If you’re craving big flavor, make this slow cooker pulled pork for dinner this week. It’s bursting with flavor from the cumin, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and the secret ingredient. It’s the best pulled pork that you will ever make!
Photos updated in 2020.
I love being in the kitchen and I’m always looking to improve recipes when and where I can.
New & Improved Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe
I published this recipe 2 years ago though I’ve been making for several years. It’s a recipe that is loved by many, but I’ve made a few tweaks the last few times that makes it even better.
The Slow Cooker Knows No Seasons
Most think that the slow cooker is only for the colder months— I strongly disagree. The slow cooker is not only a saving grace when it comes to busy weeknights but it also can create some flavor-packed meals that require almost no work. What’s not to love about a set and forget recipe?!
This recipe came about when I saw pork shoulder on sale and I knew that I didn’t want to “make” dinner that night. I threw on some spices and about 8 hours later we feasted and every bite was an explosion of flavor. I knew I had to share this recipe. It also leaves a ton of leftovers for just the two of us (which I love) for days!
What Makes This Pulled Pork The Best?
- While you can use a boneless pork shoulder, the recipe highlights using a bone-in pork shoulder for it’s flavor.
- Most stray away when they see a large fat layer on a pork shoulder, but I run to it. That fat layer is flavor and it keeps the meat moist during the cooking process.
- The combination of spices enhance the natural flavor of the pork. It’s not too much, but it’s also not too little.
- Adding a few chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (that’s the secret ingredient!) really kicks it up a notch. It adds another depth of flavor.
- There’s almost no work. You simply cover the pork in the spice mixture and add everything into the slow cooker.
The Best Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
- 1 (7oz) jar chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 (4-7 pound) pork shoulder or butt (bone-in with a layer of fat)
- Add the onion and chipotle peppers to a 5 quart or larger slow cooker. (Here's the one I own and love!)
- In a small bowl, combine the spices and stir together. Sprinkle the dry rub onto the pork shoulder and massage in so it adheres coating all sides. Place the pork shoulder, fat layer up, into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.
- Remove the remaining fat layer on the top. Using two forks, pull the apart– it will pull apart very easily. Remove and discard the bone. Serve on a toasted brioche bun with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead tip: Pre-cooked pulled pork can be frozen in a freezer-friendly container or zipped-top bag for up to 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, head as desired. I prefer to heat in a skillet on medium with 2-3 Tablespoons of water.
- Pork: If you can’t find a bone-in pork shoulder or butt, a boneless one can be used.
- Chipotle Peppers: These don’t have to be used, but it adds another depth of flavor.