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Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!


March 2009
    Apr »

Crockpot Carolina Barbecue Pulled Pork Recipe

Crockpot Carolina Vinegar BBQ Pork Sandwich by Savour Fare

Click here to go directly to the recipe

I should probably, in the spirit of full disclosure, tell you that I am not from the South. I am from California, and to me, barbecue means meat cooked on a grill, over an open flame, ideally on the rare side. Heck, you could even throw some corn on there. Or artichokes. Or be really crazy and barbecue some avocados .

Fortunately for you all, this recipe is not one of my family recipes. It’s from my friend Mallory, who is from Illinois but LIVES in South Carolina, and she’s married to a North Carolinan (Carolingian?) to boot. Carolina Barbecue isn’t the style of barbecue most of you Yankees think of — there is no tomato, no molasses, no honey, no sweet and sticky sauce. Just vinegar, and lots of it. This is sour barbecue, and I love it. Hello, my name is Kate and I am addicted to things that are tart.

Of course, a real barbecue aficionado will point out that this is not barbecue at all because there is no fire or smoke, and that would be true, but let’s just ignore that, because I don’t know about you but I don’t have a barrel smoker in my yard – heck, I don’t have a yard – and a crockpot will just have to do.

I will further horrify barbecue aficionados by telling you that while I do make this with a pork shoulder or butt (and don’t try a loin, because it will be dry as dry and will be like sawdust. Sadly, you do need the fat here) I cut off the big piece of fat that is on top of that shoulder. You’ll know it when you see it. I’m no fat free nut (as my enduring love of bacon attests), but that big slab of fat kind of grosses me out, so it has to go. If you really love the lard, go ahead and render it. I won’t mind. After you cut off the fat, you rub the meat with spices, and set it atop some onions in your crockpot.

Carolina Barbecue BBQ Pulled Pork

Then you mix up the kicker – the vinegar sauce. Vinegar, a little sugar, some salt, some seasonings. A little more vinegar. Did I mention I like things tart? You pour part of the vinegar mixture over the pork, you cover it, turn your slow cooker to low, and walk away for at least 8 hours.

When you come back, you will be confronted with something that looks like this:

Crockpot Carolina BBQ pulled pork Barbecue
If your mouth isn’t watering yet, then either your browser is set wrong or you don’ have a proper appreciation for the porky goodness that is about to ensue. Of course, you don’t stop here – what about the rest of that vinegar? This is the point at which you pull the pork. Start with two forks and pull the pork apart. Then use your fingers.

Carolina Crockpot Barbecue Pulled Pork BBQ Slow Cooker
Looks good, huh? Maybe a little dry?

Deploy the shredded pork into a bowl, add the juices from the crock pot, and pour over the remaining vinegar sauce. (If your eaters aren’t vinegar addicts, you could always serve the sauce on the side, I suppose).

Carolina Crockpot Barbecue Pulled Pork BBQ slow cooker
(I wished as soon as I took this that I had used a different bowl, but I wasn’t about to get another one dirty. This is reality folks).

The classic application for pulled pork is to eat it as a sandwich (though probably not so classic on ciabatta with parsley. I may have mentioned I’m from California). But don’t let your imagination stop there. Add it to chili, make it into nachos (tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream, ranch beans and pulled pork topped with cheese. Yes, I have eaten this), use as a filling for enchiladas, or eat it straight with cornbread.

But save some for me.

4.9 from 7 reviews

Crockpot Carolina Barbecue Pulled Pork Recipe
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 2 t salt
  • ½ t ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-6 lb) pork butt or shoulder roast
  • 1 T liquid smoke
  • 1 c cider vinegar
  • ⅓ c Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ t crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 t sugar
  • ½ t dry mustard
  • ½ t granulated garlic
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper
  1. Place onions in crock pot.
  2. Blend brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper; rub over roast.
  3. Place roast in crock pot. Drizzle liquid smoke over roast.
  4. Combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic and cayenne pepper and stir to mix well.
  5. Drizzle about ⅓ of mixture over roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining mixture.
  6. Cook roast on low for 8-10 hours.
  7. Remove meat and onions, discard onions and shred meat. Add juices from crock pot and remaining vinegar mixture (a portion may be reserved to pass).
  8. Serve plain or as sandwiches.

101 comments to Crockpot Carolina Barbecue Pulled Pork Recipe

  • Sally JPA

    Living in the Bay Area, I was feeling homesick for the South a few weeks ago and tried this out. This recipe is like crack. I rarely make the same recipe twice, and I’ve made this (using a pastured pork shoulder roast from the farmer’s market) once a week for the past three weeks. There’s just my husband and me, so we have lots of leftovers. Deeee-lish! Thanks so much for posting it.

    The only change I’ve made is to cut the sugar in half, as we generally eschew sugar.

  • Sally JPA

    Oh! Also, those onions have been slow-roasted in pork fat and vinegar for 8 hours, which is to say, they taste amazing. Though it’s not traditional for Eastern Carolina bbq, we have just been tossing them in with the shredded pork.

  • Margaret

    Amazing! That is all :-)

  • I made this last night for my family. It’s the first pulled pork recipe I’ve ever tried, bit it was such a huge hit I won’t be looking any further. Thanks!

  • Just made this recipe! The meat is so tender and delicious! I noticed the reviews who effectively made BBQ Pork Soup and so I countered this by removing the liquid from the slow cooker and only adding in the rest of the vinegar sauce left from step one. I found the meat to not be very vinagery at all and this definitely kicked it up a notch. Also if you really want it to feel like it was done on a fire I might suggest adding a little more liquid smoke. I didn’t do this but will try it next time…. I guarantee there will be a next time!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!!!

  • Sally JPA is right… Those onions are CRAZY good! Don’t let them go to waste!

  • Mike

    Great looking recipe. It is in the crock pot as I type this. One question. What kind of bread is that in the picture? Just trying to make my sandwich look as nice as yours. Thanks.

  • Michel

    Tried this for the first time, was amazing! It was very easy to make. I took Josh advice and added more smoke, that did the trick..

  • I made this dish last night before bed and ate it for lunch today. It was so simple and delicious! I did cut the white sugar in half also. I also had ALOT of extra liquid but I did something a little different instead of discarding the onions I put them in the blender with some of the sauce and used that gravy! It was awesome.

  • I just made this recipe. It is awesome! do NOT forget to add Texas Pete to your sandwich or BBQ plate! great recipe

  • P Wichman

    My husband first had Carolina style pulled pork when we were in Boston at the Highland Grill. I have been trying to recreate it since. This recipe more than fits the bill. It is delicious. Make sure you get the pork shoulder. It makes all the difference.

  • Carrie

    I made this yesterday and it was awesome! My husband has already asked whether “we” can make this again next week!

  • Dia

    Made this for dinner tonight. I’ve made pulled pork in the crock pot, before, but used the traditional “yankee” style, with tomato based bbq sauce. My son, who is not a big pork fan, asked for this style, as he actually tied it last time he was in NC. I myself have always loved it, and always had it when in Chapel Hill. One word for this – AMAZING!!! Had the perfect amount of seasoning & vinegar tanginess!! It was as if I were eating in Chapel Hill again!! Pure heaven!! I have added this to my recipe file and will be making this quite often (as soon as next week) !!! oh, almost forgot, used the onions too, as an onion lover,couldn’t help but use them!! Thank you very much!!

  • steve

    I’ve been eating Low Country (Carolina coastal area) barbecue my whole life… (I’m 64). I tried this recipe…followed it to the proverbial “T”. Absolutely horrible. Vinegar is my favorite base for barbecue but this has all the subtlety of a Mack truck. No balance of flavors… don’t waste your pork…

  • Erik

    Gave this a try – it turned out great. Not quite the “South Carolina” style I was looking for, but lots of flavor with a little spicy twist. As an alternative, I added regular bbq sauce and cilantro with the chiabatta buns. Thanks for sharing!

  • April

    I have made this recipe now 3 times without the liquid smoke because I couldn’t find it and it was amazing. It’s cooking now WITH the liquid smoke (because I finally found it) and it already smells wonderful. This has become my go-to recipe for BBQ–everyone I have made i for thinks it unreal!! AWESOME! Thank you!!!

  • Carolie

    It’s cooking now — can’t wait! This is definitely Eastern NC BBQ, which is different from Lexington-Style NC BBQ and SC BBQ. If you’re making it looking for one of the latter two, it won’t fit the bill (though as an Eastern Nc style fanatic, I think this far surpasses both the other kinds!)

    For a very funny overview of BBQ around the south, look up The BBQ Song in YouTube! Thanks again for the recipe!

  • Oh…also, Eastern NC BBQ is traditionally served with “red” slaw, which is vinegary and NOT mayonnaise based. Usually they pile the heavenly piggy goodness on a soft, squashed, cheap white bun, put the red slaw on top, sprinkle on a little fiery vinegar sauce (NOT Texas Pete!), smoosh it together with your hands, and eat before it gets too soggy and begins to fall apart! Side dishes are hush puppies, beans, more slaw, and occasionally french fries.

  • Last comment and then I’ll hush…you don’t even have to shred it for Eastern style BBQ. Just lift the (falling apart) pieces to a cutting board once it’s cool enough to handle, and use a cleaver or other big knife to chop it up. Easier to mound on a sandwich and to eat…no chance of long strands coming out and flopping on your chin!

  • Kathy Kenny

    I want to say this recipe is awesome. This is the second time Im making it. The family loved it. I live in Va Beach and its better than the pork we get out. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ashley

    I have been to a many “pig pickins” in my life, and hope this recipe does the trick…being born in N.C. I can truly appreciate Eastern North Carolina cue! Thanks for the recipe :)


  • Hi! I’m a Carolina Girl (Born in NC, moved to SC in 82) and now a GA peach. THIS is a recipe we’ve had for years. I’m glad you are sharing it. It’s one of our favorites. One more step I might add for other BBQ fans: After you pull your pork & do the 2nd “drenching” in vinegar, preheat oven to 350. Combine in a small bowl approximately 1/2 cup honey bbq sauce or reg BBQ sauce & 1/4 cup mustard based BBQ sauce. Mix well and pour mixture onto pork, tossing to coat. Spray a Pyrex baking dish with cooking spray. Add pork. Place in 350 degree oven. Heat thoroughly until BBQ sauce is baked onto pork, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. (I do this with about 1/2 of my pork mixture. I almost said half of my Boston Butt..didn’t sound quite right. :-) HA! ) Anyway…. If y’all (yes, y’all) want to check me out… I write a column: What’s Cooking in Bryan County ~ It’s not your typical cooking column: Erma Bombeck meets Betty Crocker maybe? ;-) Cheers!

  • Oh, btw I actually used my version of this recipe in my column. It’s great on Hawaiian Rolls as sliders!! The “Red Slaw” mentioned in a comment above, that is one of my favorites. My mom used to make it and we called it “BBQ slaw”. It is traditionally made with ketchup instead of mayo. I know, sounds weird, but it is AWESOME!

  • Emily

    I’ve done a handful of slow cooker pulled pork recipes, all of which were slathered in various barbecue sauces. They’ve all been good, but this recipe was fantastic as is, just with the cooking juices. I subbed hickory smoke powder from The Spice House in place of the liquid smoke since that’s what I keep on hand. Meat literally fell apart when I lifted it out of the pot.

    Love the versatility of a BBQ not drowning in sauce, and look forward to enjoying this in various forms of leftovers. I pulled by hand, and then just added in enough of the cooking juices to keep things moist. The rest is in the fridge for the dogs, who were thrilled to have a special sauce on their kibble tonight!

  • MakeMine Cadburys

    OMG – DEEEEEE-licious!!!!!!!

  • Kathy

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I go to North Carolina almost every year. Always get BBQ when I am there.

  • Carrie

    I didn’t use onions, liquid smoke, or Worcestershire sauce because I didn’t have any of that stuff around the house. And it was still VERY good!

  • Stacy B

    As a Eastern NC girl, moving to Texas left one huge hole. My pulled pork! Pulled pork here is covered in sweet tomato BBQ sauce. To say I was suffering for that pulled pork with slaw sammich was to put it mildly. Ive tried every recipe online I could find and none ever came close. Until this one. If youre wanting to try some real Carolina PP, or even chicken folks, this is the way to go!

  • I liked this so much I added it to a Glossi. As a professional BBQ guy I love trying out new recipes. thanks so much for offering this. I will tweet you! Great recipe!

  • donna goddard

    what happened to the slaw recipe. I copied the recipe here this am. now I can’t find the slaw recipe. mine is so like it. but wanted to have the same. my pork will b out of the crock about 4:30. My whole house if smelly so awesome.
    thanks for the recipe.

  • Patty

    This is in the crock pot right now….I used wild hog for this recipe since my husband went hunting last week and filled our freezer. Looking for something different to make and came across this recipe. If it taste as good as it smells, we will be one HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY family

  • Heather

    This dish turned out absolutely delicious. The second time I cut out the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Which made it taste even better. Love this recipe!!!

  • Kate

    It’s possible my shoulder (And I used a shoulder) was smaller than I noted in the recipe (though only slightly — it was in no way less than 3.5 lbs) bt it was definitely done after 8 on low. (I have a low tech crock pot which only allows me to set it for 4 or 6 hours on high, and 8 or 10 on low, and then switches to warm. ) I think the moist heat of the crockpot might influence the texture — there’s definitely an issue with mushiness if you let meats go too long in the crockpot — the corned beef I made earlier this week was definitely mushy.

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  • [...] trust, the act of cooking that recipe connects you to the recipe’s giver. Every time I make Crockpot Carolina Pulled Pork, I think of my friend Mallory, whom I haven’t seen in person in FAR too long, and it feels [...]

  • [...] Recipe — Crockpot Carolina Barbecue Pulled Pork with Vinegar … Mar 19, 2009 … This crockpot pulled pork recipe hails from North Carolina and has a sweet vinegar sauce. [...]

  • [...] Originally Posted by 5stones OP.. I have an EXCELLENT receipe for Carolina pulled pork that is made with a dry rub and vinegar sauce. cooks all day in the crock pot. SO easy and SOOOO good. If you want it PM me Is it similar to this one? I'm heading to the grocery store today for the stuff to make one. Recipe — Crockpot Carolina Barbecue Pulled Pork with Vinegar | Savour Fare [...]

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  • […] week I made some Carolina Pulled Pork in our slow cooker and it was quite delicious! I am a huge fan of vinegar based barbecue.  I have […]

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