This slow cooker pulled pork has a sweet and spicy homemade cherry barbecue sauce that will have everyone going back for more. It’s perfect for get-togethers!
Why you’ll love it: Set it and forget it! It’s ready when you are; perfect for busy nights or parties.
How long it takes: 8 hours
Equipment you’ll need: slow cooker, skillet, saucepan
Slow cooker pulled pork. One of my favorite go-to meals when I want something in the slow cooker that is going to taste great and be ready at the end of a busy day.
Having a crowd over? Slow cooker pulled pork is the perfect entrée to serve. It’s so easy and convenient, with no last minute preparation.
I’m a little obsessed with this barbecue sauce. It’s sweet, tangy, spicy, and….well, it is just SO good. I could have eaten it straight off the spoon. Perhaps I did. You never know.
The pairing of fruit with pork is such a natural one. I’m sure you’ve seen recipes pairing fruit and pork, like grilled pork kabobs with apples (and an amazing apricot glaze), pork tenderloin with port wine sauce (with roasted grapes), and pork tenderloin with apples and onions. And that’s only a sampling! There are countless combinations. If you haven’t tried pairing fruit with pork yet, you must.
Have I convinced you yet to make this for dinner tonight? The barbecue sauce is so perfectly sweet and tangy and spicy all at the same time. I know I already said that, but it is just the way barbecue sauce should be, and it’s perfect for this slow cooker pulled pork.
About This Recipe
The homemade sauce is studded with little bits of cherry and onion. The secret ingredient is a jar of fruity jam. I like barbecue sauce made with cherries (try my cherry chipotle BBQ sauce) but you could substitute a different fruit jam, such as plum or peach. I have another slow cooker pulled pork recipe with fresh mango: mango bourbon pulled pork.
Using jam or preserves makes it even easier because the added sweetness gets you one step closer to perfection. Pork + fruit + sweetness = perfection. Simplified: Pork + Jam = Perfection. And I’m a nerd.
The pork is seared first and then transferred to the crockpot. Then it’s s-l-o-w cooked so it becomes perfectly tender. While that’s cooking, you can prep the easy homemade sauce. After you shred the pork, add the sauce and your pulled pork is ready for a bun.
I like to serve pulled pork topped with a spoonful of coleslaw. If you’re looking for an easy coleslaw recipe, I’ve got you covered. Try my creamy coleslaw or its cousin, healthy coleslaw (yogurt replaces some of the mayo).
I’ll get you started on the recipe and run through the list of ingredients. Be sure to look for the recipe card below. It has all the measurements, instructions, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Pork Loin Roast: Look for a roast that’s 3 to 4 pounds. It may be called a boneless pork half loin ( a whole loin is much larger). If yours is a little larger, that’s okay, as long as it fits in your slow cooker.
- Salt & Pepper, Chili Powder, Ground Cinnamon: The pork is seasoned with a dry rub and then seared in a bit of olive oil.
- Balsamic Vinegar: This rich dark brown vinegar is tangy and a bit sweet. The pork is slow cooked in a mixture of the vinegar, a bit of water, and some of the jam. It almost marinates as it cooks.
- Onion, Garlic: These two aromatics are added to the sauce after being lightly sautéed. I usually use a yellow cooking onion because it’s finer textured. Add as much or as little garlic as you prefer.
- Cherry Jam: As I mentioned above, part of the jam is added to the pork as it cooks. The rest will go into the BBQ sauce.
- Ketchup: Sweet and tangy ketchup is the base of the sauce. Choose your favorite brand. I like the ones without high fructose corn syrup.
- Red Wine Vinegar, Molasses, Worcestershire Sauce, Yellow Mustard: A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Each ingredient has specific properties that blend together for the perfect sauce.
- Cayenne Pepper: Made of finely ground dried hot peppers, this bright red spice is hot! I like just a little heat in my BBQ sauce but feel free to make it spicier. Remember, a little bit goes a long way!
How To Make This Pulled Pork
You’ll need a large slow cooker and about 8 hours to make this pulled pork. Put it on in the morning so it’s ready to eat by dinner time.
First of all, mix together the salt, pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon to make a dry rub.
Rub this all over the surfaces of the pork loin roast.
Heat the oil in a large pan. When it’s hot, add the pork loin roast. Sear it on all sides until it’s golden brown. This is the first step of a braise.
When the pork has browned, place it in the crockpot, fat side up, for the second step of the braise. Add the balsamic vinegar, water, and just a half cup of the jam. Put the cover on and set the crockpot on Low. If you prefer, you can also cook the meat on High. It will be done in approximately 4 hours.
Sometime before the pork is done, prepare the BBQ sauce. In a saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in a little oil until the onions soften. Add the sauce ingredients and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer the sauce, keeping it warm until you’re ready for it.
When the pork is very tender, remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a large platter, pan, or plate. Discard the watery juice that’s left behind in the crockpot.
Once the pork is cool enough to handle, use a couple of forks to shred the meat. If you end up with some shreds that seem kinda long, use a sharp knife to cut them into bite-size lengths.
Transfer the shredded pork back into the slow cooker. Add the warm sauce and stir well until the pork is coated with sauce.
You can keep the pork on Warm, covered, until you’re ready to serve it.
Pile the pork on your favorite buns and top with a spoonful of coleslaw, if you like. This is a messy sandwich so expect to use a few napkins! So good!
While pulled pork is traditionally made with pork shoulder (or blade pork roast), I often opt for a pork loin roast (which may be referred to as a New York pork roast) because it is a leaner cut.
Once you pile on this amazing barbecue sauce, you’ll never realize there’s less fat in this cut of meat. If you prefer a pork shoulder, though, that will be perfect, too. I almost always use pork shoulder for slow cooker pork tacos or Instant Pot pork carnitas.
If I’m using a pork shoulder, I personally prefer cooking it on low. For a pork loin roast, which is leaner and has less connective tissue to break down, either high or low is fine.
Make It Your Own
- If you like a lot of sauce or you want extra to drizzle on the pork after you put it on the bun, make a double batch of sauce.
- Experiment with different kinds of fruit jams.
- If you prefer, use a pork shoulder roast instead of pork loin roast, and cook it on low.
- The dry rub that is applied before searing the roast can be tweaked in all sorts of ways. If you have a favorite rub, feel free to use it or try my BBQ dry rub.
- If you’re not feeling the fruity sauce, substitute your favorite BBQ sauce or try my homemade BBQ sauce.
- If you’re a little short on time, try my Instant Pot pulled pork.
Pulled pork is perfect for meal prepping. While this slow cooker pork is inherently a make-ahead recipe (make it in the morning, let it cook all day!), you could also prepare it further in advance.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Refrigerate: When pork has cooled down, refrigerate it in a covered container for up to four days.
Freeze: Pulled pork freezes well. Put into freezer-safe containers or zip top bags and freeze for up three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Reheat: Larger amounts can be reheated in the slow cooker or in a pan on the stove. If you are reheating a small portion, the microwave works great.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork loin roast (boneless pork half loin)
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cups jam, divided (see note)
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- buns for serving
- coleslaw for serving (optional)
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Mix together salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub this mixture all over the pork loin roast. Put the pork roast into the hot skillet and brown for about 3 minutes on each side or until dark golden brown.
- Transfer to slow cooker, fat side up, and add ½ cup jam, balsamic vinegar and water. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours, or on High for 4 hours, or until tender.
- Meanwhile, stir together barbecue sauce ingredients: ketchup, red wine vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer.
- Remove pork from crockpot and place on large platter or pan. Remove remaining liquid from crockpot and discard. Shred pork using two forks. Return shredded pork to slow cooker. Add sauce, stirring to coat. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Substitute boneless pork shoulder if desired.
- We use a 13 oz. jar of Bonne Maman cherry jam. Golden plum mirabelle or peach jam may be substituted. Another brand is fine, too.
- Nutrition information is for meat with sauce and does not include bun or coleslaw. It’s calculated for a 3 lb. pork loin roast.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.