One very popular family meal is my slow cooker pulled pork. And what really sets it all apart are the delicious pulled pork sandwich toppings! Got leftovers? Find leftover pulled pork recipes here.
Best cut of meat for pulled pork
If you are making pulled pork, you have several choices in meat cuts. The most common choice is the pork shoulder (bone in pork shoulder pictured below). It is the lower part of the pork shoulder and includes part of the front leg quarter. Because it includes part of the leg muscles, this cut needs more time to break down and tenderize.
Another popular cut of meat for pulled pork is a Boston butt, which is from the high part of the pig’s shoulder, above the shoulder blade, and not the actual butt of the pig. It has a lot of marbled fat, making it ideal for the grill and it includes part of the picnic shoulder.
The picnic shoulder, or picnic ham, is a shoulder cut with the shank attached. This cut is cheaper than the other cuts because it requires less work butchering it, and it contains more bone.
And finally, there’s the pork loin (not to be confused with the smaller tenderloin). The pork loin is a tender cut of meat and is very lean. This cut works well in the slow cooker, but is not first choice in making pulled pork.
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Best seasonings for pulled pork
You can add a number of different spices and ingredients into the crock-pot in order to make slow cooker pulled pork. One option is to coat the pork roast in a flavorful dry rub that includes paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and coriander.
Another option to simply season it with salt and pepper. And then a third option is to cook it in the slow cooker with a flavorful sauce. Some people like to use sodas like Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola to make pulled pork. For a touch of smokiness add some Liquid Smoke or Mesquite Powder.
Because I am cooking for my family of 5 and these 5 people have very distinct personal preferences, I keep it simple and save the big flavor with condiments after the pork roast is cooked. I add some onion slices, garlic and even bay leaves to the seasoned meat in the crock-pot.
How long do you cook pulled pork in the slow cooker?
The beauty of the crock-pot is that you cook a pork roast the way it was intended, low and slow. For 4-pound pork shoulder cook on low for 8-10 hours until the meat is fall apart tender. If you are cooking a larger hunk of meat, about 6-7 pounds, you will need to cook it on low for 10-12 hours.
We are talking about a BONELESS cut of meat. A bone-in pork roast is great on the grill to make a delicious smoked pulled pork. You can cut the cooking time in half if you cook on high heat, but for the best results use low temperature on the slow cooker.
The roast is fall apart tender when it reaches an internal temperature of 205ºF. Once done, transfer roast to a large cutting board or baking sheet. Shred the meat with two forks, shredder claws or wear heavy duty silicone gloves and shred with your hands, removing any chunks of fat as you shred.
If you want you want to crisp up the slow cooker pulled pork, place the shredded meat in a shallow roasting pan or baking sheet and cook in the oven under a broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin to crisp up.
The best toppings for your pulled pork sandwich
It goes without saying that my family eats a lot of pulled pork. It’s a cheap meal to prepare and so very versatile. You can serve up your slow cooker pulled pork as the classic sandwich or make them into tacos. Mix your favorite barbecue sauce in with the shredded meat or serve it on the side.
Some great side dishes for pulled pork sandwiches include mango coleslaw, cider vinegar potato salad, garlic smashed potatoes, seasoned curly fries, french fries, potato chips, steamed asparagus, corn on the cob and baked beans.
How to build the ultimate pulled pork sandwich
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a pulled pork sandwich is Memphis-style, topped with some tangy coleslaw and served with a big fat dill pickle. The beauty of this meal is that you can customize it anyway you want.
To build your ultimate pulled pork sandwich, consider the following toppings:
- Dill pickles
- Jalapeño slices
- Red onion slices
- Onion rings
- Grilled bell peppers
- Avocado slices
- Mango slices
- Pineapple slices
- Pickled onions
- Pickled okra
- Cheddar cheese
- Radish sprouts
- Green onions