Crockpot Pulled Pork: 1 Pot, 5 Awesome Meals.

This is a recipe from NF Rebel Chef Noel Fernando.

If there’s one thing I’ve come to love as I’ve learned to cook over the past few years, it’s being able to look forward to a mouth-watering meal. Few things match the anticipation of coming home to a meal ready and waiting for you in the slow cooker.

In fact, it’s kinda like this.

While bacon often takes a front seat in the Paleo-sphere, today we’re going to branch out from that and explore what other things we can do with the noble pig.

The nice thing about an easy pre-made protein base is that you can use it in a bunch of different types of food.

  • Feel like Mexican tonight? Make tacos!
  • Feel like Asian? Add a homemade sauce and some kimchi!
  • Don’t feel like cooking? Serve it with some quickly nuked veggies!

The possibilities are endless! Here are a few serving suggestions with varying degrees of difficulty and time dedication to get your culinary cogs started.

Ready?

Here we go!

Basic pulled pork: Ingredients

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Serves: 5-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder – bone in or bone out – it doesn’t matter, whatever you can find in the store works great.
  • 1 tbsp paprika – This comes in varieties, choose your favorite.
  • 1 tbsp chili or chipotle powder – Red chili powder is a staple in the Southwest. I’m not so sure about it’s availability in other parts of the country/world. If you can’t find it, you can opt for chipotle powder (equally delicious).
  • 1 tsp garlic powder – find it in the spices aisle
  • 1/2 tsp salt – (preferably sea salt – if using coarse sea salt, you may need a little more than 1/2 tsp to salt both sides of the shoulder)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper – freshly cracked pepper has the most flavor, but go with what you have
  • 1/2 cup water

Optional add ins:

  • 3-4 slices of bacon – pork plus pork!
  • 4-5 cloves crushed garlic – yes please
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke – make sure to read the ingredients before buying! Watch out for added sugar, vegetable and soy oils, and chemicals you can’t pronounce.

Equipment:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board or plate – to set the pork on
  • Small bowl for mixing spices
  • Crockpot/slow cooker

Instructions:

1. Mix paprika, red chile, garlic powder, and pepper in a small mixing bowl.

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2. Take your pork shoulder out of the package, place on a plate or cutting board, and sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into the meat.

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3. Pour half of the spice mixture onto the roast. Massage the spices in.

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4. Flip the meat and pour the other half of the spice mixture on this side. Massage it in.

(Now wash your hands because they are going to be stained with paprika.)

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5. Place the roast in your crockpot and pour 1/2 cup water over the top of the roast.

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6. Set your slow cooker on “low” for 8-10 hours and wait!

Now, this is the part that sounds the most ominous. Set it and forget it. Don’t worry kids, people have been using crockpots for years and years without trouble. As long as you’re smart about where you put the pot, you should be a-okay. I’ve left mine on for over 24 hours in the past. You will be fine.

If you’re worried, here are some pointers:

  • Be sure your house circuits aren’t over loaded
  • Check your slow cooker for any frayed wires or damage
  • Don’t use it on a meltable countertop or underneath flammable cabinets
  • Be sure to secure pets (the smell of your future dinner could lure them onto countertops)
  • Don’t leave any flammable items near the slow cooker while it’s on.

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the house while your food is cooking, don’t! Stay in and make sure everything goes smoothly the first time around. Safety first!

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Nine hours later, you’ll have an incredibly delicious roast ready to eat when you get home from work (or when you wake up in the morning)!

Add a few carrots, onions, and diced sweet potatoes to the pot along with your meat and you’ll have a complete meal the minute it finishes cooking. Eat it straight out of the crockpot. We’re not judgin’.

5 Awesome Meals!

If you’re up for the challenge, with just a little extra work you can make one of the many options below and turn your delicious pork into a full meal. Think of this like a choose your own adventure!

  1. Tacos
  2. Asian Lettuce Wraps
  3. Breakfast Bowl
  4. Pork Stuffed Peppers
  5. Caramelized onions and apples with sauteed greens

Looking to expand your cooking skills? I double dog dare ya to take on this culinary challenge: Try one of these recipes each day of the week!

1. Tacos:

Pulled_Pork_001-3_Noel

We all know what these look like. We’ll be doing something similar to the Paleo taco recipe, but we’ll be using pulled pork instead of ground beef this time around.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pulled pork  (makes about 3 tacos)
  • Guacamole  from our paleo taco recipe!
  • Salsa make sure to read the ingredients before buying!
  • Lettuce leaves – Again, butter lettuce makes the best taco shells, but romaine will do in a pinch.

Assemble ze tacos!

1. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves.
2. Warm up the meat if its been sitting in the fridge.
3. I like to start with the meat. Put some meat on those lettuce leaves. (It’s okay to use your hands.)
4. Plop a spoonful of guac on top of the meat.
5. Add salsa, tomatoes, a little cheese if you can handle dairy, Be sure to add any of your other favorite taco toppings!

2. Asian Lettuce Wraps

Pulled_Pork_007

I have been OBSESSED with Korean pulled pork tacos since having them from a food truck in Portland, OR last summer, so I decided to try my hand at making my own…Paleo style!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pulled pork – Makes about 3 tacos
  • 1/2 an avocado – Slice that baby
  • 1/2 a cucumber (julienned) – I like to cut the cucumber in half long ways first, scrape the seeds out with a spoon, then cut it into matchsticks.
  • Asian style sauce –  Any asian sauce of your choice will do if you’re in a bind for time. Feel free to also use a paleo alternative (plain ol’ coconut aminos and vinegar will do just fine).
  • 1/4 cup kimchi – Kimchi is a spicy pickled cabbage. Sounds weird and it’s a bit of an acquired taste, so if you know you like it, use it! If not, give it a try, omit it entirely, or try plain sliced cabbage plus chile paste instead.
  • Lettuce Leaves – Just like with tacos, butter lettuce is best!
  • Sesame Seeds (optional)

For the Asian inspired sauce:

 

Pulled_Pork_006

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos  You can substitute soy sauce if you can handle soy.
  • 1 tbsp vinegar – I like to use rice vinegar because it’s not as harsh tasting as a lot of the other options, but any other vinegars will do.
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil  For that extra Asian flair.
  • 1/2 tsp red chile paste – You can find this in Asian sections of the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients on the label first. No soy or unpronounceables.
  • 1 clove garlic – Peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp honey – (optional)

Mix all these together in a small bowl. No problemo.

Now assemble the wraps!

1. Wash and dry your lettuce leaves and warm up the pork if it’s cold.

2. Place pork on the leaves first.

3. Pile on the toppings. I like to do it in this order: Pork, kimchi, cucumbers, avocado slices, spoonful of sauce.

Enjoy!

3. Breakfast Bowl

Pulled_Pork_023_Noel
My breakfast philosophy is “put an egg on it”. Yep, I eat left over paleo spaghetti and shepherd’s pie as breakfast by putting an egg on them. I know, I’m weird.

This recipe follows that philosophy, and adds a little sweet potato hash goodness from Nom Nom Paleo to make it a little more special. If you don’t feel like making the hash or don’t have a food processor, don’t worry, it’s equally tasty without it!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 serving of Nom Nom Paleo’s sweet potato hash.
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork – use as much as you like.
  • 2 eggs – pastured organic eggs are the bee’s knees, I’m told. Personally, I eat so many eggs that I can’t afford this, so I use regular ol’ eggs and buy organic occasionally.
  • 1 tbsp your preferred fat (optional) – For cooking the eggs. Butter, ghee, or bacon fat are my favorites.

Instruction:

1. Make the sweet potato hash. Do it. (It also doesn’t hurt to make some bacon while you’re at it).

Pulled_Pork_018

2. Now make the eggs! Heat up your pan. Once the pan is hot, add some butter or ghee and let it melt.

4. Add your eggs! Here’s where you really choose your own adventure. I like mine fried, but you can make yours scrambled, poached, or whatever! Adding some extra veggies to your scrambled egg sounds like a good way to start the day off right!

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5. If your pulled pork has been sitting in the fridge, warm it up in the microwave or in a warm pan.

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6. Pile all your ingredients in a bowl! I like to put the potatoes on the bottom, pulled pork second, and eggs on top!

Serve with bacon and coffee. Yum!

4. Pork stuffed peppers:

Pulled_Pork_008

In the past, I’ve had trouble with the spiciness of stuffed jalapenos, but I’m growing to like them.

For those of us who have trouble with super spicy foods, I’ve added the option of stuffed sweet peppers here too. And anything wrapped in bacon is pretty much a no-brainer for the paleo community.

If you can handle dairy, by all means, add cream cheese or feta to the inside of these babies. Crazy easy, crazy tasty.

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Ingredients: 

  • 5 peppers – These can be jalapenos or miniature sweet peppers. Here, the green ones are jalapenos and the red ones are sweet peppers.
  • 5 slices of bacon – In the picture I used 1/2 slice of bacon for each pepper, but I wouldn’t suggest that much, as most of the bacon fell of while cooking. Boo hoo. Hey, extra bacon!?
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork – This is an estimate and depends on the size of the peppers that you have.
  • Creme cheese or feta (optional) – Use only if you can handle dairy, grass fed is the best!

Instructions:

1. Start by washing your peppers, then chop off the tops.

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2. Take a small knife and cut the pepper in half but ONLY ON ONE SIDE. Scrape out the seeds.

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3. Fill the pepper with cheese on one side (if using) and pulled pork on the other side.

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4. Put the jalapeno back together, wrap it in bacon, and secure in place with a toothpick.

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5. Place the peppers on a preheated grill for about 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and the peppers are roasted. (Turn every 5 minutes or so).

5. Caramelized onions and apples with sauteed greens:

Pulled_Pork_065_Noel

I know this sounds weird, but there’s something magical about caramelized onions and pork when mixed together. This makes a super easy low maintenance meal. And if you’re not into onions, opt out of the onion part and just use leafy greens! Everyone can use more greens in their diet. I chose Kale here, but feel free to use spinach, collard greens, chard, or whatever you have on hand!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2  yellow onion
  • 1 apple – A small apple is fine. I like Fuji, personally.
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chard, spinach, or your favorite dark leafy green
  • 1/2 cup pulled pork
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite fat – butter, ghee, or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic – (or your favorite) vinegar
  • Salt and pepper – to taste

Instructions: 

1. Preheat your pan.

2. As the pan is heating, peel and slice your onion. This time, we’re not dicing it. Cut the onion into thin slices, then chop the medallions in half (this doesn’t have to be super accurate). We just want the onions sliced thinly so that they’ll cook quickly.

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3. Once the pan is warm, add your oil to it. Let it warm up.

4. Put your onions into the pan and coat them in oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Let the onions sit, and resist the urge to stir them.

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Note* Caramelizing onions requires patience. They need to cook on low heat for about 20 minutes total with minimal stirring so that they don’t burn. This makes the onions taste sweet and savory and makes an awesome addition to lots of dishes.

5. As your onions are cooking, peel and slice your apple.

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(If you’re lazy, you don’t have to peel the apple. I don’t always peel it.)

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6. Once the onions are translucent, add the apple to the onions and stir them together, making sure to coat the apples in oil also. Now let them sit on low heat together. Flavor romance. Oh la la!

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These will sit and cook on low for another 15-20 minutes. Only stir them once or twice during the entire cooking time. You want the onions and apples to brown, but don’t let them burn. I know it can be tempting, but don’t turn up the heat! This will cook them too fast and they’ll burn.

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Once the onions are finished cooking, you can move them to a bowl and sauté your greens. Alternately, if you have a second pan, go ahead and saute the greens at the same time.

If you need a refresher on sauteing greens:

1. Wash the greens. If using kale, remove the stem and tear or chop.

2. Add them to a preheated pan and pour oil over the top, stir them together so that they’re coated with oil.

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3. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flake (optional)

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4. Let the greens cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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You’ll know the greens are cooked when they’ve turned a darker, shiny green. (for a refresher, watch this video but omit the bacon and tomato part.)

5. Once the greens are cooked, remove from heat and add your vinegar. Stir it in quickly being careful not to inhale any vinegar steam. It burnsssss!

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Assemble!

I like to assemble this festive bowl o’ stuff with kale on the bottom, caramelized onions and apples in the middle, and pork on the top. Mix it all together and you have a tasty meal!

Take it slow!

Crock Pot: SaucyGlo

Well, there you have it – six ways of using your slow cooked pulled pork.

Crockpot meals are some of my favorites. They’re low maintenance, easy, and it’s awesome to walk into your kitchen and have a meal ready and waiting for you after work.

A slow cooker can be an investment for a budding chef, but in my opinion, it’s an appliance worthy of consideration. It makes meal prep so freaking easy…a caveman could do it.

Do you have a favorite pulled pork recipe that I missed?

What other crockpot meals have you enjoyed that you’d like to see?

-Noel

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Photos: SaucyGlo, Kennymatic

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  • Noel

    Sounds awesome. Great suggestions!

  • Noel

    Thats a good suggestion. I totally touched my eye hours afterward and it still burned! Lesson learned.

  • Noel

    Nice. It’s great with sweet potato hash for sure.

  • Noel

    Hmm. Not all grocery stores carry kimchi. Since it’s a live food (contains gut-healthy probiotics that need to stay cool to stay alive) It’s usually located in one of the the refrigerated sections of the grocery store. If you can’t find it there, if you have an Asian grocery store in your town, you’ll probably be able to find it there. Good luck!

  • Noel

    I suppose some crock pots can be different. If it gets tough and chewy, definitely turn the pot off before that point.

    If your slow cooker cooks the roast on a low enough temperature for a long amount of time, it makes the meat very tender and juicy. Is the meat tender after that 2-3 hours?

  • chacha1

    pork shoulder blade roast (bone in) is my favorite in the slow cooker. 🙂 I do it pretty much as given above, except:
    instead of liquid smoke, use a teaspoon of Worcestershire
    add a small can of tomato paste (I smear it all over the pig)
    instead of water, add a snack cup of pineapple niblets in juice. This satisfies the liquid requirement PLUS sweetness PLUS acid.
    Spice mix can go to the curry end of things instead of the cayenne/chipotle end, and is equally good. Mmmm pig.

  • CraftyChemist

    In my experience pulled pork is best when cooked for a long time because it breaks down the collagen. If the meat is still tough and chewy, it probably wasn’t cooked long enough!

  • baeriness

    So….I accidentally bought pork butt instead of shoulder…can it be cooked the same way?

  • jessbear84

    TOTALLY DID. Thanks for the idea!

  • Gar

    You’re OK. Pork “butt” and “shoulder” are often used interchangeably. Believe it or not, when they call something Pork “butt” they’re not really referring to the rump/hind parts of the pig. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_butt
    An issue with a lot of meat packing is that cuts of pork and beef are often given different names depending on the region and/or what they’re traditionally called. I hope that helps!

  • suelk

    Looks amazing. Making it today. Pretty please add to the Recipe section in the Academy.

  • Elisha Dasenbrock

    This is so good. I keep meaning to get to the bacon wrapped sweet peppers, but I haven’t been able to get beyond the “tacos.” They are just so good.

    I have also warmed it up with my eggs. Instead of the hash, I used left over sweet potato fries from the night before. I just made them like I would the hash. Delicious. I do love that hash recipe, but I don’t have a way to shred sweet potatoes like that so I am very happy I stumbled across this easy alternative. (I could hand shred them, but no.)

    Thank you so much for this. I am always looking for fast/easy meals (who isn’t) and this is both. After the initial cooking, it is so easy to just heat it up and get dinner on the table. Between this and that roast chicken, I can cook 2 nights a week and have plenty all week long and enough in the freezer for later.

    Now if only I could get the hang of mayonnaise.

  • Chris

    To keep the bacon from falling off the peppers just put one or two toothpicks (wooden, not plastic) through them and remove before eating.

  • Chris

    Never mind…I went back and saw that you did say to use a toothpick. I’ve never had that problem though when I’ve made stuffed peppers.

  • Lisa

    I’ve heard a variation of this using chicken thighs instead of breasts — the dark meat can handle crock pot cooking without drying out like white meat can. Sounds delish.

  • Lisa

    You can skip the liquid smoke if the mystery chemicals bother you — just substitute strong brewed coffee as your cooking liquid.

  • Lisa

    Oops, my bad. Most liquid smoke doesn’t contain ‘mystery’ chemicals, but it could have added sugars in the form of ‘apple flavoring’. As always, check labels, YMMV.

  • mcnater

    I’ve never had a problem with the white chicken trying out but whatever you prefer I’m guessing that would be awesome. Crockpots in general tend to make things really juicy and the salsa helps with that.

  • Amy Austin

    Ooh…I have some leftover smoked pulled pork from one of the local BBQ places that would work for any of these. #5 looks especially tasty and I might have to do that tonight.

  • RobNoxious

    Is 1/2 a cup of water really enough?…

    Something’s telling me I would need more.

  • TomK

    Been meaning to make this for a while. Couldn’t find a pork shoulder at the grocery store, so I got a Boston butt instead, but it’s in the slow cooker right now. That breakfast bowl and the caramelized onions and apples look way too good to pass up!

  • Deedee

    Nope, it was enough!
    I had a 4.5 pound pork shoulder…But I only cooked it for 8 hours and the fat didn’t completely melt, so I’m shifting it around (fat on top) and cooking it again when I get home.

  • Josh

    AWESOME! I made this last night. I had a bit of extra room, so threw two chicken breasts in on the side. So good! This will make it into my regular meal rotation. I used some of the leftovers for lettuce wraps for lunch today. Thanks Steve!

  • Deniseraeanne

    Lovely article. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions for utilizing one protein for many meals! Slow cooker pork is the best.

  • The pork, kale, apple… thing. much yess-ness! A very savory and interesting take on “pork chops”.

  • Wade

    Spray pot, add boston butt, fill with water until just above top of meat, coat top layer of water with lemon pepper seasoning and again with garlic salt. Turn it on low for 8-10 hrs and then make bbq sandwiches and eat and be happy.

  • Liz

    This pork is so good! These pork tacos are one of my go-to crockpot dinners now.

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