This Easy Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Pulled Pork takes about 10 minutes of prep time then leaves the rest of the work to your crock pot. The perfect recipe if you’re craving a tender, smoky pulled pork sandwich.
By the time you’re reading this, we’ll likely be blazing a trail through the middle of Pennsylvania. And by we, I mean the Mr. I will most likely be reading magazines, nodding off every 10 minutes, and generally being the worst navigator of all time. If all went to plan, we left at 5 AM this morning. But since nothing with us every seems to go according to the plan, we probably left on the dot of 8:30. *le sigh* I seem to have inherited my parent’s penchant for late starts. Ah well.
Planning for a week of vacation meant this week’s meals revolve around a single goal: cleaning out the fridge. I’m sure you’re familiar with these pre-vacation rituals. It normally involves a hodgepodge of meals thrown together with a completely ill-fitting assortment of just-barely-still-edible produce, on-the-verge-of-stale-breads, and caught-it-right-before-it-molded cheeses. Of course, the goal of this venture is to clear the fridge and cabinets of any perishable substances so we won’t return home to a house that smells like the wrong kind of stinky cheeses.
I find challenges like this oddly exciting. They give me an opportunity to really flex my cooking muscles and see if I can make something out of nothing. Or, in this case, if I can make something out of 3 beets, a bag of celery, a carton of eggs, and 2 limes. I’ve got my work cut out for me, clearly.
Luckily, we weren’t forced to eat beet and celery stew (<<<I’m not even going to pretend that would be good) all week. I made a giant slow cooker full of this Sweet and Spicy Pulled Pork last week, and happened to have a little left over in the freezer to pull out when we were desperate.
Last summer, I made a Peachy BBQ Pulled Pork, and it was exactly what I wanted for an ultra saucy, messy, sweet feast, but this recipe is what I more typically think of when I think of pulled pork. This pork really stands on its own. It’s smoky with a nice amount of heat and a hint of sweet. It’s also crazy, ridiculously, abundantly tender. After 8 hours in the crockpot, it practically falls apart when you look at. It doesn’t really need BBQ sauce, but it benefits from a small drizzle of your favorite sauce before you slap a bun around it.
This might be the ultimate summer party meal, if for no other reason than that it’s super easy to make and can easily feed a crowd. A single 3-4 pound pork shoulder or pork butt roast (yes, it’s really called a butt roast. Try not to be disturbed), will feed around 8 people, but I was actually able to double the recipe and squeeze in another 3 lb. roast and get about 16 servings in one crock pot. I call that a win.
And the process couldn’t be simpler. Place a quartered onion in the bottom of the crockpot then lay the pork on top. Mix together the seasonings, then whisk in some honey and cider vinegar. Pour it over the roast, set the crock pot to high then let it go. 8 hours later you’ll have a bubbling cauldron of sweet and spicy pulled pork.
I love using my stand mixer to shred the pork, especially if I have a lot to shred. You simply put the pork in the mixer fitted with the beater blade, and set the speed to medium low. It’ll be in perfect shreds in seconds. But if you’d rather do it by hand, the pork will easily shred with a fork.
I served this pulled pork with Copy Cat KFC coleslaw (it’s my husband’s favorite and is a cinch to make), and crushed tortilla chips. I love putting chips on my sandwiches to add a little crunch. I definitely recommend making enough pork to save for leftovers because this stuff would be awesome in nachos, quesadillas, grilled cheese, or in a pizza. The possibilities really are endless.
I’ve got some awesome guest posters lined up for next week, so you won’t be lonely while I’m gone. And feel free to check out my Instagram if you want to follow the ocean views and ludicrous amounts of seafood I plan on consuming while we’re on the Cape!
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Pulled Pork
- 3 Tablespoons paprika
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut in half
- In a small bowl mix together the paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. Stir in the honey and apple cider vinegar.
- Place the chopped onion at the bottom of your slow cooker. Lay the pork shoulder pieces on top of the onion along with the garlic. Pour half the spice mixture over top, then flip the pork pieces over and pour the rest of the spice mixture in.
- Cook on high for 3 hours, then low for an additional 4 hours or cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove pork pieces from the slow cooker and shred with a fork or place in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium low speed until shredded.
Recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food