If you’re like me, you love food with big, bold flavor – and few dishes deliver like slow-cooked pulled pork. Not only do pork shoulders provide a bounty of tender and delicious meat, but they are incredibly versatile and affordable.
You can typically find pork shoulder on sale for about $0.99 a pound at your local grocery store. A five- or six-pound pork shoulder – also called “Boston butt” – is enough to feed a large family, while a small family like mine gets a week’s worth of meals out of it. That’s a lot of eating for such a minimal price.
Whether you’re cooking for your family or hosting a party, the following slow-cooked pulled pork recipe makes plenty for everyone. It freezes and reheats well, and is great for all sorts of dishes, like barbecued pork sandwiches, pulled pork fajitas, and more.
Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork Recipe
There are many ways to prepare pulled pork, but this recipe is great if you don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen. Use this recipe as a guideline, but feel free to add different vegetables, switch up the spices, and utilize fresh herbs to tailor the flavor to your liking.
- 1 five- or six-pound pork shoulder
- 2 medium poblano peppers
- 1 large Vidalia onion
- 1 small lime
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon of pepper
- 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin seed
- 2 garlic cloves (pressed)
- Rub the pork shoulder all over with the salt, pepper, and spices.
- Chop the Vidalia onion into medium-sized slices. Cut the flesh away from the peppers and slice into medium to large pieces. (You can use green bell peppers or red peppers for a sweeter flavor.)
- Set your crock-pot or slow cooker on its lowest temperature setting.
- Layer the slow cooker with half of the onions and peppers.
- Place your seasoned pork shoulder in the pot on top of the onions and peppers.
- Squeeze a tablespoon or so of the lime over the meat. Then, drop a section of the pulp into the pot (optional).
- Layer the remaining peppers and onions over the top of the pork.
- Close the lid and turn over the meat after about 4 hours. Continue to do so every few hours after that. A five- to six-pound pork shoulder takes roughly 14 hours in my slow cooker on its lowest setting to cook thoroughly and reach optimum tenderness. The key is to not let it cook at too hot of a temperature – especially as the juices from the meat start to release. If the liquid begins to boil, the pork will cook too fast and “tighten” up. Start checking the tenderness after about 8 hours, and every hour or so from that point on.
- The pork is done cooking when the meat falls away easily with a fork. It’s pretty hard to overcook a pork shoulder when using this method – at least, as long as the moisture is maintained – but once the meat starts to become tender, keep an eye on it, as the texture can become mushy if it cooks too long.
- Once the meat is done, turn off the heat and let the crock-pot cool for about 30 minutes.
- Remove most of the liquid and set it aside to use in barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, or as a base for soup, stuffing, or casserole. Discard the bone and fat. You can remove the soft onions and peppers, or, if you prefer, you can leave them in to further flavor the pork.
- Finally, pull the pork apart in the slow cooker. Now it’s ready to use in the recipes below.
Pulled Pork Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Now that you have a crock-pot full of tender, slow-cooked pulled pork, there are countless things you can do with it. I’ve used it in place of ground beef or chicken for a variety of Mexican dishes, and I’ve served it over rice and tossed it into an Asian-style noodle soup.
Here are my two favorite pulled pork recipes:
Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Once you’ve pulled apart the pork in the slow cooker, add to it two tablespoons of white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, plus a healthy dollop of your favorite barbecue sauce and about a half-cup of the reserved juices.
- Stir the ingredients into the pork, adding more as needed until you have the desired taste and texture. Don’t use too much barbecue sauce, as you can always add more to your sandwich directly.
- Place the pork on a toasted bun – hamburger buns, potato rolls, or brioche all work.
- Add toppings such as barbecue sauce, hot sauce, dill pickle slices, and fresh coleslaw.
If you use all of the pork, you’ll have enough meat to feed a small army – perhaps 20 to 25 sandwiches’ worth. When setting a portion of the pork aside for other uses, it can be refrigerated for about three days or kept frozen for two to three months.
Pulled Pork Huevos
- Take a warm flour tortilla and place it on a plate.
- Heat about four ounces of the pulled pork with one-and-a-half tablespoons of salsa in a pan, and place on the tortilla.
- Cook two eggs according to your preference in a pan (I like them over-medium) and place them over the pulled pork and salsa mixture.
- Top with warm black beans, diced Spanish onion, cilantro, and shredded cheddar cheese.
- Garnish with your choice of guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.
The slow-cooked pulled pork recipe is always on the menu in my house – it makes good financial sense, and even better meals. Just remember to keep the temperature down and take it slow, and your pork shoulder will come out great.
Also, be adventurous. Adjust the pulled pork slow-cooked recipe to your personal taste, and find new ways to use the leftovers. You can save yourself a lot of money by preparing this affordable dish without sacrificing quality or taste.
Do you have a great pulled pork recipe? What other crock-pot recipes have you tried?
(photo credit: Bigstock)