Best BBQ Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker)

BBQ Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker) that’s wonderfully tender, sweet and smokey and couldn’t be any easier! 

This Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork is perfect for large gatherings, busy weekdays or whenever you are craving the “Best” BBQ pulled pork!  This BBQ Pulled Pork is made super easy in the crock pot so you can prep it and forget it and makes fabulous BBQ Pork Sandwiches!

BBQ-Pork-main

BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe

If you are wondering why this post is lacking in my customary plethora of photos (sorry, it’s my weakness, I can’t just post a couple photos — I just love food and photography too much — sorry if you hate it, thank you if you love it!), I am minutes away from walking out the door to our week-long Mexican cruise and will just be getting back by the time you get this post (thank you auto scheduler).  

But I had to post this bbq pulled pork recipe before I leave so you can sink your teeth into the sweet bbq tender pork sooner rather than later. It’s that good.

Patrick ‘s 50-minute work commute has its perks (he is such a champ, never complains). He works within 10 minutes of his parent’s home, which means special days like when he brought home the best bbq pork I had ever devoured — made by his mom, spruced up by his dad. Patrick was telling me how “perfect” the  pork was on his drive home and even though Patrick never exaggerates when it comes to food — he is my very honest food critic — I still couldn’t imagine just how good it was until I ate it for myself.  

No bun, no sandwich, no distractions, just straight up pork, because it was straight up ah-mazing.  After I had devoured every last bite of bbq pork, I knew I had to make it again – soon. Very soon. (and that’s when I made these adorable Easy, Cheesy, BBQ Pork Sliders with Bacon Broccoli Slaw )

I based my bbq pork after my mother-in-law’s version of slow cooking the pork in Cherry Coke with a splash of orange zest and liquid smoke. I added seasonings including ground ginger, smoked paprika and red pepper flakes and finished it off with green chilies. Once the pork is fall apart tender, you smother it with your favorite barbecue sauce for multi-dimensional flavorful pork that is so easy you can satisfy your cravings any day of the week.  Or every day of the week.

I suggest you start tomorrow.

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork Ingredients

Simple is the name of the game when making this bbq pulled pork in the slow cooker.

  • Pork shoulder: Trim the pork of any excess fat before popping it into the Crockpot.
  • Mild diced green chiles: Use spicier chiles to kick up the heat of this dish.
  • Cherry Coke: Use regular Coke, NOT diet!
  • Brown sugar: Sweetens the sauce and helps deepen the molasses flavor. 
  • Apple cider vinegar: Adds the balancing tang to offset the sweetness.
  • Liquid smoke: This is a very common ingredient and should be easy to find next to the barbecue sauces in your grocery store.
  • Dried herbs and spices: I used quite a few herbs and spices to lend flavor and heat to this sauce.
  • Orange zest: Adds a little something-something to the bbq pulled pork recipe.
  • Bbq sauce: Use your favorite store-bought brand or make a Homemade BBQ Sauce.

What’s the Best Pork for Pulled Pork?

For best results, use pork shoulder or pork butt to make the best pulled pork.

How to Make BBQ Pulled Pork

The beauty of this Crockpot bbq pulled pork recipe is that the slow cooker does all the work for you!

  1. Spray slow cooker insert with non-stick spray. Place pork in slow cooker.
  2. Add rest of ingredients to slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours, or until the pork is very tender.
  4. Remove pork to a cutting board and shred. Drain slow cooker of any liquid if there is any.
  5. Return pork to slow cooker and stir in barbecue sauce until evenly coated, adding more or less as desired.
bbq pulled pork slider on plate

Tips for the Best Pulled Pork

  • Shred pork. You can shred the pork on a cutting board using two forks. I’ve also heard that you can add it to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it with a paddle attachment to shred. Who knew?!
  • BBQ Sauce. I prefer making my own bbq sauce whenever possible, but you can of course use store-bought sauce if that’s easier for you.
  • Drain pork. You will have some leftover juices after your bbq pork is cooked. You can either use tongs to grab your meat, or I find it easier to strain the pork. To do this, I place my strainer on top of a large bowl to catch the slow cooker contents so the fat doesn’t go directly in my sink, then refrigerate the bowl and skim the fat later and ditch the rest of the juices in the sink sans fat.

BBQ Pulled Pork Variations

  • Make it spicy. Add extra chipotle chili powder or cayenne pepper to give the bbq sauce more of a kick.
  • Make it sweeter. Add more brown sugar to make the bbq sauce sweeter.
  • Make it tangier. Add a little extra vinegar to bump up the tanginess of this Crockpot bbq pork.

Can I Prep Crockpot BBQ Pork in Advance?

Absolutely! You can cook and shred the bbq pork, then store in the fridge for later. If serving a crowd, place the bbq pulled pork back into the slow cooker to reheat.

How to Store Crockpot BBQ Pork

This bbq pulled pork should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll last up to 4 days.

How to Reheat BBQ Pulled Pork

This Crockpot bbq pulled pork can be reheated in the slow cooker on low, in the microwave, or in a saucepan over low heat.

How to Freeze Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

Slow cooker bbq pulled pork freezes beautifully! To freeze:

  1. Prepare the bbq pork according to directions.
  2. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Add the meat to a large freezer bag OR portion into smaller size sandwich bags.
  4. Press bag(s) flat and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  5. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.
  6. To thaw, place in your fridge overnight.

What to Serve with BBQ Pulled Pork

Not sure what to serve with pulled bbq pork? Here are a few of my favorite bbq pork side dishes:

Looking for More Pork Recipes?

Best BBQ Pulled Pork

Tender, tangy sweet, smokey, BBQ Pulled Pork perfect for large gatherings, busy weekdays or whenever you are craving the “Best” BBQ pulled pork! This BBQ Pulled Pork is made super easy in the crock pot so you can prep it and forget it!
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder/butt trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 4 oz. cans mild diced green chilies
  • 1 12 oz. can Cherry Coke (1 ½ cups)
  • 1/3–1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tsp EACH onion powder, salt
  • 1/2 tsp EACH pepper, smoked paprika, ground ginger, red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup homemade BBQ sauce (may sub store-bought), more or less to taste

Instructions

  • Lightly spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and add pork.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all of the remaining ingredients together except the barbecue sauce and pour over pork.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours or until the pork is very tender then remove pork to a cutting board and shred. Drain slow cooker of any liquid if there is any.
  • Return pork to slow cooker and stir in barbecue sauce until evenly coated, adding more or less as desired.
  • Taste and add hot sauce/salt/pepper/brown sugar to taste.
  • Amazing on sandwiches!

Notes

*If you are using a sweeter barbecue sauce, you might want to start with ⅓ cup brown sugar and add more to taste at the end of cooking.

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Carlsbad Cravings original inspired by my mother-in-law, Marcia

 

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86 Comments

  1. Stephanie says

    Hi Jen! I was just curious what is the purpose of the cherry coke? I don’t typically cook with things like that so I’m wondering what my pork would be lacking if I skipped it or if I should just suck it up and add it?

    • Jen says

      Hi Stephanie! It not only adds flavor (contain flavoring approximates that were once derived from dark spices like: cinnamon, clove, allspice, cardamom, pipal, nutmeg, citrus zest, etc) and caramelized sugar but also contains a lot of acid which provides flavor balance and most importantly tenderizes the meat.

  2. sarah says

    What size slow cooker is being used for this dish? I have a 4.5 quart, smaller than most, trying to make the proper adjustments to serving size.

    • Jen says

      I used a 6 qt slow cooker. Best!

  3. Shante says

    Hi I was wondering if the pork you used was frozen or fresh?

    • Jen says

      Hi Shante, you should always start with thawed, fresh pork or other proteins in recipes unless it specifically says otherwise. Enjoy!

    • Tina says

      My grocery store only had a 5.15 pound pork shoulder boston butt roast. there is a bone in it. Can I use this recipe? Do I need to double the ingredients? Do I need to lengthen the cooking time. Is there a temperature to know when the pork is done?

      • Jen says

        Hi Tina, yes you can use that pork shoulder instead and yes I would double the ingredients. The cook time will be longer by 1-2 hours. The pork is done when it easily shreds, this is usually around 185 degrees F. Good luck!

  4. Simona Righini says

    Many months after my first attempt at this tecipe, it is the one that relatives, friends and colleagues keep asking for. Super delicious, and so effortless. THANK YOU. Hope you are well.

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thank you so much Simona!

  5. Kristi says

    I didn’t have cherry Coke so I just added Cook. Do you think that will work?

    • Jen says

      Yes, it will still be delicious and tenderize the meat. Enjoy!

  6. Teri Rosa says

    Can you recommend a bbq sauce? I seem to struggle to find a good one. I like sweet tangy.

    • Jen says

      Hi Teri, for sweet we like Sweet Baby Rays. I also have a killer homemade barbecue recipe coming soon!

      • Jennifer says

        I’ve made your barbecue sauce and OMG, it’s AMAZING! And so easy to throw together!

        • Jen says

          Thank you Jennifer! I love hearing it’s such a hit!

  7. Cindy says

    Good grief this is crazy good and it’s not even halfway done cooking yet! I haven’t even gotten to the part where you add the BBQ sauce!

    • Jen says

      That is awesome Cindy, I hope it was even better with the BBQ sauce!

  8. KB says

    Having a bbq tomorrow and want to prep it all today. Would it be ok to put it all in crockpot today to marinate and when just turn it on tomorrow? Or would the marinade mess it up?

  9. jenny says

    hi I was wanting to make this serve 15. Can you please clarify the amount of brown sugar needed. A serving of 4 is 2/9 cup brown sugar. when I change it to a serving size of 15 it is 5/6 cup brown sugar. Is that 5 to 6 cups of brown sugar? And I’m sorry but I’m not sure what the 2/9 amount is? if you wouldn’t mind clarifying this that would be great. Thankyou.
    I think your recipes are sensational by the way…. they taste soooo good.

    • Jen says

      Hi Jenny! It is referring to fractions of a cup. 1/3 cup brown sugar is needed for 6 servings and 15 servings is just over double – so it is 5/6ths of a cup or 83% of one cup. You could use a heaping 3/4 up and add additional sugar to taste at the end if needed. I hope that helps!

  10. Debi says

    I made this as sliders, along with the bacon broccoli slaw for a work party for about 30 people. It was AWESOME! Everyone loved them. I used 17 lbs of pork butt and multiplied the recipe x8 (though I would cut that in half if I were to make that big of a batch again. I had a lot of leftover liquid that I didn’t even use in the cooking.) Only changes I made were that I used less of the sweet baby rays (and had some on the side if people wanted it) and I used cabbage in the slaw instead of broccoli, and a little more mayo and dijon to cut the tang slightly and added sliced green onion. I made half of the recipe in the instant pot and half in a slow cooker, then mixed them together. I think I liked the slow cooker results better as the instant pot broke down the meat too much. This is about the 15-20th recipe that I’ve made of yours and EVERY one has been a winner! I don’t know how you do it, but please keep doing it!!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Debi, thank you so much for your awesome comment! I’m thrilled these BBQ Pork Sliders were such a hit. You’re a champ to take on such a huge job of 17 lbs of pork – bravo! Thank you for making my recipes and for taking the time to comment – I’m honored they have all been winners! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! xo

  11. Cindy says

    Do you think this could be made ahead and frozen? If so, what do think think would be the best way to reheat and would you wait to add the barbecue sauce?

    • Jen says

      Hi Cindy, I would freeze it with the sauce, defrost in the refrigerator completely then you can reheat on the stove or in the crockpot on low for 2 hours or so.

  12. Therese says

    HI Jen, I only have a Boneless Pork loin on hand. would it work for this recipe? With meat being limited and prices high i’m trying to use what I have. Definitely going to use your AMAZING homemade BBQ sauce. I make batches and freeze it. It’s our permanent go to for BBQ sauce!!

    • Jen says

      I definitely understand using what you have on hand! Pork loin will work – it is not as juicy when shredded but with the barbecue sauce I still think it will taste great.

  13. Brian says

    Your recipes are AWESOME. I have a bone-in shoulder. Will the soda do weird things or is that a viable sustitute?

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Brian! The soda will still be great. Enjoy!

  14. Grace says

    This is hands down the BEST pulled pork I ever had. I did make 3 minor changes reduced the amount of liquid smoke, reduced the red pepper flakes and slightly reduced the sugar, these changes are my preference and absolutely had nothing to do with the pulled pork!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Grace, I’m so pleased you loved it!

  15. Heather says

    I’ve made this once so far and we loved it, (we knew we would, all of your recipes have been keepers in this house). I was curious though… I made you BBQ chicken with the homemade sauce. would that homemade sauce be good in this recipe?

    • Jen says

      Thank you Heather and YES! I posted this recipe my firs year of blogging and hadn’t posted my homemade barbecue sauce yet – I think it would be amazing with it!

  16. Erica says

    My boyfriend is a pulled pork fiend and we have been trying like crazy to recreate his favorite bar’s pulled pork at home, especially during a pandemic. This was so good and the closest we have gotten yet. Juicy and full of flavor. I also marinated the pork in everything except for the barbecue sauce over night and wow! Thank you so much.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the awesome review Erica! I’m thrilled this came close to your favorite BBQ place!

  17. Marian says

    Hi Jen, I made this recipe yesterday, for dinner tonight. Deeeelicious. We are in Texas, so anything BBQ bodes well for my hubby. I also made your BBQ sauce. Both recipes are awesome.

    On a humorous note, I had all the ingredients in place and as we are moving house in a month, it suddenly dawned on me that I had already packed up and stored my two slow cookers. Emergency!!!!

    I set the oven to 300°, popped the pork butt with all of the additional ingredients into the oven and covered with foil. Removed it after 6 hours. IT WAS PERFECT. You rock.

    I have made so many of your recipes, and wanted to finally let you know how much you’re appreciated for your culinary gift.

    Wishing you well, every single day.
    Marian

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for your kind words Marian, I’m honored you’re enjoying my recipes! Your comment on this BBQ recipe is high praise coming from a Texan! I’m so pleased you were able to make it in the oven and it turned amazing. Thanks again for following along!

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