This is seriously the best slow cooker pulled pork recipe! It takes just minutes to prep and becomes tender, juicy, melt in your mouth pork. A delicious crowd pleaser and perfect for an easy weeknight meal.
You can never go wrong with something cooked in a slow cooker. Set it and forget it, that’s what they say, right!? This is the best slow cooker pulled pork and it can be eaten so many ways from tacos, wraps/sandwiches, bowls, and simply eating as is.
Made with clean eating and Paleo friendly ingredients. This slow cooker pulled pork is an easy recipe that is perfect for just about everything.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- TENDYER, JUICY, FULL OF FLAVOR - Seasoned with the best rub made from simple ingredients that you most likely already have on hand. I like adding a little coconut sugar for a light sweetness and to balance the savory flavors. Coconut sugar is Paleo compliant, but you can use brown sugar if not looking for a Paleo pulled pork recipe.
- GREAT FOR A CROWD & PERFECT FOR MEAL PREP - Slow cooker pulled pork is one of those classic dishes that is perfect for a crowd. It's also the best for making ahead and eating throughout the week.
- EASY- 5 minutes of hands-on time and the slow cooker does the rest of the work!
- KID FRIENDLY - Both my girls love this slow cooker pulled pork recipe. Their favorite is pulled pork sandwiches, but they also enjoy eating it straight from the slow cooker.
The Best Cut of Pork for Pulled Pork
The most common cut for pulled pork is pork butt, also know as the Boston butt. It's the most flavorful and has a better distribution of fat, which makes it ideal for shredding.
Another perfectly delicious choice is pork shoulder. Pork shoulder, and pork butt, actually both come from the shoulder; pork butt is just cut from higher up on the shoulder. So don't be fooled by the term “butt” and rest assured, you aren’t eating the pig’s rear end! 😂
Many people would agree that pork butt is the best choice, but if that's not an option where I'm shopping I'll get pork shoulder.
Bone-in or boneless? I prefer boneless pork shoulder or pork butt so I know the exact amount of meat I am getting, but bone-in works perfectly fine too!
pork butt or pork shoulder
fine sea salt
coconut sugar (for Paleo) or brown sugar
Clean food tip: Look for pasture-raised or a certification on the pork, such as "animal welfare approved," "certified humane," or "animal welfare certified." This guarantees humane treatment of the animals and that no antibiotics were used. Better quality meant means it tastes better and it's better for you!
How to Make
1. Remove pork from fridge and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the pork rub (paprika, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard, cumin, and either coconut sugar or brown sugar). If needing Paleo approved, use coconut sugar.
2. Place pork in slow cooker and rub seasoning mix all over pork. Slice up one large yellow (or white) onion and place around pork in the slow cooker.
3. Turn slow cooker on low and allow to slow cook for about 8 hours. Remove from slow cooker and place pork on a large cutting board or baking sheet. Reserve about one cup of the juices and discard the rest. You can either discard the onions or keep and mix in with the pulled pork (I always keep them and mix them in).
Using two forks, shred the pork and remove any excess fat. Return back to slow cooker and you're ready to serve the best slow cooker pulled pork.
What to Make with Pulled Pork
PORK TACOS - One of my favorite things to do with this recipe is make BBQ pulled pork tacos. They are so simple! Add some BBQ sauce, mango salsa, avocado, fresh limes, cilantro, radish and voila!
RICE BOWLS – You can never go wrong with food in a bowl. Throw in the pulled pork, brown rice, cabbage, avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, and green onion.
PORK STUFFED SWEET POTATOES - For a Paleo friendly meal, bake up some sweet potatoes and add pulled pork and Whole30 BBQ sauce. And on the side, try some creamy coleslaw (also Paleo/Whole30 friendly).
PULLED PORK SANDWICHES - One of the best things is a classic pulled pork sandwich with creamy coleslaw on top.
EAT AS IS - You can also choose to eat this slow cooker pulled pork as is with some roasted veggies on the side.
It will easily shred when it's fully cooked. Pierce pork with two forks and pull forks apart to see if the pork shreds. If you have to use a ton of force to pull the pork, then it's not done yet... you should only need a little bit of pressure. If you are using a bone-in piece, the meat should fall off the bones.
No, you do not need to any any liquid. The pork will release plenty of juices as it cooks and will keep it nice and moist
Technically, yes you can. If you overcook, the meat may begin to dry out, but I find that it's pretty hard to do. I wouldn't worry too much if your meat has been cooking (on low) for longer than needed.
First off, pork will lose about half of its weight as it cooks. So if you have a 4lb cut, you'll end up with roughly 2 pounds of actual meat. And then it depends on what you're using the pork for. If making sandwiches, assume each person will use about 4-5oz of meat per sandwich (4lb cut of pork would make 6-8 sandwiches).
Any leftover pulled pork should be stored in the fridge and will stay good for 3-4 days. Reheat before serving (you'll notice the fat will solidify in the fridge).
You can freeze in a freezer-safe container (I love Stasher bags) for up to 3 months. Place in fridge to thaw overnight.
Trim off any loose fat from the pork before placing in the slow cooker.
If able to plan ahead, let the rub (seasoning mix) set on the pork for about an hour (or longer) before cooking. Simply rub the pork with the seasoning and place back in the fridge before adding to the slow cooker.
The pork will release a lot of cooking juices while it slow cooks. Reserve some of this liquid and keep mixed in with the pork after it's been pulled. This will help to retain the moisture.
Side Dishes for Pulled Pork
If you make this recipe, please let me know what you think! I would so appreciate you leaving a star rating and/or comment below. And don't forget to share a photo on Instagram or Facebook and mention @CleanPlateMama!
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 1 slow cooker
- 4 lbs. pork butt or pork shoulder (see notes)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp. coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. ground pepper
- ½ tsp. dry mustard
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- Turn slow cooker on low if you are planning for a longer cook time (about 8 hours) or high if you need a shorter cook time (about 5 hours).
- Place pork butt (or shoulder) in slow cooker and place onions around the pork.
- Mix all seasoning ingredients (coconut sugar through cumin) in a small bowl. Pour seasoning on pork and rub into all sides of the meat.
- Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 5 hours. You'll know its done when it can easily be shredded with a fork (see notes).
- Once cooked through, remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board or large baking sheet. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. Discard any large pieces of fat and if your pork had a bone in it, discard the bone too.
- There will be a lot of liquid left in the slow cooker. You will want some of this for the pulled pork. I recommend draining all but about 1 cup of the liquid. Add shredded pork back to the slow cooker and mix with the left over liquid and cooked onions.
- Turn slow cooker to warm if you aren't going to eat right away.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Pork butt is best for pulled pork, but pork shoulder also works perfectly.
- Either coconut sugar or brown sugar can be used. Used coconut sugar if looking for a Paleo pulled pork recipe.
- The pork will easily shred when it's fully cooked. Pierce pork with two forks and pull forks apart to see if the pork shreds. If you have to use a ton of force to pull the pork, then it's not done yet... you should only need a little bit of pressure. If you are using a bone-in piece, the meat should fall off the bones.
- Store leftovers in the fridge. This will stay good in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.