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Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

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

A moist and tender, slow-cooked pulled pork with a Carolina-style, vinegar based BBQ sauce.
PREP: 20 mins
COOK: 8 hrs 30 mins
TOTAL: 8 hrs 50 mins
SERVINGS: 8

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcal
Author: Christin Mahrlig
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: crock pot pulled pork, pulled pork

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58 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Carolina-Style Pulled Pork”

  1. As you said, they take their BBQ serious in north Carolina. This is Lexington style, not Eastern North Carolina style. Lexington style is a tomatoe vinegar base. Eastern North Carolina is a vinegar only base, no tomatoes. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    1. I agree with you. My father who was born and raised in Raleigh NC often made his family style BBQ or pulled pork as some call it. Never ever did he (and now his children) add any Ketchup or tomatoes to it.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. This is very true. I lived in Eastern South Carolina And there was no tomato in it, but this is good.

  4. 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.

  5. Terry M Faith

    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.

  6. Luca Michelucci

    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.

  7. Luca Michelucci

    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. Christin Mahrlig

      I don’t really have any experience using the Instant Pot as a slow cooker so I’m not really sure what went wrong. The bone shouldn’t have been an issue.

    2. 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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  9. suzanne pouliot

    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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!!!

  13. 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!!

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