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Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork

 5 from 1 reviews

Slow cooker smoky pulled pork is delicious because the low and slow cooking method delivers tender, succulent meat with a deep smoky flavour. Pork shoulder is one of the best cuts of meat for slow cooking because it’s got plenty of fat and connective tissue, which break down during long cook times to create moist, tender meat. Additionally, the spices and sauce used in this recipe add lots of flavour to the pork. Enjoy!

Smoky pulled pork in a slow cooker on a wooden board

Pulled pork is a deliciously hearty dish that can be enjoyed any time of year. The key to making pulled pork is to cook it slowly so that the meat is tender and moist. One way to do this is to use a slow cooker.

How to get that smoky flavour

How do we get it smoky without a back yard smoker set up?

We’ll be using some smoky spices such as smoked paprika and chipotle in the pulled pork rub. Plus we’ll also be cooking off the vegetables and pork on the stove first, giving them some colour and flavour.

This part is really important. It’s the one thing that a lot of time saving recipes miss out; they put the whole lot in a slow cooker uncooked.

The slow cooker is wonderful, but it’s not a magic box ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s best to think of it like a regular pot in an oven at a low temperature.

Spending that little extra time cooking off the ingredients first will pay back in flavour in the final product.

We’ll simply place the browned veggies and meat in the slow cooker, set it on low and let it do its thing. After a few hours, you’ll have juicy, smoky pulled pork that is perfect for serving with rice or potatoes, or if you’re feeling more adventurous a Cubano Sandwich.

Next time you’re looking for an easy meal that will please the whole family, this is it.

Does pulled pork in a slow cooker need liquid?

The short answer is no, the pulled pork will create its own juices as it cooks. However, I like to add liquid to for extra flavour. I also like to reduce down the liquid at the end, which mixes with the fat and juices from the pork resulting in a beautiful, thick and smooth sauce to coat the pulled pork.

What’s the best liquid to cook pulled pork in?

You have a few options here. Previously I’ve used a combination of blended tinned tomatoes and chicken stock, just chicken stock, or chicken stock with apple juice.

I’ve found the best liquid to cook pulled pork in is chicken stock with a little apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar. This will add all of the flavour of chicken stock and a delicious sweet and slightly acidic flavour of the vinegar to the pork.

Can you overcook pulled pork in the slow cooker?

No, you really can’t overcook pulled pork in the slow cooker if you follow these guidelines: As long as it’s cooked on low for around 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours it will be moist and tender.

What’s the best cut of pork for pulled pork?

The best cut of pork for pulled pork is a Boston butt (pork shoulder on the bone if you’re in the UK). This is a cut that comes from the shoulder of the pig and is typically marbled with fat, which makes it perfect for slow cooking. I tend to use rolled pork shoulder which has the bone removed.

What’s the secret to tender pulled pork?

The secret to tender pulled pork is to cook it slowly so that the meat is cooked through and moist. One way to do this is to use a slow cooker, which uses low temperatures. It can be done in 4-6 hours on high (still a relatively low temperature), but I’d suggest going for 8-10 hours on low.

Cooking this pulled pork in the oven, rather than a slow cooker

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook this recipe in a pot with a lid in the oven. I’d suggest 140 °C / 280 °F for 4 hours. 

Why don’t you use Liquid Smoke in this recipe?

I don’t feel good about using Liquid Smoke for health reasons. As usual with these subjects, there’s a lot of debate about whether it’s actually bad for you or not. The truth is there are some carcinogens in Liquid Smoke because it’s essentially smoke suspended in water. But you’ll find those in all smoked foods too; even foods like smoked salmon. If you want to use a few drops every now and then, it’s probably OK. But for me, it’s easy to leave out because this recipe tastes incredible without it.

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Smoky pulled pork in a slow cooker on a wooden board

Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork

Slow cooker smoky pulled pork is delicious because the low and slow cooking method delivers tender, succulent meat with a deep smoky flavour. Pork shoulder is one of the best cuts of meat for slow cooking because it’s got plenty of fat and connective tissue, which break down during long cook times to create moist, tender meat. Additionally, the spices and sauce used in this recipe add lots of flavour to the pork. Enjoy!

  • Total Time: 6h 10m
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1.5kg boneless pork shoulder join, skin removed

For the rub

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp salt

For the sauce

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 chillies
  • 1 cup bone broth (pork, chicken or beef)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 50g pitted prunes

Instructions

  1. Pat down the pork with kitchen towel. Mix all of the rub ingredients together and cover the pork evenly with the mix.  Leave the meat in the bowl and come back to it a few times to re-roll; as the pork soaks up that rub it will take on more until it’s all on there.

  2. Bring a pan to a high heat, add the oil, then the onion and chilli and char. Transfer to the slow cooker.

  3. Add the pork joint and brown on all sides.

  4. Once done remove the pork and transfer to the slow cooker with the onion and chilli.

  5. To the frying pan add your stock, Worcestershire source, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, thyme and prunes.

  6. Cook for a few minutes and then pour over the top of your pork.

  7. For a slow cooker, put on high for 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10 hours. For the oven put on for 140C for 3 to 4 hours.
  8. When cooking is complete, remove the bay leaves and thyme and discard.
  9. Transfer the pork to a chopping board and pull apart with 2 forks.

  10. Blend the remaining juices and transfer to a pan to reduce to a sauce.

  11. Combine the sauce and the pulled pork and serve.


Notes

The best cut of pork for pulled pork is a Boston butt (pork shoulder on the bone if you’re in the UK). This is a cut that comes from the shoulder of the pig and is typically marbled with fat, which makes it perfect for slow cooking. I tend to use rolled pork shoulder which has the bone removed.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook this recipe in a pot with a lid in the oven. I’d suggest 140 °C / 280 °F for 4 hours.

  • Author: Russell James
  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 6h
  • Category: Slow cooker

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
  • Calories: 557
  • Sugar: 4.3 g
  • Sodium: 2072.9 mg
  • Fat: 21.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23.3 g
  • Protein: 71.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 222.4 mg

I hope you enjoy this delicious slow cooker smoky pulled pork recipe. If you do, please be sure to rate it and leave a comment below. Did you make any adjustments or have tips for other people making this recipe? Please also feel free to leave those in the comments. And if there’s something you’d like to see me cover in the future, let me know that too!

1 thought on “Slow Cooker Smoky Pulled Pork”

  1. Browning the vegetables first? โœ” Searing your meat before cooking… also โœ” Better than 99% of slow cooker recipes I’ve seen! Bang up job!

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