Asian Caramel Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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.!  

up close of slow cooker Pulled Pork in green bowl with chopsticks

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.

Slow cooker Pulled Pork in black slow cooker with a wooden spoon

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.

eating pulled pork in a green bowl with chopsticks

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.

showing how to make caramel sauce for pulled pork in skillet then pouring it over pulled pork

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.

Slow cooker Asian Caramel Pulled Pork in crock pot

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!

pulled pork in a taco with pineapple and lettuce

If you love slow cooker pulled pork and beef recipes, then you will love my Slow Cooker Chipotle PorkSlow Cooker Honey Balsamic Beef, and Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa!

Looking for more Asian recipes?

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Pin it to your SLOW COOKER, ASIAN or DINNER Board to save for later!

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

eating Vietnamese Caramelized Pork in green bowl with chopsticks

Slow Cooker Asian Caramel Pulled Pork

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. 
Servings: 8 -10 servings
Total Time: 5 hrs 10 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 5 hrs

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Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs. pork shoulder/pork butt trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Wet Rub

  • 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

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

OVEN:  Tightly cover and bake at 425 F for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 325 F and continue to roast for an additional 5-6 hours or until super tender. Check the pork the last couple hours of cooking to make sure there is still liquid and add a little coconut milk if needed.

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157 Comments

  1. Marty says

    Just made your recipe in my electric pressure cooker. It’s not an IP because I have had it long before Instant Pots became a thing but I assume it has a pressure cooker function. I followed your recipe exactly except I have a browning feature on my pressure cooker and it gives me a great seared crust. I put my lid on and set it for 1 hour. I let it release naturally after it was done cooking. The pork pulled easily (and was delicious even without the caramel sauce) and I got approximately 3 cups of liquid sauce. Just thought your followers would like to know that they can make this in just a little over an hour as opposed to 6 to 8. Great recipe and I will make this often. Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for sharing Marty, that is super helpful!

  2. Maggie says

    AMAZING! we have made this pork at least 10x. the flavor is unbelievable. SO good on tacos, salads, sandwiches.

    • Jen says

      Oh my goodness, you have made this recipe more than me! 😉 I love that you love it!!!

  3. Lois says

    OMG as my family likes to say – this is a HERO! Followed the recipe to a T and it is delicious!!!

    • Jen says

      I love hearing that, thanks so much Lois!

  4. Kerri Lamance says

    Can you sear the meat and add the ingredients the night before?

      • Todd Shelton says

        Will definitely make this since I’m a all for any BBQ guy. Do you know if same recipe works with pulled chicken for pork allergies?

        • Jen says

          Yes, you can absolutely use chicken, yum!

  5. Anne says

    Hi.. can you freeze this once it’s cooked OR assemble it with marinade, freeze, then cook? Prep ahead of time?

    • Jen says

      Yes, you can absolutely freeze it either way! It is also delicious prepped ahead and rewarmed.

  6. Danielle says

    This is seriously the best dinner I have ever made! I wouldn’t change a thing. This is more then restaurant quality, and I will make it again and again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Danielle, I so appreciate your 5 star review!

  7. Jeanette says

    Hi! My grocery store typically only stocks 8-10lbs pork butt, nothing smaller. Would you just double all the other ingredients and extend the cooking time?

    • Jen says

      Yes, that is exactly what I would do. Often with pulled pork recipes I don’t double the liquid, but this one doesn’t have very much and is all needed for the caramel sauce. Good luck!

  8. Nicole says

    This sounds like it would be amazing without the Carmel sauce added. Have you in tried this?

    • Jen says

      I haven’t but I’m sure it would be tasty, just different 😉

    • Lindsey Hughes says

      I have & it’s delicious! Next time I’m skipping the caramel, although it’s tasty, it’s so good without it too!!

  9. Mechelle B says

    This is so good! The flavor was amazing, I did the taco recipe for this and my family said to definitely make this again!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Mechelle, I’m so pleased it is a new repeat favorite!

  10. Carey says

    I’ve never left a review on a recipe before but had to check in on this one. My husband called this “birthday meal quality.” I call it “company food.” High praise! I made it according to all instructions and ingredients. The caramel sauce is essential and so worth the extra effort. Our family doesn’t tolerate spicy foods, and this was just perfect for us as written. Just a bit of spice for flavor, but not hot. This is a new favorite!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Carey! I’m thrilled the entire family loved it and it was the perfect hint of spice!

  11. Deena says

    Hello! I am making this (currently in the slow cooker) but with 9.5lbs of pork shoulder as I couldn’t find anything less. I doubled the sauce but was wondering how much I need to increase the cook time by? Thank you so much! Love all your recipes

    • Jen says

      Hi Deena, I’m honesty not sure, I haven’t cooked one that large! I would cut it in half or quarters for quicker cooking and check it as needed.

  12. Kristin DeMore says

    Sounds Amazing-haven’t made it yet- but I’m about to! I will review when finished… eating! Lol the tacos sound SO GOOD also! Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Kristin, I hope you love them as much as us!

  13. Jena says

    Hi! This looks amazing! I’m gathering my ingredient list and I’m wondering if I can use Franks brand sweet chili sauce rather than buying another bottle that is in the Asian aisle. Just curious if there is a difference or if I can use this one instead! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Yes, that should be just fine. Enjoy!

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