This slow cooker pulled pork recipe is easy and delicious! Made without bbq sauce and coated in a flavorful apple cider vinegar sauce, this makes tons of leftovers that are great to use in all your recipes.
One of my all time favorite summertime meals is pulled pork. I love a good pulled pork sandwich – the juices running down your arm as you try to hold you soaked bun into one piece as you savor every bite.
Finished with a cider vinegar sauce, this pulled pork without barbbbqecue sauce is both delightful on its own, or is ready to use a myriad of other recipes!
This easy pulled pork is made in a slow cooker, so you can have it any day you happen to have electricity (which I hope is every day)! It is easy enough that my husband enjoys making it even without my supervision! Now that’s a great recipe!
What cut of pork is best for pulled pork?
The best cut for pulled pork is a boneless pork shoulder. This is sometimes called a boston butt or a pork butt (I don’t know why they call it a butt when its the shoulder, but there you go). The bone-in versions also work, but I like the boneless ones best.
You want a roast that has good marbling for the best flavor, but not with huge chunks of fat on the edges. You can trim off any excess fat as well.
Try to stay away from pork loin and pork tenderloin, they just don’t have enough fat on them to make really good pulled pork when cooked all day in the slow cooker.
How to make pulled pork in slow cooker
This is an easy recipe! For the full set of directions, please scroll down to the recipe card below.
Prepare the pork
- Plug in the slow cooker and turn on to high.
- Place a large cast iron skillet on the stovetop over medium high heat.
- Sear the pork in some oil on all sides (a few minutes per side, you just want to develop a nice crust on the outside, not cook it all the way) and then transfer to the slow cooker.
- Turn down the heat to medium on the skillet and add the sliced onion to sauté.
- Add the chili powder, paprika, pepper, and cumin to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper to the pan and stir.
- Pour this mixture over the pork in the slow cooker.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for one hour, then turn down the heat to low.
- Cook for 6-8 hours, or until you can easily shred the pork with a fork.
Make the sauce
- Carefully transfer the meat to a large bowl and use tongs or forks to shred. Place back into the slow cooker or a large serving bowl.
- Strain the cooking liquid and discard the onions.
- Place the liquid in a small saucepan and reduce by half over medium heat, until it reaches a slight thicker consistency.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the cider vinegar to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the meat and toss to coat.
- Serve and enjoy!
Storage and Reheating Information
Leftover pulled pork can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
It can be reheated in the microwave or oven until warm.
How to use Pulled Pork without Barbecue Sauce:
Now that you have your pilled pork, what to do with it? The following are great ideas to use your pulled pork leftovers!
- add barbecue sauce and serve them as sandwiches! (add some cilantro lime slaw for a fun twist!)
- mix it with your macaroni and cheese
- use it to make nachos
- stir it into some chili or ramen
- throw some on top of a salad
- make a bahn mi sandwich
- wrap them in dough and make dumplings or empanadas
- add it into some fried rice
- bake it into a quiche
- add it on homemade pizza!
- make tacos!
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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 3 lbs pork butt or shoulder
- 1 medium white onion roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds smashed or crushed in either a mortal and pestle or with a meat mallet.
- 3 garlic cloves finely minced
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- cider vinegar to taste
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
- Sear the pork on all sides and transfer to a slow cooker.
- Turn the heat on the skillet down to medium and add the onion to the residual oil in the pan.
- Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, pepper and cumin seeds to the oil and onion in the pan.
- Cook about 3 -5 minutes to allow the spices to bloom.
- Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the water, brown sugar, worchestershire sauce, salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil.
- Pour the mixture over the meat in the crock pot. Everything EXCEPT the cider vinegar should be in the crock pot now.
- Cook on high for one hour, then turn the heat down to low.
- Cook 6-8 hours, or until the pork is done and easily shreddable by forks.
- Carefully transfer the meat only to a large bowl and use tongs or two forks to pull the meat apart.
- Strain the cooking liquid and discard the mushy onions.
- Reduce the liquid by half until it reaches a slightly thicker consistency.
- Remove the liquid from the heat and add cider vinegar to taste.
- Pour over the meat.
- Serve in buns to make sandwiches.