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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I’ve always loved to cook, but that doesn’t mean I love cooking every meal, every day!

There are times when I don’t mind spending an afternoon on a more elaborate dish, like my low-carb zucchini lasagne, but most days I just want to get a meal on the table and spend my time actually eating it!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is perfect for those days when you want to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible! (Or when work – or life – gets in the way of your intention to cook.)

I’m talking about Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.

It’s full of flavor, loaded with micronutrients (hello collagen/glycine, zinc, selenium, vitamin B6 and so much more), and takes maybe 5 minutes of prep work if you follow my slow cooker method.

This recipe has gone through many variations over the years, and what I’ve settled on takes the least amount of effort, but still tastes fantastic.

Given the ease—and the micronutrients it contains—slow cooker pulled pork is an excellent meal for pregnancy and postpartum recovery.

Of course, pulled pork often accompanies not-the-healthiest things (buns, barbeque sauce, etc,), so be sure to read below the recipe to learn my go-to healthy, but still yummy, side dishes to complete the meal.

I have to say, this is one of the few slow cooker pulled pork recipes that does not need barbeque sauce to taste good. I repeat, this recipe does not need barbeque sauce to taste good! (Please, taste test it first!)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

  • 1 4-6 lb pork butt or shoulder (ideally, from a pasture-raised pig)
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce/tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (yellow or dijon)


  1. Place onions in the slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.
  3. Rub mixture over roast and place the roast in the crock-pot.
  4. In another bowl, combine your sweetener of choice, apple cider vinegar, tamari, and mustard. Pour over roast.
  5. Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-10 hours (time will vary based on your slow cooker). Alternatively, cook in a covered oven-safe baking dish in the oven at 250-300 F.
  6. It’s done when the meat easily “pulls apart” with two forks.

Instant Pot

  1. To make this recipe in the Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker), combine ingredients as above, cover, seal the pressure vent, cook for 90 minutes on high pressure (press "manual," set at 90 minutes), allow natural pressure release.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: This recipe is also fantastic with grass-fed beef roast if you're not a fan of pork.

Leftovers (if there are any) freeze extremely well!

slow cooker pulled pork with onions

slow cooker pulled pork spices

slow cooker pulled pork

slow cooker pulled pork

slow cooker pulled pork

slow cooker pulled pork

Healthier ways to serve pulled pork:

Now I’d love to hear from you.

  • Have you tried making pulled pork? How’d it turn out?
  • What’s your favorite side to serve with it?

Until next week,

PS – As I mentioned, this dish is excellent for postpartum recoveryHigh collagen foods are emphasized across almost all traditional cultures. In some parts of China, pig’s feet soup is one of the first meals brought to mamas. In Korea, it’s seaweed soup made in a base of beef bone broth. In parts of South and Central America, it’s slow cooked chicken soup. I could go on and on.

During postpartum healing, collagen is especially helpful for healing your connective tissue, your skin which has stretched (beyond the point of comprehension, might I add!), tears/surgical wounds, and supporting your uterus as it shrinks back to its prepregnancy size. (For a more science-y breakdown on this, see Ch 3 & 12 of Real Food for Pregnancy).

It’s nourishing, it tastes good, and it can be eaten with one hand (because inevitably, baby is hungry or needs to be held right when it’s meal time).

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. Ok… Can I say I LOVE you? This looks amazing and my family is going to LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • You bet they will! Slow cooker pulled pork is always a crowd pleaser, Melissa.

  2. Cheers to pulled pork! Can you remind us of your genius ways to make coleslaw ? My fave too!

  3. This looks amazing! I love pulled pork, but I have always hated the unhealthy sauces and sides. Thanks!

    • I’m with ya, Allison. I love pairing pulled pork with a bright, fresh vegetable dish. Helps balance out all the richness of the pork. 🙂

  4. I need this in my life ASAP! This looks delicious, thanks for the recipe!

  5. Hey, this sounds tasty…

    … I don’t know why I’m still sitting here typing, hold on while I go to the freezer…

    … Ok now the pork is in the fridge, ready to cook this tomorrow! Yummy.

    • Psst, Laura – you can throw the frozen pork right in the crock pot and get it going now if you’d like. It’ll only take an hour or two extra in the slow cooker. 🙂

  6. I love slow-cooker pork! It’s one of the few things I can cook – cause it’s so easy. My recipe is a bit easier: put pork shoulder, garlic, key lime juice and Goya Mojo sauce in cooker in the morning, eat in the evening. (OK, there’s a bit of reduction in there too.)

    • Yeah, I’ve also made simpler versions of this recipe, which is good, but not as good!

      For my food sensitivity clients who can’t have many spices at the beginning, just salt, onions, and pork does the job.

  7. How might we translate this deliciousness to the instant pot? Thanks!

    • Hit the “manual” button. 90 minutes on high pressure, allow natural pressure release if possible. Enjoy! If the roast is on the bigger side (6+ pounds), you might cut it in half or increase the cook time to 120 minutes to be sure it cooks to fork-tender.

      • Lovely, thank you!

  8. If I cook this in the instant pot is there really enough liquid? There usually has to be at least 1 cup of liquid so that it will seal and cook properly and it looks like your recipe calls for only a few tablespoons.

    • Yep, there’s plenty of liquid that comes out of the pork and onion as it heats up. I’ve never once had an issue. By the time it’s done cooking, half the pot is filled with a rich broth.

  9. Thank you for all these recipes. I’m putting a few meals in the freezer for postpartum. I have a 3.8 pound bone in pork butt but it’s FROZEN. How should I adjust the cooking time?

    What do you recommend to do with the broth?

  10. Amazing recipe!!! Turned out perfect with the pork and buckwheat honey from my y farm. Thank you for creating a great recipe that was low prep and packed with TONS of flavour!!!

  11. Is it relatively sweet? I love a decent amount of sweetness on my pulled pork but as you said, BBQ sauces can be overly so and calorie laden.

  12. First of all, Lily, your book and recipes have been AMAZING! My favorites are the shepherds pie and meatloaf- I FEEL healthier after eating it, and I love watching my two oldest kids (my picky eaters) gobble it down. I feel like an evil genius getting them to eat veggies AND liver and they have no idea LOL! Six weeks postpartum today with my fourth little one, and wishing I had known about your book 8 years ago!

    But for a family like ours, would this pulled pork recipe work with beef? Just curious if you/anyone has tried it. We keep kosher, so I haven’t tried this recipe.

    Thank you so much for your work!

  13. Thanks so much Lily! Huge hit at dinner time in this household. Was a bit worried about the amount of liquid, but it was perfect. Take care, Hannah

  14. This is absolutely delicious! I’ve made it a bunch of times and I’m never totally sure what to do with the liquid at the end. So, do I remove the meat and shred in a separate dish? Or do I shred the meat within the liquid of the crockpot and then remove the meat? (Am I over complicating this? Haha…) thank you so much!!

  15. Can I make this with a frozen pork butt or does it need to be thawed first?

    • You can, but the cooking time will be several hours longer (if slow cooking). If using an electric pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot, you’ll likely need an extra 30 min at high pressure.

  16. Hi! Do you recommend using the leftover juices for anything?? Like a broth or something? LOVED this recipe!!

    • You can use the juices to braise vegetables in or add at the end of a sauté. Super delicious!

  17. Delicious, easy, and my husband loved it even without BBQ sauce, served with roasted broccoli & mashed potatoes. I so appreciate your work that you share, including yummy recipes like this!

  18. I love roasting a bunch of small-ish sweet potatoes to make boats and stuff them with pulled pork. I’ll top it with sautéed garlic + arugula, maybe some minced olives, avocado, and some sort of sauce – pesto is my go-to (when I used to make it with black beans instead of the pork I’d use lemon tahini sauce, that could be good too)

  19. I make this to deliver to my friends whenever they have a baby and it’s a big hit! Have it going in the crockpot now for us, we LOVE this recipe!

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