Has anyone successfully made pulled pork in a crock pot?

Joined Apr 3, 2009

The local market has been stocking which looks like the perfect size cuts of pork shoulder to fit into a crock pot and that would work out great for me as I live in an apartment on the second floor and we are not aloud to have smokers so no slow and low on a smoker for me.

I keep seeing the pork shoulder and keep thinking to myself pulled pork tacos so any success stories or guidance will be appreciated. Do I remove the fat on the outside and I am guessing no bark either.


Joined Feb 13, 2008
Yes, you can cook a piece of shoulder to the "pull" stage in a crock pot -- and very well too.

Whether or not you remove the fat depends on how much there is, and whether you like fat or not.  Pork fat is not like beef fat, in that it's very digestible.  If there's skin on the shoulder, you will have to remove that.

Use a "dry rub" of some sort.  Since you're heading towards tacos, a carnitas flavor profile would do quite nicely.

You'll want a little braising liquid in the crock pot -- a can of beer should do fine.  You'll certainly want some onion in there, and perhaps some garlic as well.

When your shoulder is cooked (probably around 8 hours on low) to the pull stage -- remove it from the pot and allow it to cool slightly (makes for better pulling).  Pull it with your hands, with two forks, or with "claws."  Use some of the braising liquid to moisten, and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper, and/or your rub, and/or some hot sauce. 

Hope this helps,
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Joined Apr 3, 2008
before I got a smoker I would sear the shoulder in my biggest cast iron skillet then put it in a crock pot with a 50/50 of water and my fav bbq. to cover it up, let simmer. Save some room for the fats that are gonna render out . Now that I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup, I make my own shtuff. I almost never trim the fat, depends how it looks.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
    Hi Brian,

  I reluctantly say that yes...you can cook a pork shoulder in a crock pot.  As you stated, it won't turn out the same as a nice low and slo BBq in a smoker.  But all of us don't always have the equipment or time to do things on a smoker.  So I enthusiastically say yes...go ahead!

   You can choose to get as involved as you like while cooking it or leave the shoulder be to the heat of the crockpot alone.  At minimum, you can throw it in the crockpot with a little bit of liquid (1-2 cups) and let it go.  

    You can also choose to give it a sear to develop flavors that it may be missing. Since you won't be developing these flavors with any other method of cooking a pork shoulder, you may find it will help.

  There are plenty of recipes out there for crockpot pork shoulder and any of them should do just fine.  If you like you can follow one of the recipes or just add some spices as you feel are needed (ex) vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, salt, spices and tomato paste) . 

  You can also go an entirely different route.  A Mexican style pork shoulder turns out nice too.  I line the bottom (and overhang the sides) with a couple of banana leaves.  Then I throw in a good number of tomatillos, various peppers, white onions, garlic, cilantro and that's all I can remember right now.  Fold the banana leaves over to cover the top of the pork shoulder and let it go.  The banana leaves and each of the other ingredients really give a nice flavor to the pork.  

   Anyway you cut it...you'll be fine>>>>


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Joined Feb 1, 2007
I'm not a big fan of slow cookers. Tried using them when Friend Wife and I both worked away from home. Their problem: They always overcooked the meat, far as we were concerned, turning it (not matter what "it" was) into so much over-done pot roast. Pull apart doesn't begin to describe it.

This translates to mean that a slow cooker is the ideal (well, second best, after a smoker) medium for making pulled pork, being as everything, from a consistency viewpoint, turns out that way anyhow.

If I were doing it I would use a combination of the above advice. I'd sear the meat first, after rubbing it with whatever spices you prefer. Then transfer to the slow cooker. Onions and other aromatics if you insist.

Slow cookers work best when the liquid is kept to a minimum. So I'd probably dilute a 3/4 to a cup of my favorite BBQ sauce with an equal amount of water and let it go at that. If you're into it (I'm not) a drop of liquid smoke to round out the flavors.
Joined Nov 5, 2007
I'll also recommend some tomatillos in the crock pot, along with fresh chilies, if you are thinking Mexican.  Peeled, rinsed and quartered should be fine, no need to dice.  Be careful when adding vinegar and vinegar based sauces, too much will make the meat really mushy.

Joined Feb 17, 2010
Something along the line for Mexican I do is braise in the oven with stewed tomatoes, tomatillos, cilantro, onion, fresh jalapenos, (1 per pound), garlic, bit of marjoram or oregano, s&p, cover half way with chicken stock. I don't trim the fat out until after it's cooked.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
My first question is what you mean by successful

For a barbecue pulled pork, then I would vote no. The texture and flavor are wrong.

Other cuisines are a more open question.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
Pulled pork no, shredded pork for tacos yes /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif now that I am done being technical I would suggest low and slow in the oven in a large enough pan so the pork doesn't swim in its own fat.
Joined Feb 3, 2010
I have accidentally made pulled pork in a crock pot, if that counts. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif    As KYH mentioned, most (if not all) meats can and probably will be cooked to the falling apart/pull apart stage.

To cheat, perhaps you can sauce the pulled pork with something a bit sweet and then give it a good hot sear to fake a semblance of bbq-esk flavour./img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif
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Joined Mar 21, 2008
Pulled is smoked in my book. Chuck is another cut that does very well with a long slow smoke. I also use chuck to make shredded meat for chimichangas.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
not to detract from the experienced smokers and the technical aspects  IMO the basic answer is : go for it, it will still taste nummy (to use my own technical term) . while your at it buy a few of those shoulders (they keep in the freezer too) and get it right. Don't feel inferior cause you don't have a smoker. Try and try again til you get the flavors your looking for.
Joined Mar 13, 2010
I made pulled pork in a crock pot a few weeks ago and it came out really good. I just spent 3 months in Raleigh, NC so I had A LOT of pulled pork and chopped BBQ. I'm not a big fan of their vinegar based sauce, so I enjoyed making my own and using a honey bbq sauce. I'm not gonna say it came out as good as "The Pit" in Raleigh, but it was still good.

I bought a 3lb pork shoulder with the bones in. Then simply rubbed them with a bbq pork rub from the market. Put it in the crock pot and added about 2 cups of water. Then I julienned a red onion and put it on top and put it on low for about 7-8 hours until it was tender enough to blow the pork apart. Not literally blow it off, but it was realllly tender. I ended up discarding the onions and left about a cup of the juice that was left over in the pot, then put the meat back in with the juice and added my bbq sauce. I let it go on low for about 20 minutes and then made some great sandwiches!

I know its not the traditional way to make it, and if I ever suggest this to someone in Raleigh they would kill me. But sometimes you have to work with what you have.

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