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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

This Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork recipe is the key to smoky, tender pulled pork without a smoker. The slow cooker creates the most flavorful, juicy pulled pork!

Three BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with pickles and shredded purple cabbage on a black slate serving board.
You can have smoky, tender pulled pork without a smoker using this easy slow cooker recipe!

1-minute Video: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Why This Recipe Stands Out

There’s just nothing like easy slow cooker recipes that give delicious results. Here’s why you’ll love this:

Key Recipe Ingredients

Overhead shot of ingredients to make slow cooker BBQ pulled pork on a dark surface.
  • Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt – We use a 4-5 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt for its rich, juicy, and flavorful meat. Do not trim prior to cooking, as it needs some fat.
  • Dry Rub – Our dry rub is key in infusing the pork with delicious flavors. It includes brown sugar, paprika, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Cola or Root Beer – We use 2 cups of cola or root beer to tenderize the pork and add a subtle sweet and tangy flavor.
  • Liquid Smoke – It gives our pulled pork that classic smoky flavor as if it was cooked low and slow in a smoker.
  • Honey BBQ Sauce – We use Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey BBQ Sauce for a sweet and tangy finish to our pulled pork. Feel free to use your favorite brand.

Substitutions and variations

Here are a few of our favorite twists on this classic slow cooker BBQ pulled pork:

  • The Meat: While we recommend pork shoulder or butt, you can also use a pork loin as long as it has enough fat on it. The fattier cuts will yield a juicier and more flavorful result.
  • The Liquid: The sweetness of the cola or root beer really complements the savory flavors of the pork, but if you prefer, you can substitute it with chicken or beef broth. Apple juice or apple cider would also work well here.
  • The Sauce: While we love the honey BBQ sauce, feel free to use your favorite regular BBQ sauce or try making our own version like we do in this recipe for Ribs in the Oven with Blueberry BBQ Sauce.

step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Mix the dry rub ingredients together and pat it generously onto the pork. Let the pork sit in the fridge overnight.
  2. Place the pork in the slow cooker with cola or root beer, liquid smoke, and water. Cook on low for 10 hours.
  1. Shred the pork and skim off the fat from the juices. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker.
  2. Add BBQ sauce and some of the reserved juices to the pork. Cook for an additional 30-60 minutes and serve.

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How to Prep Ahead

Take a look at our favorite prep ahead tips for this Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork:

  • Dry Rub: You can make the dry rub for the pork shoulder days in advance. Mix all the dry rub ingredients together and store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.
  • Season the Pork: After making the dry rub, go ahead and season the pork shoulder. Rub the dry rub generously all over the meat, then wrap it tightly in foil and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful pulled pork.
  • Make Ahead and Freeze: You can also make the entire pulled pork recipe in advance. Simply follow the recipe and then freeze for up to 3 months.
Two slow cooker BBQ pulled pork sandwiches on buns with sliced pickles and red onions, placed on a green surface.
Create the most flavorful BBQ pulled pork using a slow cooker and some pantry staple ingredients!

What to serve with slow cooker BBQ pulled pork


  • You can’t go wrong with a pulled pork sandwich! Serve it with buns, purple cabbage, red onions, coleslaw, or dill pickles.
  • Try our Easy Dinner Rolls (Less Than 1 Hour) as a fresh-from-the-oven option!

Side Dishes

Salads and Vegetables

Commonly asked questions

What cut of meat is best for pulled pork?

For the juiciest and most flavorful pulled pork, we recommend using a pork shoulder or pork butt. These cuts have a good amount of fat and connective tissue, which will break down during the long, slow cooking process, resulting in tender, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork.

How do I know when the pulled pork is done?

The pulled pork is done when it’s so tender that it easily shreds with a fork. This usually happens after about 10 hours of cooking on low in the slow cooker.

How long does slow cooker BBQ pulled pork keep?

Properly stored in an airtight container, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze pulled pork?

You can freeze cooked pulled pork in airtight containers for up to 2 months.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

slow cooker pulled pork sandwich.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

5 from 20 ratings
You can have smoky, tender pulled pork without a smoker. Your slow cooker can create the most flavorful pulled pork for dinner!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 11 hours
Servings: 12
Author: Amy Dong


For Dry Rub

For Pulled Pork

  • 4-5 lbs pork shoulder, or pork butt
  • 2 cups cola, or root beer
  • 3 TB liquid smoke
  • ¼ cup water
  • 30-36 oz honey BBQ sauce, depending on how saucy you want it (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)


  • Make dry rub by mixing first 7 ingredients together.  This can be made days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.
  • Using paper towels, dry pork on all sides to remove all excess moisture. Press dry rub generously onto pork, on all sides.  Wrap pork tightly in double foil and let sit overnight in fridge.
  • Remove foil from pork and set evenly in slow cooker.  Pour in 2 cups cola or root beer and 3 TB liquid smoke.  Add 1/4 cup water.  Cover slow cooker and cook on low for about 10 hours.
  • Remove and shred pork.  Reserve cooked pork juices into separate bowl and skim off fat.  Put shredded pork back into slow cooker. 
  • Add in desired amount of BBQ sauce. Add as much of the reserved pork juices as desired.  I use half or more. The meat will soak up a lot of the moisture. Once it is to your liking, cook on low another 30-60 minutes.
  • Serve with buns, purple cabbage, red onions, coleslaw, or dill pickles.


  • This Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork recipe is best made with pork shoulder or butt. These cuts have enough fat to keep the meat moist and tender during the long cooking process.
  • Dry rub is key. It not only adds flavor but also helps form a delicious crust on the pork. Make sure to massage the rub into the meat, covering all sides before letting it rest overnight. 
  • Adding cola or root beer works wonders. The acidity and sweetness help break down the tough fibers in the pork and keep it juicy.
  • Serve this dish with Easy Ranch Potato Salad and Brown Sugar Baked Beans for the perfect meal. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 794mg | Potassium: 515mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 261IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Method: Slow Cooker

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