Slow Cooker Shredded Pork

Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Recipe

To infuse sweet and smoky flavors into our slow cooker shredded pork filling, we built a sauce using pineapple juice and ancho and chipotle chiles.–Editors of America’s Test Kitchen

LC What To Do With Shredded Pork Note

If you find yourself at a loss for what to do with the heap of shredded pig that remains after you’ve snitched sufficient tender, sweetly spiced, slow cooker shredded pork to be sated for the moment, take a gander at the tostada and burrito ideas just beneath the recipe.

Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 12 H
  • Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 3 dried ancho chiles, or 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 dried chipotle chiles, or 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice (fresh or canned)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • One 3-pound boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus more lime wedges for serving

Directions

  • 1. If using dried ancho and chipotle chiles, toast the chiles in a large skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. (If the chiles begin to smoke at any point, lower the heat.) Tip the chiles onto a plate and let cool slightly. Wearing gloves, remove and discard the stem and seeds from the chiles and tear the chiles into pieces. Place the pieces in a small bowl, add enough warm water to cover, and let soak until softened but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

    If using ancho and chipotle chile powders, hop on down to step 2.
  • 2. Toss the soaked chile pieces or chile powders, pineapple juice, garlic, brown sugar, cumin, and cloves in a blender and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Dump the mixture in your slow cooker. Season the pork quite generously with salt and pepper on all side and then add the pork to the slow cooker and turn to coat it evenly with the chile mixture. Cover and cook until the pork is really tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
  • 3. Transfer the pork to a large bowl and let it cool slightly. Meanwhile, pour the braising liquid into a fat separator or a shallow bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow the fat to float to the surface.
  • 4. Shred the pork into bite-size pieces using a fork in each hand or your fingers, discarding any blobs of excess fat.
  • 5. Skim the fat from the surface of the braising liquid with a spoon and discard. Drizzle about 1 cup defatted braising liquid over the shredded pork and toss to combine. Add more braising liquid if necessary to make the pork moist and flavorful. Squeeze 1 tablespoon lime juice over the pork, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss. Add additional lime juice as desired or pass lime wedges on the side at the table. (The pork and any leftover liquid can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Tuxedo Variations

  • Shredded Pork Tostadas
  • Brush both sides of several corn tortillas with mild vegetable or olive oil, place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 350°F (177°C) until lightly browned at the edges and slightly-but-not-tooth-breakingly crisp, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a 15-ounce can pinto beans and its liquid in a skillet over medium heat, mashing the beans with a potato masher or a fork, until the mixture thickens and is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread some mashed beans over each crisped tortilla, top with some warm shredded pork, and sprinkle with cheese (preferably queso fresco), chopped cilantro, avocado, salsa, and whatever else your desired accoutrements.
  • Burritos With Sweet and Spicy Shredded Pork
  • Place several large flour tortillas on your work surface and plop some warm shredded pork, a spoonful home-cooked or canned pinto or black beans, some cooked rice, shredded cheese, and fresh cilantro on each tortilla, placing it in a rather tidy mound on the lower half of the tortilla, allowing a 1- to 2-inch border all around. Fold the sides of the tortilla in over the filling, then snugly fold the bottom of the tortilla up over the filling and continue to roll the bulging contents into a burrito shape. Place the burrito, seam side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and bake in a 350°F (177°C) oven until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Renee H.

Apr 28, 2016

I want to marry my slow cooker. It’s the most dependable thing in my home. This slow cooker shredded pork was amazingly tender and juicy and can be used in so many different dishes or just straight up on its own. I toasted my chiles and blended my sauce the night before. In the morning I plopped everything in my 5-quart slow cooker and set it on high for 6 hours and had a delicious meal waiting for me at dinner time. I ended up adding 1 1/2 cups chicken stock at the 3-hour mark since the braising sauce started to get a little dark. I assume this was because my slow cooker is rather wide, which spread the sauce rather thin across the bottom. I'd recommend using a smaller slow cooker or maybe using the lower setting for a longer yet slower braise--but adding the chicken stock worked like a charm. I will definitely be making this again!

Testers Choice
Brooke Barbera

Apr 28, 2016

Trust your butcher to choose and trim a great piece of meat, and this slow cooker shredded pork recipe will be very good. Regardless of the marinade, pulled pork in the slow cooker is such a wonderful smell and taste to come home to after a long day of simmering. The recipe is well-written; heed wisely the directions, especially the part about toasting the chiles. Specifically, "fragrant" is the perfect term to use to know how the chiles are ready. And do wear gloves, because the dried chiles are no joke. I used a toaster oven as I couldn't bear to pull out a "large skillet" for 5 chiles, especially in a small kitchen with no dishwasher. The toaster oven was optimal for this task—it took only 2 minutes and produced a perfectly dried and fragrant product. I used a small, 4-quart slow cooker on low for 10 hours and it was perfect. I found the amount of liquid to be quite perfect to flavor the meat for sandwiches and burritos. That said, my final product was neither particularly sweet nor spicy—flavorful, yes. The lime at the end is a great contrast to the fork-tender pork. Final note for those who also look for slow cooker recipes that involve barest-of-bare-minimum morning prep time: I prepped the chiles the night before while cooking another meal, left the drained chiles covered on the counter, and just prepped the marinade from step 2 in the a.m. The chiles remained supple enough to purée them later.

Testers Choice
Lori Widmeyer

Apr 28, 2016

This slow cooker shredded pork recipe provided a wonderful balance of heat and flavor. I ended having to use a 5 1/2-pound bone-in pork butt roast instead of the 3 pound boneless, so I doubled the other ingredients and it still worked great. I cut the larger-than-called-for pork roast into 4 pieces instead of 2 and used a 7-quart slow cooker set on high for 6 hours. The meat fell apart and was so easy to remove the fat and shred. I poured all the remaining liquid into a large measuring cup made for separating the fat and then added about 1 1/2 cups of the defatted liquid back into the slow cooker along with the shredded meat and set the cooker on low while I prepared our favorite Mexican rice and set out all the ingredients for my family to make burritos (we don't bake them, just eat them like a wrap). Everyone gave the meat 2 thumbs up and the leftovers were requested to take to school and work for lunch the next day. We will definitely make this again.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Apr 28, 2016

You had me at spicy shredded pork and slow cooker. This is an incredibly easy recipe that comes out as if you have been slogging for hours on end. I used a 3-pound boneless pork shoulder. I used ground ancho and chipotle chiles instead of dried chiles and it was very flavorful and it makes the recipe even easier to assemble. I used canned pineapple juice. My slow cooker is a 4-quart one and I cooked the pork for 5 hours on high. It produced a very moist, smoky-flavored pork. I let the residual liquid cool quite a bit and then skimmed off the fat. I used all the liquid to moisten the pork. One could reduce the liquid down by boiling and use up all the liquid and concentrate the flavors. Once you’ve made the pork, its uses are limitless. I froze most of the shredded pork, but I used about 2 cups and tossed it with homemade pasta and some red bell pepper pesto. What can I say but “divine".

Testers Choice
Kim Venglar

Apr 28, 2016

This slow cooker shredded pork recipe is simple to toss together, great flavor, and easy cleanup—can it get any better than this? I used the ancho and chipotle powders to make this recipe because I always have them in my pantry. I'm not sure why they tell you to cut the roast in half, but I did it anyway. I used my 3-quart slow cooker on low for 9 hours, until the pork was falling apart. I was surprised there wasn’t enough fat to skim off the braising liquid. I also found I didn't need to add any more salt or pepper after cooking. I used the pork in many ways. I had cilantro lime rice, black beans, cotija cheese, and other extras so everyone could choose how to eat the pork. We had burritos, tostadas, and street tacos. The next day I used the leftover pork to make tamales and put them in the freezer for another meal.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Apr 28, 2016

This is a pleasant recipe for pulled pork. The sweetness of the pineapple juice offsets the spiciness of the chiles. I made this in an 8-quart slow cooker with a built-in timer. I was able to assemble everything and set the timer to shut off after 9 hours on low. The meat was tender but still had a little firmness to the bite. I skimmed about 1/2 cup fat from the top of the juices, which only took about 10 minutes on the brown setting of the slow cooker to reduce. One taster found the meat spicy, but to the rest of us it was a nice blend of sweet and spicy. We passed along lime quarters with the servings at dinner. One taster found it was even better the next day when he had the leftover pork for lunch.This is easy to prepare and is a good set-and-forget meal for weeknights or parties.

Testers Choice
Rachel Feferman

Apr 28, 2016

This slow cooker shredded pork recipe is easy, delicious, versatile, and affordable. Not much more you could ask for! We used this flavorful shredded pork on tostadas, in tacos, and on rice. I question whether the added step of toasting, soaking, and puréeing the chiles really pays off...I suspect substituting chile powder as suggested would do quite nicely and would save time. Be sure to liberally season the pork with salt and pepper before placing it in the slow cooker. The sauce does not include salt, so it's critical that the meat is well-seasoned. I used a 6 1/2-quart slow cooker and found my roast was perfectly tender after 5 hours on high. Two suggestions. I strained the sauce and let it cool in the fridge for several hours before recombining it with the meat.That allowed me to skim the excess fat off in one easy layer. Second, if you plan on freezing some of the meat, make sure to be liberal with the sauce as meat freezes better in liquid and is less likely to develop freezer burn.

Testers Choice
Melissa Maedgen

Apr 28, 2016

This shredded pork isn't really sweet, nor is it spicy, but it is delicious, flavorful, and handy to have on hand for filling tacos. It comes out tender and shreds easily, and the cooking liquid, which you will need to defat, makes a rich, chile-infused gravy. It’s important to use pork butt (which is really shoulder) as specified, as other cuts of pork will not shred the way butt does. I cooked the pork for 10 hours on low. Next time I would probably try to take it out after 9 hours. I would recommend using canned pineapple juice over fresh, especially if you are cooking on low. Fresh pineapple has an enzyme, bromelain, which acts as a meat tenderizer. Heat destroys the bromelain, so canned pineapple juice doesn't have it, but fresh does. Leaving fresh pineapple in contact with meat can result in an unappealing mushy texture. I used fresh juice for this recipe, and it did overtenderize the meat a bit during cooking. The good news is by the end of cooking the enzyme is destroyed, so the meat didn’t get any mushier over the next couple days as I ate it for leftovers. This issue would be avoided altogether by using canned juice.

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