Now you can have great pulled pork with the ease of crock pot cooking. Put it on in the morning and eat in the evening making this a weeknight-friendly recipe.
Editor’s Note: Originally Published April 9, 2016. Updated with expanded text and discussion along with updated photos.
I love pulled pork, but most of us do. I have done fake pulled pork with other cuts of pork, but pork butt (AKA pork shoulder) is the “right” cut.
Cooking it low and slow is also the right way. And lastly, it should be cooked dry, not braised in liquids which is wrong for pulled pork. Let’s do pulled pork the right way.
While I “knew” how I wanted to do this, I did the usual research. Mostly I was disgusted (but not always).
There are recipes with condensed soup, packets of onion soup mix, broth, and many other things that should never touch a pork butt. There are recipes that are “done” in 4-6 hours on low… not possible.
So the plan was to use my usual rub (but feel free to use your favorite). Wet with liquid smoke apply the rub and “roast” low and slow in a crock pot. Now the secret ingredient., aluminum foil, but don’t wrap it, elevate it to keep it out of the fat.
I used a three pounder, but I believe you could do 4 pounds the same and a five pounder might work. The three pounds produce enough for ten large sandwiches. So cheap eats if you calculate it.
A very nice 5. Almost equal to my oven and grill versions.
Pro Tips: Recipe Notes on Crock Pot Pulled Pork from Butt the Right Way
What is Pork Butt?
Like many cuts of meat, there are multiple names about the same thing. Pork butt and Boston butt are the same.
Pork shoulder is the thinner area of this cut but is commonly cooked and used the same as the butt. It has a bit less marbling and less fat and is usually not separated from the butt.
If you are wondering, butt means thick, so that is why the term “butt” is used. Lastly, the picnic ham and picnic shoulder are not the same as this cut.
When is Pork Butt Done?
I like to take my pork butt to 195+ range. And prefer 200-205, but some crock pots just won’t get there in most crockpots. So settle for 185 only if you must, but 195 or even 200 is really good.
I want a recipe that can be put on in the morning before you leave for work and be ready in 9-10 hours when you get home with most crock pots but there may be some variation
The Rub for Crock Pot Pulled Pork
I provided a suggested rub, but any rub you want will be fine. The suggest rub has an average amount of salt for a rub. Some find that too much. We are now decreasing our own salt intake so I usually decrease it by 50% and can’t tell the difference.
I put the rub on and cooked right away. That works quite well but if you plan ahead, then apply the rub the night before and wrap in plastic wrap.
Bone-in or boneless does not matter.
Fat pad up or down does not matter. But I tend to down or side.
I like the liquid smoke, but some people object out of principle. On a crock pot pulled pork? You’re lucky it doesn’t have onion soup mix. But leaving out will be fine and only a minor change in the final results.
If you do use the liquid smoke, please only use one with water and smoke listed as ingredients and nothing else. Cheap liquid some will ruin this. I use Wright’s.
Start with a pork butt AKA pork shoulder 3-4 pounds.
Prep a large crock pot with six balls of aluminum foil. Make about 2 inch balls but then squish down to 1 inch high and arrange in the bottom of the crock pot.
You may use the rub of your choice, or mine is ½ cup dark brown sugar, three tablespoons kosher salt, one tablespoon chili powder, one teaspoon garlic powder, one teaspoon onion powder and one teaspoon pepper.
Pat dry the pork and the coat with about two tablespoons good quality liquid smoke.
Generously apply the rub. You could wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight at this point or cook right away.
Place on the foil balls and cook on low undisturbed for 9-10 hours.
Bake until internal temp of 190 plus. About 9-10 hours, but will vary some with the thickness of the meat and the crock pot. Remove from crock pot onto a large sheet of heavy-duty foil.
Wrap tight with the foil then wrap with several towels. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes but 1-2 hours is fine. Shred with forks. It will fall apart.
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Originally Published April 9, 2016.