, Coke, Pepsi or Root Beer.
  • Apple Juice or Apple Cider
  • Beer or Hard Cider
Can I use pork tenderloin to make pulled pork?
  • Yes, pork tenderloin will shred just like pork shoulder. Cook on LOW for 8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours.
  • Tenderloin is less fatty and can have less flavor than pork butt but it is a healthier option.
Can I freeze the leftovers?
Yes! Pulled pork freezes well—place in freezer ziplock bags. Freeze for up to three months. You will want to thaw the day before you need it in the fridge.
How to reheat:
Pulled pork can dry out or get chewy after reheating. You can avoid this by reheating in a small saucepan on the stove. Add the leftover pulled pork to the pan add a splash of water and additional barbecue sauce. Cook until heated through, often stirring (it will burn).
Nutritional values are for a 6lb. roast and barbecue sauce, bun and toppings not included. If you use a different size roast the nutritional values will vary.

Nutrition

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 315mg | Potassium: 659mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 43IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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48 Comments

  1. Czelusniak Maureen Gurnett says:

    I am making this on Sunday and following exactly how you have it. My pork is 8 lbs. so should I plan on 10 hours low or 8 hrs. high? Company coming so it needs to be right.

    Thank you,
    Maureen

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      I would plan on 10 hours on low. Keep the lid on the entire time and make sure you have time to shred and discard the fat before guests come.

  2. Reyas says:

    Hello! Big fan of many of your recipes, just had one question regarding this one. How long would you recommend cooking a bone-in shoulder that comes to ~8.5 lbs?

    Thanks! I’ll also be leaving glowing reviews on several other recipes today.

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      Hi! In my experience a roast that long need about 12 hours on low or about 8 on high. Keep the lid on. You really can’t over cook.

      1. Reyas says:

        5 stars
        It turned out absolutely fantastic, thanks so much!

  3. Laura says:

    For 12 servings what size roast do I need?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      I would do about a 5 pound roast.

  4. Anonymous says:

    5 stars
    It works for us