Pulled pork sandwich on a white plate.
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How to Make Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot

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One of my go-to main dishes to make when I am hosting a get-together has got to be homemade barbecue pulled pork sandwiches. I absolutely love pulled pork. Whether plain and in some yummy tacos or with barbecue sauce in the form of a sandwich, I don’t care. Give me that pork!

This is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. I have been making it for over 20 years. It was a staple when I was at college and we wanted to have a bunch of people over but not have it cost a ton. You can’t go wrong with this recipe when it comes to feeding a large group.

If you are a fan of pulled pork give this easy recipe a try! Let’s get started!

Ingredients and Tools/Equipment for this Pulled Pork Recipe

Several ingredients in glass bowls on a wooden cutting board.

In order to make slow cooker pulled pork you need a handful of simple ingredients:

  • Pork – Traditionally boneless pork shoulder or pork butt like the Boston butt is used, but I also like using the pork loin. Honestly, I just buy whatever is on sale, haha. All three will work great. I don’t recommend using pork tenderloin but if that is all you have you can certainly use that too. There just isn’t much fat on it.
  • Onion – I normally use a yellow onion, but you can use white or purple/red as well.
  • Garlic cloves – Fresh garlic is always awesome with pork.
  • Garlic powder – I add this even when adding fresh garlic. I really love garlic with pork.
  • Black pepper
  • Oregano
  • Salt – Always adds flavor
  • Paprika – Either regular or smoked.
  • Root beer – Or you can use Dr Pepper, Orange Juice, and some people will use chicken broth. Each one brings a different flavor element.
  • Barbecue Sauce – You can use this homemade barbecue sauce recipe if you like or use something like Sweet Baby Ray’s which is my favorite brand to buy at the store.
Open faced pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce and pickles.

Tools/Equipment

  • Slow cooker – It doesn’t have to be the Crock Pot brand, any large slow cooker will work just fine.
  • Forks
  • Tongs
  • Bowl
  • Ladle
  • Knife

How to make pulled pork in Crock Pot

Hand mixing spices in a glass bowl.

Start by prepping your onion. You can slice them or dice them, it is up to you. I like to do slices just because they are easier to grab with tongs and I like them in my pulled pork sandwich or tacos. But you can just dice them if you prefer.

Also, prepare the cloves of garlic by removing the skins and slicing them in half. No need to smash them or mince them.

Take all the dry ingredients, the paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, and salt, and add them to a bowl. Mix it well with a fork or whisk.

The dry homemade rub is ready.

Prep the pork

Hand patting a pork loin dry with a paper towel.

Remove the pork from the wrapper and drain any juices. Then place it on a cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels.

You may or may not want to trim the excess fat from the pork. Fat equals flavor, so I rarely trim it off. But if you have an overly fatty cut of pork, you may want to trim it a bit.

Hand patting a pork loin with a dry rub.

Next, sprinkle about half of the dry spice rub onto one side of the pork. Rub it in with your hand.

NOTE: You can wear kitchen/food prep gloves if desired. And of course, if you are making it to sell, then you should be wearing gloves, as per proper food handling requirements.

Flip the pork over, apply the rest of the dry rub, and pat it on the pork.

Fingers pressing garlic cloves into the pork loin.

This next step is optional, but I always do it. Something I learned 20 years ago. Take a knife and cut deep slits into the pork. Then take your garlic pieces and press those into each of the slits.

Otherwise, you can just place the garlic in the slow cooker.

Cooking the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Pouring root beer in a slow cooker with the pork loin.

Slow cooking is one of the best ways to cook pork. Add the slices of onions (or diced) to the bottom of the slow cooker. Then add the dry-rubbed pork on top of the onions.

Pour the root beer, Dr. Pepper, or orange juice in as well. Each one of those adds a little different flavor profile, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Pork in crock pot being cooked.

Cover the Crock Pot and cook. You have a few different ways to cook it:

1 – Set on high setting and cook for 4 hours.

2 – Set on high for 2 hours then low for 4 hours.

3 – Set on the low setting and cook for 8-9 hours.

Making pulled pork is very forgiving with several options for cooking it depending on your schedule. But it is an awesome recipe to make for those busy days because it only requires a few minutes of prep and feeds lots of people.

Shredding the Pork

Fully cooked pulled pork in a Crock Pot

When the pork is done the internal temperature should be between 190F and 210F. (87 to 98C)

If you don’t have a thermometer don’t worry, if you follow the guidelines for cooking the pork it should be ready without checking it with a thermometer. If it shreds easily it is definitely ready.

There will be lots of extra liquid in the pot which will be too much for the pulled pork. You can use a turkey baster and suck up the liquid and then discard or save it for gravy, or make an Au jus with it.

Forks pulling apart cooked pork loin in a large bowl

Or what I normally do is remove the pork with tongs from the slow cooker and put it in a large bowl. Then I shred it with two forks.

Next, take your tongs, grab those onions from the slow cooker, and put them with the meat. Along with a few ladles of juice. You want to keep some of the juice because it will keep the pulled pork from drying out.

Onions on top of the shredded pork in a bowl.

Mix the onions, juice, and pulled pork all together. And then it is ready. You can serve it as is for sandwiches and pork tacos or whatever else you want to use it for or add barbecue sauce to it.

Maybe you want to keep half plain and then add barbecue sauce to the other half, totally up to you.

Serving the Pulled Pork

Finished pulled pork in a large glass bowl.

I like to mix in the barbecue sauce with the pork as opposed to just adding a bit on top of it. But you are welcome to do it however you like.

TIP: If you are waiting for a bunch of people to come over you can return the pulled pork to the Crock Pot and set it on warm. This will keep it nice and warm for your guests.

Freshly made barbecue pulled pork sandwich on a white plate.

Now you can assemble a sandwich. Add a large helping of pulled pork on the bottom bun. Then add some sliced pickles if desired, followed by the top half of the bun and extra BBQ sauce as desired. Or you can make little pulled pork sliders with slider buns, perfect to feed a rowdy bunch on game day!

There you go, an awesome barbecue pulled pork sandwich. Enjoy!

How long does pulled pork last?

Keep leftover meat in the bowl covered with a lid or plastic wrap. Or use something like Tupperware or another type of airtight container then place in the fridge for up to 4 days. After that, you should freeze it in freezer bags.

Easy homemade pulled pork pin for Pinterest.

Here are other recipes you may like:

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Barbecue Sauce

How to Make Rice Flour

Bacon Egg and Cheese Sandwich

Pulled pork sandwich on a white plate.
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5 from 4 votes

Pulled Pork in Crock Pot

Learn how to make pulled pork in a Crock Pot. It is so good and easy to make and feeds a lot of people.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
0 minutes
Total Time8 hours 10 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy, sandwich, savory, slow cooker
Servings: 15 people
Calories: 202kcal
Author: Matt Taylor

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 to 5 pounds of pork shoulder pork butt, or pork loin
  • 1 large onion sliced or diced
  • 2 Tbsp of paprika 24g
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder 5g
  • 1 tsp of black pepper 5g
  • 1 tsp of oregano 3g
  • 1 tsp of salt 5g
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic cut in half
  • 12 to 15 oz of root beer dr. pepper, or orange juice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce, doesn't have to be exact optional, leave plain for tacos

Instructions

  • Slice or dice 1 large onion
  • Slice 4 or 5 cloves of garlic in half and remove the skin.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano, and salt.
  • Remove the pork from the package and drain any excess juices. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle half of the dry rub onto the top of the pork and rub it in with your hand. Turn it over and put the rest of the dry rub on.
  • Cut slits in the pork with a knife and press the fresh garlic into the slits. This is optional
  • Add the onions to the Slow Cooker/Crock Pot. Then add the prepared pork on top of the onions.
  • Pour the root beer into the crock pot.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours and low for 4 hours. (Internal temp should be between 190F and 210F (87 to 98C)
  • Remove the cooked pork from the slow cooker and place it in a large bowl.
  • Shred the pork with two forks. Add a few ladlefuls of the leftover juice to the fork, along with the onions. Keep or discard the rest of the juice. And mix it all together. It is ready.
  • You can serve it plain like this for tacos or if you want to make pulled pork sandwiches you can add barbecue sauce and mix it in.
  • Add some pork to a bun along with some pickles then the top bun and you got yourself a yummy barbecue pulled pork sandwich. Enjoy the pork!

Video

How to Make Pulled Pork in Crock Pot | Easy Pulled Pork Recipe

Notes

NOTE: This recipe feeds 10 to 15 or more people depending on how much pork is put on each sandwich or taco.
NOTE: The nutritional facts are for just the pork itself with added barbecue sauce. It doesn’t include a bun, pickles, coleslaw, etc. 
List of nutritional facts for pulled pork
Tried this recipe?Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcal

Do you like this best pulled pork recipe? Share and Pin it! Please give it a rating and comment down below, I really appreciate it. If you make it tag me on Instagram @inthekitchenwithmatt. Also, sign up for the newsletter so you won’t miss out on any of my new posts and recipes.

10 Comments

  1. Shawn Lawson

    5 stars
    This was so good! Even better the next day. I’ve printed and saved so many of your recipes. Everyone I know is obsessed with your coconut bread and wants me to make it or share recipe. I give them your link. I made my grocery list all by your recipes. This was one I tried. I am currently here to make my next grocery shopping list. I shop for 2 weeks at a time so I have a lot of your recipes. Everything I try is delicious. Thank you for all your time that you give for people like me and my friends I cook or bake more than I eat so I share a lot.

    • So happy to hear that Shawn! Glad you gave this a try and liked it same with the coconut bread and other recipes. And thanks for sharing the link to the recipes as well, I appreciate it! You are so very welcome!

  2. What kind of pickles goes well with pulled pork sandwiches? And buns?

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe!! It was so easy to make in the crock pot and the whole family loved it! Definitely saving it to make again.

  4. 5 stars
    I was hunting for an easy recipe to feed a crowd, and this one was a hit! Everyone commented on how delicious the pulled pork was. I’ll definitely make this again!

  5. 5 stars
    This pulled pork recipe is such a keeper! It was perfectly cooked and seasoned!

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