Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Sliders

Pulled pork is a popular dish around our house. Normally I make it on the smoker, low and slow. It may take most of the day (or night) but it is well worth the time. Specially when the end result is some slow cooker balsamic pork sliders.

Now, I don’t believe in a grilling or smoking ‘season’, but the other day it was flat out cold and windy here and there was no way I was going to babysit the smoker. Call me wimpy. So, it was time for Plan B. And Plan B was good. Very good.

This slow cooked tender balsamic pork has tremendous flavor. It’s sweet. It’s savory. The sauce is so delicious. And the Asian slaw? Fantastic. I was scared (really) of using fish sauce. I mean that stuff has an ‘aroma’. But it was great. I’m not afraid of it at all any more.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork SlidersThese slow cooker balsamic pork sliders will definitely become a go-to winter-time recipe for us. Also try my crazy-good bold Ranch slow cooker pork chops.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pork Sliders

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 9 hours
Total Time 9 hours 5 minutes
Servings 10 -12 servings

Ingredients

For the Balsamic pork

  • 3 pound boneless pork shoulder excess fat trimmed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup seedless blackberry jam
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Asian Slaw see below
  • 12 slider-sized buns or rolls

For the Asian slaw

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • One 1/2-pound wedge purple cabbage, cored, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Instructions

For the Balsamic pork

  • Put the pork into a slow cooker set on low.
  • Whisk together the honey, vinegar, jam, Hoisin, broth, garlic. Stir in the onion, Pour sauce over pork and cook 8-9 hours until fall-apart tender.
  • Remove pork to a bowl to cool slightly then shred.
  • Pour sauce from slow cooker into a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Slowly pour into sauce while whisking.
  • Bring sauce to a boil and continue stirring until thickened, 3-5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce back into the slow cooker and add the shredded meat. Stir.
  • Serve meat over rolls topped with Asian slaw.

For the Asian slaw

  • Whisk together all but the cabbage and green onions in a medium bowl.
  • Add in the cabbage and green onions and toss to coat.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pulled Pork on the Char-Broil Big Easy

I’m a huge fan of pulled pork cooked on a smoker. Of course, the Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-Less Fryer is not a smoker, so I was a bit skeptical when I set out to make pulled pork on it. Well, color me un-skeptical now. Cooking a pork butt on the Big Easy was not only easy and quick (compared to a 10-12 hour cook time on my smoker), but the end product came out super moist and tender. The meat shreds very easily, perfect for BBQ sandwiches or my favorite, BBQ pulled pork baked potatoes.

Pulled Pork on the Char-Broil Big EasyI started with an 8 pound bone-in pork butt that I trimmed just slightly. I injected the butt with a mix of apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and adobo sauce. Then I let it get happy in the fridge overnight. Why adobo sauce? I was wanting a hint of smoky flavor to the meat, and adobo gives you that. You could substitute a few drops liquid smoke instead but I like the flavor of adobo better.

The next morning I patted the butt dry on the outside and then rubbed it with a simple spice mix that had smoked paprika added in for more smoky flavor. Onto the Big Easy for 4ish hours until the meat hit 195 F, mopping the last 15 degrees of cooking.

Foiled, rested, and shredded. For a little extra smoky flavor, mix the meat with a smoky flavored BBQ sauce. If you end up with any leftovers, use it to make my pulled pork mac-and-cheese.

My Maryland pit beef made on the Big Easy also makes for delicious sandwiches. Give it a try!

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!
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Pulled Pork on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Cooking a pork butt on the Big Easy was not only easy and quick (compared to a 10-12 hour cook time on my smoker), but the end product came out super moist and tender. The meat shreds very easily, perfect for BBQ sandwiches or my favorite, BBQ pulled pork baked potatoes.
Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 13 hours
Servings 16
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the pulled pork

  • 1 8 pound bone-in pork butt trimmed of any large pieces of fat
  • Pork injection brine see below
  • Pork rub see below
  • Pork mopping sauce see below

For the pork injection

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon or more adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles)

For the pork rub

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flake

For the pork mopping sauce

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Instructions

For the pulled pork

  • Inject pork with the injection brine every inch or so. Place into a re-sealable container or deep baking dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove pork from container and pat dry on the outside.
  • Rub pork on all sides with the pork rub.
  • Fire up your Big Easy.
  • Place the pork into the Big Easy basket and lower into the Big Easy.
  • Cook until the internal temperature reaches 180 F.
  • Brush or spray the pork with the mopping sauce every 20-30 minutes until the meat reaches 195 F.
  • Remove meat from the cooker, wrap in foil and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Shred or chop meat as desired.

For the pork injection

  • Combine all ingredients in a small pan over medium heat. Stir until salt is dissolved. Let cool before using.

For the pork rub

  • Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.

For the pork mopping sauce

  • Combine all ingredients.

Pulled Pork Tater Tot Nachos

I usually have a little pulled pork leftover after I smoked a pork butt on my Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker. It usually ends up on baked potatoes. Or in stromboli. Or in nachos, like these pulled pork tater tot nachos. Like any nachos, you can go pretty much nuts and put whatever you want on these. I really like the combination of red onion, green chiles, peppadews, black olives, and pinto beans. You get a mix of crunch, heat and salt. The smoked provolone sauce and spicy BBQ sauce really bring it all together.

Pulled Pork Tater Tot NachosI actually prefer tater tots (or crispy crowns) in nachos over tortillas if I’m serving them as a main dish. Tortilla chips work better in an appetizer since they turn the nachos into easy-to-eat finger foods.

Also try my potato chip nachos and my tater tot potato skins.

Pulled Pork Tater Tot Nachos

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 -8
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/2 bag Ore-Ida tater tots cooked per package instructions (don't be afraid to let them cook a little longer to get them extra crispy)
  • Leftover pulled pork I used about a cup
  • Red onion chopped
  • Black olives sliced
  • Peppadew peppers chopped
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 can pinto beans rinsed, drained, warmed
  • BBQ sauce
  • Smoked provolone cheese sauce

Instructions

  • Spread tater tots out on a platter.
  • Top tots with pork.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the onion, olives, peppers, and chiles. Sprinkle mixture over tots.
  • Top with beans and add BBQ and provolone sauces.
  • Devour immediately.

Maximus Minimus Food Truck Pulled Pork

Maximus Minimus is a food truck based out of Seattle, Washington. I’ve never been to the truck, but I caught it on an episode of Eat Street a while back, and just had to make their pulled pork. It is a different take on the slow smoked pulled pork than I am used to. Instead, the pork is first seared on a grill and then roasted in the oven until done and fall-apart tender. The result is a fantastic crusted meat festival that is perfect on everything from BBQ sandwiches…

Maximus Minimus Pork Sandwichesto Cuban sandwiches.

Maximus Minimus Pork Cuban SandwichesIf you live somewhere where there are food trucks, I encourage you to venture out and give them a visit if you haven’t already. Here in Indy we have a number of great trucks, offering everything from Cajun to Caribbean to donuts and cupcakes.

Also try my southwestern pulled pork with pineapple.

Maximus Minimus Food Truck Pulled Pork

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 16 hours
Servings 8 -10
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3-1/2 pounds pork shoulder

Instructions

  • Combine the seasonings and rub into the pork shoulder. Place in a resealable container or wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • Fire up your grill for high-heat cooking and preheat your oven to 325 F. (Alternatively, you can use a crockpot set to 'high').
  • Place shoulder onto the grill and sear on each side until browned, 10-15 minutes per side.
  • Transfer pork to a Dutch oven or the crockpot and cook 3-4 hours until falling apart tender. You will not have to add any liquid. (Note: If your Dutch oven lid doesn't seal completely, cover the top with a piece of foil and then add the lid.)
  • Let the meat rest 15-30 minutes then shred.

High-Heat Smoked Pork Butt

I’m a low-and-slow smoking kind of guy. Well, usually. Sometimes, I don’t have 12-14 hours to get a cook done. I gotta roll. That’s when I use this high-heat smoked approach that cuts the time to 5-6 hours and still produces tasty, tender pulled pork (although not quite as good as the low-and-slow approach as the fat doesn’t have as much time to truly render).

This approach also calls for an injection, which I don’t usually do when I cook low-and-slow. It’s easy, helps tenderize the meat, and adds a nice flavor. I used my Bayou Classic Injector. It totally rocks. It’s heavy-duty enough to handle serious injecting. I wouldn’t get any other kind. Admittedly, I had a El Cheapo Plastico injector before and it lasted three or four uses. The Bayou Classic Injector is the real deal.

I smoked this butt on my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker for about 6 hours total.

High-Heat Smoked Pulled PorkI ended up with plenty of pulled pork (using my bear claws) from an 8 pound butt. We had it on sliders the first night, some topped with slaw and others topped with red onions. All sauced with Weber Original BBQ sauce. I also made pulled pork stromboli and nachos, among other yummy things!

If you have more time, try my low-and-slow smoked pork butt.

High-Heat Smoked Pork Butt

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

For Chris Lilly's Championship Injection

  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

For the butt

  • 6-8 pound pork butt trimmed as desired
  • Your favorite BBQ rub

Instructions

  • Combine all of the injection ingredients and whisk until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  • Inject marinade into pork butt every inch or so. Don't worry if some squirts out. It will. Just get the needle down deep into the meat and inject away.
  • Pat outside of butt dry with a paper towel. You don't have to go crazy, just get the worst of the leaking marinade off.
  • Cover the butt in the rub. Don't be shy.
  • Place onto a smoker that is cooking at 325 F - 350 F. Use a light smoking wood, such as hickory or apple. If you are using a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker do NOT add water to the water pan or you'll never reach the temperatures you need. Just foil the water pan to make cleanup easier.
  • Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  • Wrap the butt tightly in foil and continue smoking until the internal temperature reaches 195 F for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the butt and let rest 30 minutes (still foiled) before pulling. Add any juices that have accumulated in the foil to the pulled pork. You don't want to waste any of that great flavor.

Cherry Doctor Pepper Pulled Pork

Everyone ranted and raved about this Cherry Doctor Pepper pulled pork. It was so incredibly tender and juicy, it melted in our mouths. I have smoked a lot of pulled pork, but I can honestly say this was at least as good as the best I’ve ever made. It does not have a strong cherry flavor, just a hint. The Dr. Pepper adds a nice flavor and a lot of moisture. The overnight rub is also important.

Cherry Dr. Pepper Pulled PorkI opted to foil the pork at the end of the cook. This is not something I normally do, as the pork tends to not get much of a thick ‘bark’. But the Cherry Doctor Pepper pulled pork really came out fantastic anyways. You can skip the foiling if you wish, but expect a longer cook time.

Don’t forget to make a big batch of Cherry Doctor Pepper BBQ sauce to go with the pork. I served ours up on toasted onion buns, with the sauce and fresh-made slaw on the side. It was the perfect dinner basket!

Cherry Doctor Pepper Pulled Pork

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 12 hours
Total Time 1 day

Ingredients

  • Pork butt trimmed (I used 2 7 1/2 pound butts)
  • Prepared yellow mustard
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • Brown sugar optional, see Instructions
  • Cherry Dr. Pepper I used almost a 2 liter bottle between the pork and the Cherry Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, which I doubled

Instructions

  • Place each butt on a large piece of aluminum foil. Squirt all sides of each with yellow mustard. Do not be shy with it.
  • Sprinkle all sides with the rub. Again, don't be shy with it.
  • Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on all sides and rub in. This step is optional if you are using a sweet rub.
  • Pour a bit of Dr. Pepper into a spray bottle and lightly spritz all sides of the pork.
  • Tightly wrap the meat in the foil and place on large sheet pans in the fridge overnight.
  • Fire up your smoker or grill for cooking 225 F to 250 F. Add a bit of fruit wood once it is fully lit.
  • While waiting for the smoker to come up to temperature, inject each butt with more Dr. Pepper. Again, don't be shy with it.
  • Place pork onto the smoker fat-side up.
  • Mist the pork with additional Dr. Pepper every two hours. Cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours per pound or until the pork reaches 175 F when tested in multiple places with an instant-read thermometer.
  • Remove pork from the smoker and place into aluminum half pans. Add 1 cup of Cherry Dr. Pepper to each pan. Cover with foil and return to smoker until meat temperature reaches 205 F.
  • Drain any fat and excess liquid from the pans and uncover and cook a bit longer, until temperature returns to 205 F.
  • Remove butts and cover in foil and let rest 30-45 minutes.
  • Shred pork as desired and serve with the BBQ sauce on the side.

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, Missouri

Mmmmmm, good!

We were making a trip from Indy to Fayetteville, Arkansas (Go Hogs!) a while back and were on the hunt for some good BBQ on the way. We came across a sign on I-44 for Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba, Missouri. The restaurant is located on historic Route 66, about 2-3 miles off the interstate. It’s well worth the drive, too.

The place has a nice atmosphere, with what look like handmade carved wooden chairs. All well done. It definitely has character.

And hey, with placemats like these, you know you’re in for something good!

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, MissouriService was prompt and pleasant. Anita ordered the pulled pork sandwich, with German potato salad. The potato salad was served warm. It had a nice mustard flavor and was very, very good. The pulled pork was as you’d want: moist and tasty with just the right amount of smoke.

I had the brisket sandwich with poppy seed coleslaw. The brisket was very tender, moist, and very tasty. Nice smoke ring and smoke flavor. And the coleslaw was outrageously good. I love jalapeño or green bell pepper in my slaw. This slaw had red onions in it. The dressing was just sweet enough that it really went well with the kick of the onion. I’d seriously return to Missouri Hick even if all they had on the menu was the slaw.

There were 5 BBQ sauces on the table, ranging from sweet and smoky to spicy. We found them all to be good, but of course our favorite was the spicy. I even bought a bottle to bring back home.

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, MissouriSo if you’re in the area, stop on by. And no matter where you are, visit your local (or not so local) BBQ joint. You’ll be glad you did!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Update: We stopped at Missouri Hick again recently on the way to Northwest Arkansas. I again ordered the large brisket sandwich and the poppy seed slaw. The brisket was tender, tasty and smoked perfectly. The slaw is addicting. Very addicting.

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, MissouriMissouri Hick is a really great BBQ joint. They have a large menu, great service, and the prices are right!

On the ‘Mater Rater scale, I give this place 5 maters across the board!

'Mater Rater

I always seek out great local BBQ joints, like the one near our house, Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ.

Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, Indiana

I’ll eat anything that’s been cooked low and slow. As a big fan of BBQ done right, I was happy to finally make it down to Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ, which is not too far from our house here in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Garrett's Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, IndianaGarrett’s is located in a little strip mall. They have a full BBQ menu – pork, chicken, brisket and even turkey. We decided to get our meal to go.

Garrett's Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, IndianaAnita ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac-and-cheese. For her sauce, she went with the mild. I had the brisket sandwich with a side of spicy slaw and sweet BBQ sauce. I was already happy since the meats weren’t pre-sauced. You just never know when someone might be trying to hide poorer quality smoked meat under a sauce. Not the case at Garrett’s, that’s for sure.

The meats were smoked perfectly. You know how sometimes you get BBQ and only the first 1/2″ or so has a smoke flavor? Garrett’s BBQ had a nice (but not overwhelming) smoke flavor throughout. Both sauces were great. Really great, actually. I’m going to pick up some extra sauce next time for my own smoked ribs.

Besides the meats, the sides were also excellent. They were both made from scratch. Anita’s mac-and-cheese was smooth and cheesy. My spicy slaw was definitely spicy. I love homemade slaw – there’s such a difference between it and store-bought. I’m looking forward to trying their other sides.

We had a good meal from Garrett’s. We’ll be returning soon! It’s great to see local restaurants turn out great food like Garrett’s. Support your local chefs and cooks. And when you’re travelling, try to find a non-chain place, like Missouri Hick BBQ for much better eats than you’ll get at the familiar restaurants along the interstate. Although I do have to say that for a chain, Famous Dave’s is mighty good too!

 

Smoked Pulled Pork Po Boy

One of my favorite things to throw on the smoker is a pork butt. Pulled pork is well worth the time it takes to make. I made a big batch of BBQ the other day. Now, usually, I’ll throw it on a bun with some BBQ sauce. Or I’ll even put it in a baked potato (soooo good!). This time, I went with a smoked pulled pork po boy.Smoked Pulled Pork Po Boy

You can pretty much throw anything on a smoked pulled pork po boy and it’ll be good, but start with good BBQ and you end up with a fantastic sandwich! And don’t forget the slaw. That coolness, that crunchiness, that’s what makes a good sandwich great.

Smoked Pulled Pork Po'Boy

Great po'boy!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Author Mike

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Lightly toast the bread, if desired.
  • Slather the bread halves with the Comeback sauce. Don't be shy with it, either.
  • Add the pulled pork.
  • Add the slaw.
  • Cut into each loaf into 3 sandwiches and serve.