FYI: I’ve updated two of my favorite recipes with new pictures and a few notes. The best blueberry muffins and this delicious southwest salad.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

BBQ pulled pork sandwiches rank right up there with some of my husband’s favorite meals. I tried three recipes last year that I thought would be sure winners and they were awful. One was so strong on the vinegar, we all gagged while it was cooking; the other two were just average and nothing to write home about.

So when my old high school friend, Sarah, sent me this recipe raving about it’s delicious simplicity, I tried it. And tried it. And tried it. And it has been a hit every time. In fact, just last week, I made it for our family reunion serving 13 kids and 13 adults and it was scarfed down (the leftovers were made into everything from nachos to quesadillas to pork/avocado rollups).

The recipe is so easy it is nearly mindless but it produces pork that is falling apart in it’s tenderness with a hint of hickory smokiness. Combined with my favorite homemade BBQ sauce and these to-die for rolls, this is seriously a meal for all seasons. (Thanks, Sarah!)

What To ServeFrench Bread Rolls (for the bun)
An awesome side like this: Barbecue Macaroni SaladColeslaw, or these Boston Baked Beans
Fresh vegetables and/or green salad

One Year Ago: Easy Chipotle Chicken Tacos
Two Years Ago: Fusilli alla Caprese

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Yield: Serves 8-12

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches


  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I’ve also used boneless pork loin – not tenderloin – but pork loin with good results)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon hickory flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce


  1. Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper over the pork and place in a slow cooker. Add water and liquid smoke. Cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, until the pork is very tender.
  2. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and discard the remaining liquid. Shred the pork using a couple of forks. Place the meat back in the slow cooker along with the barbecue sauce and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes until the pork is hot again. Serve on buns with extra barbecue sauce.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my lovely friend, Sarah M.

193 Responses to BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches {Slow Cooker}

  1. Joy says:

    I made a version of this recipe last night and it was killer! I rubbed my roast with a pork rub first and threw it on the grill for a couple minutes to get some nice color to it, then threw it in the crockpot with the liquid smoke and water but also added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Cooked it on low for 8 hrs, shredded it and added the BBQ sauce. I think by grilling it a little you get more of that smokey goodness. It was amazing!

  2. Kathy T. says:

    This was one of the BEST things I have ever eaten……I made it a week ahead of my family coming and froze it. It reheated beautifully in the crock pot. I also made your homemade bbq sauce (to die for) and served the pork on your rolls (which I also made ahead of time and froze…..also to die for!!!) along with some coleslaw. Thank you for helping me to make my family so happy at our Christmas gathering and making it easy for me! Merry Christmas!

  3. Ashley says:

    Love love this recipe! I want to make ahead for a party. How would you suggest I reheat? For the same great taste, as if I just pulled it out of the crock?

    • Mel says:

      Ashley – are you making far enough in advance to freeze or will it just be refrigerated? Either way, I usually reheat in the slow cooker on low until piping hot (I throw the frozen BBQ pork in the slow cooker and it takes 4-5 hours to thaw and reheat).

  4. Amy says:

    Any idea how many this serves? I need to feed about 70 people. Would you double or triple the recipe? Thanks for such great recipes!

  5. Caitlin says:

    I am making this for company in a few days and the pork shoulder I bought has quite a bit of fat on it. I wanted to ask, am I supposed to trim this (so the pulled pork isn’t too greasy)? Or do I just throw it in the slow cooker as is? I know it’s going to be delicious, thanks! 🙂

  6. Dana says:

    Hi Mel,

    The store only had mesquite flavor liquid smoke. Is that ok? I have never used liquid smoke before, so I am clueless!!


  7. Zara says:

    This recipe looks great!
    Would you recommend cutting the recipe in half?( using a 2lb boneless shoulder) I would only be serving 4. If that would work, would I cut the cooking time?
    Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Mel says:

      Zara – Yes, you can definitely cut the recipe in half…I’d still use about the same cooking time (maybe 1/2 hour less is all). Good luck!

  8. Kristin says:

    Do you have a go to dry rub recipe that would be fabulous for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches?

  9. Elysummers says:

    Liquid smoke is out. just a good home made bbq sauce.

    • Margaret says:

      I’m using the pork sirloin roast which are only about 2 lbs each. I;m going to put 3 or 4 in the crock pot…I’m afraid cooking them 8-10 hours is too long as they’re so small. It also says on the package to cook them in the oven without any moisture for only 1 1/2 hrs. They must be more tender than a pork shoulder if you can oven roast them. I’m wondering if I should season the meat then sear it in olive oil and then oven roast on a lower temperature for like 3-4 hours? What do you think?

      • Mel says:

        Margaret – I’m not entirely sure which type of roasts you are referring to, the slow cooker is pretty forgiving but if you are worried, you might follow the package directions instead or lower the time in the slow cooker. Good luck!

  10. Dara says:

    Hi! I was just wondering about how many people this serves? I plan to cook this for an upcoming party of 25-30 people. Should I double the recipe?

  11. Julie says:

    Hi Mel,
    I’m keen to try this recipe, however have never heard of hickory flavored liquid smoke! Maybe we don’t have it in lil ole New Zealand?! Have you any suggestions on what I could use as a substitute? Was wondering about some smoked paprika but maybe you know of something else that might work better? Thanks

    • Mel says:

      Julie – I don’t think there’s something that is a perfect substitute for liquid smoke especially not being familiar with products in New Zealand but a bit of smoked paprika would add good flavor.

  12. Laura says:

    Hi Mel, maybe a silly question, but why not pork tenderloin? Thanks for your great blog, our family loves it 🙂

  13. Jen says:

    Making this right now to take to the beach next week. Hoping to freeze and reheat for an easy meal. Would you freeze with or without the BBQ sauce added? Not sure if one way is better than the other! Thanks for your help. We LOVE your yummy meals!

    • Mel says:

      Jen – Whenever I freeze this, I toss it all in the freezer bag (shredded pork and BBQ sauce). Makes for an easy meal to pull out of the freezer!

  14. Evelyn Spanner says:

    I live in Scotland but have barbequed seriously for 20 years. My problem is a lot of products in North American recipes are unrecognisable/unavailable in the UK. In this one, liquid smoke, has me guessing. Can you please explain exactly what the product is, so that it might try to replicate it? Many thanks

  15. Sam says:

    Just want to clarify -I am putting together a bunch of freezer meals- you cook the pork first, shred, and then freeze? Or should I just mix everything together in a bag and then cook in the crockpot when needed? Thanks for so many awesome recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Sam – Yes, when I freeze this, I do all the cooking first and freeze the cooked and cooled pork mixed with BBQ sauce to thaw later. Reheats beautifully in a slow cooker on low for a few hours.

  16. Laura A says:

    I want to make this, but only “bone in center cut pork roast” is on sale this week…will it work the same, (just obviously I’d have to remove the bone)?

    • Mel says:

      Laura A – Yes! Should work just fine, keep in mind the bone contributes to the weight so you’ll end up with a bit less meat unless you use a larger roast.

      • PukeysMom says:

        Thank you. My first time cooking pork and I had the same exact cut as the previous poster. Thank you!

      • Holly W says:

        Thanks! I was scrolling through the comments hoping to see something about bone-in since that’s what is on sale this week! We’re having this on Sunday and it sounds so scrumptious. Thanks yet again Mel!

  17. Amanda Smith says:

    Hi Mell! Love, love, love ALL your recipes I’ve made so far!! Quick question about the BBQ pulled pork though. I put my boneless pork shoulder in for 5 hrs on low and it was almost impossible to shred!! What am I doing wrong??? My roast was 4.86lbs so I added extra water and liquid smoke but the roast wasn’t completely covered by the liquid. Do you think Its just my crock pot cooking too hot?? TIA!!

    • Mel says:

      Amanda Smith – My guess is it wasn’t enough time; the recipe guidelines are 8 to 10 hours on low and that extra couple hours will make a huge difference in how tender the roast gets. Mine isn’t ever completely covered in liquid either so that shouldn’t be a problem.

  18. kim peach says:

    Could you post the home made bbq sauce and rolls for the pulled pork sandwiches. Thankyou

  19. Monica says:

    Hi, I made this recipe this weekend for a family gathering and it turned out really well! Aside from a little issue with a bottle of too-spicy barbecue sauce, I was amazed I had pulled pork with so little effort. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m so glad I found the liquid smoke at the supermarket! : )

  20. Latrise M says:

    Hi. First, I LOVE your blog. I have been on it for a few years, but never commented on your amazing recipes. I have a question. Would you recommend cooking this on high for half the time?

  21. Latrise M says:

    Ok. Thank you so much! Ur site has been a life saver. I have tried quite a few of your recipes, and they have definitely been a success

  22. Lynn says:

    Will a pork loin roast (with bone in) work as well?

  23. Miller family mom says:

    We’ve made this recipe several times with great success! We just made it again for a family gathering and it got rave reviews. My local grocery store only had bone-in pork shoulder which I was reluctant to use because I didn’t want to deal with pulling meat off the bone. No need! The bone came out cleanly with zero effort. I just wish there were more leftovers! Thanks, Mel!!!

  24. Tiff G says:

    Do you think chicken would be just as good with this recipe? We love this with pork but I’ve only got chicken at home right now.

  25. Kathy says:

    Hi Mel! What size slow cooker do you use for this BBQ pulled pork? TIA

  26. Rebecca says:

    It’s also superb if you cook the pork in root beer (regular, not diet), instead of water.

  27. Roberta Schroeder says:

    Love this recipe. This time, my pork boneless Boston butt roast is 5.18 pounds. Should I increase the water and other seasonings (double) along with the time? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Roberta – I would increase the seasonings and probably 1 1/2 the water – but I’d keep the cooking time about the same. Maybe another hour on low but I wouldn’t double it altogether.

  28. Anne says:

    I made the coleslaw and the pulled pork +BBQ sauce tonight for dinner. I put it on wholemeal sourdough rolls I made and it was absolutely divine! My husband loved it. I’ll be checking out more of your recipes for sure. Thank you!

  29. Sarah says:

    I have searched lots of websites for the answer I need and yours has (pretty much), come up trumps! Thank you so much for all the helpful advice.
    My son wants me to cook pulled pork for the middle of the night snack after his wedding dinner, for 150 guests who by that stage will be pretty well dined and refreshed but will have hit the dancing and drinking stage. I am slightly struggling with numbers and also how to prepare this in advance so I too can enjoy the party.
    My local butcher in London, UK has boned pork shoulders, including the crackling, which weigh about 4 kg or about 9 pounds, though obviously less when the crackling is removed. This is only meant to be a snack – do you think 4 whole shoulders will be anything like enough?
    My second question is to do with preparing in advance. I will cook the meat a few days ahead so no need to freeze it. But should I add the sauce at that stage? Some websites I have seen mention that it can all get very mushy when reheated. I don’t have a slow cooker so it will need to be done either in the oven or on the hob. Do you think it might be better to take the cold shredded pork meat and add it into a bubbling barbecue sauce at the last minute, just giving it a gentle stir, or will the meat dry out that way? Your advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Sarah – good luck with your son’s wedding! It’s hard to know how much people will really eat that late at night…I always tend to err on the side of too much versus not enough. I guess if it were me, I’d probably go with 4-6 of the pork shoulders. I made this same recipe a few days in advance last month. I mixed the pork with the BBQ sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and then reheated it all together (reserving a little sauce to help a few of the dry spots at the end). The key is not to overheat it while heating it back up – that way it stays nice and moist without getting mushy.

  30. Kristen R says:

    This is such a good recipe and so insanely easy. I’ve also used this for chicken instead of pork. I’m aware she has one for chicken, but I have a picky eater that despises ketchup and won’t eat anything that has ketchup in it (which the chicken one does). Unfortunately, there’s no hiding ingredients from this picky eater. But it’s equally delicious with chicken, lest anyone have that same problem.

  31. Donna says:

    Thinking of browning it, cook it the remaining time in my pressure cooker, cooling completely, then slicing it up wafer thin and adding more bbq sauce, then freezing it.
    Any opinions?

  32. Stephanie says:

    Can I cook this BBQ pulled pork on high for 4 hours?

  33. Leigh Warner says:

    Hi Mel,
    First off, I’m loving your blog! 2nd, I planned on making this but at the market I grabbed a 5lb bone in rib roast by accident. (They really shouldn’t put them next to eachother) I’m not sure what to do. Any ideas? I’m thinking it’s a leaner cut so maybe less time? it will ouout like shavings!

    • Mel says:

      I think it should work, Leigh – I’d probably cut the time by an hour and see how it goes (usually bone-in cuts are a bit more tender).

  34. Julie says:

    I used the pork tenderloins from Costco. Cooked on high for five hours. Worked out great.

  35. Denise says:

    Mel can I make the pork in my roaster?

  36. Barb says:

    I just tried this with a pork loin and it was great; I also just tried the kalua pork with a bone in shoulder roast, and found that it was just way too grisly and greasy. So for my family’s taste and preference, I will use this recipe. I don’t stray too much into the unknown, but if there’s alot of good reviews, I will try something new.
    Thanks for all the great recipes.

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