If there’s one food that screams succulent, fall-apart tender, meaty goodness, it’s pulled pork.
Although pulled pork can now be found on menus all across the country, its origins are deeply rooted in southern cuisine. The dish started gaining popularity in the early 20th century in the southern states of the United States as a way to use up tougher cuts of meat.
But unlike traditional southern BBQ, which often involves smoking the meat for long hours, slow cooker BBQ pulled pork is an easy and delicious way to make tender, juicy pulled pork in the comfort of your own home. By slow cooking the pork in a flavorful blend of hickory-flavored BBQ sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and spices, the meat becomes perfectly cooked and infused with delicious flavor.
And with the addition of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper, this recipe is sure to be a crowd favorite.
Whether you serve this mouth-watering pulled pork sandwich-style or paired with your favorite side dish, it’s a surefire crowd pleaser. So why not try something new and transport your taste buds to the southern United States with this amazing slow cooker BBQ pulled pork recipe?
Ask the Chef: Pro Tips for making Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
Choose the Right Cut of Meat
Pork shoulder or butt are the best cuts of meat for making pulled pork because they have enough fat to keep the meat moist and tender as it cooks. Make sure to remove any excess fat before rubbing the spices onto the meat.
Don’t be Afraid of the Rub
The rub is the foundation of the flavor in pulled pork, so don’t be shy with it! Massaging the pork with the rub helps to impart flavor and tenderize the meat. Be sure to cover all parts of the meat evenly with the spices.
Use Hickory Flavored BBQ Sauce
Hickory flavored BBQ sauce pairs perfectly with smoked pork and adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish. When choosing the BBQ sauce, keep in mind that some brands may be sweeter than others, so adjust the amount of brown sugar in the recipe accordingly.
Moisture is Key
Adding liquid to the slow cooker helps to create steam, which keeps the meat moist as it cooks. Chicken broth or water creates a neutral base for cooking the meat and mixing it with the BBQ sauce, while the tomato paste adds a touch of acidity and helps to balance the sweetness of the sauce.
Leave it Alone
Once you place the pork in the slow cooker and pour the BBQ sauce on top, resist the urge to check or stir the meat as it cooks. Opening the slow cooker lets heat and steam escape and slows down the cooking process. Only remove the lid when it’s absolutely necessary, such as when the meat is done and ready to be pulled.
Shred the Pork How You Like It
Some prefer their pulled pork shredded into small pieces, while others like larger chunks. Whatever your preference, use two forks or meat shredders to shred the pork while it’s still warm. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce from the slow cooker over the shredded meat and mix well before serving.
Don’t Overstuff Your Buns
When making a sandwich, it’s easy to put too much meat between the buns and end up with a mess. To avoid this, use a light hand when stuffing the buns, or try serving the pork on a plate with a side of coleslaw or pickles.
Leftovers Make Great Meals
Pulled pork is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many dishes. Use leftovers to make enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, or add it to a salad for added protein and flavor. Store leftover pulled pork in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.