Pulled pork from pork butt is easy to make—you only need a dry rub, a pork butt (Boston butt) and your slow cooker. Everyone will love this melt-in-your-mouth BBQ pulled pork.
Perfect for game-day parties, family gatherings. Or cook a small pork butt and freeze some for later.
Pork butt—aka Boston butt
Liquid smoke—optional but suggested
BBQ Dry rub—your own or mine
My Suggested Rub—brown sugar, kosher salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper
- 👨🍳How to Make Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot from Pork Butt
- ✔️Tips for the best crock pot pulled pork
- Associated recipes you will love.
- 🍽️Serving Pulled Pork
- ❓What BBQ sauce is best for pulled pork?
- ❄️How to store pulled pork.
- ♨️How to reheat pulled pork.
- 🐖What are Boston butt, pork butt, and pork shoulder
- Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
- 📖 Recipe
- Crock Pot Pulled Pork from Pork Butt
Featured Comment from LK:
"This is the best recipe I have ever used for pork in the crock-pot and I have tried many through the years adding liquids of all sorts. Using dry rub seasoning and the aluminum foil balls cooked the pork perfectly."
The best-pulled pork is made from a pork butt cooked low and slow to melt all the delicious connective tissue for a moist and tender result. Use it for BBQ sandwiches, sliders, or great Mexican tacos, burritos, and nachos.
Cook low and slow, coated with BBQ dry rub, not braised in cola, broth, or other liquids. And not cooked in the drained liquid fat. It drains away in the smoker, so let's do that too.
Cooked to the correct internal temperature, the connective tissue melts for moist and tender pork that shreds easily—if you need a knife, it is wrong.
👨🍳How to Make Pulled Pork in the Crock Pot from Pork Butt
- Mix dry rub if needed.
- Pat dry the pork roast, coat it with liquid smoke (optional), and a generous amount of dry rub.
- Place in a large crock pot elevated off the bottom with a small rack or a few balls of aluminum foil.
- Cook on low until an internal temperature of 200° to 205° if possible. Don't stop under 190°.
- Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and rest for at least 15 minutes before shredding with forks.
This is a summary of the steps and ingredients. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.
✔️Tips for the best crock pot pulled pork
- Use a 3-4 pound pork butt, with or without bone. Bone-in may take a bit longer to cook.
- You will get 3-4 servings per pound. Large butts will take longer to cook, but it will work if it fits without touching the sides.
- Wet the pork with some liquid smoke (optional) and then apply a pork rub of your choice—a suggested rub is in the recipe card if you don't have one.
- Elevate to pork butt out of the drainage with a small rack or crumpled aluminum foil.
- Fat pad up or down does not matter.
- Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours until you reach 190°+ (200°-205° preferred.) You can cook on high, and it will decrease the cooking time by a few hours.
- Wrap tightly in heavy foil for 15 minutes or more before shredding.
Associated recipes you will love.
Check out other pork butt recipes, like Grilled Pork Butt, Oven Pulled Pork - Low and Slow Pork Butt, Oven Baked Pork Carnitas, and Crock Pot Carnitas. Also, see BBQ Dry Rub for Pork, Chipotle BBQ Dry Rub, or Memphis Dry Rub.
See the Pulled Pork Recipe Roundup for recipes for other meats like pork tenderloin and loin for pulled pork.
🍽️Serving Pulled Pork
The most common serving method is pulled pork sandwiches with buns or slices of bread but a pile of pork with some sauce on a plate if you want to skip the bread. Other options are casseroles, pork tacos, or pork enchiladas. But serve your pulled pork any way you want.
❓What BBQ sauce is best for pulled pork?
Barbecue sauce is a lot about personal taste. A sweeter BBQ sauce like Kansas City or Memphis sauce is excellent. There are also Carolina vinegar-based sauces and many Texas and other BBQ sauces. Use your favorite.
Try my homemade Memphis Barbecue Sauce. This sauce always disappears first at parties, and others are left untouched. I commonly use Gate's Kansas City sauce and Cooks Illustrated like Bull's-eye Original or Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce.
One quick reminder: do not reheat pork butt in BBQ sauce. The acid in it will destroy the texture of the pulled pork. Always add any sauce at the time of serving.
❄️How to store pulled pork.
Pulled pork is good refrigerated for 3-4 days, but two days is preferred since the texture suffers.
Sealed airtight in the freezer, leftovers will freeze well for 4 months. Many will freeze the pork in reheatable sealed bags and then reheat those in boiling water.
♨️How to reheat pulled pork.
Reheat pulled pork on a sheet pan in an oven. Sprinkle with water, apple juice, or chicken broth (don’t overdo it). Cover tightly with foil and into the oven at 250° to 300° until hot. The time varies by how you shredded it and the amount on the tray—usually about 45 minutes in the oven.
You can then turn the oven down (keep it covered) or transfer it to a crock pot on low to keep warm. I know that is not very exact, but you get the idea.
Never reheat pulled pork in or with sauce applied—the acid in the sauce will destroy the texture.
No, but good-quality liquid smoke enhances the results. You could also coat it with mustard if you want. Or use the dry rub alone.
If you use liquid smoke, please only use one with water and smoke listed as ingredients and nothing else. Cheap liquid will ruin this. I use Wright's.
No liquid is needed to cook pulled pork. It is unnecessary and will change the texture of the "bark" you are getting with the dry rub.
There must be some time for the fluid and melted connective tissue to reabsorb into the meat cells.
Wrap with foil, then a couple of towels, then let the fluid absorb for at least 15 minutes, but one hour is better.
To help timing, you can delay shedding time by 2-3 hours by wrapping the foil-sealed butt in multiple towels and a small cooler if you have one.
It's not a good idea—it will not shred well. It is better to shred correctly while hot.
Some crock pots won't do it. Do not try to shred pork butt that did not reach at least 185° because the connective tissue is not melted and will not be good. Get to 195°, but 200° to 205° is better.
You can move the pork butt to a 250°-300° oven on a tray and finish cooking uncovered in the oven.
🐖What are Boston butt, pork butt, and pork shoulder
Pork butt and Boston butt are the same thing and is the best cut of pork to make great pulled pork due to the fat, marbling, and connective tissue content. The clear plate is occasionally included with the pork butt and is prized for its moisture and tenderness.
Boston butt and pork shoulder are not the same things. To add to the confusion, the name "pork shoulder" also refers to a primal cut with two major subprimal parts, the Boston butt and the picnic shoulder (AKA pork shoulder.)
The pork butt is above the picnic shoulder in the pork shoulder primal cut. While the whole primal cut is well-marbled and tough meat, the butt area has more connective tissue to melt and is the cut of choice for pulled pork and carnitas.
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Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Start with a 3-4 pounds boneless or bone-in pork butt.
Prep a large crock pot with six balls of aluminum foil. Make about 2-inch balls of foil, then squish to 1 inch high and arrange in the bottom of the crock pot.
Use the dry rub of your choice or make the suggested rub. ½ cup dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Stir together in a small bowl.
Optional but recommended—pat dry the pork butt and then coat with about 2 tablespoons of good-quality liquid smoke.
Generously apply the rub. You could wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight at this point or cook it right away.
Place on the foil balls and cook on low undisturbed for 8-10 hours.
Bake until internal temp of 190° minimum—about 8-10 hours, but will vary some with the thickness of the meat and the crock pot. If you can reach 200°-205°, the results will be better. Remove from the crock pot onto a large sheet of heavy-duty foil.
Wrap tight with aluminum foil, then wrap with several towels. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes, but 2-3 hours is fine if wrapped well. Shred with forks. It will fall apart.
Serve as pulled pork sandwiches or any way you wish, like tacos or nachos.
Crock Pot Pulled Pork from Pork Butt
- 3-4 pounds Pork Butt, aka Boston Butt - boneless or bone-in
- 2 tablespoons liquid smoke - good quality
- 1 cup dry rub
My Rub if you don't have one
- ½ cup dark brown sugar - light will do
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt - I tend to decrease this some
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Start with a 3-4 pounds boneless or bone-in pork butt.
- Prep a large crock pot with six balls of aluminum foil. Make about 2-inch balls of foil, then squish to 1 inch high and arrange in the bottom of the crock pot.
- Use the dry rub of your choice or make the suggested rub. ½ cup dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Stir together in a small bowl.
- Optional but recommended—pat dry the pork butt and then coat with about 2 tablespoons of good-quality liquid smoke.
- Generously apply the rub. You could wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight at this point or cook it right away.
- Place on the foil balls and cook on low undisturbed for 8-10 hours.
- Bake until internal temp of 190° minimum—about 8-10 hours, but will vary some with the thickness of the meat and the crock pot. If you can reach 200°-205°, the results will be better. Remove from the crock pot onto a large sheet of heavy-duty foil.
- Wrap tight with aluminum foil, then wrap with several towels. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes, but 2-3 hours is fine if wrapped well. Shred with forks. It will fall apart.
- Serve as pulled pork sandwiches or any way you wish, like tacos or nachos.
Your Own Private Notes
- This is an all-day recipe.
- This is for about a 3-4 pound pork butt, but if it fits in the crock pot without touching the sides, it will work. But the time will be longer.
- Bone-in or boneless does not matter. And fat pad up or down does not matter.
- I suggest a good quality liquid smoke, but skip it if you want.
- Use a rub of your choice. I provided a suggested rub. You may decrease the salt if you want.
- Done is really 200°-205°, but some crock pots just can't get there. Don't settle for under 185° and try for at least 190° but higher is better.
- If your crock pot can not get to the correct temperature, move to a 250° oven on a tray with sides to finish.
- Do not shred immediately. Wrap with foil and let the fluid absorb for at least 15 minutes, but one hour is better.
- You can delay shedding time by 2-3 hours by wrapping the foil-sealed butt in multiple towels and a small cooler if you have one.
- Good refrigerated for 4 days, but I prefer 2 days since the texture seems to suffer. It will freeze well for 4 months.
- I like to reheat on a sheet pan, I sprinkle with a little water on my hand (don’t overdo it). Cover tightly with foil and into the oven at 250-300 until hot. The time varies by how you shredded it and the amount on the tray. You can then turn the oven down (keep it covered) or transfer it to a crock pot on low to keep warm. (usually 45 minutes or so in the oven for me). I know that is not very exact but you get the idea.
- Never reheat with sauce applied; the acid will destroy the texture.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published April 9, 2016. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.