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Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

How to make slow-cooker pulled pork for a party
Casey Barber
Cook Time:
8 hrs
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

The best way to elicit game day cheer is by serving a spread of crowd-pleasing snacks. One of the most welcome dishes? Pulled pork. Though making pulled pork might sound like it requires a lot of time and effort, it’s actually one of the easiest ways to feed a hungry crowd. That’s because the slow cooker does all the work.

Pork shoulder requires low, slow cooking in order for it to become so tender that it falls apart into shreds. Let it do its thing in your slow cooker with spices like smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and onion, along with dark beer or chicken broth to prevent it from drying out. You’ll return in eight hours to discover perfectly juicy meat. 

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can still make this pulled pork. Instead, follow the same instructions but use a large Dutch oven and cook the pork in the oven at 325 F for about four hours.

No matter how you cook the pork shoulder, once you’ve shredded it, toss it with your favorite barbecue sauce before serving. Serve it right away, refrigerate it overnight and rewarm as needed or portion it into airtight containers or freezer bags and freeze for up to three months. The pork can be slow cooked up to 2 days before you plan to serve it. To reheat, toss with the barbecue sauce and place in a casserole dish. Cover with foil and heat in a 300 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the pulled pork piled on soft buns with pickles or use the meat as the base for tacos or burritos. Any leftovers are great tucked into a quesadilla, on a grain bowl, used as a pizza topping or even tossed with pasta.


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (4-5 pound) pound bone-in pork shoulder or 1 (3-4 pound) boneless pork shoulder
  • 2 medium to large yellow or red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and halved
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle brown ale or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (18-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
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In a small bowl, whisk together salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne. Generously rub the pork on all sides with the spice blend.


Spread the onions, carrots and garlic across the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour in the beer, then place the pork inside the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.


With a pair of tongs, carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker — it will be so tender that it will start to fall apart as you lift it out of the liquid. Place on a baking sheet or in a large bowl and let rest until it's cool enough to handle. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and discard the remaining liquid and vegetables. 


When the pork is cool enough to handle, remove any large chunks of fat and use two forks to pull the meat apart into bite-size shreds. Toss with enough of the reserved liquid to keep it moist; you may not need the entire cup. Gently mix the pork with barbecue sauce to serve.