Asian Caramel Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is crazy tender smothered in the most addicting savory, sweet and spicy sauce infused with coconut milk, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, ginger and garlic. You will be licking your plate – and the slow cooker.
This Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is a fabulous prep-it-and forget it meal, great for crowds, reheats beautifully and is delicious with rice/veggies or delectable in salads, wraps, tacos, or as sliders, etc.!
Have you tried my General Tso’s Chicken yet? As I stated in that recipe, it is one of my favorite chicken recipes of all time, so I wanted to create an easier way to lick up that delectable multi-dimensional sauce. Enter Asian Caramel Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
The sauce of this Caramel Pulled Pork is innnnnnnncredible. It isn’t a watery, lackluster sauce like many slow cooker Asian recipes. Instead, it is thick and luxuriously silky. It boasts more Thai flavors than my General Tso’s Chicken but is inspired by the Caramel Sauce of my Tso’s Chicken. In both recipes, the savory sauce is infused with “caramel” that we make by simmering water and brown sugar together and then whisking in our remaining savory sauce base. The resulting sauce is nothing short of the ideal ying and yang of sweet and savory, tangy and zingy, with a splash of heat.
How to Make Asian Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Wet Rub = Flavor. First, we whisk together a Wet Rub consisting of toasted sesame oil, ground ginger, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. If you don’t have sesame oil, you don’t have to buy it just for this recipe. Feel free to substitute olive oil instead. You will notice the Rub consists of 2 whole tablespoons ground ginger – I know that sounds like a lot but I promise it is AMAZING and is needed to cut through the sweetness of the sauce.
Seared Pork = juicy and flavorful. Next, we sear our pork to seal in the juices and to create what’s known as the Maillard reaction in which the amino acids and reducing sugar react to create a caramelized, deeply flavorful, rich savory crust. Yes please.
Dynamite Sauce. We whisk together our Sauce ingredients consisting of coconut milk, soy sauce, Japanese sweet rice wine, Asian sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, sriracha and cornstarch. Keep in mind if you taste the sauce at this point it will not be balanced because we are going to add the “Caramel Sauce” later.
What is rice wine and where can I buy it? The only sauce ingredient you might have a question about is the Japanese rice wine. Rice wine should become a pantry staple if you do much Asian cooking because it is used in MANY of my recipes such as my Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Shrimp and many more. Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar- DO NOT switch them out. Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of flavor while also tenderizing the pork. Rice vinegar, on the other hand will add an acidic flavor.
I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it. I highly suggest you google image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for. The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.
Cook until Tender. Pour the sauce all over the pork and let it cruise until fall apart tender. If it is not fork tender, it simply needs to cook longer.
Caramel Sauce. Once our pork is tender, we remove it to a cutting board until it is cool enough to shred then add back to slow cooker. Meanwhile, remove slow cooker sauce to a measuring cup. If there is less than 2 ½ cups then add enough water to equal 2 ½ cup. We will add this to our Caramel Sauce later.
To make the Caramel Sauce for our pulled pork, add brown sugar and water to large skillet and boil over medium heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Don’t overcook or it will harden! Slowly whisk in the 2 ½ cups Slow Cooker Sauce and simmer over medium high heat, whisking constantly until reduced and thickened, approximately 7-10 minutes.
It is important that you use a large skillet with sides or it will take MUCH longer for your sauce to thicken. If after 7-10 minutes your sauce isn’t thickening for whatever reason, then increase the temperature, whisking constantly.
How Saucy? Pour desired amount of Caramel Sauce over pulled pork and toss until evenly coated with a spatula. You may or may not use all of the sauce – totally your preference.
EAT! Serve Asian Caramel Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with rice/veggies/etc. on buns with slaw or my AMAZING Caramel Pork Tacos with Pineapple Snow Pea Salsa!
Looking for more Asian recipes?
- Beef and Broccoli
- Slow Cooker Sweet Chili Sesame Chicken
- Slow Cooker Korean Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Chicken
- Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
- Hoisin Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
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- 4-5 lbs. pork shoulder/pork butt trimmed of excess fat
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
- 2 tablespoons ginger powder (sounds like a lot but it's amazing)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp EACH salt, onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Slow Cooker Sauce
- 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Lightly spray a 6 qt + slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Whisk together all of the Wet Spice Rub ingredients together in a medium bowl then massage it evenly all over the pork. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat in a large cast iron skillet. Using tongs or 2 forks, sear pork on all sides until lightly browned. Place pork in prepared slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together Slow Cooker Sauce ingredients (not Caramel Sauce) and pour all over pork.
- Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours OR until pork is fall apart tender and easily shreds with a fork. At this point, remove pork to a cutting board until it is cool enough to shred.
- Meanwhile, remove all of the sauce left in the slow cooker to a measuring cup. If there is less than 2 ½ cups then add enough water to equal 2 ½ cup. Set aside. You can add shredded pork back to the slow cooker now that you have removed the sauce.
- To make the Caramel Sauce, add brown sugar and water to large skillet and boil over medium heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Don’t overcook or it will harden! Slowly whisk in the 2 ½ cups Slow Cooker Sauce and simmer over medium high heat, whisking constantly until reduced and thickened, approximately 7-10 minutes. Pour desired amount of Caramel Sauce over shredded pork and toss until evenly coated with a spatula. Add additional sriracha for spicier if desired.
- Serve with rice/veggies/etc. and my Slow Cooker Caramel Pork Tacos with Pineapple Snow Pea Slaw are coming soon!
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