Recipe: Slow cooker southern pulled pork with cole slaw

This sandwich works year round. Last summer I served it with corn and raw carrots. Easy dinner.

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It’s 7am on a Saturday and I’ve already got dinner in the slow cooker, or crock pot as many people refer to it. No, I’m not super woman. Stupid cat woke  me up at 5am, and I couldn’t get back to sleep.

Many years ago, Brian came back from a business trip in New Orleans and told me about the pulled pork sandwiches he had. The pork wasn’t slathered with bbq sauce. Instead, it had a vinegary cole slaw on top. I was able to find a recipe for southern pulled pork that I adapted (can’t remember where,  and after trying a couple of different cole slaw recipes, Brian told me  I had found the right one.

The recipe makes enough for two or three dinners’ worth – depending on how many people you’re feeding. The pulled pork also freezes well.

Ingredients for pulled pork

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 pd boneless pork roast
  • 1 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed (or 2 tsp jarred crushed or minced garlic)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke

Directions for pulled pork

  1. Cut roast into large (2 inch square) chunks, season generously with cajun seasoning
  2. Melt butter in large skillet and brown pork on all sides. Place pork in slow cooker.
  3. Add onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until they are soft. Add the water and scrape up all the brown bits on the sides and bottom of the pan. Add the liquid smoke to the water.
  4. Pour everything from the pan into the slow cooker on top of the pork.
  5. Cook on high for 6 hours; low for 8 hours, or until pork falls apart when pierced and can be shredded easily with two forks.
  6. Remove pork from slow cooker, shred with two forks and replace back into slow cooker to keep moist and warm.

Ingredients for cole slaw

  • 2 c shredded cabbage
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions for cole slaw

Combine all ingredients and allow to sit in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

Making the sandwiches

  1. Use a good, sturdy roll. Regular packaged hamburger rolls will get soggy under the moistness of the pork. Kaiser rolls work well, but you can use whatever rolls you want.
  2. Put the pulled pork on the bottom of the roll. Top with cole slaw. Enjoy!

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  1. Is there carrots in the slaw?

    • The recipe doesn’t call for carrots, but sometimes I cheat and used a bagged cole slaw mix. I must have done that the day I made the particular batch the photo was taken. You can certainly shredded carrots if you wanted to.

    • Are there carrots in the slaw?

      • There aren’t carrots in the recipe, but the day I made it and took this photo, I had used a bagged shredded cabbage mix that had carrots in it, too. If you want to take a short cut and used bagged, the carrots don’t really make a difference.

        • My favorite slow cooker meal:

          2 lb cut up chicken
          2 cups chopped onion (to save prep time use frozen chopped onions and pepper)
          2 cups chopped sweet pepper
          2 cups chopped peeled tomato (canned ok)
          2 tbs chopped garlic
          salt and pepper to taste
          3 bay leaves

          Place all in crock on high while dressing in the AM, turn to low and when home
          from work serve this delicious creole dish over rice. Most Moms in Louisiana don’t use red pepper while cooking but have a good supply on the table for “self annihilation.”

  2. Try using rootbeer instead of water. IT adds a whole new dimension to slow cooker pulled pork.

  3. bratticuss says:

    I like to take a pork roast and braise it in a quart of cider vinegar, spices and good dark beer. I add sauce at end of cooking process…

    You will have the most and tender pulled pork around.

  4. Only way to make proper barbecue is in a smoker, not in a crock pot…the North Carolinians would be up in arms if they knew about this…

    • Jean Edmonds says:

      ditto this! It doesn’t sound like real barbecue at all–all it takes is cider vinegar and hot peppers!

      • well not all of us are southern spoiled and can stay home to cook all day some of us are single moms that work 2 jobs i love the slow cooker recipies…

      • Kenny Cleon Rodgers says:

        Why get snobbish about time and labor savers? That would seem to be totally unnecessary. After all, no one is forcing you to either USE the recipes or even READ them.

    • i get 3/4 lb.boned out butt ,dry rub or marinade. use hicory or mesquite-oak-red. good 300 to 350 in fire box 3hrs. then remove wrap tightly in foil cook another 2hrs. remove foil let at least 15 to 20 min. make your tounge wanna slap out ya tonsils! a good bro who has since gone on to the great grill in the sky gave me res.+the big new Braunfels . all ways burnin somethin at my house!!!!!! Keep THE FAITH OUT THERE! boys +girls Dave in Lower Alabama

      • Debbie G. says:

        (To David Summers)
        Hi! I just happened across this and ‘New Braunfels’ jumped out at me. I once stayed at a campground there, and a guy named Tom always had something on the grill- often a huge brisket washed down with lots of light beer! Heard he ‘passed on’, and wondered if this might be the same guy?!

        Deb (Canada)

    • Wow – People jump at everything now adays. This is a recipe for a pulled pork sandwich. No where in the article does it refer to it as BBQ. And before anyone says “they’re the same!”, they’re not. Sorry.

      Now if you’ll excuse me – this has made me hungry. So I’m going outside to fire up my smoker….

    • Dear Matt, (and all southerners, with all due respect)
      If I had access to a smoker I would be SO happy!
      But as it is I do not, so a way to make pulled pork in what I do have sounds wonderful. If I could have “real” BBQ (oooh brisket /drool) I’d be a happy girl!
      We don’t even have a place to buy BBQ here, darnit.

      ~Now I want to see if there’s any way I can make or get a small portable smoker lol

  5. Honey..This is boiled pork not pulled pork. I smoke pork butts and finish them off in an oven or wrap
    them up and put them in an insulated cooler to keep them hot and finish cooking. When you buy a pork butt and smoke it properly you can reach in and twist the bone out and serve it hot so everybody can stick their fork in it and pull off what they want.

    • chris mcgahee says:

      Im from Carolina and I hear ya talking. Thats some gooood stuff. . and some red slaw on top and its on

    • Darn that sounds good! Now I gotta buy a smoker (can’t wait til hubs hears this one lol…)

    • This recipe is very interesting, and I never would have thought of doing this sort of variation to pulled pork. Thanks for sharing it.
      As far as whether this is BBQ – it is NOT. (Don’t jump the gun.)
      This is not smoked, merely flavored with smoke. (Again, stop jumping the gun.)
      This IS pulled pork.
      To those who do not fully appreciate the qualities of a slow cooker, imagine making BBQ ribs in a slow cooker. Many people think it cannot be done, but I had success and all the liquid reduced to a very thick, delicious sauce.
      To compare this pulled pork recipe to boiled pork is just silly.
      Try it before you start barking.
      (It’s delicious btw… super!!)

  6. Rootbear is great basteing for ham too

  7. Good grief! Leave this poor girl alone. She just put up a recipe that her family likes,that she is proud of and her hubby seems to love it as well. Don’t knock it before you try it!
    Robin, I can’t wait to try it, it sounds very yummy!

  8. I don’t think people understand this is a SLOW COOKER adaptation for busy moms .

    • I use pre-chopped cole slaw mix that will fill a large mixing bowl. Mix 1/2 cup mayo , 2 tablespoons of milk, 1teaspoon of celery seed, 1 or 2 teaspoons prepared mustard, 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar or white vinegar. I supplement Splenda for sugar (spouse is a diabetic) to our taste. I add some dehydrated onion ,as well as 1 medium sweet onion,.coarse ground black pepper I do not add salt until it is on my plate. it draws the water from the slaw making it limp. I mix the ingredient and add the slaw mix. I also soak my chopped onion in cold water and drain . I was taught to do this to any fresh onion I was not going to cook. This will help to get rid of the bitterness or heat that can ruin the slaw.

  9. Since we moved down south I realize there just isn’t a much touchier recipe topic than barbecue! Love it!

    • I moved to NC several years ago from a Mid-Alantic state. Couldn’t aquire the taste of the thin BBQ sauce applied to pulled meats, called “BBQ’s”. I really ike the thick tangy ffalvors of the smoked meats and cider vinegar and molasses combos. Am I yankee at heart?

  10. Not a big fan of cole slaw, but you’re pretty cute So I’ll try it out.

  11. in the south we eat slaw AND bbq sauce on the sanwich together. delicious.

  12. I will definitely try. The arrogance of those who say this isn’t real barbeque! The crockpot seems alot easier to make than in a smoker. Not everyone has a smoker either, I don’t.

  13. i use coke or doctor pepper for beef

  14. What cut of pork do you usually use? I use pork shoulder for carnitas (a type of shredded pork recipe from the Southwest) Will that work?

  15. Hi Robin,
    Your pulled pork recipe sounds good. I grew up in NC and to top off a pulled pork sandwhich in my area we used a tomato style cole slaw with a touch of spicy vinegar BBQ sauce. That is then served on a hamburger style bun. I thought you might like to have a little bit of a change now and then from the creamy cole slaw. Both are good.

  16. The weekend option is to start your pork butt on the charcoal grill and finish it in the crock pot. When you use your charcoal grill for hamburgers (or whatever) use the leftover charcoal for start your pork. After it is cooked and smoked on the outside, transfer it to a crock pot to finish the slow cooking until it if falling apart.

  17. Check out our pulled pork recipe and the FABULOUS soup/stew made from the left overs!

  18. Darlin’
    What you folks have discovered with the slaw on your barbecue is Memphis style BBQ sandwiches. Adding the slaw on top has been one thing to set them off for my 60 years from other s BBQ. And while we do smoke our pork shoulders over hickory, your recipe is what it is intended to be, an alternative-so good work. One of the great experiences in my life has been riding a motorcycle through Memphis early in the morning when they light up the hickory smokers around town. That smell from those aged, usually brick smokers is unbelievable around 8am when they starrt them for the day.

    • Way-ull, THANKS Jim — we much ‘preciate y’alls liking good ol’ Down East Carolina BBQ sammichs so well ya wanta call it your own! I’ll be 67 next month, & that’s the way I’ve been eatin’ ’em since forever. You can call it “Memphis Style” all ya want…..but just know where THE original came from, y’hear?

      BTW – you mentioned your scoot & them smokers. I used to drive a UPS truck in Lexington. I’d get behind & didn’t have time to stop for lunch…..but once them cookers fired up, by noon it was either stop & eat or drown in your own saliva *LOL*.

      But HEY y’all….Q or Stew, long as it’s good, don’t fuss with the gal for sharing. If there’s ever been a Q-Nazi, I’m one — and I ain’t complainin’. You go, grrrl!!!

      ‘Down East’, NC
      (Home of the REAL THANG!)

  19. This is my first visit to this site – coming in from yahoo – and I only have two things to say: We can’t wait to try this delicious looking recipe, and my goodness, you people are critical (to put it nicely)! Holy cow.

    Thanks for the recipe, Robin.

  20. Any alternative to liquid smoke? I try to stay away from MSG.

  21. bughunter says:

    Not everybody can smoke their meat. Yes, your manhood is bigger if you smoke your BBQ rather than use a crock pot or the oven. Now let us alone.

    As for Robin’s recipe, this is very similar to what I adapted from my smoker recipe. I use chicken stock rather than water, for added richness, and I only use one 12 oz can. Also, I’m fond of SC mustard-style BBQ sauce on pork (see – you don’t have to like his politics to love his BBQ). But you can use whatever BBQ sauce you like, from the thin pepper/vinegar sauces of central carolina to the thick goopy sugary stuff most folks think of. Add just a 1/4 cup or so during the slow cooking, and then stir in about 0.5 cup per lb of pork after it’s pulled.

    Slow cooking works with any cut of pork that has good marbling. Pork chops, country ribs, and tenderloins are not good choices, but it works great with spareribs, butts and shoulders. Make sure to cook it on LOW to keep the cooking temperature between 140 and 180 F. Any hotter than that, and the connective tissue will not convert to gelatin and the meat will not fall apart the way it needs to.

    Robin – can you tell us west coast folks what “Cajun Seasoning” is, and what might make a good substitute? Some things aren’t easy/cheap to find here… For a dry rub, I generally mix garlic powder, cayenne, cumin powder, salt, and black pepper, and slow roast in a 180° oven after browning in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven. Very easy, but reserved for wintertime, since it keeps the kitchen hot.

  22. I don’t know about anybody else but it doesn’t matter if your from North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas or California. You all can make pulled pork, semi- pulled pork and not even pull your pork if you don’t want to for crying out loud. Any body can make it the way they want. I choose to give this way a try and I’m not going to knock it first until I try it.

  23. What about a BBQ sauce? Does anyone have a good one from western Tennessee? I do, but it is from a restaurant. I tried to cut it down to smaller portions, but still have too much.

  24. What is it with you and onions? I would never put onions in Cole Slaw

  25. Slow cookers are a gift from God. The pulled pork and cole slaw sound great and will make it soon. I like to make beef stew in my cooker and use pearled barley plus onion, carrots and garlic instead of pototoes. Mygirl friend isn’t much of a cook so I try out my culinary arts (?) quite often. I am so tired of chicken, pasta and vegatarian stuff everywhere I go, I could throw up. Give me red meat beef, pork, lamb, venison etc as well as fish.

  26. Bob Clarke says:

    Mike’s right try the root beer, it doesn’t add sweetness but the sugar helps break down the pork.
    Though it is the easiest recipe I’ve seen for pulled pork (12oz. of root beer and two to three pounds of pork lion cover and cook on low for 8 hours).
    Though the recipe I’ve tried calls for root beer, I’d bet that any carbonated soft drink with sugar can be used successfully.
    You can cut up the meat and brown it if you really want to as well as add spices and liquid smoke if you want but try it and I’ll bet you’ll find that they’re not needed and just adds to the complexity and the idea of using a crock pot is to make it simple to cook in one pot and not heat up the kitchen.

  27. LMAO I love how all the Yankees jump in and defend each other. Yet, if we had messed up one of their nasty New York or New Jersey or what-have-you “delicacies”, they would be down our throats.

    “…shredded with two forks…” Um, you do realize pulled pork is called pulled pork because it is PULLED? Oh wait, I’m sure you Northerners are much too perfect to actually touch your food during preparation. Eww, eww!

    Leave our food alone. Stick to your own things and keep your opinions about our protecting our classic recipes to yourself. Or shove off. Y’all.

  28. breesey78 says:

    Hate to say it, it is not a Memphis style? Come on, man! That is North Carolina BBQ! Goggle which state is famous for PULLED PORK! Simple to make, easy vinegar marinade, and cole slaw is the topping.

  29. Isn’t the correct abbreviation for pound(s) denoted as ‘.lb(s)’ and not ‘.pd’ as used in your pulled pork recipe?

  30. The North Carolina Pork Producers Council has a slow cooker recipe (Almost NC BBQ) on their website:
    I have tried it and the BBQ is great. Folks think I have slaved over a grill all day.

  31. For cole slaw recipe try using Miracle Whip in place of the Mayo

  32. Seriously!?! It is a RECIPE, for goodness sake, you can make it anyway you want to, it is not written in stone. And the remarks about the south and the north, it is a RECIPE, if you live in the NORTH fix it your way, if you are in the SOUTH fix it your way. I am a southerner and pulled pork sandwiches with vinegar cole slaw are one of my favorite foods, and I like to try different variations, why does it have to be a north or south thing? Just because the recipe is written this way doesn’t mean you have to follow it to the letter. The Civil War ended a long time ago, give it a rest and try the recipe! If you have one better, then use it!

    This is what is part of what is wrong with the world today, we all argue too much!

  33. Smoked paprika is a nice add to the cole slaw

  34. i got on here to check out a recipe for slow-cooker… is this a F-you match?? i watch ultimate fighting for that.. i believe there are a lot of angry people with to much time on their hands and i don’t care where your from!! the way an individual cooks is to tantalize THE individuals palate.. if you don’t like how someone else dose it shup up and do what taste good to you! non of this should matter where your from considering the percentage of people are watered down heritage anyway, including myself!! thanks robin for sharing your recipes!! keep on keepin on

  35. Gretchen says:

    Robin…I made this recipe at my husband’s request. Is it supposed to be really watery? I feel like there isn’t much flavor sticking to the meat. Any suggestions? Did I do something wrong?

    • There will be a lot of juice left in the slow cooker, but it’s good to leave it in there to keep the pork moist. Remove it with a slotted spoon and let as much juice drip off before placing it on the roll.

      As far as the flavor on the meat, use the entire tablespoon of seasoning – more if you want – on the pork. If your pork roast is more than 2 pounds, increase the amount. You could even add an extra teaspoon or two into the slow cooker before cooking.

      Was your cajun seasoning sitting around for a while? It could have lost some of its flavor.

  36. if sauce put in sauce pan and simmer to desired thickness and pour over meat in crockpot.


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