School is almost back in session, and if you've been looking for the perfect back-to-school dinner that'll please everyone in the family, you can't go wrong with pulled pork loin. Whether you're new to the kitchen or the household chef, making delicious pork in a slow cooker is simple.
Read on for step-by-step instructions to make tasty pulled pork on busy school nights. And, we've got you covered with the tips and tricks you'll need to elevate your cooking game along the way.
Why choose pork loin for pulled pork?
While a pork shoulder roast or pork butt are popular choices for pulled pork, you can absolutely make this recipe with a loin. This cut of meat is lean yet tender, so you and your loved ones can enjoy a succulent result without excessive fat. What's more, pork loin's firm texture holds up well during the slow cooking process, making it easy to shred into perfectly tender and juicy strands.
Can you substitute pork tenderloin in a pulled pork recipe?
The short answer is, no. It's not recommended to use tenderloin for the pork recipe below, because the meat is even leaner and smaller in size. Essentially, a pork tenderloin lacks the necessary fat content and connective tissue to maintain tenderness during the prolonged cook time. In fact, a tenderloin will likely cook quickly and become dry and tough when subjected to the slow cooking required for pulled pork.
Bring your favorite pulled pork loin recipe to life
Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cook time: 6 hours.
- 2 packs of Hatfield® Touch of Sea Salt Pork Loin Filet, cut into quarters.
- 1 tsp. garlic powder.
- 1 cup barbecue sauce.
- ½ cup chicken broth.
- 1 large onion, sliced.
- Salt, to taste.
How to make slow cooker pulled pork
- Place the pork loin in the base of the slow cooker and sprinkle with garlic powder.
- Add the barbecue sauce, chicken broth and onion. Then, stir to combine.
- Now, cover the slow cooker and set the temperature to high. Cook for six hours.
- After this time, remove the cover and shred the pork using two forks.
- Finally, stir to combine with the barbecue sauce mixture and serve warm.
Using the oven
- Preheat your oven to 300.
- Cut the loin into quarters and sprinkle it with garlic powder. Add a pinch of salt to taste and let the seasoned meat sit for a few minutes — allowing the flavors to absorb.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and chicken broth.
- Next, take a large oven-safe baking or casserole dish and place the pork loin pieces at the bottom. Spread the sliced onions over the pork loin.
- Pour the sauce and stock mixture over the meat and onions. Then, cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
- Now, move the dish to the preheated oven and cook for two to three hours.
- After this time, remove the dish from the oven and carefully uncover it.
- Use two forks to shred the cooked pork loin into pulled pork — the meat should easily fall apart.
- Lastly, mix the shredded pork with the BBQ sauce and onions in the baking dish. Then, serve and enjoy!
Can you make pulled pork loin without sauce?
Unlike pork butt, the pork loin muscle has considerably less connective tissue and fat. This means a pork butt can be served with or without sauce while still being tender, but a loin needs something thick — like barbecue or Worcestershire sauce — to stay tender and moist. Therefore, it's not advised to make this recipe without a sauce to support a juicy result!
How do you know when pork loin for pulled pork is ready?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pork is fully cooked and safe to consume once it reaches an internal temperature of 145. However, when it comes to preparing shredded pork, it's recommended to heat the pork until the internal temperature hits 195. This is important to ensure the meat is tender and easily shreddable.
Whether using a slow cooker, oven, Instant Pot or other cooking method, you can test the pork loin with a fork after removing it from heat to make sure it's fully cooked and tender enough to shred. If it feels too tough, simply cook for a bit longer, repeating the process until it's ready to go.
Want to get started with pre-marinated, expertly dry-rubbed pork? Head to your local grocery store to pick up your favorite Hatfield® products today!
Exploring the benefits of pre-marinated pork and finding the perfect pair
For the busy home cook, using pre-marinated pork makes it easy to create this pulled pork recipe in practically no time at all. This ensures your pork loin is infused with delectable flavors, elevating the final dish and the entire cooking experience. With a range of options to suit everyone's taste, Hatfield®'s pre-seasoned pork — like Hatfield® Savory Brown Sugar Pork Loin Filet and Hatfield® Garlic Mustard Pork Loin Filet — provides a hassle-free yet flavor-packed solution for busy school nights.
How to serve slow cooker BBQ pulled pork
The versatility of pulled pork loin opens the door to plenty of serving and pairing options that can delight friends and family alike.
First, let's talk about what to do with the pork itself: You can simply serve it as is, creating a well-rounded meal by incorporating your favorite sides. Or, we suggest serving this dish as a mouthwatering pulled pork sandwich filling. Stack the pork between your preferred buns and top it however you'd like; coleslaw is a popular choice for an extra crunch, but in a household of picky eaters, a plain pork sandwich might do just the trick.
You can also transform your slow cooker BBQ pulled pork into an irresistible taco. Simply place pork onto warm tortillas of your choice and serve pork tacos, also known as carnitas, to your loved ones. Then, feel free to add any toppings you see fit, such as coleslaw, sour cream, shredded cheese or cilantro.
Choosing the right sides
While there's no shortage of options to choose from, here are some of our favorite sides to complement slow cooker pork loin roast:
- Zesty coleslaw with a tangy dressing.
- Smoky and sweet caramelized baked beans.
- Cornbread with a buttery crust.
- Creamy macaroni and cheese.
- Mustard potato salad with fresh herbs.
- Grilled seasonal vegetables.
- Artisanal pickles.
Making the most of leftover pulled pork
If you find yourself with extra pork at the end of the night, consider yourself lucky! You can save leftover pulled pork for dinner another weeknight or even pack it in school lunches. To extend the shelf life of this dish and ensure food safety for you and your loved ones, it's important to use the following best practices:
- Storing: Before storing, let your leftovers cool to room temperature — making sure not to leave them out for too long. Then, transfer the pulled pork to an airtight container or re-sealable plastic bag and place in the refrigerator. This will last three to four days in the fridge if properly stored.
- Freezing: Divide your excess pork into the portions you plan to use later, as smaller sections will be easier to thaw and reheat. Next, wrap each portion tightly in plastic or aluminum foil, or move to freezer-safe bags. Place in the coldest part of the freezer for up to two to three months.
- Reheating: Reheat shredded pork on the stovetop for the best texture and moisture. Place pork in a saucepan over low heat, add a splash of chicken stock or water to prevent dryness, and cook until ready. If reheating from frozen just be sure to give the pulled pork time to thaw overnight before getting started.
Choose premium pork from Hatfield®
Hatfield® offers high-quality pork products crafted with care and sustainability, ensuring a delicious and reliable choice for pulled pork every time. With options like Hatfield® Touch of Sea Salt Pork Loin Filet and Hatfield® Montreal Pork Loin Filet, you can save time in the kitchen with boldly seasoned and marinated options that will leave everyone wanting more.
If you're ready to elevate your mealtime experience and create lasting memories, use our store locator to find your favorite Hatfield® pork products at a supermarket or grocery store near you to get started!