Apple Cider Pulled Pork is one of my favorite fall recipes. It’s sweet but not cloying, savory but still cidery, and ready for the slow cooker in just 20 minutes. This recipe is gluten free, paleo, and Whole30, and makes enough pulled pork for dinner, leftovers, and a freezer stash. And my kids loved it.
Let’s play a game called “How many recipes can Danielle make with apple cider this fall?” I’ve done brined and grilled chicken, and a hot toddy, and both were so awesome that I couldn’t resist round three.
I know, I have a problem. But let’s just set that aside so we can talk about today’s recipe – slow cooker apple cider pulled pork.
As much as I love the flavor and texture that results from braised dutch oven pulled pork, sometimes a lady needs to bust out her slow cooker, because life is crazy, and kids are gonna be hungry, and that time has arrived for this Mama.
This slow cooker edition of apple cider pulled pork is the very definition of easy, kid-friendly fall meal planning. It takes just twenty minutes to prep, and then the crock pot does all the heavy lifting.
You can stash half in the freezer and still have oodles of leftovers for endless lunch prep all week. It’s the perfect companion to my apple cider vinegar coleslaw – have it on a sandwich on some gluten-free buns, or simply serve the pulled pork and slaw side-by-side for a perfectly paleo packed lunch.
Other suggestions for leftovers? Sprinkle it on flatbread or stuff into a grilled cheese sandwich with apple slices and brie, tuck it into tacos, or toss it into a salad (this kale pomegranate salad would be amazing with apple cider pulled pork).
My kids are weird, so they ate this pork solo with some green beans and apple slices. The adults in our house had it on sandwiches with autumn slaw, made with Sprouted Ancient Grain Buns from Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery. I found these at my local Mom’s Organic Market and they’re the BEST sprouted buns I’ve ever had – chewy, nutty, and tender, but dense enough to hold up to saucy pulled pork.
How to apple cider pulled pork in your slow cooker
So, step one – obtain a boneless pork shoulder or boston butt. The boneless variety are a little harder to come by in a traditional grocery store (at least the ones around here), but I can always find this cut at my local co-op, Whole Foods, and of course directly from a farmer or butcher shop.
Pat the pork nice and dry with some paper towels (this helps to distribute the rub uniformly) and then truss it up with some cotton kitchen twine. I tie it every few inches. Trussing the meat will ensure it cooks evenly. Using your (clean) hands, rub the spice mixture on all sides of the pork, pressing and patting it into the flesh.
Next you’ll layer the sliced onions in the bottom of the pot, sprinkle the thyme and smashed garlic over the onions, then top it all off with a couple cups of apple cider (unsweetened to keep it paleo) and a glug of apple cider vinegar (don’t skip the vinegar, or your resulting sauce will be too sweet).
Nestle the spiced pork on top, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. Easy peasy apple cider squeezy.
Once the pork is done cooking you have two options. You can cut the twine and shred the pork directly in the pot, then toss it with the sauce and onions. This this by far the easiest way to finish off the dish, but the sauce will be a bit thin (though still just as delicious).
The other option is to remove the pork with tongs and set aside, strain the braising liquid into a sauce pan, and then reduce that liquid into a thicker, rich sauce. (Wanna guess which one I picked?!?)
To create the sauce, bring the braising liquid to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced by about half (this takes about 20-25 minutes). I’m usually lazy, but I totally chose to reduce the sauce while I made a batch of slaw and some green beans for the kids. But you do you.
Once the sauce is done, toss it with the reserved apple cider pulled pork, and serve. This recipe freezes well and keeps for up to three months in a tightly sealed container.
Dietary Accommodations and Serving Recommendations
- Naturally gluten free, paleo, and Whole30 friendly (use unsweetened apple cider)
- Dairy free, soy free, nut free
- Serve with this Apple Cider Vinegar Slaw for a complete dinner! Add a bit of avocado for a paleo pulled pork bowl, or serve on your favorite buns
- Perfect for dinner + leftovers as meal prep
- Stash half in the freezer – keeps for up to 3 months
More fall inspired recipes
I love cooking with apples, both sweet and savory recipes – check out some of my seasonal favorites:
- Thick Cut Pork Chops with Apple Jicama Slaw
- Apple Cider Hot Toddy
- Gluten Free Apple Crisp
- Carrot Apple Soup with Pecans and Thyme
- Kale Pomegranate Salad with Apple, Pomegranate, and Pepitas
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Apple Cider Pulled Pork
- Cotton Kitchen Twine
- Crock Pot
- 4 lb boneless pork shoulder or boston butt
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped, tough woody stem pieces removed
- 2 c apple cider, unsweetened for pale or whole 30
- 2 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- In a small bowl, mix the salt, pepper, paprika and mustard. Using pieces of cotton kitchen twine, truss the pork along it's length, leaving about 2” between each section. Spread the rub over the pork evenly, coating all sides.
- Spread the onions over the bottom of the slow cooker, top the onions with the thyme and garlic, then pour the apple cider and apple cider vinegar over the onions. Nestle the seasoned pork shoulder on top of the onions. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Using scissors, cut the kitchen twine and gently remove it from the pork. Using two forks, gently shred the pork directly in the pot into large chunks. With tongs, toss the pork with the onions and the sauce.
- Alternatively, remove the pork from the crock pot with tongs and set aside. Strain the liquid into a sauce pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. While the sauce is reducing, shred the pork and return it to the crock pot with the cooked onions. Pour the reduced sauce over the onions and pork, and toss to combine.
- This pulled pork can be served hot, room temperature, or cold. Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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