The Ultimate Guide to Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (Oven Roasted Option)

pulled pork in a black slow cooker, topped with barbecue sauce.

Let’s talk about the juiciest pulled pork recipe you’ll ever taste! With minimal effort, your slow cooker can transform a pork shoulder into tender, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork that will impress any crowd. But wait, there’s more! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover both slow cooker and oven-roasted methods, ensuring you have all the tools you need to achieve pulled pork perfection.

This is the Juiciest Pulled Pork Recipe!

I recently discovered my love for pulled pork, and now I can’t get enough! The juiciness and tenderness of this dish are simply irresistible. Today, I’m excited to share with you just how easy it is to create a crowd-pleasing masterpiece of finger-licking pulled pork.

close up of slow cooker pulled pork drizzled with bbq sauce.

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork recipe. It complements today’s post perfectly. While the ingredients and rub for both recipes are similar, the cooking methods are entirely unique. Today, we’ll explore how to make incredibly flavorful pulled pork using either your slow cooker or oven.

To make things more manageable, I’ve divided the information into sections. We’ll start with the best cut of pork for pulled pork and move on to the ingredients you’ll need. Then, we’ll delve into the step-by-step instructions for both the slow cooker and oven methods. Finally, I’ll address some frequently asked questions and provide serving suggestions. So let’s get started!

The Best Pork for Pulled Pork

When it comes to achieving the best pulled pork, choosing the right cut of pork is crucial. For optimal results, I recommend using a front shoulder cut, such as Pork Butt or Boston Butt. This cut has slightly more fat marbling, which enhances the flavor. If you prefer, you can also use Pork Shoulder or Picnic Roast, which are equally delicious options.

raw pork shoulder on a wooden cutting board, bone in.

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s move on to the ingredients you’ll need for this mouthwatering pulled pork.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Creating a flavorful spice rub for your pulled pork is incredibly easy. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make the rub that will make your pork melt-in-your-mouth delicious:

  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Dry mustard powder
  • Brown sugar

close up of spices in a white bowl.

Now that we have our ingredients ready, let’s move on to the cooking process.

How to Make Pulled Pork in Crock Pot

Making pulled pork in your slow cooker couldn’t be easier! Follow these simple steps:

  1. First, decide how long you have to cook your pork. If you leave it whole, it will take 8-10 hours to reach maximum tenderness.
  2. If you split the roast in half, you can have it done in as little as 6-7 hours. Splitting the pork also allows for more edges to be seared, enhancing the flavor.
  3. Dry the pork with paper towels and rub it with a little olive oil and liquid smoke (optional). The liquid smoke compensates for the lack of smoky flavor when cooking indoors. I recommend using Wright’s brand, as it contains only water and smoke.
  4. Set aside about 3 tablespoons of the spice rub and save it for later. Rub the rest of the spice rub all over the pork, making sure to cover every nook and cranny. Marinate the pork for at least 6 hours, or up to 48 hours. Before cooking, rub the remaining 3 tablespoons of spice rub onto the pork.
  5. Sear the pork on all sides over medium-high heat to achieve a browned, flavorful edge. This process, known as the Maillard reaction, adds depth to the final result.
  6. Place the seared pork directly into your slow cooker, set the heat to low, and cover with the lid. Cooking on low heat allows the meat to become tender and juicy. Avoid cooking on high heat, as the meat will not achieve the desired texture.
  7. Slow cook the pork for 6-8 hours if you split the meat in half, or 8-10 hours if you left the pork butt whole. Cooking low and slow allows the collagen and connective tissues to break down, resulting in the tender texture we’re aiming for.
  8. Use a meat thermometer toward the end of cooking to ensure the internal temperature of the pork does not exceed 200 degrees F. Going above this temperature may cause the meat to become dried out and stringy.
  9. Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and let it rest for a few minutes before shredding.
Further reading:  Crispy Chinese Salt and Pepper Ribs: A Flavorful Delight

a meat thermometer reading 203 degrees F stuck into cooked pork shoulder in a crock pot.

Congratulations, you now have succulent pulled pork ready to be shredded. Return the pork to the juices in the crock pot, and voila! Your dinner is served. In the next section, we’ll explore the oven-roasted method, which adds a delightful crispy edge to the pork.

How to Make Oven Roasted Pulled Pork

While slow cooker pulled pork is undeniably convenient, there’s something special about oven-roasted pulled pork with its crispy blackened edges, also known as “bark.” If you’re up for the challenge, follow these steps:

  1. Start by splitting your pork butt into three equal pieces. Remember, more edges mean more flavorful bark, and smaller pieces cook faster.
  2. Dry the pork with paper towels, rub it with a little oil and liquid smoke (optional), and coat it with most of the spice rub.
  3. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Arrange the pork pieces on the cooling rack, ensuring the pork remains crispy on the bottom. Add about a cup and a half of water to the pan to create a humid cooking environment.
  4. After 30 minutes at 425 degrees, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Continue cooking the pork for an additional 3-5 hours. This slow cooking process breaks down the collagen and connective tissues, resulting in tender, juicy meat.
  5. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork. Once it reaches 195 to 200 degrees F, the pork is done. Remember, the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees even after removing it from the oven.
  6. Let the pork rest for about 10-20 minutes on a cutting board to allow the juices to redistribute.
  7. Shred the pork using two forks. The meat should be so tender that it falls apart at the slightest touch.
Further reading:  Lemon Pepper Pork Chops

oven roasted pork shoulder in 3 pieces on parchment paper with a bowl of bbq sauce.

Now you have perfectly roasted pulled pork with irresistible crispy edges. It’s time to move on to the next section, where we’ll discuss some tips and serving suggestions.

Pulled Pork Recipe Slow Cooker Tips

Before we move on, let me give you an important tip: do not discard the fat. Some recipes suggest removing the crusty fat cap, but trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the flavor it brings. Fat equals flavor! Shred the fat along with the pork, and your pulled pork will be incredibly flavorful.

Now, let’s talk about serving your pulled pork.

How to Serve Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Barbecue sauce is a must when serving pulled pork. While I have my own recipe for easy Homemade BBQ Sauce, I recommend Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce if you’re in a rush. Its classic black-pepper-molasses flavor is simply delightful. You can either stir in 1-2 cups of BBQ sauce with the shredded pork or serve it on the side for individuals to add according to their taste.

pulled pork sandwich with BBQ sauce on a plate.

Now, let’s create the ultimate pulled pork sandwich. Start by getting a brioche hamburger bun and slathering it with butter. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a dollop of butter, and toast the bun for 2-4 minutes until slightly browned and crispy.

Next, pile on your tender, juicy pulled pork and generously drizzle it with BBQ sauce. But hold on, we’re not done yet! Don’t forget to add our favorite coleslaw. It’s the essential element that completes this incredible sandwich.

And there you have it — the best pulled pork sandwich you’ll ever taste! Now, let’s move on to some additional information and frequently asked questions.

What to Serve with Pulled Pork

No BBQ is complete without some delicious sides. Here are some of my favorite dishes to accompany pulled pork:

  • My Favorite Coleslaw: A classic coleslaw is essential for the perfect pulled pork experience.
  • Easy Broccoli Bacon Salad: This salad is loaded with crispy bacon.
  • The Only Macaroni Salad You Need: Small chop is the secret to this recipe.
  • Pineapple Spinach Salad: A simple and classy salad option.
  • Italian Tortellini and Pepperoni Pasta Salad: A crowd favorite with a flavorful twist.
  • Bacon Baked Beans: Smoky and bacon-y goodness in every bite.
  • Santa Maria Pinquito Beans: These beans have a smooth and distinct flavor.
  • The Best Potato Salad Recipe: Achieve the perfect balance of flavors.
  • Literally the Best Mac & Cheese I’ve Ever Had: Mac & Cheese pairs perfectly with BBQ.

For more ideas, check out my BBQ holidays recipe section.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Store Leftovers

Storing leftover pulled pork is a breeze. Let the meat cool to room temperature, place it in a glass container with a tight-sealing lid, and refrigerate. If you don’t have glass containers, plastic will work just as well. However, keep in mind that some sauces may stain plastic containers, especially when reheated in them.

Can You Freeze Pulled Pork?

Absolutely! Freezing pulled pork is simple. Let it come to room temperature, place it in a freezer ziplock bag, remove as much air as possible, and freeze. It should remain good in the freezer for 4-6 months. To reheat, defrost the bag on a plate in the refrigerator. Once thawed, you can follow the same instructions for reheating.

Pulled Pork Crock Pot Reheating Instructions

For a single serving, add some pork to a bowl, cover, and microwave on 50% power for a minute or two until warm. If reheating a large amount, you can microwave it for a longer time or heat it on the stove in a pan with a lid and a sprinkle of water. Another option is to place it back in the slow cooker on the warm setting until warmed through.

Further reading:  Smokin' Delicious Traeger Pork Shoulder Recipe

How to Get Tender Pulled Pork

There are two secrets to achieving the most tender pulled pork. First, use the best cut of meat — the Boston Butt or pork shoulder. These cuts contain plenty of fat marbling and collagen, which contribute to the desired tenderness. Second, cook the pork low and slow. This slow cooking process breaks down the collagen and connective tissues, resulting in tender, juicy meat.

What’s the Difference Between Shredded Pork and Pulled Pork?

While some BBQ enthusiasts may argue about the distinction, for most people, there isn’t a significant difference between shredded pork and pulled pork. Both terms refer to slow-cooked pork that has been broken down into small pieces. Some might say that shredded pork is more uniform, with strands of meat, while pulled pork has some larger clumps or chunks mixed in with the shreds. However, for the purposes of this recipe, feel free to pull or shred the meat to your preference.

What Temperature Do You Cook Pulled Pork To?

Regardless of the cooking method, the final internal temperature of the pork should be around 200 degrees F. Once the temperature reaches about 195 degrees, you can remove it from heat, as the pork will continue to rise a few degrees. Going beyond 203 degrees may result in dry and overcooked meat. To ensure accuracy, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer.

Can You Overcook Pulled Pork?

Yes, it is possible to overcook pulled pork. While low and slow cooking is essential for breaking down collagen and connective tissues, it’s crucial to avoid cooking the meat for too long. Once the internal temperature reaches around 210 degrees F, the muscle fibers start to toughen and dry out, resulting in less desirable texture. To prevent overcooking, use a meat thermometer and monitor the temperature closely.

How Much Pulled Pork to Make Per Person

As a general guideline, plan on serving about 1/3 lb of meat per person or per sandwich. However, if you have small children or several side dishes accompanying the pork, 1/4 lb per person should suffice. If you expect some people to have multiple servings, consider increasing the quantity accordingly. The great thing about pulled pork is that any leftovers freeze beautifully, allowing you to enjoy your delicious pork at a later time.

More Slow Cooker Recipes You Will Love!

If you enjoy the convenience of slow cooker meals, here are a few more recipes you should try:

  • Slow Cooker Pork Tacos with Mexican Coleslaw: A pantry-friendly meal that’s full of flavor.
  • Honey Balsamic Slow Cooker Pork Ribs: Tender ribs made effortless.
  • Bacon Blue Cheese Brisket: A crowd-pleasing dish that will win over your guests.
  • Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Tenderloin: Slow-cooked to perfection and finished off with a delicious glaze.
  • Cafe Rio Sweet Shredded Pork for Burritos: An incredibly tasty option inspired by Cafe Rio.

Now that you have all the tools and knowledge to create the juiciest pulled pork, it’s time to start cooking! Don’t forget to share your culinary creations and spread the joy of delicious BBQ with your friends and family. Enjoy your BBQ adventures!