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Everyone loves this genius 2-ingredient recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Since there’s no pre-browning, it’s perfect for busy weeknights and long, delicious weekends… just throw it in and go.
Good cooking definitely runs in my family, and all the credit for this amazing recipe goes to my sister, Monica, who, one day, didn’t feel like cutting up a bunch of apples to add to her pork roast. We’ve all had those days, haven’t we? Where we just can’t even?
But then Monica found a jar of applesauce in her pantry and lo and behold, a family favorite was born. As it turns out, the applesauce adds the perfect amount of natural sweetness, moisture, and flavor to the pork. If you’ve been making pulled pork with Coke, I’m here to tell you that applesauce is so much better.
Making Slow Cooker Pulled Pork for a crowd? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How to make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork:
These instructions walk you through the basics without giving you specific ingredient amounts, which are all listed below in the recipe card. Because maybe you want to make pulled pork for 100 people!
One of the best things about this recipe is that you really don’t have to brown the pork beforehand. Really!
All you have to do is add the ingredients to the crockpot, turn it on, and get on with the day. (If you don’t want to brown, skip to step 4.)
But, if you want to brown the pork beforehand, which again, is totally optional, here’s how to do it:
- In a large pot with a heavy bottom, heat some olive oil over medium high heat.
- Season the pork all over with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pot and sear the meat—but don’t move it around! Keep it there for 5 to 6 minutes; you want a nice crust to form on the outside of the pork.
- Flip the pork over and continue to brown all sides the same way, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
- Add the seasoned pork to the slow cooker. Pour the applesauce over the pork.
- Cover the crock pot and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or LOW 8 to 10 hours.
- After that, all you have to do is shred the pork using two forks or fancy pulled pork claws. Then pour in your favorite BBQ sauce, mix it into the pork, and cook for another 30 minutes until heated through.
Pulled pork cooking time:
In the slow cooker, cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or LOW 8 to 10 hours. If you can stand it, the longer the better for the most tender pulled pork you’ve ever tasted!
Some cooks like to make pulled pork overnight in the slow cooker for game days, which is quite possibly the best idea yet.
The best meat cut for pulled pork:
Choose pork butt or pork shoulder, which always makes super juicy pulled pork that tastes fabulous all by itself.
But if you’re like me and are constantly buying those good-looking pork loins from Costco, you can use those as well—but make sure you pour in some bbq sauce, because the results will be drier, because the pork loin is so lean.
How much pulled pork per person:
For pulled pork, you’re going to want one-third to one-half pound of meat per person. But even that depends on who is eating!
Here’s where it gets tricky: pork loses about 40% of its weight from cooking, so plan on cooking more meat than you think you might need.
Here’s some helpful info for figuring out about how much pork to buy for larger parties:
- How much pulled pork for 20? You’ll need 18 to 20 pounds of raw pork, or 10-15 pounds of cooked pulled pork.
- How much pulled pork for 40? Buy 30-40 pounds of raw pork, or 20 to 25 pounds of cooked pulled pork.
- How much pulled pork for 50? Plan on buying 40 to 50 pounds of raw pork, which will yield 25 to 30 pounds of cooked pulled pork.
- How much pulled pork for 100? You’ll need 80 to 100 pounds of raw pork, for 50 to 60 pounds of cooked pulled pork.
How to freeze pulled pork:
In case you need to, you can freeze extra BBQ pulled pork to eat later. Wrap it up in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag that seals tightly.
Frozen pulled pork should keep 6 to 8 months.
Reheating Pulled Pork:
When reheating frozen or cold pulled pork, just use your slow cooker! Reheat on LOW, using a little apple juice, broth, or water, until heated through.
To reheat pulled pork in the oven, place it in an oven-safe baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at a low temperature of 250 degrees, until heated through.
Fun pulled pork meals the whole squad will love:
As the main dish or as leftovers the next few days, there’s no wrong way to enjoy tender shredded pork.
- Waffles. Pulled pork on waffles? Yes indeed—in fact, it’s incredible.
- Enchiladas. Bake up a pan of your favorite enchiladas with pulled pork as the protein.
- Quesadillas or tostadas. Leftover pulled pork sandwiched between tortillas with a splash of hot sauce and some avocado? Count me in.
- Burritos. Make burritos to freeze for late night snacks or busy evenings. Add beans, cheese, and Fajita Veggies.
- Pork burger. Toast some buns, grab some pickles, cheddar cheese, and your favorite mustard. Pulled pork makes one heck of a burger.
- Pulled pork and rice. Mexican Rice, Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice, or dirty rice…it’s all good!
- Coleslaw. Tangy, crispy coleslaw makes pulled pork sing. Add a scoop to a sandwich or eat it on the side.
- Chili. Your favorite chili will love you for it.
- BBQ. When you have too many barbecue sauces, let guests choose their own: tangy, vinegary, smoky, or sweet.
- Wraps. Last minute lunches are looked forward to when there’s pulled pork in the refrigerator. A tortilla or flatbread, slice of pepper jack cheese, and a crispy lettuce leaf is about all you need.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sprinkle pork generously with salt on all sides. Add to pot and sear without moving until a dark brown crust forms on one side, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Flip pork over and continue browning on the second side until a dark crust forms, about 4 to 5 minutes longer. Remove from pot and transfer to slow cooker. Pour applesauce over the top.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or LOW 8 to 10 hours. Using two forks, shred the pork. Pour barbecue sauce on top if using and serve in buns if desired.
- Pork shoulder roast: Pork shoulder or pork butt actually both work well here. Either braises into super juicy, succulent Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
- Applesauce: I promise this doesn’t make the meat too sweet. A half cup of store-bought or homemade applesauce lends so much moisture and just a hint of sweet fall flavor to the shredded pork.
- Barbecue sauce: While my (ahem, Monica’s) Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is tasty enough to eat sans-sauce, I usually mix it in for the final 30 minutes, then serve extra sauce on the side in case guests want to add more. Drippy chins are always welcome at my table, where I always pair barbecue menus with extra napkins. Purchase your favorite brand or stir together a batch of my Sweet Baby Ray’s copycat Barbecue Sauce.
- Yield: This easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe makes 12 1/2-cup servings, enough for a dozen entree portions (or eight 3/4-cup servings if you’re only serving this with something light, such as coleslaw).
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is a great freezer-friendly entrée! Make a batch and stow it away in freezer-safe containers (dated and labeled) for yourself, a neighbor, a new mom, or anyone else who might need a meal.
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