Brined Pulled Pork for the Slow Cooker

slow cooked pork shoulder on a cutting board on a green checked napkin on a wooden table

Cooked low and slow after a long brining, there’s nothing quite like tender, succulent pulled pork. Nearly culture every worldwide has figured out that the key to making pork moist and delicious lies in using an salty, acidic liquid to marinate the meat prior to cooking. This recipe takes advantage of that ancient wisdom.

How to Traditionally Brine Pork

In different parts of Asia, pork is often cut into small pieces and marinated in rice vinegar before cooking in pork fat. In Argentina and Venezuela, pork is traditionally marinated in red wine vinegar. In India, pork is soaked in yogurt before seasoning and cooking. In Mexico and Central America, it is typical to marinate pork in orange or lime juice. And here in the United States, we have a long tradition of cider vinegar-marinated pork barbecue.

Vinegar, citrus, or yogurt provides the acid that breaks down the meat so that it remains tender and succulent, even after long cooking. And similar to brining and drying your nuts and seeds, or soaking your grains in whey, marinating pork may also have the added benefit of improving its digestibility and nutrition.

Whether cooking chops, ribs, loins or roasts, marinating in an acidic brine can make any pork dish more tender and delicious. Your marinade could be as simple as a 12–24 hour soak in vinegar and water (2:1), plus some sea salt, or it could be a more elaborate marinade with seasonings and spices to make dinner extra special. (If you have a thick piece of meat or a roast, be sure to score or puncture it so the marinade can penetrate deep within.)

How to Buy Good Pork

If you are trying to live a healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyle, where you buy your pork and how it was raised are extremely important factors to consider. While all industrial-scale meat production is inhumane and environmentally devastating, commercial pig farms are arguably among the worst of all the concentrated livestock operations, from both an animal welfare and an environmental perspective. The hog manure lagoons alone destroy all quality of life for miles around them.

But not all pork is created equal. Fortunately, it is becoming easier and easier to find pork from pigs raised humanely and sustainably on pasture and forest—where pigs naturally live and have been raised by our ancestors for thousands of years.

At the grocery store, look for labels that include “organic,” “pasture-raised,” “humanely raised,” or “Animal Welfare certified.”

Online, you can find pasture-raised, heritage breed pork from small family farms all over the United States. These farms will ship your meat order on dry ice to you, so choose one close to you, like U.S. Wellness Meats in Missouri, Well-Rooted Farm in Oregon, or White Oak Pastures in Georgia.

For the best price, find a local farmer will sell pork to you directly. can help you find a local, small farmer sustainably producing pasture-raised meat in your community.

slow cooked pork shoulder on a cutting board on a green checked napkin on a wooden table
4.86 from 7 votes

Slow Cooker Brined Pulled Pork

Traditionally brined and marinated, this slow cooker pulled pork comes out tender, moist and delicious every time. Perfect for tacos, sandwiches and more!
CuisineGAPS, Gluten Free, Paleo
Makes6 servings
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 1 day 6 hours
This recipe may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.




Dry Rub


  • Score your shoulder roast with a skewer or sharp knife to allow the marinade to penetrate deeper.
  • Place the scored pork shoulder into the ceramic bowl of your slow cooker. In a 2-to-1 ratio of vinegar and water, pour enough vinegar and water into the slow cooker to assure the pork is completely covered. Add the sea salt.
  • Put the ceramic bowl in the refrigerator and allow the pork to marinate 12–24 hours.
  • After marinating, pour out enough of the liquid from the ceramic bowl to expose about an inch or two of the pork roast.
  • Add the onion wedges to the remaining liquid.
  • Mix together all the ingredients of the dry rub and cover the exposed surface of the pork roast with it. Let any extra fall off into the liquid in the bowl.
  • Place the bowl into the base of the slow cooker and cook on High until the pork is tender and falls apart easily, 6 to 8 hours.
  • Carefully remove the pork to a large container and, using a pair of forks, shred the meat. Remove any bones or other inedible bits. Add cooking liquid from the bowl for extra moisture or to make a sauce.
  • Enjoy alone or with your favorite BBQ sauce. Great for tacos and sandwiches, too!


Calories: 139kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgPotassium: 276mgFiber: 2gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 760IUVitamin C: 2.2mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2.8mg




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