Slow Cooker BBQ Pork: From Shoulder to Perfection

In the realm of savory indulgences, few dishes command widespread admiration and appetite appeal quite like Slow Cooker BBQ Pork. This masterpiece has earned its place in the hearts (and stomachs) of food enthusiasts worldwide, boasting a perfect marriage of convenience and unparalleled flavor.

At the heart of this delectable creation lies the magic of the slow cooker method—a culinary wizardry that transforms a humble pork shoulder into succulent shreds of perfection. In this article, we embark on a gastronomic journey, uncovering the secrets of crafting the perfect Slow Cooker BBQ Pork.

Join us as we delve into the key ingredients that lend their distinct signatures to this beloved dish, elevating it from a simple recipe to a symphony of taste and texture. Get ready to unleash the tantalizing aroma and savory satisfaction that is Slow Cooker BBQ Pork.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

Pork Shoulder

A centerpiece of this recipe, a high-quality 4-pound pork shoulder (sometimes labeled as pork butt) serves as the foundation for tender, flavorful pulled BBQ pork.

Rub

  • Salt (2 tablespoons): Enhances the overall flavor profile and helps in the tenderizing process.
  • Garlic Powder (2 tablespoons): Adds a robust garlic flavor to the rub, complementing the pork’s natural taste.
  • Ground Coffee (1 tablespoon): Unconventional but essential, coffee brings depth and richness to the rub, contributing to a complex flavor profile.
  • Black Pepper (½ tablespoon): Adds a subtle heat and balances the sweetness of the BBQ sauce.
  • Onion Powder (½ tablespoon): Provides a savory undertone and contributes to the well-rounded flavor.
  • Aleppo Powder (1 tablespoon): This unique spice adds mild heat and fruity, earthy notes, elevating the rub’s complexity.

Bedding

  • Sliced Onion and Diced Garlic: A flavorful foundation for the pork, these aromatic elements infuse the meat with savory goodness during the slow cooking process.
  • Chicken or Bone Broth (½ cup): Adds moisture and depth to the cooking environment, ensuring the pork remains juicy and succulent.

Preparing the Pork

bbq shoulder

Step 1: Prep the Pork Shoulder

  • Begin by patting the pork shoulder dry with paper towels. Moisture impedes the rub’s adherence, so ensuring the meat is dry is crucial.

Step 2: Evenly Apply the Rub

  • In a bowl, mix the salt, garlic powder, ground coffee, black pepper, onion powder, and Aleppo powder to create the rub.
  • Generously coat the entire surface of the pork shoulder with the rub, ensuring an even distribution. Use your hands to massage the rub into the meat, allowing it to adhere.

Step 3: Massage for Flavor Infusion

  • Take a moment to massage the rub into the pork, pressing it into any crevices or folds. This not only flavors the outer layer but ensures the seasoning permeates the meat.

Step 4: Resting Period

After applying the rub, let the pork shoulder rest at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour. This resting period is essential for two reasons:

  • Flavor Absorption: Allowing the rub to sit on the pork allows the salt to penetrate the meat, enhancing its natural flavors. The coffee, garlic, and spices meld during this time, creating a harmonious blend.
  • Formation of a Flavorful Crust: The rub forms a sort of “flavorful crust” on the surface of the meat. This crust not only adds an extra layer of taste but also helps to lock in moisture during the slow cooking process.

Step 5: Proceed to Slow Cook

  • Once the resting period is complete, the pork is ready for its slow cooker journey. Place the seasoned pork on a bed of sliced onions and diced garlic, add chicken or bone broth for moisture, and let the magic of slow cooking begin.

Importance of Letting the Rub Sit

Allowing the rub to sit on the pork before cooking is a crucial step that significantly enhances the final flavor and texture of the dish. This brief resting period serves as a marinade, allowing the spices to penetrate the meat, infusing it with a rich and complex taste.

Moreover, the interaction between the salt in the rub and the pork initiates a process that contributes to the meat’s tenderness, ensuring each bite is a succulent, flavorful experience. By patiently letting the rub work its magic, you set the stage for slow cooker BBQ pork that transcends the ordinary, delivering a symphony of flavors with every bite.

Setting the Stage for Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

Step 1: Create a Flavorful Bed

Begin by slicing onions and dicing garlic to form a fragrant and flavorful base for your slow-cooked masterpiece. The aromatic combination of onions and garlic will infuse the pork with savory goodness as it simmers.

Step 2: Layer in the Slow Cooker

Spread the sliced onions and diced garlic evenly at the bottom of the slow cooker. This bed not only imparts flavor but also prevents the pork from sticking to the bottom during the cooking process.

Step 3: Add Moisture and Depth

Pour ½ cup of chicken or bone broth over the bed of onions and garlic. This addition serves a dual purpose:

  • Moisture: The broth ensures a moist cooking environment, preventing the pork from drying out during the extended cooking time.
  • Flavor: As the pork cooks, it absorbs the savory essence of the broth, enhancing its overall taste.

Step 4: Place the Seasoned Pork

Gently place the seasoned pork shoulder on top of the bed of onions and garlic. This positioning allows the meat to absorb the flavors from the aromatic base and ensures even cooking.

Step 5: Prepare for Slow Cooking

With the seasoned pork in place, your slow cooker is now ready to work its magic. Choose the desired cooking setting (medium, high, or low) based on your schedule, and let the slow cooker transform these humble ingredients into a mouthwatering symphony of flavors.

Cooking Process

step by step photo instructions for cooking slow cooker BBQ pork

Step 1: Choose Your Setting

Depending on your schedule and preferences, select the appropriate cooking setting on your slow cooker: medium, high, or low.

Step 2: Medium Setting (6-8 Hours)

Opting for the medium setting strikes a balance between time and tenderness. This setting allows the pork to cook for 6 to 8 hours, ensuring a well-cooked and flavorful result without the extended time commitment of the low setting.

Step 3: High Setting (4-6 Hours)

If time is of the essence, the high setting accelerates the cooking process, completing the dish in 4 to 6 hours. While this option is quicker, keep in mind that the low and slow method often yields more tender and flavorful results.

Step 4: Low Setting (8-10 Hours)

Embrace the essence of slow cooking with the low setting. Allowing the pork to leisurely simmer for 8 to 10 hours results in unparalleled tenderness and flavor. The extended cooking time at a lower temperature allows the connective tissues in the pork to break down, transforming it into a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy.

Step 5: Understanding Each Setting

  • Medium Setting: Ideal for those seeking a balance between time and tenderness, this option delivers a well-cooked and flavorful pulled pork without the extended wait.
  • High Setting: Perfect for those with time constraints, this setting accelerates the cooking process, producing a tasty result in a shorter duration.
  • Low Setting: The pinnacle of slow cooking, this method maximizes tenderness and flavor. Patience is rewarded with pork that is irresistibly tender and infused with the full spectrum of spices and aromatics.

Step 6: Emphasize the “Low and Slow” Method

The true magic of Slow Cooker BBQ Pork lies in the “low and slow” method. While the medium and high settings offer convenience, it’s the extended, gentle simmering on the low setting that transforms the pork into a delicacy. The connective tissues break down over time, resulting in a texture that is nothing short of perfection.

Step 7: Frequent Checks (Optional)

While slow cookers are designed for convenience, occasional checks during the cooking process allow you to monitor progress and adjust if necessary. It’s an opportunity to marvel at the evolving aroma and anticipate the delectable outcome.

Shredding the Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

shredded bbq slow cooker pork raised from pot with tongs

Step 1: Remove the Cooked Pork Shoulder

With the cooking time complete, carefully lift the fully cooked pork shoulder from the slow cooker. Use tongs or a large fork to ensure the meat remains intact.

Step 2: Set Aside for a Brief Rest

Allow the cooked pork to rest on a cutting board or large plate for a few minutes. This brief resting period lets the juices redistribute, ensuring the meat stays moist and flavorful.

Step 3: Shredding Process

Armed with two forks, start the shredding process. Hold one fork in each hand, anchoring the meat with one fork while pulling it apart with the other. The slow-cooked pork should effortlessly yield to this process, revealing its succulent and tender interior.

Step 4: Strain and Reserve Juices (Optional)

If desired, strain the cooking juices from the slow cooker and reserve about half. These juices are liquid gold, packed with flavor. Adding a portion back to the shredded slow cooker BBQ pork will enhance its juiciness and taste.

Step 5: Return to the Crock with BBQ Sauce

Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, incorporating half of the reserved cooking juices. Additionally, add 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. This step ensures the pulled pork is not only tender but also richly infused with the signature BBQ flavor.

Step 6: Mix and Coat

Gently mix the shredded pork, reserved juices, and BBQ sauce, ensuring an even coating. This step allows the flavors to meld, resulting in a harmonious combination of the rub’s spice blend, slow-cooked tenderness, and the smoky-sweet allure of BBQ sauce.

Step 7: Additional Seasoning (Optional)

Taste the pulled pork and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Depending on your preference, you can add more salt, pepper, or even a dash of your favorite hot sauce to elevate the flavor profile.

Step 8: Warm Through (Optional)

If the pulled pork needs reheating, warm it through on a low setting in the slow cooker for an additional 30 minutes. This step ensures the entire dish is piping hot and ready to serve.

Saucing the Meat

BBQ Sauce put on shredded slow cooker BBQ pork

Step 1: Reserve Cooking Juices for Flavor

Begin by reserving about half of the cooking juices from the slow cooker. These juices are packed with the essence of the seasoned pork, providing a concentrated burst of flavor.

Step 2: Strain and Set Aside

Optionally, strain the reserved cooking juices to remove any solids, ensuring a smooth and consistent texture when reintroduced to the shredded pork.

Step 3: Return Shredded Pork to Slow Cooker

Place the shredded pork back into the slow cooker, creating a flavorful base for the saucing process.

Step 4: Incorporate Reserved Juices

Pour the reserved cooking juices over the shredded pork. This step not only adds moisture but also infuses the meat with the concentrated flavors developed during the slow cooking process.

Step 5: Introduce the BBQ Sauce

Add a generous amount of your favorite BBQ sauce to the shredded pork. The amount can be adjusted based on personal preference, ranging from a light coating to a more robust, saucy finish.

Step 6: Homemade or Store-Bought Options

The choice between homemade and store-bought BBQ sauce depends on personal preference and time constraints. A high-quality store-bought sauce can offer convenience without compromising flavor. Alternatively, crafting a homemade sauce allows for customization and a unique touch.

Step 7: Homemade BBQ Sauce (Optional)

If opting for homemade, consider a blend of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. This DIY approach enables customization to suit your taste—whether you prefer a smoky, sweet, tangy, or spicy profile.

Step 8: Mix and Coat Thoroughly

Thoroughly mix the shredded pork, reserved cooking juices, and BBQ sauce until evenly coated. This ensures that every strand of pork is infused with a harmonious blend of flavors.

Step 9: Taste and Adjust the Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

Taste the sauced pork and make adjustments as needed. Depending on personal taste preferences, additional BBQ sauce, a hint of spice, or a touch of sweetness can be incorporated.

Step 10: Warm Through (Optional)

For an extra layer of integration, warm the sauced pork through in the slow cooker on a low setting for 15-30 minutes. This step allows the flavors to meld further, creating a cohesive and delectable dish.

Serving Suggestions

slow cooker BBQ Pork made into sandwiches

Classic Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Load generous portions of the sauced pulled BBQ pork onto soft buns. Consider toasting the buns for added texture. Top with coleslaw for a refreshing crunch.

Slider Delight

Mini sandwiches, or sliders, make for a delightful and shareable option. Use small dinner rolls or slider buns for a fun twist. Arrange them on a platter for easy serving at gatherings.

Taco Tuesday Upgrade

Transform your pulled pork into taco filling. Serve in soft or crispy taco shells with your favorite toppings—shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.

Pulled Pork Pizza

Use the sauced pulled pork as a unique pizza topping. Spread BBQ sauce as the base, and add pulled pork, red onions, and cheese. Bake until bubbly for a fusion of flavors.

Loaded Baked Potatoes

Create a hearty meal by loading baked potatoes with the sauced pulled pork. Top with shredded cheese, green onions, and a dollop of sour cream.

Pulled Pork Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Elevate your mac ‘n’ cheese by adding sauced pulled pork. The savory pork complements the creamy cheese sauce for a comforting and indulgent dish.

Conclusion

In the grand symphony of flavors that is Slow Cooker BBQ Pork, we’ve journeyed through the essential steps and ingredients that transform a humble pork shoulder into a culinary masterpiece. From the meticulous application of the savory rub to the slow-cooking process that tenderizes and infuses every fiber with rich flavor, each step has been a celebration of taste and texture.

Now, with your kitchen enveloped in the enticing aroma of slow-cooked perfection, I encourage you to embrace the magic of this recipe. Whether you opt for the classic pulled pork sandwich, innovative sliders, or experiment with unique serving ideas, the versatility of this dish knows no bounds. Slow Cooker BBQ Pork isn’t merely a recipe; it’s an experience—one that invites you to savor the rewards of patience and craftsmanship.

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Happy cooking and bon appétit!

slow cooker BBQ Pork shredded on a cutting board

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork

homemadefoodfromscratch
This slow cooker pulled pork recipe has a flavorful barbeque sauce that's easy to make. Serve it on rolls, buns tortillas with the sides of your choice.
Cook Time 1 day 6 hours
Total Time 1 day 6 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 10

Equipment

  • 1 Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

Ingredients
  

Dry Rub

  • 3 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Coffee
  • 1/2 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo Powder
  • 2 cloves garlic

Bedding of Crockpot

  • 1 Sliced Onion and Diced Garlic: A flavorful foundation for the pork
  • 1/4 cup Chicken or Bone Broth

Sauce

  • 2 cups Barbeque Sauce

Instructions
 

  • Slice one onion and dice 2 cloves of garlic. Place into bottom of slow cooker.
  • Add the 1/4 cup of broth to the Crock-Pot.
  • Cover and cook until the pork shreds easily. 4-6 hours
  • Shred the pork and return it to the slow cooker to combine it with the juices.
  • Add 2 cups of BBQ sauce to slow cooker. Cook another 30 minutes until blended.
  • Serve on bun, rolls, tortillas etc.

Notes

Calories: 333.64KCAL, Carbohydrates: 0.75G, Protein: 51.55G, Fat: 12.39G, Saturated Fat: 3.09G, Cholesterol: 136.68MG, Sodium: 539.9MG, Potassium: 869.92MG, Fiber: 0.2G, Sugar: 0.04G, Vitamin A: 9.75IU, Vitamin C: 0.49MG, Calcium: 22.27MG, Iron: 2.17MG
Keyword bbq pork, pork shoulder

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