It's a little too cold to do the grill these days, but we still crave pulled pork BBQ in the winter, and making it in the slow-cooker is a great way to indulge the craving. We've made this with both bottled and homemade sauces, and our preferred bottled sauce is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Roasted Garlic Honey if we don't feel like making a scratch sauce, but this easy sauce is interesting and different because the chipotles in adobo add a bit of heat that you don't find in regular sweet sauces. The meat tenderizes well during the 11-hour stay in the smoky, slightly spicy sauce, and we enjoy it piled high on a bun with extra sauce on top and some creamy coleslaw on the side.
We typically do this on a weekend since it does take some time to pull the meat, and I prefer to cook it overnight and then pull it the next day after it has had a chance to cool a bit. I love the magic of the slow-cooker and how it lets you wake up in the morning with the house smelling like delicious barbecue!
Serves 8 to 10 people, depending on appetites.
Look for gluten-free Worcestershire sauce and chipotle chiles in adobo.
Update: On July 24, 2009 Apartment Therapy The Kitchn featured this bbq sauce recipe as their favorite.
"The sauce is smoky and tangy with a nice kick- exactly what we said we liked in a barbecue sauce! (Also, try the pulled pork if you make this recipe. It's divine.)"
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork with Chipotle BBQ Sauce
- 3 to 4-quart sauce pan
- immersion blender (aka the boat motor) or regular blender
- 6-quart slow cooker
- 6 pounds boneless Boston butt (cut in half (or picnic shoulder roast, or fresh ham with skin removed))
- 56 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (2 cans, 28 ounces each)
- 12 ounces molasses
- 2 small onions (peeled and chopped)
- ½ cup dry sherry or orange juice
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
- 4 gluten-free chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (chopped (as many as you like, really))
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- freshly ground black pepper
- In a 6-quart saucepan, combine the tomatoes, molasses, onion, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, chipotles, garlic, allspice, and liquid smoke. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Use the immersion blender to mix the ingredients into a smooth sauce. (Or transfer to the stand blender and puree for about 60 seconds.) Simmer, stirring frequently, for an additional 45 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to about 2 quarts.
- Rub the meat with salt and pepper and put it in the slow cooker. Add about 6 cups of the barbecue sauce, then cover and cook on high for 7 to 8 hours or on low for 10 to 11 hours. The meat should be fork-tender and falling apart.
- Remove the meat and place in a large bowl to cool.
- After the cooking liquid has sat for a few minutes, strain the fat.
- When the meat is cool enough, shred it with your fingers, pulling off the remaining fat and gristle.
- Toss 2 to 3 cups of the cooking sauce with the meat, and add more as needed to keep it moist. Serve on buns and pour the reserved sauce on top.
Tried this out it was great. I cooked it overnight on low and in the morning my apartment smelled wonderful. Tossed it in the fridge and then did the pulling that night before going out. It was quite easy to remove the fat because it was solid when I took it out of the fridge. I'm making coleslaw today and can't wait to bring a pulled pork sandwich to work today.
The addition of chipotle makes it wonderfully spicy-smoky.
Thanks for letting me know! I'm always glad to hear when a reader enjoys one of my recipes.
Can't wait to make this, but one question: where does the liquid smoke come in? Directions do not indicate. Thanks.
Ooops! Thanks for catching that, Heidi! I've added it in the instructions in step 1.
Jaunita Rodriguez says
This recipe looks interesting, similar to one I had and lost. However, I'm allergic to tomatoes. What can take its place, or can it just be left out?
Hi Juanita! On the basis of your allergy I'm afraid I don't have a good substitution for you. The tomatoes provide both flavor and liquid in this recipe. I did some reading trying to find an answer for your question, but I'm afraid the information was mixed at best. Some people say you can substitute mashed roasted peppers, but others say that those with an allergy to tomatoes are likely to have an allergy to peppers as well because they are both in the nightshade family. Since I'm not an allergist or nutritionist I hesitate to make a recommendation. Sorry I can't be of more help!
where do I get the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce?
Hi Le'Ann. Where I live I find the canned chipotles at just about any grocery store in the Mexican/International foods aisle.
Debbie Garda says
I am considering making this recipe for a large crowd (75 people) . Could you please tell me how many servings the recipe produces?
Hi Debbie! This recipe serves 8 to 10 people.
Hi Debbie, I'm sure that Juanita could just leave the tomatoes out. I have a recipe for Hawaiian kalua pork that calls for pork butt, liquid smoke and sea salt. It is cooked in the crockpot and it's wonderful with plenty of liquid just from the meat.
Hello, how long do i cook brisket and what temp when smokeing, also do i cold smoke the meat, need to serve 9 people. thanks jumpjasper
Hi JumpJasper. Smoking meats is a totally different subject, but here's short answer (and please remember I'm not a smoking expert, especially cold smoking). Depending on the smoker you use and the manufacturers instructions, you want to keep the temperature between 200 and 230 F. Allow 1-1/2 hours per pound at this temperature, and cook the meat fatty side up so the juices will run through the meat. I hope this helps!
Hi Andrea, I just smoked some pork shoulder in my weber and finished them in the oven and had a great time. They came out smoky tender. I really like your site and the pictures. I haven't done a pulled pork in the crock, will need to check that out.
If you have a minute would love for you to come take a look and give me your opinion. http://cookingquest.wordpress.com
Really appreciate it... I will be back!
Hi Andrea! I would love to try your pulled pork recipe, but I am only cooking for two. I have two thick boneless pieces of pork loin that I'd like to use. How can I alter your recipe for a much smaller amount of meat?
Hi Nicole. For just two servings, making this in a slow cooker almost doesn't make sense because the amounts will be very small. Still, you can make this with just 1 pound of meat then adjust the remaining ingredients accordingly. This will probably still give you some leftovers.
Hi Nicole! Do you have a rule of thumb for the amount of liquid smoke used per pound of meat? This recipe shows 2 tsp./6 or 7 lbs. Is that pretty much the standard ratio? Thanks.
Sorry! I meant "Hi Andrea"!!
Hi Cheryl! I've never done this with beef, but in theory is should work since pork butt is actually a shoulder cut (the top part, to be exact).
Let me know how it turns out!
This was very silly of me, but when I went to the store to buy the pork butt, I bought a beef shoulder. Do you think it would also be good? I haven't done much cooking with these cuts of meat, so I have no idea what the differences are.
Thanks for your help, and I can't wait to try the recipe the RIGHT way! =)
violet king says
Which type of molasses do you use? thanks, violet
Hi Violet. I use unsulphured molasses.
I'm finally letting you know that I did make this with the beef, and it was fantastic. There were a few things that wound up a bit different (I think more molasses and sugar) because I screwed up while halving the recipe, but close enough to say I'll be making this again! Thanks!
We love this recipe and have made it on several occasions! I was thinking of making a double batch and canning it to have available for future meals. Do you think it's high enough acidity to do without a pressure canner?
Hi Emily. Getting the acidity right can be tricky, and though the standard formula of 2 tablespoons of canned lemon juice per quart seems simple enough, it depends on whether you choose sherry or orange juice for the recipe. I would lean towards being safe and simply add the lemon juice to each jar just before canning, and that should take care of the problem. For more information on canning tomatoes and tomato products, I highly recommend the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
Hi, I am making this now (right now!) and I am thinking that there is not enough sugar with just the molasses. Did you add any? It's definitely not sweet at all.
I added a couple of large dessert spoonfuls of sugar. I am letting the sauce simmer now, so will see how it goes. Thank you.. I am looking forward to trying this!
Hi Andrea, this looks wonderful and I plan to make it soon. In response to the tomato allergy, I made a similar recipe that had no tomatoes, did have onions, liquid smoke, and adobo sauce. I used the liquid from half a jar of pepperoncinis (also added some of them) and a little apple cider vinegar. I let the liquid sit for a bit and poured the stuff from the bottom (using a gravy separator measuring pitcher) and the sauce was delish!
Claire Blais says
I was just wondering if it's the remaining sauce that was put aside or the sauce from cooking the pork that is to be blended with the meat.
Hi Claire. Toss the meat with the sauce it was cooked in, then use the other sauce for topping on the sandwiches.
Joan Hessidence says
I do not have a slow cooker - could you tell me what temp and how long in the oven?
Hi Joan. I've never made this in the oven, but generally you can slow roast pork without the sauce at 300 degrees F for about 6 hours to get similar results. Make the sauce separately, then put the shredded meat in the sauce to serve. Let me know how it turns out!