Pull out the slow cooker and whip up this divine BBQ pulled pork recipe with a tantalizingly good homemade sauce.
First came the cooler temperatures — not cold exactly, but cool enough that we find ourselves reaching for sweaters and sweatshirts more and more. Then came the frost, which we had warning of so I could pluck the last of the season’s tomatoes from the vines. And then, finally, came first few yellow leaves. That’s when we had to accept that the season is shifting.
In Maine, summer brings long, lingering days for a short time. It’s warm — sometimes downright hot — but it doesn’t last that long. So this onset of autumn signals the end of the summer’s laziness. And it signals the time for comforting meals to warm our bodies from within.
This recipe for homemade BBQ Pulled Pork is the kind of comfort food I love to make at this time of year. Plus, it’s perfect for meal prep. I can whip up a batch on the weekend for us to enjoy all week in sandwiches, on mashed potatoes, with fried eggs for breakfast and on nachos.
The trick to good pulled pork is letting it cook enough that it can be shredded easily. This recipe recommends using the slow cooker’s low setting for this, but if you are in a rush, you could cook it for six hours on high for good results.
For this recipe, you are making your own BBQ sauce — or barbecue sauce, if you prefer that term. It’s rich and tangy with just the right amount of smoke and sweetness. But don’t fret — it’s super easy to make. Just stir together the tomato paste, light brown sugar, liquid smoke and other ingredients and spread it all over the pork but in the slow cooker.
Wait, what is liquid smoke?
Wait, you aren’t sure what liquid smoke is? Ahh! That’s an easy one.
Liquid smoke is typically found near the condiments in the grocery store and most major ones carry it. It’s a liquid that carries the flavor of smoke without the smoker. And it adds so much to sauces like this one. Just don’t use more than instructed — it can get pretty pungent when overused.
What cut of pork should I use?
You’ll want to use pork shoulder for this, which comes in several cuts including Boston butt. It will be cook nicely and shred easily.
How hard is this recipe?
Not hard. You need a slow cooker (sometimes called a Crockpot, which is a popular brand of slow cookers), a bowl and spoon and two forks. Oh, and a bit of patience.
This BBQ Pulled Pork recipe will ask you to handle the raw meat, mix the sauce and then spread it all over. It will also ask you to shred the pork with two forks once it’s cooked. But that’s pretty much it. The recipe really handles itself.
- 3 lb boneless pork shoulder
- 6-oz can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Place the pork shoulder into the slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, water, brown sugar, liquid smoke, paprika, garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt and pepper. Pour over the pork.
- Set the slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours until fall-apart tender. I prefer the longer cooking time for maximum tenderness.
- Pull the pork loin out and break apart with two forks into shreds. Return to the slow cooker and stir with the sauce. Serve.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.