Tried and true recipe for slow cooker barbecue pulled pork that is sweet and tangy AND well seasoned with only 7 ingredients!
Even though there are hundreds of recipes for slow cooker barbecue pulled pork, this is my tried and true recipe I turn to time and again. My ideal slow cooker barbecue pulled pork is not only sweet and tangy but also well seasoned. Pulled pork should never be bland and cloyingly sweet. There’s a sweet spot (excuse the pun), and this recipe fits all those criteria.
Ultimately, this base recipe can be used to customize the pulled pork to your taste depending on the spices, the soda, and the barbecue sauce used.
It’s also very simple because all the ingredients are added to the slow cooker, and everything cooks low and slow. I love my slow cooker especially, in the summer months, when I don’t want to heat up the stove or oven.
Composing the Perfect Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork
Choosing the Cut of Pork Roast
In my neck of the woods, there aren’t too many types of pork roast available. So, it makes choosing a pork roast fairly simple. When shopping for your pork roast, the perfect cut of pork to use is a pork shoulder, and you may also see it labelled as:
- Shoulder Butt
- Pork Butt
- Picnic Roast
- Boston Butt
- Blade Roast
You can often find great deals on pork roasts which helps keep the pocket book full. Additionally, pulled pork makes an awesome budget friendly meal because there are so few ingredients involved.
I’ve also seen less expensive pork roasts with the bone-in or the fat-cap on. These cuts also work well because both provide great flavor and help keep the meat juicy while cooking. It can make the shredding process slightly more time consuming because you’ll want to remove any (or some) of the unrendered fat, and you’ll need to remove the meat from the bone.
Sweetening the Roast with Soda while Cooking
During the cooking process, soda is used to provide sweetness. I’ve used a few different kinds of soda, and they’ve all worked well. Additionally, you can use the regular or diet varieties. Some suggestions are:
My favorites to use are a diet root beer or diet cola. It helps keep the calories and carbs low so I can put more of the good stuff (BBQ sauce) on top.
Seasoning the Meat before Cooking
The biggest mistake I see with many slow cooker barbecue pulled pork recipes is the failure to season the meat itself. Instead, they tend to rely on soda or barbecue sauce providing all the flavor for the meat.
I like the juiciness and sweetness the soda provides, but I also like to heavily season the meat. It is essential and non-negotiable. End of story.
As far as spices go, I keep it very simple using garlic powder, salt and pepper. Although, if you have a rub or other spice blend you like to use, go for it! As a rule of thumb, I always like to use 1 tsp of salt per pound of meat. If you do use a prepackaged spice rub, check to make sure it doesn’t have salt in it, or adjust the salt accordingly.
Changing up the spices used is a great way to customize your pulled pork to your tastes. By experimenting with spices, you may find your new go-to slow cooker barbecue pulled pork recipe!
Finally, fresh onion provides depth of flavor to the meat. You could use powdered onion instead of fresh, but I like the texture the onion provides in the final pulled pork.
Top with Barbecue Sauce
Using different kinds of barbecue sauce is really where you can customize this recipe to make it your own! Since I’m still on the hunt for my favorite homemade barbecue sauces, I typically use store-bought varieties. But, if you have one you love, send it my way! I’d love to try it!
If you are unsure of which barbecue sauce to buy, a very popular option, and one I like, is Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue Sauce. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser! It’s not too smokey, and it has a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs beautifully with the pork.
If I’m being honest though, my favorite barbecue sauces are not too acidic and tend to be on the sweeter side. I love honey and brown sugar barbecue sauces, and one of my favorites is Kraft’s Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce.
Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q sauce is another option if you are looking for a low-carb barbecue sauce. This is the sauce I used for the estimated nutrition provided below. I haven’t personally tried them, but I know other people really like AlternaSweet’s Sweet and Smokey BBQ Sauce or Guy’s Award Winning Sugar Free BBQ Sauce.
After shredding the pork and adding it back to the slow cooker, you can add barbecue sauce to the meat, and continue cooking on low for an additional 30-60 minutes. I usually skip this step since I like the flavor of the uncooked barbecue sauce.
Endless Uses for Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork
The possibilities for using this pulled pork are endless. You’ll probably see several uses for this pulled pork as I continue to post recipes.
The classic way to serve pulled pork is on tender buns or rolls with or without additional barbecue sauce and coleslaw. As with the barbecue sauce, I haven’t found a tried and true homemade coleslaw recipe I love yet. So, if you have a favorite, hit me up on Instagram, or leave me a comment below!
Slow Cooker pulled pork is also awesome to use on:
- Pulled Pork and Queso Nachos
- Pulled Pork and Cheddar Quesadillas
- Loaded Baked Potatoes
If we have leftover pulled pork after eating them as sandwiches, I like to freeze it in individual portions in ziplock baggies. Then, I always have some available whenever I need a quick and easy meal. To use it, I thaw it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, and then, I continue to cook it with whatever I’m making.
If you love this recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe, and let me know if you have any feedback! Happy cooking!
Looking for Other Slow Cooker Recipes?
I have a whole collection of easy slow cooker recipes that tastes delicious and the whole family will love!
If you love slow cooker recipes, be sure to check out my whole collection of slow cooker recipes here!
I would definitely recommend checking out my recipe for my Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast and Gravy! The beef cooks low and slow in it’s own delicious gravy. Yummy!
Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork
- 4-5 lbs Pork Butt/Pork Shoulder Roast
- 1 large Onion
- 12 oz Can Soda (Dr. Pepper, Cola, Root Beer) can also use diet varieties
- 4 tsp Salt
- 3 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 3 tsp Garlic Powder
- 3/4 cup Barbecue Sauce plus more for serving
- Spray slow cooker with cooking spray, or line slow cooker with a slow cooker liner.
- Cut onion in half, and slice each half into 1/4″ pieces. Place onion in bottom of slow cooker.
- Sprinkle the garlic powder, salt, and pepper on all sides of the pork roast. (I aim for about 1 tsp of salt per pound of meat.)
- Lay seasoned pork roast on top of the sliced onions in the slow cooker.
- Pour the soda over the meat and the onions.
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8-9 hours, until pork is tender and can be flaked easily with a fork.
- Using two forks, shred beef into bite sized pieces and return the meat to the juices in the slow cooker.
- Add barbecue sauce to meat and stir to incorporate.
- Serve warm on a roll or use in another recipe.