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Simple And Delicious Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

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pulled pork sandwich on white plate

Get your smoked pork fix with a quick and easy slow cooker BBQ pulled pork recipe that rivals the real deal. This also works well for instant pots.

When it comes to BBQ pulled pork recipes, there is zero substitute for the smoky perfection achieved by cooking a bone-in pork shoulder or a Boston pork butt low-and-slow on a smoker or grill.

That being said, one of the most frequent requests I receive is for a full-flavored indoor pulled pork recipe. While I can already imagine the comments that are sure to follow this post, the truth is that there are countless folks who either don’t have access to an outdoor cooker or are in need of a simple set-and-forget slow cooker or instant pot recipe. For the rest of us traditionalists, you can find a great smoked pulled pork recipe here.

When I set out to create a pulled pork recipe for a slow cooker such as a Crock-Pot® or for an instant pot (instapot), I knew that I would be giving up two cornerstones of real pulled pork – well-seasoned pork with nice bark and smoke. With those out of the equation, I knew I’d have to amp up the flavor a bit. I began by creating a braising liquid from my pork butt injection, a flavorful mix of chicken broth, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, dry rub, and a splash of BBQ sauce.

In an effort to keep the recipe as simple as possible, I use store-bought BBQ sauce and rub. If time permits, you can make prepare our Kansas City-style barbecue sauce recipe and Meathead’s famous Memphis dust dry rub. Note that if you are using the Memphis Dust you will need to pre-salt the pork butt with approximately 1/2 teaspoon of Morton’s Kosher Salt per pound of meat not including the bone.

When cooking in my Crock-Pot®, I often use sliced onions as a base, allowing the meat to sit above the collecting liquids so it doesn’t just stew in the liquid for the entire cooking process. For this recipe, however, I opted for placing the pork on the bottom of the slow cooker on top of a bed of apples, as they make a better match for my overall flavor profile. Finally, when seasoning pork shoulder or pork butt with garlic powder, cumin, and other ingredients in your spice mixture, I like to add a thin coating of mayonnaise (a rich alternative to the popular mustard slather) before seasoning with BBQ dry rub.

Once everything was seasoned and in the slow cooker, I set the cooker to low, allowing the pork shoulder or Boston butt to slowly become moist and tender over several hours (approximately 1 hour per pound). If you are short on time, you can prepare this recipe on the medium-high setting, though according to the makers of Crock-Pot®, “for the best results, remember that it’s called a slow cooker for a reason. Simmering recipes over long periods of time extracts all those subtle flavors.”

Once cooked, I shred the pork and mixed it with more of the injection-turned-braising liquid for an additional boost of flavor. While you might be tempted to add some of the liquid from the slow cooker to the meat, be aware that it is full of rendered pork fat so you’ll want to cool it in the fridge and skim as much fat off of the top as possible.

The result? Moist and tender pulled pork that satisfies your taste, whether the pork shreds are used on buns for pulled pork sandwiches, on chips for protein-rich BBQ nachos, on loaded fries, on baked potatoes, on tacos, and so much more! You can even put leftover pulled pork in the freezer so that you have it on hand to reheat in the microwave for a quick weeknight meal alongside potato salad or other side dishes.

Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe

Slow cooker pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce
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Create moist, tender, and full flavored pulled pork with this simple to follow slow cooker recipe.

difficulty scale


Servings: 8 servings


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 10 minutes


  • 1 Slow cooker such as a Crock-Pot®


Braising Liquid

  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons your favorite store bought BBQ sauce, preferably one with liquid smoke as an ingredient like KC Masterpiece Hickory Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite store bought BBQ dry rub

Pork Butt

  • 1 bone-in pork butt (approximately 8-9 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup our favorite BBQ dry rub
  • 5 apples
  • hamburger buns
  • additional BBQ sauce for serving
About the pork butt. If you are using a smaller bone-in pork butt, figure approximately 1 hour cooking time per pound. If you are using a boneless pork butt, tie it into a roast so that it cooks uniformly.
About the mayonnaise. The use of mayonnaise is completely optional but is something that I have done for years. As with the more popular yellow mustard, the mayonnaise serves as a binding agent for the dry rub without altering the flavor of the finished meat. Unlike mustard, mayonnaise is high in fat, something that can only benefit the pork butt.
About the BBQ sauce. While a store-bought sauce with liquid smoke is recommended for time purposes, feel free to substitute our flavor-packed Kansas City-style barbecue sauce recipe.
About the dry rub. Although the recipe calls for store-bought BBQ dry rub out of convenience, our recipe for Meathead’s Memphis Dust is a great alternative. Note that if you are using the recipe, you will need to pre-salt the pork butt with approximately 1/2 tablespoon Morton’s Kosher salt per pound not including the bone. Learn more about why you should avoid salt in rubs here.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Prep. To create the braising liquid, combine the chicken broth, apple juice, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, and BBQ dry rub in a bowl and blend well.
  • Trim all excess fat from the pork butt.
  • Lightly coat the pork butt with mayonnaise. Season the pork butt liberally with the remaining BBQ dry rub.
  • Stand an apple upright on a cutting board. Slice one side off of the apple, approximately 1/2-inch from the center. Do the same with the opposite side of the apple. Repeat with the remaining apples. Enjoy the ends of the apples as a fresh snack.
    Apple with the ends cut off
  • Cook. Set the apples on the bottom of the slow cooker with one cut side down to create a base for the pork butt. This will keep the pork butt out of the braising liquid during the beginning of the cooking process so that the dry rub has time to penetrate the meat.
    Sliced apples placed at the boom of a slow cooker
  • Add enough of the braising liquid to the slow cooker so that all but the upper 1/4-inch of the apples is immersed. Reserve the remaining liquid for adding to the finished pulled pork.
  • Set the pork butt on the apples.
    Seasoned pork butt inside of a slow cooker
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook the pork butt until it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F, approximately 1 hour per pound.
  • Remove the pork butt from the crockpot and place in a large casserole dish or aluminum pan. Remove the cooking liquid from the slow cooker and discard. Alternatively, you can reserve the liquid for use as the base of a flavorful sauce, though you will want to skim as much fat as possible off of the top once it has cooled, as it will be very oily from the rendered pork fat.
    Whole cooked pork butt in serving dish
  • Use forks or bear paws to shred the pork butt. Add the remaining braising liquid to the pulled pork and mix the pork well. If you are not serving the pulled pork immediately, then return it to the slow cooker, cover, and set the dial to warm.
    Shredded slow cooker pork butt in serving dish
  • Serve. To serve, place the pulled pork on buns and serve with additional BBQ sauce.

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Published On: 10/16/2018 Last Modified: 2/13/2024

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  • Clint Cantwell, Champion Pitmaster - Clint Cantwell is's Senior Vice President of Whatever, charged with creating recipes, writing articles, shooting photos, and a little bit of everything else. He was named one of the "10 Faces of Memphis Barbecue" by Memphis Magazine and was the winner of Travel Channel's "American Grilled: Memphis".


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