Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest or food blogs, you’ve likely come across a recipe for three-ingredient barbecue pulled pork that can be made in the slow cooker. Methods and ingredients vary, but the recipe almost always calls for boneless pork shoulder, some sort of dark cola (usually Dr Pepper or root beer) and barbecue sauce. Dubious? We were too, so we asked the members of our NYT Cooking Community Facebook page if anyone had ever made it and if they liked it. We received more than 150 very opinionated responses. Many readers have come up with their own clever twists, like using coffee or beer in place of cola, adding onions or chipotles, rubbing the meat with a spice blend and searing the meat before cooking. We tried cooking it a few different ways and found we liked this adaptation best. It calls for a few more ingredients and an extra step or two, but it’s got layers of flavor and it’s still mostly fuss-free. (You can find the pressure-cooker version of this recipe here.)
- Serves: 6 persons
- 1tablespoon garlic powder
- 1tablespoon onion powder
- 2teaspoons hot or sweet smoked paprika
- 2teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 1teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- 3to 4 pound boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, trimmed of most of its excess fat
- 2tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing
- 1yellow onion, chopped (optional)
- 1(12-ounce) can dark soda, like Dr Pepper, root beer, cola or birch beer
- ½to 1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce
- Hot sauce (optional)
Step 1In a small bowl, combine the garlic and onion powders, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork. If you have time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight. If you don’t, no worries; proceed to Step 2.
Step 2Lightly grease the crock of a slow cooker. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sear the pork until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes each side. Add onion, if using, to the slow cooker. Add the pork on top of the onion. Pour soda over the pork and set the slow cooker to low for 6 to 8 hours, until the meat has collapsed and shreds easily.
Step 3Drain most of the liquid from the slow cooker and shred the meat directly in the pot. Add about 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce and stir to combine. (At this point, if you like crisp bits in your pulled pork, you can spread the shredded pork on a sheet pan and place under a broiler for a couple minutes then return to the slow cooker.) Taste and add more barbecue sauce, hot sauce, salt or pepper, if desired. Serve with soft rolls and extra sauce on the side.