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This easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is mouthwateringly juicy, fall-apart tender, sweet, smoky, and saucy. It’s inspired by the pulled pork sandwiches at one of our favorite local BBQ joints. Great for a crowd!

Award winning pulled pork recipe in a bowl

Why You’ll Love This Easy Pulled Pork Recipe

  • The Flavor is Phenomenal. This juicy pulled pork recipe is the best of the best! It’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, ultra smoky, and savory. If you’re like us, you may even find yourself preferring this homemade recipe to your local BBQ restaurant.
  • So Many Ways to Serve It. We primarily enjoy ours as slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches topped with Healthy Coleslaw and a side of Air Fryer Potato Chips, but that’s not the only option! Try Pulled Pork Quesadillas or take note from Slow Cooker Carnitas (Mexican pulled pork) and make tacos.
  • It’s Wonderful for a Crowd or Meal Prep. Slow cooker pulled pork (and similarly, Crockpot BBQ Chicken) has become a go-to dish whenever I’m serving a crowd. It’s an inexpensive crowd-pleaser, I can prep it in advance, and guests can serve themselves. Not using it all? Portion and freeze it for meal prep!
  • It Cooks Hands-Free. This easy slow cooker pulled pork is a “set-it-and-forget-it” that cooks almost entirely unattended. It’s easy and impossible to goof up.
Pulled pork recipe served as a sandwich

5 Star Review

“Made this for a lake weekend and it was PERFECT. Everyone loved it and it was so easy to reheat leftovers.”

— Janie —

What is the Best Cut of Meat for Pulled Pork?

When making pulled pork, choose a fatter, tougher cut of pork that can stand up to long, slow cook times.

  • This is because fat adds moisture. As it renders and the meat breaks down, the excess fat helps the pork stay juicy (and delicious), resulting in the best pulled pork recipe.
  • Pork shoulder is the traditional and best choice for crock pot pulled pork.

Here’s how it compares to other cuts in a pulled pork recipe.

  • Pork Shoulder. If you want meat so tender you can shred it with a spoon, slow cooker pork shoulder is the way to go. You’ll also see this cut referred to as pork butt (which for all intents and purposes is the same thing).
  • Pork Loin. Leaner than pork shoulder, it doesn’t make for pulled pork that is as juicy and tender, but it is usable in a pinch. If you want to use pork loin, then try this Instant Pot Pulled Pork instead! The Instant Pot traps enough moisture to keep the pork juicy.
  • Pork Tenderloin. DO NOT make slow cooker pork tenderloin. Just don’t. It’s far too lean of a cut, will very likely taste dry, and the pork will be difficult to shred. Instead, try this lovely Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Baked Pork Tenderloin, or Stuffed Pork Tenderloin.
  • Pork Ribs. While not used for pulled pork, they’re delicious in this Crockpot Ribs recipe and Instant Pot Ribs.
easy pulled pork recipe made in a slow cooker and served on a bun

How to Make The Best Crock Pot Pulled Pork

The Ingredients

  • Pork. For unparalleled juiciness and melt-in-your-mouth taste, make slow cooker pork shoulder.
  • Onion. It breaks down so much you’ll almost forget it’s there, but it works quietly in the background to make this BBQ pulled pork recipe taste more complex.
  • Tomato Paste. Its concentrated flavor gives the sauce backbone.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Slow cooker pulled pork with apple cider vinegar is a MUST! The acid helps cut and balance the richness of the pork.
  • Honey + Brown Sugar. Some sweetness is essential for BBQ flavor.
  • Hot Sauce. Spicy to balance the sweet. This recipe isn’t spicy as written, so if you want a spicy pulled pork, use more.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. The umami ingredient.
  • Liquid Smoke. Such a fun ingredient to use! It gives the pork an “I spent all day fussing over this” taste, with zero fuss at all. (If you prefer, you can omit it, but I think you’ll be happy with your purchase.)
  • Smoked Paprika + Garlic Powder + Mustard Powder. To make the sauce taste boss.
  • Cornstarch. A slurry thickens up the pork’s own cooking juices and makes them a part of the sauce. You don’t lose a drop of goodness.

The Directions

spices and onions for slow cooker pulled pork bbq sauce
  1. Start with the Sauce Ingredients. Add everything to the slow cooker.
slow cooker pulled pork bbq sauce
  1. Whisk. Make sure everything is mixed well.
slow cooker pulled pork shoulder on butcher paper with salt and pepper
  1. Season the Pork. This is important for creating tender, flavorful meat.
pork loin in a slow cooker for bbq pulled pork
  1. Cook the Pork. Spoon the sauce over the top, then cook on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours or LOW for 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Thicken the Sauce. Remove the pork, then add the cornstarch slurry. Let cook. Shred the pork and stir it together with the thickened BBQ sauce. ENJOY!
BBQ pulled pork recipe served on a bun with coleslaw

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover pulled pork for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm over the stovetop or in the microwave, with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep the pork from becoming too thick or dry.
  • To Freeze. Portion the pork into airtight, freezer-safe containers of your desired size. Freeze for up to 3 months (I’ve gone even longer). Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Meal Prep Tip

Crockpot pulled pork reheats beautifully! You can make the shredded pork up to 1 day in advance. Reheat it in the crockpot with a splash of water or broth added to thin the sauce as needed.

The best pulled pork recipe served on a bun

Ways to Serve Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

What to Serve With Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

slow cooker pulled pork with bbq sauce on a bun with coleslaw and chips

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Use Pork Shoulder (Or Butt). This is the secret to juicy pulled pork. When preparing pork in the slow cooker, remember that fat = flavor, so use pork shoulder or pork butt.
  • Make Sure The Meat is Thawed. You can put raw pork in the slow cooker, but it does need to be thawed first. If it isn’t, it can become unsafe to eat, because the pork will spend so much time at room temperature as it thaws.
  • Pick Up Liquid Smoke. Liquid smoke is inexpensive and available in the spice section of most major grocery stores or online here. It makes a big difference in this recipe, so don’t skip it.
  • Let Guests Help Themselves. Let your guests serve themselves right out of the slow cooker for easy entertaining. Like this Italian Beef, people can make sandwiches to their preferences (no bun, extra slaw, etc.), and you’ll have your hands free to enjoy the gathering

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

4.65 from 319 votes
This easy slow cooker pulled pork recipe is juicy and tender, with the perfect sweet and smoky flavor. It's always a crowd-pleaser!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Total: 5 hours 45 minutes

Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE PULLED PORK:

  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot sauce of choice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for the pork
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke optional but super good
  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch plus 3 tablespoons cold water to create a slurry

FOR SERVING:


Instructions
 

  • In the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker, whisk together the onion, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, honey, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder, sriracha, 1 teaspoon salt, and liquid smoke (if using), until smoothly combined.
  • Season the pork all over with a generous amount of kosher salt and ground pepper.
  • Add the pork to the slow cooker and spoon the sauce all over the top to cover it.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours or LOW for 8 to 10 hours, until the pork is fall-apart tender. Transfer the pork to a large bowl, leaving the cooking liquid in the slow cooker.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons cold water to create a slurry. Pour into the slow cooker, then whisk to combine. Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH, whisking every so often, until the sauce is thickened to your liking, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • While the sauce thickens, shred the pork with two forks or, if it is cool enough to handle, with your fingers.
  • Stir the shredded pork back into the thickened sauce in the slow cooker. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired (you may need an extra pinch of salt or some additional hot sauce if you enjoy a kick). Spoon pork on top of buns with coleslaw and pickles to create a sandwich, or serve it any way you like.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Store slow cooker pulled pork for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: To reheat slow cooker pulled pork, warm on the stovetop or in the microwave, with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep the pork from becoming too thick or dry.
  • TO FREEZE: Portion the pulled pork into freezer-safe containers of your desired size. Freeze for up to 3 months (I’ve gone even longer). Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8) without bun or slawCalories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 40gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 102mgPotassium: 957mgFiber: 1gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 576IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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101 Comments

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  1. This was fantastic! I made it for dinner tonight and my 2 year old son (who eats NOTHING) had seconds!!! I made regular cornbread and piled the pork on top and it was delish! My husband said “Can this be a weekly staple!?”5 stars

    1. Amanda, I can say enough how happy comments like these make me! I’m thrilled to pieces that your family loved this meal, and honored that you gave the recipe a try! Thanks for letting me know and have a wonderful evening. Enjoy the leftovers, if you have any :-)

  2. Despite my best intentions, the first meal my fiancé and I shared in the house he just bought was from Panda Express. But this was the second meal, and it MORE than made up for it. Thanks so much for the idea!5 stars

    1. Jessica!!! I’m so excited you guys liked this and totally honored that it was the first home cooked meal to come out of your new kitchen. Thanks so much for letting me know (and enjoy any leftovers

  3. Have you tried this recipe with other proteins? I’m not a huge fan of pork, but I’m wondering how the flavors would work with chicken? Any thoughts? My husband loves pork though, so I might just have to make this for him anyway ;) 

    1. Hi Courtney! I haven’t, but I think that chicken thighs would be a great substitution. You will likely have to adjust the cooking time, but the flavor should be tasty!

  4. I made this for dinner last night.  Everyone seemed to like it for the most part but we all agreed the amount of added salt is a bit much.  Next time I’ll add less.  It was my first time doing pork loin and I should have monitor it’s progress closer  as it cooked a bit long and was tougher than I hoped.  But I will  definitely try again.  Instead of pancakes,  I made regular cornbread to top with the pulled pork. 5 stars

    1. Hi Amy! Thanks so much for trying this recipe and for the feedback. I’m glad you liked it enough to give it another shot, and serving it with corn bread sounds fabulous!

  5. We are North Carolina barbecue lovers, but this recipie had us from the word “go.” Funny that you originally served it with roasted veggie; we served it on a bed of roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and loved it. Thanks for making our cold winter Sunday so special.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was perfect for your Sunday meal, Jeff! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback. :)

  6. This looks tasty! Would pork tenderloin work with this recipe? Also, the pancakes in the photo are on a sheet pan but you made them on a griddle?

    1. Hi Lisa! I recommend using pork shoulder (or at least pork loin) for this recipe, as pork tenderloin can very quickly overcook and become tough. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  7. Made this for a lake weekend and it was PERFECT. Everyone loved it and it was so easy to reheat leftovers. Flavor is spot on. Thanks!5 stars

  8. Just prepped this in my crockpot so I can set it cooking before work tomorrow, and I am already so excited to eat it! The sauce alone was absolutely delicious before I added the pork to it.

  9. Appreciated the tips and information. Good instructions for slow cooker pulled pork. My issue was the sauce was just ok and actually did not like it as leftovers. I know spice is and individual taste but this was bland. I like the choices of spices and i used everything listed but it did not sing. I think that with some experiments i can adjust them but the fact that i have to figure it out took away the 2 stars.

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste, Barbara. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too!

  10. We made this tonight for our Packer game party. The flavor was fantastic! We really enjoyed it. Our only downside was we thought the sauce was a little runny…we like it thicker. I think the next time we make it, we’ll omit the water in the recipe & see what happens once we thicken it with the slurry.5 stars

  11. This recipe is exceptional! I prefer a leaner cut of meat and use a pork loin roast (NOT pork tenderloin) with some fat and it was delicious and moist. I was hesitant about not using my favorite bottled bar-b-que sauce but decided to follow the recipe and it was so much better than all of the premium, higher cost sauces I would have used. I was going to make brioche slider rolls but opted for a packaged brand and again it was amazing. I also whipped up a couple of jars of pickled red onions to add a nice crunch and tang and instead had my coleslaw on the side. I highly recommend this recipe!5 stars

  12. I followed recipe to the letter and found the result to be pork meat in a tasteless soup of grease. I drained it and added commercial bbq sauce and saved it.1 star

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste, Alan. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too!

  13. So delicious and turns out perfect every single time I make this recipe. I also make it more keto friendly by using Brown Sugar Splenda, and I omit the honey. Still tastes amazing. I never need the cornstarch slurry as the sauce is always thick enough for our family.5 stars

  14. I’ve made this a few times and it always turns out great. I like to finish off with some Slap ya Mama for a kick. I have tried so many pulled pork recipes over the years, but this is THE ONE! Thank you!5 stars

  15. Thank you so much for the great recipe! Turned out perfect. I made the recipe with wild pork as my husband keeps the freezer stocked with wild game. Even though the wild pork is super lean, it still turned out yummy and tender.5 stars

  16. Super simple and SUPER good!! Waaay juicier than many BBQ restaurants. Sauce isn’t too sweet or too vinegary, good balance.5 stars

  17. I am going to make this for a group of friends. One of them is allergic to sriracha. Could I just leave it out and put some in a bowl on the side for guests to add if they want?

  18. Made this for about 30people after our Padel tournament at the Padel and Tennis club at La Sella, Denia Spain.
    I was trialing it for the day after our daughters wedding garden party in July for 80 guests.
    Went down a treat at n Spain, now we move onto Porto in Portugal fur the July event.

  19. Made this recipe for the first time for Memorial Day dinner. Turned out very well, just the right balance of flavor. Makes a large quantity of pulled pork, freezing so for leftovers. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Will make this again. By the way, goes really well with corn muffins.5 stars

  20. Great recipe for first timers. This was very good but for some reason I found it a tiny bit bitter. Maybe I did not sweeten it enough. I did make one substitution (raw blue agave for the maple syrup). I also would like it spicier. I will make this again adjusting the recipe a bit to make it more of what I like. Thanks!4 stars

  21. I used raw apple cider vinegar, and the dish had a very strong vinegar smell and taste. The vinegar flavor sort of overwhelming. Do you know if the raw apple cider vinegar is much different from the regular stuff?

    1. Hi Carey! I haven’t tested the recipe with raw apple cider vinegar, so that could be what caused the intense vinegar flavor. I hope you enjoyed the recipe otherwise!

  22. Quick question, your homemade bbq sauce recipe is linked at the top, but in the pulled pork recipe it has a different sauce.

    Is there one that you could recommend?

    thanks!

        1. Hi Jax! I’m sorry to say, but I am unsure. I’ve only tested the recipe as written. If you decide to make it with a bigger pork butt, I’d love to know how it turns out!

    1. Hi Jess! I probably wouldn’t double it. Maybe weigh it again once the bone is removed to see the exact weight and then decide if you need to double it or not. Hope you enjoy it!

    1. Hi Nancy! I’m so confused too because I see it on my end! It’s located in the recipe card right above where you commented. You can even click the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to get you there faster. Could you please check again? Thank you!

  23. Hi Erin! swear you use to have a honey pulled pork with cornbread like pancakes recipe!! Am I losing my mind? I love all your recipes especially especially this honey pulled pork one I can’t find! Help me!

      1. Thank you! I actually Just made this tonight in our slow cooker. I could only get a bone-in pork butt, but It turned out delicious!! So tender and yummy!5 stars

  24. Best pulled pork recipe. I omitted the liquid smoke and the cornstarch. Amazing taste. Even my husband was impressed! And he’s not a pulled pork fan.5 stars

  25. I didn’t make this recipe, but my daughter in-law did for Father’s Day and it was WONDERFUL. I know for a fact that the crock pot was empty. I loved the sweet/tangy vibe in the sauce. My daughter is a picky eater and she had extra. 2 thumbs up.

  26. This crockpot pulled pork was so easy and very taste ,definitely will make again .only thing I found was very rich ,so you don’t need to have to much .5 stars

  27. I made this for 4th of July and it was a hit! Instead of tomato paste I used barbecue sauce and regular vinegar sub apple cider vinegar. It was phenomenal, juicy, and easy prep.5 stars

  28. Can you double this recipe for 1 cook time in large crock or do you need to cook it twice & then add the results together to serve double portion from crock pot?

    1. Hi Beverly! I think what would determine if you could double it, is if your pork will fit into the slow cooker? If it does, then you should have no problem doubling it. Enjoy!

  29. Hello! Can i skip the mustard powder, as i dont have it on hand? Or is there anything I could use to substitue for it? Thanks!

    1. Hi Val! You could but it could change the flavor some. Do you have bottled mustard? You could use that instead. I’d use 2 tablespoons. Enjoy!

  30. So good! Easy and flavorful, and would have been even better but I had to sub ketchup for some of the tomato paste and use Dijon mustard in place of mustard powder. I doubled the sauce for a large pork shoulder (7+ pounds), and did 4-5 hours high and 4-5 hours on low. Highly recommend.5 stars

  31. Accidentally bought bone in…any cooking time recommendations? Or same? Getting ready to make this tomorrow for a test run for a potluck.

    1. Hi Sandy! That’s OK, I’m sure it will be great. I’ve never done bone in, but I’d plan on it maybe needing longer. Give yourself a buffer.

  32. First time making pulled pork and won’t be the last! Can’t wait to share this at the next potluck. A few substitutions based on what I had in my house…I had a bone in pork butt. 4.25 pounds cooked for 6 hours on high. Perfect! I also didn’t have mustard powder so I used 2 tbsp of mustard. I also took out 2 cups of the sauce after it thickened up because there was a lot so I wanted to add back as needed. I think I will sear the meat next time and add more salt I think I under salted it but it’s comparable to that of a restaurant…I’m happy!5 stars

  33. Hi
    If I make this overnight how can I keep this warm till noon ? Will this dry out too much staying warm for 4 hrs or so?

    1. Hi Jim, warming it in the slow cooker shouldn’t dry it out because it will be sitting in the sauce. Hope this helps!

    2. I’m not sure when you’re planning on starting it, but if your slow cooker has a keep warm function, you could switch it to keep warm. Though for me personally, I would be hesitant to have it in the slow cooker for more than 12 hours total. You can always make it entirely in advance, and then reheat it in the slow cooker. If it looks dry, add a little broth or bbq sauce.

  34. I have never been so disappointed in a recipe. I was so excited after reading all the great reviews and how wonderful it smelled cooking- but the taste was a huge let down. It had close to no flavor accept a hint of tang from the tomato paste. I cannot believe there are so many 5 star ratings.1 star

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe, Nadine. The amounts, flavorings and timing have worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would have been a hit for you too! I know it can be so disappointing to try a new recipe and it does not turn out for you.

  35. The recipe looks great, but I am unable to see the size of the pork butt so I can determine whether to double or triple.

    1. Hi Don, it’s located in the recipe card. It’s two ingredients above the highlight section FOR SERVING. You’ll use (3- to 4-pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt. Hope this helps!