Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

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Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork is a favorite at our house because 1) It’s super easy to make, 2) It’s super delicious, and 3) It makes a large quantity. Yay for leftovers! I made this pulled pork with an Eastern North Carolina-style sauce. Yes, pulled pork is serious business in North Carolina and there are different styles depending on the part of the state.

Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork on slider buns with slaw.


Easterners like their pulled pork with a thin, vinegary sauce that’s very tangy and peppery. It tastes wonderful on a sandwich with a creamy, sweet coleslaw to balance out the tang.

Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork


When I don’t feel like making my own coleslaw, I swing by the drive-thru at Bojangles and pick up a large container of their coleslaw. It’s much better than the prepared coleslaw at the grocery store. If you don’t have Bojangles near you, try the coleslaw at KFC or Popeye’s.

Carolina-Style Pulled Pork on slider buns with coleslaw.


When I cook pulled pork in the crock pot, I pretty much make 2 sauces and the first one ends up getting discarded. You’ll want a sauce to flavor the pork while it cooks, but Boston Butt releases so much fat into the slow cooker, it’s swimming in fatty liquid by the time it’s done cooking. The best way to get rid of this fat is to dump most of the liquid out and add a new sauce to the cooked pork. Then you have fully flavored pork, that’s not too greasy. Whether you serve this pork with baked beans and corn, or on a sandwich with coleslaw, it’s a super easy and flavorful meal that will fill your families bellies.

Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Try These Other Pulled Pork Recipes:

Watch the short video below to see how easy this recipe is to make:

Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork on slider buns with slaw.

Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: crock pot pulled pork, pulled pork
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 405kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
A moist and tender, slow-cooked pulled pork with a Carolina-style, vinegar based BBQ sauce.
Print Recipe


  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 (4 to 6-pound) Boston Butt, with or without bone
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Place chopped onion on bottom of a slow cooker.
  • Trim excess fat from Boston Butt and place in slow cooker on top of onions.
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour on top of pork. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
  • Combine all ingredients for BBQ Sauce in a medium saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove pork from slow cooker (after 8-10 hours) and place in a large bowl. Use forks to shred the meat.
  • Discard the majority of liquid in the slow cooker. Return meat to slow cooker and add BBQ Sauce. Cover and cook on low 30 minutes. Serve.


You can use boneless or bone-in Boston Butt. If you use bone-in, the bone can be easily removed once the pork is cooked.


Calories: 405kcal

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

56 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

  1. This is really excellent. I’ve lived my whole life in the Carolinas but it feels empowering to be able to make my own ‘cue instead of always having to go out for it. I do add liquid smoke to the cooking sauce and it provides a nice enhancement although it would never be confused with genuinely smoked meat. The ketchup-heavy sauce recipe would actually qualify as “Lexington style”, which is common to the Piedmont Triad area. The further west you go, the thicker and sweeter the sauce gets. I’m more fond of eastern N.C. style, so I blend cider and white vinegar, cut the ketchup in half and add a little water. The sugar also helps cut the acidity. I usually double my sauce recipe so I have some left over to bottle up as a table condiment.

  2. If you add ketchup to the sauce, you have made western Carolina sauce. Eastern style does not use any tomato product. Usually they use equal parts white and apple cider vinegar as well. Sugar or honey is optional.

  3. I THIS is just awesome!!! I have made this a few times and it comes out perfect every time. My family and friends love it! As a Southerner I can tell you this is true Carolina bbq!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  4. This has become my “go to” recipe for pulled pork. I made it for a party a year ago, and it still gets raves from family and friends.

  5. Cooked it in an instant pot on low for 8:50. Meat was at most partially cooked. I don’t know if it’s becuase our Boston butt was bone in or if were doing something else wrong.

    1. Try upping the time to 12 minutes. Add 3minute increments until desired tenderness is achieved. Then finish with the BBQ sauce on saute mode, stirring frequently until BBQ is at the consistency you want.

    2. The instant pot has 3 slow cook settings. Low is equivalent to keep warm. Select the medium option for low and high when you want high.

  6. Hi! We’re from up north and decided to make this recipe for the Fourth of July (it’s cooking as I write this). The instructions say to cook on low for 8-10 hours. We’re using an instant pot so we put the setting to slow cooker, put the heat to “less” and turned venting on. We checked it after about 8 hours and 50 minutes and the meat was at the most, partially cooked. I’m wondering if this was because we used bone in Boston butt or if our instant pot’s low setting isn’t hot enough. Do you have an idea of what we might have done wrong?😅

    1. My IP never cook properly when i use slow cook. I use my regular crockpot/slow cooker. Just finish making this recipe and it is fabulous. I can say this because i was born and raisedbon NC pork barbeque.

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  8. OMG! I had my laugh for the day reading the comment from Gerry in Oregon. Thank you Rachael for your thoughts. If the intent was to place the excess fat on top of the onions, the meat would not have had to have been trimmed, now would it Gerry.
    However, quite yummy. My new favorite pulled pork recipe!

  9. Hi Christina, I made this pulled pork and gosh! it was nice. My wife took it to her office for the potluck and won first prize! I did make some modifications, like adding caramelized leftover onions from the crockpot (I had to put the drained remains from the crock in a flat pan until onions got fully caramelized and almost burnt), modified the ratio of ketchup to apple cider vinegar a bit. Also added a little dried Thyme and Basil. I also increased the garlic to two portions.
    I usually cook Indian food pretty well and am the main cook in my family.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  10. I’ve made this recipe once before and it was delicious. I’m making it again, using the same cut – pork shoulder butt with the bone. Does it matter if it’s bone side down in the pot? Should I flip it over halfway through? I can’t remember what I did the last time. It’s in my crock pot now, bone side down.

  11. This recipe is the bomb!!!! I cooked this in my Instant Pot with chicken instead of pork and added a dash of liquid smoke afterwards! LOVE Carolina style bbq! I can’t wait to do this with pork or beef!!!

  12. Thank you for this recipe!! I haven’t had Carolina bbq since I moved away from North Carolina YEARS ago. This was just what I’d been missing!!

  13. “Trim excess fat from Boston Butt and place in slow cooker on top of the onions”
    I’m confused. I trim the excess fat from the Butt and place the FAT in the crockpot on top of the onions? Please clarify….gerry in Oregon

      1. Honestly if you can’t logically come to that conclusion then I’m curious how you survive in life. Much less cook in the kitchen

          1. i think Rachel’s comment was appropriate. because of guys like Gerry, common sense is not so common anymore.

        1. Wow Rachel, you’re a real winner aren’t you……have you never been young and learning to cook or maybe from a home where you weren’t exposed to home cooking, or did you plop out with a chef hat on?? At any rate being nice is something you should aspire to.

      2. Thank you for that reply Christin, some people didn’t grow up cooking along side their mom (or grandpa like you). We all have to learn and I’m glad Gerry asked that question because what it showed was a pure desire to learn in her, and bitterness and unhappiness in those that responded rudely to her.

  14. Way too much vinegar for this easterner. The acidity of this quantity of vinegar actually dries the pork out, so I made a second BBQ batch and married the two for a just-right flavor profile…not too sweet, not too acidic. Accompanied by kohlrabi coleslaw with a wicked bite, and served atop our guests’ choice of cornbread jalapeno waffles or pumpkin waffles.

  15. I like vinegar based pulled pork, but with my acid reflux, I u sed rice vinegar ( less acidic); everything else was followed as written. The pork smelled amazing by the 6th hour. It was hard to wait 3 more hours to taste.
    Remember, I used the lowest acidic vinegar, but I’d have to say this was way too vinegary. You absolutely have to have the coleslaw on the sandwich to cut down the sharpness of the vinegar.
    That being said, the meat came out perfect. I am definitely going to make this again but will cut down on the vinegar in the sauce

  16. Loved this Carolina style. I bet if you represent this to anyone. He or She, actually both of them will love you 🙂
    Excellent recipe.

  17. I followed the instructions for the most part, ran out of ketchup and subbed in barbecue sauce for it on the second batch.

    The whole family really liked the pulled barbecue and that goes for me too. I’m not a big fan of the heavy vinegar barbecues, but this was not overwhelming in vinegar and when I had added the coleslaw along with hot sauce this sandwich was perfect . I have never had meat so tender!!

    I will say that while I was pulling the meat apart I was also paying attention to the fatty areas and removing that fat also.

  18. This is very similar to the way I make BBQ in my crock pot. I have also used my slow cooker too for bigger amounts. And slaw is a must. My husband is from Phoenix and prefers the BBQ sauce version. I’m NC native so vinegar base is for me. I’ve never added honey before but will try it. Off to the store so will look for meat sales and hopefully can pick up a Boston butt or picnic shoulder so to make this tonight. This is a keeper.

  19. How about adding a dash of liquid smoke to the cooking broth to give it a hint of the smoker? I’ll try that. But I love the idea of BBQ that isn’t drowning in sweet. Of course, here in Texas EVERYTHING is either smoked or sugared up or both LOL.

  20. Ready to this started. A little back story, my neighbor is from North Carolina and claims he cannot find good BBQ here in Virginia, I plan to prove him wrong using your recipe. Will let you know it turns out..

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