Best Ever Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (VIDEO)

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Looking for a simple yet flavorful way to cook pork? Combine a homemade rub with a cheap cut of pork and cook it slowly in the slow cooker for a fantastic pulled pork.

pulled pork on plate with mashed potatoes and kale

When you sit down to meal plan, do you crave fun food that is easy to make and prime for the season? Fun food is what we want when we go out to eat or invite folks over, right?

Why not make it more often so that every week can have a little excitement?

What about a dish that is economical, too? I mean, few of us have money growing on trees so we need meals that fit the budget without tasting boring.

Frugal, fun food — that’s the question, isn’t it? Well, I’ve got the answer right here.

Some of my pre-requisites for frugal, fun food include the following:

  • can be made in advance so you can go play at the beach, park, or lake – or go to work on a regular day and not worry about what’s for dinner.
  • uses the slow cooker (or the grill, in summer) so as not to heat up the kitchen or make a huge mess.
  • is versatile so that it can be mixed and matched in lots of ways; leftovers can take a new identity the next day without any awkwardness or boring feelings.
  • invites you to customize it with all kinds of yummy sauces and toppings.
  • won’t break the budget.
  • fits a variety of diets so everyone can enjoy it

And this Pulled Pork recipe?

pulled pork taco plate with tamale, rice, and beans

Well, it fits all those requirements and then some!

It’s no exaggeration to call this the Best Ever Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. It truly is amazing!

The custom spice blend is versatile so that it complements Mexican food (think tacos, burritos, enchiladas) just as well as it does classic barbecue sandwiches. It’s out of this world with this homemade BBQ sauce.

Pulled pork that you can serve in a myriad of ways makes for some super fun dinners; you won’t get bored easily.

It’s simple to make a very large batch of this pulled pork, depending on what size roast you buy. Pork butt or shoulder roasts are extremely affordable, so don’t hesitate to stock up.

Between the tacos and the sandwiches and just good eating alongside a dish of potatoes, this pulled pork proves to be a perfect busy night OR company dinner. Since the slow cooker does the cooking, you can take it easy either way!

pork roast in packaging with spice mix

What kind of meat do you use for pulled pork?

By nature, pulled pork needs to be made from a cut of pork that will become tender and basically fall apart after cooking. Pork butt and pork shoulder roasts fit the bill. These might also be labeled Boston butt or picnic shoulder.

Pork butt and pork shoulder roasts are perfect all year-round. Roasts cook up super well in the slow-cooker which is an ideal tool to use in the summer time as well as in the busy winter months. Not only do they save you from heating up the oven, but they can also sit for awhile cooking dinner while you finish your daily business.

Look for sales on pork butt or pork shoulder roasts. I’ve seen them as low as $1.99/pound in San Diego.

The roasts I bought for developing this recipe were huge, making for two meals for our family. I love cooking once and feeding my family multiple times. However, if your roast is significantly less than 8 pounds, use less of the spice mix.

spices for pulled pork in a dish

What spices do you use for pulled pork?

Using a blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, onion flakes, chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne, and cloves will give your pulled pork great flavor without a lot of work.

This custom rub smells so good. I purposely developed the spice mix to go with BBQ as well as Mexican flavors, so the possibilities of how to serve the final product are truly endless. Use the savory pulled pork in tacos, burritos, taquitos, chimichangas, lettuce wraps, salads, and sandwiches.

All the ingredients are gluten-free, making this great addition to a Whole 30 meal plan, paleo, and other gf diets.

Just be sure to check your chili powder package. Sometimes they add funky stuff to chili powder.

mixed pulled pork spices in a dish

How do you make pulled pork in a slow cooker?

This recipe is super simple. You need a pork roast and a handful of spices.

Measure out the spices and mix them together. Place the roast in the slow cooker and coat it generously with the spice mixture. Cover and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.

When the meat is cooked, it will pull apart easily with two forks or tongs.

pork roast and spices in the crockpot

Do I need to add water to the pulled pork?

Surprisingly no. You don’t need to add water to the roast and spices in the slow cooker. This cut of pork is naturally juicy, and yes, fatty. In just a few minutes it will juice up in the pot.

At the end of the cooking time, you should have a decent 1/2 to 1 cup of drippings. You can use these to moisten the meat, make soup or chili, or discard.

shredding pulled pork in a dish

How do I shred cooked pork?

When this pulled pork is ready, it will easily fall apart. You can shred the cooked pork in the slow cooker or remove it to a dish. Simply pull the meat apart with a fork or tongs.

Moisten the meat with some of the drippings if you like.

pulled pork in container for freezing

Can I freeze pulled pork?

You can store it in a regular refrigerator freezer for about 6 weeks, longer in a deep freeze.

Note: food stored at less than zero degrees will stay good indefinitely, however it can lose some texture over time. If you cannot ensure that your freezer temps stay that low, use it up with 6 to 8 weeks.

How can I make pulled pork cheaply?

Pulled pork is already a very affordable dish, thanks to the fact that pork roast is a cheap cut of meat. However, there are a few other things you can do to lower your costs even more:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. When you see a good price on pork roasts, buy a few extra to stash in the freezer for later. You know you’ll use them — especially when you make this pulled pork. Stocking up can save you money.
  • Buy spices in bulk. I regularly buy larger containers of spices I use frequently, like pepper, sea salt, garlic powder, and chili powder. I store excess dried herbs and ground spices in the freezer if I know it will be awhile before I go through the large container.

Watch how easy it is to make this slow cooker pulled pork:

What kitchen tools do I need to make pulled pork?

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

5 from 1 vote
Best Slow Cooker Recipes for Summer | Good Cheap Eats
Best Ever Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs 10 mins
 
Looking for a simple yet flavorful way to cook pork? Combine a homemade rub with a cheap cut of pork and cook it slowly in the slow cooker for a fantastic filling for sandwiches, lettuce wraps, and tacos.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pork, pulled pork, shredded pork
Servings: 16
Calories: 211 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
Ingredients
  • 8 pound bone-in pork butt or shoulder roast
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
Instructions
  1. Remove the roast from the packaging and place in the bottom of a large slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl combine the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, onion flakes, chili powder, black pepper, cumin, cloves, and cayenne pepper. Spread this all over the roast, turning the meat to coat all sides.
  3. Cook in the slow cooker for 6 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low. The meat will be so tender that it will easily shred with tongs or two forks. Remove the bones and fat, and shred the meat.
  4. Serve the meat as a filling for tacos, sandwiches, lettuce wraps, burritos, salads, or taquitos.
Recipe Notes

To freeze: cool the meat and divide it into meal-size portions in plastic containers with lids or in ziptop freezer bags. Chill completely before storing in the freezer. To serve: reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop with a bit of water, if necessary.

Nutrition Facts
Best Ever Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Amount Per Serving
Calories 211 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 15%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 92mg 31%
Sodium 550mg 23%
Potassium 499mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 1g 0%
Protein 27g 54%
Vitamin A 3.4%
Vitamin C 1.8%
Calcium 2.5%
Iron 10.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Best Ever Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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Comments

  1. The pork looks so tender and soft. And it can be really mix and match easily. It also definitely fits variety of diets. Yummy!

  2. LeesaB says

    We love pulled pork in my family, though my husband always smokes it. We then freeze it in 1-lb packages to pull out for quick and easy dinners. Typically chile verde, gumbo, moo shu pork, or bbq sandwiches in my family. I can see how the slow cooker would be great to finish the pork off during the summer if need be, though since he likes to smoke 4-6 butts at a time, that may have to be reserved for those emergency pork needs…

  3. Kat says

    Do you need any liquid with this recipe? None listed although I realize you’d have condensation and fat from the meat.

  4. Alice E says

    This looks good. I am new to rubs, but interested in trying them However, I don’t have sea salt and can’t eat black pepper. Would Kosher salt, canning salt or table salt work best? Would you make any other adjustments when leaving out the pepper? Do you think I could use crumbled summer savory leaves? Thanks for any suggestions. I have a couple of pork butt roasts waiting for me in the freezer. Oh, and have you ever tried the leftover pork in chili or with noodles, two of my usual destinations for leftover diced meat?

  5. Carol says

    We love pulled pork in our family and use it as a base for a variety of meals as you mentioned. What I would like to know is that a homemade bun in the photo and if so would you share how to make them?

  6. Katie says

    I got a screamin’ deal on a pork butt at Fry’s (Kroger affiliate in Arizona) and am making this for my frozen dinner club. Sometimes I let the recipients do the actual cooking, but since it’s such a large piece of meat, I am going to do the cooking, shred it, and let them just heat-n-eat. I’m contemplating making the homemade buns as well. 🙂

  7. Cheryle says

    What am I doing wrong? Whenever I make pulled pork in my slow cooker I always end up with lots of grease & meat that is still pink, even though it’s falling apart. If I keep cooking it all of the grease cooks into the meat. I buy the leanest pork shoulder/butt I can & usually it’s boneless. Any tips are appreciated.

    • I am not sure. I don’t buy the lean stuff, just the cheap stuff. Sorry that happens to you!

      • Cheryle says

        Hi Jessica. Mine is cheap too. Believe me, I only buy it when it’s a really good sale. I just pick the leanest they have. 🙂

        • Looking over your comment again. Pink meat is okay if it’s reached a safe temperature. The USDA even lowered the safe level of pork in the last few years. Mine does make a lot of drippings. Thinking about putting it on a rack next time so it doesn’t sit in the drippings? You can make a makeshift rack out of foil if you don’t have one that fits your slow cooker.

    • jacqi says

      A bit of fat is natural and helps with flavor and moistness. That said, too much is too much. Every slow cooker is different, but try a higher temp. I do like to add a little liquid to help steam meat and ensure even cooking. I lift the lid just once about three quarters into cooking, when meat is cooked thru but still chewy so that I can flip the meat over and get the top half immersed in some liquid. I like to remove done meat, and skim oil from top of the remaining liquid, then either crank setting up or boil the liquid in pan to reduce or stir in some thickener to cook. Wondra flour, corn flour, mashed potatoes, etc.

  8. Renee says

    I’m confused by your hashtags, recipes, and photos.. this and many other look like delicious meals, but are not at all whole 30. Rolls? Tortillas? Cheese… even alot of the ingredient lists, the sunflower oils, dairy etc. Again, I’m sure they’re great recipes, but shouldn’t be labeled or promoted as Whole30. For someone like myself wanting to truly meal plan for 30 days, there are way too many mods needed or things that aren’t w30 approved. just some thoughts.

    • If I’ve tagged something Whole30, I’ve included modifications either in the headnotes or the recipe itself. The pictures do not always correspond with the modifications. I apologize for the confusion.

  9. Jill says

    I made this overnight last night and I just have to tell you THANK YOU! It is absolutely amazing. It is the best pork I have ever made in the crock pot, hands down. I was skeptical because there was no liquid in the recipe, but I went with it anyway because of the comments. I am so glad I did. It is so good. The spices made kind of a crust on it and it’s just absolutely amazing. My store didn’t have any huge roasts so I bought 3 smaller ones to equal about what your recipe called for. Worked just fine. I tried to pick them up and they just fell apart! The meat is so moist and flavorful and not dry at ALL. Just insanely good. Thank you!

  10. Margaret Lilley says

    This came out super dry! We ended up using the leftover meat for enchiladas because it really didn’t stand alone. Followed the directions, so I’m not sure what happened.

    Thanks for the lovely post…at least I got some great ideas from you. Love the blog, too!

    • I am sorry to hear that. It was a pork shoulder? Not all cuts do well with slow cooking. Other thought would be that it cooked too long? Usually this cut is so fatty that it’s always moist. Bummer!

    • Lisa says

      I added a little dry vermouth to mine

  11. Shirley Jaques says

    There is a type-o in the directions – “Cook on low in the slow cooker for 6 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.” It should read “Cook in the slow cooker for 6 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.”

    The recipe was great, I had to restrain myself from adding liquids, but in the end it was moist & had great flavor. I’ll make it again.

  12. Kay Ross says

    Do I divide the seasonings if my roast is only 2 pounds or do I still use the amount listed for an 8 pound roast? Sorry..I’m new to this cooking thing!

  13. Samantha says

    Hello! I’m making this right now, I am new to cooking and have never used ground cloves. The smell of it is terrible to me, as its cooking it is kind of taking over the smell all together. Now I’m worried I put too much on accident or is that normal? Silly question I know! Lol

    • There is a distinct odor to cloves, so yes, you would notice it, particularly if you haven’t used it before. I made this this weekend but was out of cloves and I missed that scent. Hopefully, you didn’t put too much. Fingers crossed.

      • Christina says

        I made this today and I used too many cloves. That’s all I taste ? I’m super bummed. I think next time I’ll leave the cloves out. It wouldn’t “ruin” the outcome correct?

  14. Patty says

    Making this for our bible study tonight. It looks and smells awesome! Thanks!!!

  15. Courtney says

    I just bought my roast today at a organic farmers meat store, it’s frozen. I want to cook it for tonight, have u ever cooked it in your crockpot frozen? Any tips?

  16. Alice says

    I do not like pulled pork with vinegar or barbecue sauce so I decided to try this for a family gathering. It was a huge hit, many comments on how it was the best they’ve ever had! At first I thought all the liquid would make it greasy, but shredding it made it soak in and it was perfectly moist and yummy. Thanks.

    • SO glad you enjoyed it. I feel the same way about the vinegar and BBQ! #greatminds 😉

  17. Chris says

    Best rub ever! I have slaved over making this until now, thanks for sharing! God bless you!

    • Glad you like it. I used the rub on grilled pork tenderloin this weekend and it was really good that way. If you’ve got leftover rub, use it for grilling.

      • Annette says

        What if it has no bones..do I add water or let some of the fat make the juice

        • I don’t add water because there’s enough fat and juice in conventional pork. I might do something different if I was using organic, but that’s not in the budget at this time.

  18. Nedra Bryce says

    I made this today! It turn out delicious! It was my first time making pulled pork. Thank you for the recipe.

  19. Lisa says

    I am making this for the 2nd time today because my “picky eater” husband loved it so much the first time I made it. We are going to a New Year’s Eve party and he insisted that I make this so we could share it with our friends. When he likes something this much, trust me, it must be really good!! I also usually freeze the left overs so we can heat-and-eat whenever we want, but I doubt there will be any left overs this time. Thank you so much for sharing this! It is a hit!!!!

    • Yay!!!! That’s how I feel every time I make it. Like, wow! I made this?! So glad you will rock the party tonight!

  20. Heather says

    Gonna make this sometime this week. I am soooo excited!!!!??? One question, though, I didn’t realize it was supposed to be bone-in so I bought a boneless because it was cheaper. Is there anything different I should do?

    Love your recipes. Thanks for sharing with us all!!

  21. Trischa says

    Can I shred it in the pot for the last hour or will all the grease make it to greasy

  22. Chickiewickie says

    I’m about to make this. And I read through all the comments. The one question I don’t see is, fat side up or down? In a regular oven I would do fat side up. Is that the same for crockpot? My normal go-to pulled pork recipe I slow cook in oven, sometimes up to 24hrs!

    • Personally, I don’t think it matters in a slow cooker. In the oven we do fat side up to keep everything moist and to flavor the meat with the drippings. The crockpot doesn’t usually run the risk of things drying out. It’s a personal preference, I think.

  23. Janet says

    Have you tried using liquid smoke in this recipe? Does is fare well in the slow cooker? If so, any suggestions on how much to use?

    Thanks!

  24. Regan says

    Has anyone tried this recipe with a pork loin? I have one on hand that I am not really sure what to do with & this sounded delicious!!

    • Pork loin can be tricky in the slow cooker. I’ve found it does better in a roasting pan in the oven. The same seasoning, however, would be delicious.

    • Sandi says

      Months later, here’s my opinion: I almost always cook the pork loin in the slow cooker on low temp. It does create a lot of juice (not really fatty or greasy as that meat is usually pretty lean) so after you shred it, you need to let the meat sit in that juice and soak it back up again. If you drain the juice, the meat will end up really dry, especially when you reheat leftovers.

  25. Hilary F says

    When I read “Best Ever Slow Cooker Pulled Pork,” I’ll admit that I took that as a challenge. But, I always love your recipes so I gave it a try. Wow, that was no overstatement. It is simply amazing!!! I love the spice rub. Many slow cooker roast recipes use seasonings that only make it suitable for one type of cuisisne (Italian, Mexican, BBQ, etc….). But, this us so versatile, I can imagine using it for countless recipes. Thanks again for yet another hit!!!

  26. Carol says

    I made it tonight, and everyone loved it! I cut the cloves and cayenne (we are wimps) in half. Perfect seasoning. Boys chose for me to add a little BBQ sauce after it was done and make pulled pork sandwiches. Our pickiest eater declared it the best ever. Thanks!!

  27. Ashlee says

    Hey there!!

    I don’t have any cloves…do you think pooping a cinnamon stick in there would be a decent substitute for a little pop of that layer of flavor?

  28. Terry calkins says

    I do this recipe in the pressure cooker using a cup of water. The resulting broth is used to cook rice. If it is very oily I will cool the broth first and use the congealed fat to fry potatoes or start a roast. The shredded meat is packaged into 2. To 4 cup packages and used for BBQ pork sandwiches, burritos, tacos or chopped to add to shephards pie.

    • I did this with pork strips the other night, per your encouragement. The meat did not get as tender as it does in the slow cooker. I’m a newb when it comes to pressure cooking. Any suggestions? (I did 35 minutes with 10 min pressure release)

  29. Lauren says

    Is it best to do this with a thawed roast or can it be frozen ??

  30. ire says

    Please try again- first try to fry the meat from all sides to seal the juices , then put the spices and some water.I buy the biggest shoulder I can fit in my IP ,bone in and do a 99 min.Afterwards , shred it,take the bone out and put it again for a short time so the meat can soak up the juice just as the other comments said .

  31. Paula says

    This was delicious–and so easy! We had family over for this meal, and my teenaged niece (who usually never eats pork) and nephew devoured there pulled pork sandwiches. My nephew loved how the meat didn’t have that sweet slick flavour/texture that some recipes have. I love healthy food and have type-one diabetes, so I loved that I didn’t have to add sugar or syrup. My sister-in-law asked for the recipe. :o) Note that I did put Paul Newman’s Bourbon BBQ sauce on the table to drizzle over if desired.

  32. Heather B says

    I have made pulled pork dozens of times, but I recently made this recipe for a family gathering and it received 10:10 scores from everyone- even my picky eater who doesn’t like to eat meat. He even had seconds! Can be used for bbq or for tacos- just add sauce or salsa. Fabulous!!

  33. Jessie Stanek says


    This recipe is Excellent! Moist with great flavor. Definitely will be making this again

  34. Meredith says


    Love Love Love!!! I’m so happy I found this recipe. I first made it for a multi-family beach vacation and to say it was a hit would be an understatement! Everyone of all ages and even the pickiest of eaters couldn’t stop saying how it was the best pulled pork they’ve ever had. Now my husband requests it all the time. I put the rub on the roast the night before mostly because it saves me time in the morning, but it also gives it time for all the flavors to really get infused. Thank you for sharing such an amazing recipe!

    • So glad to hear that it is a keeper at your house! Great strategy for “marinating” it in the rub!

  35. Kim says


    This is now my go-to recipe for pulled pork. Love it, love it, love it! I make it without the cloves – that’s just my personal preference. The flavor is delicious and marries well with my favorite barbecue sauce.

  36. Brett C. Williams says


    I’ve been using your recipe for years now. I use the specific spices and amounts listed and this comes out AWESOME every time. When I make it in the summer, I have to stop people from automatically putting on BBQ sauce. Then they try it and the WOW factor hits them! This is a proven winner.
    I also make it on New Year’s Day. I put sliced up kielbasa on the bottom then layer one bag of sauerkraut (w\ juice) and one bag drained. I then put in ~ cup of brown sugar before putting the roast on top. Delish!

    • Thanks so much for the great feedback, Brett! I’m so glad to hear that it’s been so successful for you! #kitchenwinner 😉

  37. André Bélanger says


    The time preparing and cooking may take time but the taste is so delicious that one forgets time.

  38. Debbie says

    I used your recipe and it was fabulous! I took it to work and everyone raved over it, asking for the recipe needless to say there wasn’t any left to take home. I’m making another now, I cooked the first one on low for 12 hours. GREAT!

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