Love Me Tender Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe

Get your BBQ pork fix with a quick and easy crockpot pulled pork recipe that rivals the real deal.

When it comes to barbecue pulled pork recipes, there is zero substitute for the smoky perfection achieved by cooking 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 that either don’t have access to an outdoor cooker or are in need of a simple set-and-forget crockpot recipe. For the rest of us traditionalists, you can find a great smoked pulled pork recipe here.

When I set out to create a slow cooker pulled pork recipe, I knew that I would be giving up two cornerstones of real pulled pork – 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.

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Slow cooker pulled pork

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

Course. Lunch. Dinner. Entree. Sandwich.

Cuisine. American.

Makes. 8 servings.

Takes. 10 minutes prep time. Approximately 7 hours to cook.

Additional tools. A slow cooker such as a Crock-Pot®

Ingredients

Braising liquid

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup apple juice

3 tablespoons of 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 of your favorite store bought BBQ dry rub

Pork butt

1 (7-to-8-pound) bone-in pork butt

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 cup of your 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.

Method

1) 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.

2) Trim all excess fat from the pork butt.

3) Lightly coat the pork butt with mayonnaise. Season the pork butt liberally with the remaining BBQ dry rub.

4) 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.

Cut ends off of apples

5) 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.

Add cut apples to slow cooker

6) 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.

7) Set the pork butt on the apples.

Set seasoned pork butt in crockpot

8) Cover the slow cooker and cook the pork butt until it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F, approximately 1 hour per pound.

9) 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.

Crock pot pork butt

10) 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.

Slow cooker pulled pork

11) Serve. To serve, place the pulled pork on buns and serve with additional BBQ sauce.

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 a bed of apples, as they make a better match for my overall flavor profile. Finally, when seasoning pork butts, 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 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 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 shredded 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 and skim as much fat off of the top as possible.

The result? Moist, tender, and full flavored pulled pork that is perfect for sandwiches, BBQ nachos, loaded fries, baked potatoes, and so much more!

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