Think of it as a smaller size crock pot version of pulled pork. Moist and tender, this shredded BBQ pork tenderloin is seasoned with a few spices and only takes a few hours in a crock pot. Super easy for even a beginner with these step-by-step photo instructions.
You will love this pulled pork for some great BBQ sandwiches. With most cuts of pork, you will end up with too much for most smaller households.
A lot of time, I just experiment with food, kind of like a chemistry lab but without the risk of explosion. But mostly, it will be recipes like this that are simple and logical.
My plan was to trim the pork tenderloin, cut it into chunks about 1-inch thick, spiced it, and then cooked it "dry." Shred and add it back into the liquid that came out during cooking.
So my logic for this was:
- A crock pot on high gets 200 plus degrees much faster than on low.
- Pork tenderloin is lean so low and slow is not needed. If you "overcook it" a bit in a moist environment it will shred easily.
- The amount of moisture in the tenderloin (usually a moist meat) would be about the right about to moisturizer it at the end of cooking.
It works great.
A nice strong 4.
A Pork Loin is NOT a pork tenderloin! The tenderloin refers to the psoas muscle along the lower back. It is chicken tenders in the chicken or beef tenderloin (filet mignon) in cattle.
The psoas muscle is generally the most tender cut since it is not used for movement.
Over the years on this blog, many commenters seem to get pork loin and tenderloin confused. It is obvious when they have a “4-pound pork tenderloin”. Please don't be that person.
A pork loin is much bigger and thicker than the 1 ½ pound tenderloin. They do not cook the same, and the problems most people are having seem to be the wrong cut of pork. If you have a loin, then please see https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/crock-pot-pulled-pork-loin/
The thickness of a mass of pork will affect the cooking time. You do not want to be piling the chunks on top of other chunks. Or if you do, cooking time will be longer. So try to keep it to a single layer to help the cooking time and even out the cooking.
So, the rule of thumb that a crock pot should be about 50% full doesn't apply here. If you produce a thick area of pork tenderloin in the crock pot, it will take longer to cook.
This works fine in a smaller crock pot. Bigger is OK.
If you do a double recipe, use a large crock pot.
The spicing is very nice for a BBQ pork sandwich. Feel free to change up the spice to your taste but be careful with salt. Remember the spicing in your sauce with any changes.
This is stores well refrigerated for 3-4 days. It will freeze well for 3-4 months.
Use the sauce you love. I like Gates of Kansas City. I also frequently use my homemade Memphis BBQ Sauce.
Do not add sauce until just before serving. The acid in the sauce will destroy the texture of the meat. So do not reheat or store shredded pork in sauce.
Like all recipes, there are some variables. Here it would be the meat and the crock pot.
First, let's address the meat. If the pork has been frozen, it may not contain as much moisture as a fresh tenderloin. Then add a bit of chicken broth at the start.
If the meat is cut thicker, not cut up at all, or piled up. You have a thicker mass to cook, and it will take longer. You need to cook until you can shred the pork with forks easily.
The second variable is the crock pot. This is the biggest issue.
A modern, properly working crock pot should not go over the boiling point (212°). The difference between high and low will be how fast it gets there.
Older crock pots may have been produced without a thermostat, or the thermostat may not be working well. Then the temperature of the crock pot may go much higher.
📖Crock Pot BBQ Recipes
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Start with a pork tenderloin. Trim off extra fat and the silver skin.
Cut into 5-6 about equal chunks.
Mix 2 teaspoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon each pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix well.
Add the spices to the tenderloin in a bowl and stir well to coat. You can add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke if you want at this point.
Place the meat in the bottom of a small crock pot. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Check the pork at 2 hours to see if it will shred easily. You may need to cook up to 1 hour longer.
Shred the meat and mix it back into the liquid in the crock pot. Let it cook another 15-20 minutes on high, and you are good to go.
Easy Crock Pot Shredded Pork Tenderloin
- 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin - one whole
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke - Wrights preferred - optional
- Start with a pork tenderloin. Trim off extra fat and the silver skin. Cut into 5-6 about equal chunks.
- Mix 2 teaspoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon each pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix well.
- Add the spices to the tenderloin in a bowl and stir well to coat. You can add 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke if you want at this point.
- Place the meat in the bottom of a small crock pot. Single layer if possible. Cook on high for 2-3 hours. Check the pork at 2 hours to see if it will shred easily. You may need to cook up to 1 hour longer.
- Shred the meat and mix it back into the liquid in the crock pot. Let it cook another 15-20 minutes on high and you are good to go.
- Be sure you use pork tenderloin and not pork loin for this recipe.
- You don’t have to cut the pork tenderloin into chunks but it will take longer to cook and you will end up with very long stands of pork after shredding.
- Bad liquid smoke is worse than no liquid smoke. Use Wright's or skip this ingredient.
- Try to keep the pork in a single layer to help faster, more even cooking.
- This fits nicely in a 3-4 quart crock pot. I suggest a large crock pot for a double batch.
- Add the BBQ sauce you like at serving but do not store or reheat the shredded pork in sauce. It will affect the texture.
- Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and frozen for 3-4 days.
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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Editors Note: Originally Published July 13, 2014. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.