How to make beer pulled pork in the slow cooker + what beer styles work best.
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Read on for useful tips and step by step pictures (1 min)
About This Pulled Pork Recipe
Pork and beer are natural partners and always make for a delicious combination whether they are simply paired together or the pork is cooked with beer.
One of the best parts of the latter (besides savoring the final result) is enjoying the delicious aromas – in this case coming from the slow cooker.
Our pork in beer recipe makes use of few simple ingredients and delivers flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy meat that can be enjoyed in a number of ways.
- Pork. Use pork butt or pork shoulder, about 3 to 4 pounds large piece. A boneless cut is preferred, but if there happens to be a bit of shoulder blade bone do not worry – it will be easy to remove in the end.
- Beer. We used a delicious craft brown ale brewed by Horse & Dragon Brewing Company here in Fort Collins. It has dark fruit and toasty, burnt caramel notes and worked perfectly. For other style suggestions see below.
- Onion. Use a large yellow, white or red onion.
- Dry rub. To create the seasoning for the pork you will need coarse salt, brown sugar, paprika (sweet or smoked), garlic powder and oregano.
The best styles to use for pulled pork share a few common traits and are similar to the best beers to cook pork with.
A dark ale or lager brewed with roasted malt is generally the direction in which you should be looking for contenders. The rich, complex flavors in the styles listed below are very compatible with this dish.
- brown ales and amber ales (avoid aggressively hopped ones)
- porter ales and stouts (if making Guinness pulled pork (or using other Irish stout) you might want to increase the brown sugar in the rub just so that you can counter the bitterness of the roasted barley in the grain bills of Irish stout)
- Belgian dubbel ale
- winter warmer ales
- dark lagers such as dunkel, schwarzbier, bock and doppelbock
- amber lagers such as Marzen and Vienna lager
Workflow for Slow Cooker Pork in Beer
- By way of prep work thinly slice the onion and trim any excess fat from the pork. Set up your crock pot.
- Mix the dry rub ingredients well and generously season the meat, rubbing it in all crevices. Any leftover rub can be added to the crock pot.
- Layer the onions at the bottom of the crock pot, place the seasoned pork on top and add the ale.
- Close the lid and let slow cooking do its magic. The pork will slowly but surely become more and more tender, the onions will just about melt into the liquid.
How Long to Cook Pork Shoulder in a Crock Pot
Time will vary depending on the actual size/weight of your meat and the temperature setting you select on your slow cooker. Consider the guidelines listed below, but overall it is your own judgement that will determine doneness.
The pork shoulder is ready when the meat easily falls apart when pressed with a fork (#9 above) and can then be pulled apart effortlessly using two forks (#10 above).
Be sure not to overcook the meat – at some point it will become mealy.
- Slow Cooker Beer Pulled Pork on LOW – from 8 to 12 hours, depending on meat size and weight.
- Slow Cooker Beer Pulled Pork on HIGH – from 4 to 6 hours, depending on meat size and weight.
TIP: Once pulled apart, leave the meat in the slow cooker on warm for a few minutes – it will absorb the delicious juices.
Pulled Pork Temp
Even though pork is cooked when a meat thermometer registers 165 F, for pulled pork you want it to reach 195 – 200 F so it can actually be tender enough to shred with a fork.
Do not worry about the temperature too much – simply test if the pork pulls apart easily.
How Much Pulled Pork Per Person?
Budget about 1/3 of a pound of cooked pulled pork person or about 5 to 6 ounces.
If you want to calculate how much raw pork shoulder (pork butt) to start with use the formula below, based on the fact that pork will lose about half of its weight during slow cooking. Epsecially if it is a bone-in piece (for boneless it is along the lines of 40 %).
Formula: People intended to be served x 5.5 ounces/person x 1.5 = ounces of raw pork shoulder needed
For example, if you are serving 8, that means that you will need 8 x 5.5 = 44 ounces of pulled pork (maybe a bit more), which means that you will need 66 ounces 0r 4.124 lbs raw pork piece or about 4.5 lbs for good measure (44 x 1.5 = 66; 66/16=4.125).
Pulled Pork Sides
Because our rub is so simple and the beer lends toasty, rich flavors and earthy, spicy notes the resulting beer pulled pork is very versatile in terms of how you can serve it.
- We like to dish it up alongside some corn bread, pickles, pickled jalapenos, baked beans and BBQ sauce
- It is delicious in a slider, sandwich or a wrap
- It makes a great topping for pulled pork nachos
- Makes delicious pork tacos or quesadillas
- A tasty pizza topping (combine with caramelized onions)
- Pile it up over a serving of beer mashed potatoes
What to Do with Leftovers?
We always feel like if you are going to be patiently waiting for the pork to cook slowly you may as well prepare a large piece. So we usually end up with leftovers.
If you have them, leftovers will save well in the fridge for a few days or you can go ahead and freeze them.
To reheat frozen beer pulled pork first let it thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter at room temperature. Once completely thawed place in an appropriately sized pot and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- 3 to 4 lbs boneless pork shoulder or pork butt*
- 1 large onion (yellow, white or red)
- 1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 12 oz beer (use a flavorful, malty ale or lager such as brown ale, dunkel, bock, porter, stout)
1. Set up your crock pot and bring the pork to room temperature. Trim any excess fat.
2. Thinly slice the onion and spread over the bottom of the crock pot.
3. Mix the salt, brown sugar, garlic salt, pepper, paprika and oregano and rub all over the pork. Sprinkle any extra seasoning over the onions.
4. Place the seasoned pork on top of the onions in the crock pot and add the beer. Take care not to wash away the seasoning from the top of the meat.
5. Close the lid and cook on low for up to 12 hours or high for up to 6-7 hours. Exact cooking time will vary based on the size/weight of your meat and your brand of slow cooker.
6. When pork is really tender and can be easily shredded with a pair of forks it is done. Let the shredded pork sit in the crock pot for a few minutes on warm to soak up the delicious juices. Serve.
*you can use bone-in but cooking time will be longer; you will be able to easily remove the bone(s) in the end
For more beer style recommendations see the post.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 590Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 1179mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 45g