|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
8 hours 15 min
3 people per pound
Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich
Pulled Pork Cooking in the Crock Pot
Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Made Easy
This recipe uses a Crock-pot or Dutch oven simulate slow-roasted pit barbecue. The slow cooker can turn a Boston butt or shoulder roast into juicy pulled pork sandwiches while you are at work. This recipe for pulled pork barbecue includes tips for how to make your own spice rub and creative ways to use the leftovers.
I spent most of my life in the South where "barbecue" is a noun more often than it is a verb. Barbecue is slow-cooked pork that is then shredded or chopped and served on a bun with sauce and Cole slaw. Many people call this kind of barbecue "pulled pork."
When I moved to the upper mid-west, I longed for a good pulled pork sandwich. With no good options in sight I turned to my own kitchen.
The best and easiest way to make pulled pork is to use a crock pot.
1-4 lbs. Pork Shoulder or Butt (I buy bone-in, boneless works fine).
Place the pork shoulder in the crock pot or dutch oven. Rub the outside with salt or other rub (see below). It is a great idea to apply the rub the night before and let it work into the meat overnight. The salt especially helps draw out some of the moisture that might otherwise make for too much juice in the crock pot.
Crock-Pot Pulled Pork
Cook the pork shoulder in the crock pot with the lid on for 8 hours on low. Chop or pull apart and serve on a lightly toasted bun with your choice of sauce. I recommend a Carolina mustard based sauce. It really is that easy.
Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
Many people today own a thick cast iron or enameled dutch oven. These pots can work as a slow cooker when placed into an 215 degree oven for 8 hours. The effects of cooking in this way are identical to cooking in a Crock Pot. One advantage, however, is that you could sear the outside of the meat, on the stove just before you put it in the oven.
Because I am used to barbecue cooked over a hickory smoke and charcoal, I missed the charred outside on my pork, so I now finish my pork under a broiler to crisp the outside. Place the cooked pork in a roasting pan (if you can get it there without it falling apart) and put in a hot oven for a few minutes. The fat on the outside and the sugar from the rub should caramelize into a nice crispy skin. Remove and promptly chop. Note: You should never broil an enameled dutch oven as the enamel may crack.
As always, confirm safe cooked temperatures with a thermometer. The FDA recommends 165 degrees for cooked pork.
Choosing a Crock Pot: Are all slow cookers created equal?
There is a large range in prices in slow cookers. At the low end the cost around $20-40 and they go up over $100. So what do you get for all that extra dough? Not much. All slow cookers cook in the same way. They raise food to a simmering temperature and then hold it there as long as you tell it to. The more expensive models have timers and a little more control over temperature, although it should be noted that all crock pots simmer at about the same temperature, so the difference between low, medium, and high temperature on a crock pot is all about how quickly it reaches a simmer. It does not mean it cooks at a higher temperature.
Decide if you need control over automatic timers that switch from cooking to warming. If you don't, don't worry about buying a less expensive slow cooker. It gets the job done.
Barbecue Sauce for Crock Pot Pulled Pork
There are dozens of barbecue sauces on the market from the mass produced K.C. Masterpiece to custom batches sold in house at the best barbecue places.
As the best stuff is only available in house, we will have to settle for sauces that can be found at the grocery store.
K.C. Masterpiece on pulled pork is blasphemy. It is from Kansas City, a city that might know something about barbecue in general, but is not known for its Carolina pulled pork.
Sweet Baby Ray's based out of Chicago is a better choice, but it is still nothing like a North Carolina vinegar sauce or a South Carolina mustard sauce.
The best sauce will have to be an improvisation.
Take 2 Tb. of Sweet Baby Ray's original sauce.
Add 1 Tb. of mustard
Add 1 tsp. of vinegar and stir. This will give you some approximation of an authentic sauce. It's still not the real thing, but hey, you've got to make do, when you are far from the South.
Make Pulled Pork in An Oven
If you do not own a crock pot or would rather cook a pork shoulder or pork butt in the oven. I recommend cooking the meat on at a low temperature (200-250 degrees F) for 6-8 hours.
I have had success cooking the meat in this way by rubbing the meat with the rub recipe included on this page, wrapping the meat in aluminum foil, and adding a splash of vinegar.
I leave the meat wrapped for at least the first half of the cooking time.
Once the meat is fully cooked you can increase the temperature to a low broil to crisp the outside, or you can leave it as it is.
Pork Tinga Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
Alter this recipe by adding a tablespoon of chipotle peppers in adobo and 1 can of crushed tomatoes. After it has cooked for 6 hours, drain the liquid from the crock pot and add the peppers and tomatoes. Cook two more hours on low, then add 1 Tb. fresh cilantro and 1 half cup of chopped onions.
If the peppers are too spicy for you, try a jar of mole sauce instead.
Place a helping of pork on a warm, fresh corn tortilla and cover in roasted tomatillo sauce.
Pork rub recipe
Any barbecue rub is going to include salt, sugar, and spice. Any combination of those elements will make a good rub. Be creative. This is my own variation:
1.5 Tbs of brown sugar
1 Tbs of salt (coarse grain)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp black pepper
Pulled Turkey Recipe
The same cooking method can be used to cook turkey thighs.
Place 2-6 pounds of turkey thighs in a crock pot for 8 hours on low. When it's done, shred the meat and seve on fresh rolls with mayonaise for that day-after-Thanksgiving taste. Or, smother it in barbecue sauce for a no-pork alternative to the Southern delicacy mentioned above. Or, if you want to get really crazy, apply thai peanut sauce and wrap it in iceberg lettuce.
History of Pulled Pork Barbecue
Roasted pork was a specialty of the Caribe Indians who inhabited the islands south of Florida. Pulled pork remains a delicacy in Cuba and Puerto Rico. When European settlers encountered this way of cooking, pulled pork became a part of European cuisine. This method of slow roasting pork traveled up from the Caribbean, into the American Southeast. Pit barbecue remains a regionally specific way of cooking pork. As the method moved westward the meat of choice changed from pork to beef, which was much more prevalent on the open plains of Texas. Today, pork barbecue reigns in the Southeast and beef barbecue reigns in Texas and points north.
Barbecue Chicken Recipe for Crockpots
If you want to make barbecue chicken in your slow cooker, I recommend a similar procedure.
First, place a family pack of drumsticks and thighs into your slow cooker. Salt and pepper your chicken. Then, slather on your favorite sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and you have easy barbecue chicken. You can shred the meat to make pulled chicken sandwiches or eat it right off the bone.
Boil In Bag Pulled Pork
I recently saw a review of boil in a bag pulled pork. It sold for $70 for 4 pounds. Wouldn't you rather have pulled pork for $.99 a pound?
Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on October 23, 2011:
We can say that Dutch ovens still continue to work wonders in the kitchen. Thanks for the pulled pork recipe, I just tried one like this in my Chasseur Dutch oven and it continued to interest me... perhaps, I LIKED it that much! Thanks for the recipe, Woodson.
andie on August 14, 2011:
If you are looking for the smokey taste,the grocery store has in the bbq sauce section a bottle of "liquid smoke" you can add in your crock pot to for the smokey flavor...Its great in homemade smoked fish dip also..
saif113sb on July 28, 2011:
Thanks for great recipes.
joleenruffin from Tracy, CA on December 06, 2010:
I never thought of using my crock pot to make pulled pork. I am definitely going to try this one out.
MissBekah from Missouri on October 11, 2010:
Marge on September 07, 2010:
I haven't made it before, but I'm going on vacation to Tennessee (I'm from Indiana) my son is meeting me coming from North Carolina bringing Smithfield's Barbecue Sauce. So I am going to make this using REAL North Carolina Sauce...I can't wait, I've been dying for North Carolina Barbecue for over a year!!! Once you've had it the stuff you get up north (near Chicago) just isn't the same!!!
Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on August 12, 2010:
This recipe looks great. I love BBQ and I love cooking in my crock pot. I've made ribs in the crock pot but I had never considered making pulled pork this way. I'm going to give it a try.
Woodson (author) from Minnesota on June 02, 2010:
Minnesotan? I'm from South Carolina, where we take pork very seriously. As for adding the sauce to the crock. I wait until the pork is done cooking, pour off the excess fat and liquid, then add the sauce.
SamualG on June 01, 2010:
Proof Minnesotans don't know how to make pulled pork! Your supposed to put the BBQ in the crock with the pork!
Woodson (author) from Minnesota on June 30, 2009:
Hope you try it out, jim10.
jim10 from ma on June 30, 2009:
Thanks, this sounds delicious.
Woodson (author) from Minnesota on May 26, 2009:
Thanks for the comment, chicamom. I made it last night and it was fantastic. I'm heating some leftovers up right now.
chicamom85 on May 25, 2009:
Sounds yummy I am there. I have been looking for a good pulled pork recipe for a while, thanks.