Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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It doesn’t get much simpler than this 2-ingredient Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe. Ideal for busy weeknights and party menus, my best pulled pork recipe also happens to be one of my easiest dinner ideas ever.

Slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches in brown food boats.

Good cooking definitely runs in my family, and all the credit for this amazing recipe goes to my sister, Monica. One day, she 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?

Necessity truly is the mother of invention, and that’s where Monica’s “famous” pulled pork was born. Simply dump some applesauce over skillet-seared pork roast, then set and forget in the slow cooker. The applesauce adds the just-right amount of natural sweetness, moisture, and flavor to this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. If you’ve been making pulled pork with Coca Cola or Dr. Pepper, I’m here to make a case that you try applesauce instead next time; I adore the tender, juicy, and fall flavor-infused results.

Making this best Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe 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. Talk about easy.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for slow cooker pulled pork.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Pork shoulder roast: Pork shoulder (aka 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.

Step by step instructions

  1. 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.
A slab of pork cooking in a black skillet.
  1. 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.
A slab of pork in a black slow cooker.
  1. 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.
Someone pulling pork in a black slow cooker.
  1. Cover and cook until barbecue sauce is heated through, about 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve in buns if desired.
Slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches with chips and coleslaw in brown trays.
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce, potato chips, and Coleslaw.

Recipe tips and variations

  • 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. For meal trains, I offer a bottle of barbecue sauce on the side, a bag of soft rolls for sandwiches, and a simple side (maybe grab a bag of frozen corn, steam it in the microwave, and stir in some butter and salt).

Recipe FAQs

How much meat per person is enough?

For pulled pork or any shredded meat, like Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken, estimate about ⅓ to ½ pound of meat per person (or about 5 to 6 ounces).

What are some fun ways to serve Slow Cooker Pulled Pork?

Pancakes. Pulled pork on flapjacks? Yes indeed; Pulled Pork Pancakes with Whiskey Maple Syrup earn rave reviews at every party or family brunch where I serve them.
Enchiladas. Roll up a batch of your favorite enchiladas or burritos with pulled pork as the protein.
Quesadillas or tostadas. Leftover pulled pork sandwiched between tortillas with a splash of hot sauce and some avocado? Yes, please.
Chili. Your favorite chili will love you for it; simply swap for ground beef.
Pizza. Atop a base of purchased, par-baked pizza crust and barbecue sauce, sprinkle an even layer of pulled pork. Finish with sliced red onion and shredded cheddar cheese and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Just as good as (maybe even better than) delivery!

Barbecue Sauce

Here’s a homemade Barbecue Sauce recipe that’s every bit as delicious as Sweet Baby Ray’s famous sauce. It’s all natural, made by you, and only takes a few minutes. There are four major styles of…

20 minutes
View Recipe

More barbecue recipes

A paper food boat with a pulled pork sandwich and potato chips.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

It doesn't get much simpler than this 2-ingredient Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe. Ideal for busy weeknights and party menus, my best pulled pork recipe also happens to be one of my easiest dinner ideas ever.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 40 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 45 mins
Servings 12 servings (½ cup each)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 220

Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder roast
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce optional
  • Buns for serving, optional

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  1. Pork shoulder roast: Pork shoulder or pork butt actually both work well here. Either braises into super juicy, succulent Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  6. 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 220kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 14gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 542mgPotassium: 354mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 107IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Love this idea!!!! It reminds me of how I make mine…I use Hard Apple Cider…that;s pretty much the same thing right :) Β 5 stars

  2. My gosh, could this recipe be any easier?

    Β I second that this is a genius idea. I’m all for things that make me lazier when it comes to delicious food prep!5 stars

  3. Meggan, EVERYTHING you post makes me hungry. I may have to spend the rest of my life on a treadmill (while I’m eating) just to function! I’ll cook mine on low for 8 hours since it’s an All-clad cooker and cooks just a little hotter than many.5 stars

  4. I love slow cooker diehss in cold weather. Do some prep in the morning before you head to the office, then come home to an already-cooked dinner not to mention an aromatic house!5 stars