This easy Pulled Pork Recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd. It’s made with pork shoulder and some pantry staples to produce tender, juicy, and flavorful pulled pork. Perfect for sandwiches, pulled pork sliders, or serving alongside your favorite BBQ Sauce and Coleslaw!
This is my favorite pulled pork recipe to date. Yes, I know it isn’t the same as a smoked recipe, but I don’t have a smoker, so this is the next best thing. Plus, I don’t have to sit and babysit it, spray it with a special juice (basically commit an entire day). Instead, I toss it into the crock pot or oven and walk away. It’s that easy.
Reasons To Make This Pulled Pork Recipe:
- Perfect for feeding a crowd!
- It uses simple, easy-to-find ingredients, and many you probably already have!
- Tender and juicy meat
PORK SHOULDER: Look for one with a small fat cap if you can. It helps prevent the meat from drying out (sort of like extra insurance!)
SPICES: I like to make an easy rub using brown sugar, KOSHER salt (not table salt!!), chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and pepper.
BRAISING LIQUID: This can be beer, apple cider (alcoholic or non), apple juice, any soda, or, as a last resort- water. Water isn’t as flavorful as the other options and isn’t acidic, which helps tenderize the meat.
ONIONS AND GARLIC: I like to add this to the braising liquid to add more flavor. You can leave this out if you prefer.
How to Make Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork:
MAKING THE RUB: Start by combining the brown sugar, salt, and other spices together in a bowl.
PREPPING THE PORK: DON’T remove the fat cap, as it provides extra flavor and protects the meat from drying out. It bastes the meat for hours without you doing a single thing! Rub the meat with the rub and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours. This is entirely optional, but it infuses the meat with loads of flavor.
COOK: Choose which method you want to cook the shoulder and forget it!!
To feed hungry adults, aim for 1/3 of a pound per person. Keep in mind that once cooked, pork will lose about half its starting weight. So, for example, a 4 pound pork shoulder will give you about 2 pounds of pulled pork once cooked. This will serve 6 people comfortably.
Cooking it LOW and SLOW! Allowing the meat to cook low and slow gives the connective tissue time to break down and allows the fat cap to baste the meat through the whole cook time. End results: ultra flavorful and moist pork.
Pork shoulder is the best cut. It can also be labeled as pork butt or Boston butt. It’s inexpensive, and the fat and connective tissue break down during cooking, creating the best pulled pork.
- ¼ cup (50g) packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon KOSHER salt (not table salt!)
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 pound (1.8kg) pork shoulder or butt (bone-in and preferably with a fat cap)
- 1 large onion; sliced
- 5 cloves garlic; chopped
- 1 cup (235ml) braising liquid of choice (beer, apple cider- alcoholic or non, apple juice, soda
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, pepper, and cayenne. Rub all over pork. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours. (can skip this part but does allow the pork to "marinate" in the spices.)
- SLOW COOKER METHOD: Place the sliced onion and chopped garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with braising liquid. Unwrap pork and place on top. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours.
- OVEN METHOD: Preheat oven to 300℉. Place the sliced onion and chopped garlic in the bottom of a large dutch oven. Pour in braising liquid. Unwrap pork and cut into 3 pieces. Place in dutch oven, cover, and cook for 3 hours. Remove the lid and cook for 1.5-2 hours.
- Transfer pork to a large bowl to cool slightly then shred into bite sized pieces, discarding some of the excess fat. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes then remove fat from surface with a spoon.
- Toss the shredded pork with 1 cup of braising liquid; adding more as needed to keep the meat moist.
- STORAGE: Cooked meat can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- FREEZER FRIENDLY: Place cooled meat in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.