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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

It’s 8:00 a.m.  We leave for South Africa tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. Normal people would be packing now, maybe refilling prescriptions, suspending newspaper subscriptions.  That is what normal people would be doing. I am making Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Loin.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

Pork Loin BBQ Pulled Pork

Because I had a pork loin in the fridge, and there was no way in hell I was tossing that baby out. Freeze it?  Reasonable thought.  But there were actually two pork loins in the fridge I was dealing with (don’t ask), so one got frozen, and the other was to become dinner.  Also, I had already brined it earlier in the week.  And after all, one last home cooked meal for two weeks seemed like the right thing to do.

I know.   We all try to consider these depression era-esque impulses part of my charm.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

I was getting ready to roast it, and then a package of hamburger buns revealed themselves, and after that all I could think about was pulled pork. But pork loin is a much more lean cut of pork that the shoulder or butt usually used for pulled pork or carnitas, so I figured maybe the slow cooker could help work some magic, and if the meat—which would be already more tender from the brining process (see Notes)—was cooked in the barbecue sauce itself, in a low and slow environment it would become as tender as a fattier cut of meat.

While the pork was doing its thing we ran around packing and doing last minute errands, and pretty much yelling at each other—I hope my household isn’t the only one that feels like it’s going to erupt into flames before a big trip.

In this Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Loin recipe a pork loin is slow cooked in barbecue sauce, and it becomes as tender as all heck.

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Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

If you ask my kids, I’m not right that much at all.  In fact, it’s more like a lunar eclipse, the frequency of my rightness. But my little peanut gallery conceded that this time, I got it right.  The meat became fall-apart tender, and I shredded it with two fork right into the crockpot, so it got mixed in with the barbecue sauce and the cooking juices.  I have also made it in a crockpot without brining the meat first, and frankly it was pretty much as tender.

What to Serve with Pulled Pork Loin

Tropical Fruit Salsa was the perfect match for this meat piled up on a bun.  But you could use any salsa, and you should play around with options.   Here are 8 Fruit Salsas to Change Things Up! Also try Carrot Celeriac Remoulade. This slow cook bbq pulled pork was terrific at a later, less hectic meal with Caesar Salad and also a chickpea salad.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

P.S. The barbecue sauce comes together super fast, and you will have leftover sauce for drizzling on the sandwiches and also for using in other things later in the week.  Use jarred barbecue sauce if you want it make it stupidly easy.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork

More Slow Cooker Recipes:

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Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork Loin

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
Crock pot plus BBQ sauce plus pork loin equal a great easy pulled pork dinner.



For the Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard mustard
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • kosher salt to taste
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

For the Pork

  • 1 3-pound pork loin brined (see Notes), and cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 large carrots thinly sliced
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 6 to 8 hamburger rolls to serve
  • Salsa of your choice to serve, I used Tropical Fruit Salsa


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, onion powder, chili powder, pepper, salt, cloves, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently, so the flavors meld nicely.
  • Place the pork in the slow cooker, and add the carrots, onion and garlic, then pour in 1 ½ cups of the sauce and stir to combine. Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Take two forks and use them to pull apart the meat right in the cooking liquid.  This should be very, very easy.   Toss the meat so it gets well coated with the sauce and juices.  Remove it with a slotted spoon.
  • Pile the meat on the buns and serve with additional sauce and the salsa of your choice.


Brining Pork Loin:

The most basic reason for brining is to add moisture and flavor to meat, especially lean meats that tends to get dry when cooked, such as turkey or pork loin.   The most basic brine is just water with salt and sugar dissolved in it.  And then you can add whatever you like in terms of seasonings, from simple peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves, to lemongrass, herbs, and citrus zest.  
Basic Brine Recipe
  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • ½ cup kosher or coarse salt
  1. In a large container (big enough to hold the pork loin), pour in 1 cup very hot water.  Stir in the sugar and salt.  Stir until the sugar and salt are pretty well dissolved.  Add 7 cups of very cold water and stir to combine.  Submerge the pork loin in the mixture.  Keep it covered in the refrigerator for 4 to 16 hours, then take it out and pat dry with paper towels before proceeding with the recipe.


Calories: 351.77kcal, Carbohydrates: 36.02g, Protein: 34.12g, Fat: 6.92g, Saturated Fat: 1.98g, Cholesterol: 85.73mg, Sodium: 664.11mg, Potassium: 788.7mg, Fiber: 1.43g, Sugar: 20.45g, Vitamin A: 2343.67IU, Vitamin C: 4.61mg, Calcium: 76.29mg, Iron: 2.14mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Hi Katie,
    I am in my retirement years and my wife no longer cooks! Although I have cooked all my life, I like to now take a little bit of 1 recipe and add from 1 or more to make it mine. I must say yours for the pulled pork reminded me of what we made at boy scout cookouts. Since I didn’t have brown sugar I improvised and used grape jelly, 1 whole onion minced, minced garlic and some ground barbecue rub on my pork!
    My wife is looking forward to tonight’s dinner.
    Thanks for the recipe.

  2. What is the purpose of the carrots? And are they removed at the end or mixed in with the shredded meat?

  3. I had a bone in pork loin roast in my freezer that I didn’t want to go to waste. As with this chef, it’s not what I had in mind when I bought it but this is what I had time for today.

    I had never made my own bar-b-que sauce and always wanted to try……….made this one and it is EASY and AMAZING !! I lucked up and had all the ingredients at my house so that was even better!

    I will make this bar-b-que sauce and keep in my frig from here forward. I LOVE IT !!!!

  4. Hmmm. No notes, no sides… little extra tidbits can be found on any your recipes. Is it because we readers are on our tablets? Haven’t all we kitchen kaptives discovered how lovely it is that we can take our recipes into our kitchen space now that we have extreme portability! Methinks it is time for the webmaster to rethink the code, most likely. Because everyone knows you have to take sides!

  5. Please please add the Notes you refer to.. They are still missing! How long do I brine this baby??!! I HATE winging it with food for dinner!!!!

  6. So where are the “Notes”, …about the brining? Maybe there’s a Notes section on the web site? I’ll keep looking

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