Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork
Do you know what a cook lives for? The look in friends’ eyes when they’ve bitten into something you’ve made, and they’re deliriously happy about what they’re eating. Their wide-eyed smiley faces would say, “OMG, WOW,” if they weren’t so busy eating, and wanting to be polite and not talk with their mouths full.
That’s the response I got from my friends when I served them tacos with this slow cooked pulled pork.
Of course how could you not love tacos filled with spicy shredded pork?
Best thing is that it’s crazy easy to make, especially in a slow cooker. You just rub a pork shoulder roast with a blend of ground chiles and spices, let the roast sit in that rub for a while, brown the roast and then slow cook it until it’s fall apart tender.
Use a couple forks to pull it apart into tasty shreds and use the meat as a filling for tacos, tamales, or burritos.
Browning the roast first will help pull out wonderful flavor from the meat as well as intensifying the spice from the chiles and cumin. If you have the kind of slow cooker that allows you to do that in the cooker pan itself, great! Then you only need one pot.
Otherwise you can easily brown the pork roast on the stovetop. You can also skip the browning, though I don’t recommend it, it really does make a difference with the flavor.
Updated with new photos, first posted 2013.
We are using a boneless pork roast. If you use bone-in, you may need to cook the roast a little longer.
You may be inclined to trim off the excess fat of the roast. I caution against trimming too much fat as it is needed for the flavor and the juicy tenderness of the pulled pork. You can always skim off some of the excess fat after the roast has cooked.
- 4 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt (if using regular table salt, only use 2 teaspoons)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Scant pinch of ground cloves
- 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Sliced avocado
- Sliced radishes
- Thinly sliced cabbage
- Warm tortillas, corn or flour
- Fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Make the rub: Whisk together the rub ingredients in a small bowl.
2 Rub spice mix into roast: If the roast is tied up with butcher string, untie it. Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mix into the roast all over, reserving any leftover spice mix for later. Let sit at room temperature at least one hour or chill overnight.
3 Brown the roast: Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. (If you are using a slow cooker with a removable container that can be used on the stovetop, use that, otherwise use a separate pan.) Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides.
4 Put in slow cooker, cook on low: Place the roast in a slow cooker, and add any reserved spice rub. Cook on the low setting for 6 to 10 hours, until the pork is fall apart tender.
5 Shred pork, toss with meat juices: Remove the roast from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Cut into large chunks. Then use two forks to pull the meat apart into bite sized shreds.
Return the shreds to the slow cooker and toss to coat with the juice from the roast. (Alternatively you can just shred the roast with two forks in the slow cooker itself.)
Serve with warm tortillas, avocados, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, cilantro, and a splash of lime juice or salsa.