This balsamic honey dijon pulled pork is slathered in a sweet and tangy sauce, then roasted for 6 – 8 hours in the slow cooker. Lots of flavor, little effort.
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As the days get warmer, I am constantly on the lookout for more ways to avoid using my oven. The idea of having a 350 – 400 degree blast furnace in the middle of my kitchen when temperatures outdoors are creeping into the 80’s and 90’s is not my idea of an enjoyable cooking experience. Sure, cold meals and the grill are two great options, but one of my favorites is the slow cooker.
I hear far too often that the slow cooker is only good for the indulgent comfort foods of winter. However, a slow cooker is perfect for the summer! It can do all the work for you, giving you tender delicious slow roasted meals without heating up your oven or your kitchen.
If you don’t yet have one, this is the one I own, but you can get really fancy or really basic depending on your needs. Whichever one you choose, buy the size that’s appropriate for your family and consider getting one with a built in timer that will automatically switch to “warm” when it’s done cooking. Now, let’s talk about this pork shoulder.
For this recipe I recommend a 3lb bone-in pork shoulder. Save time by using a trimmed version instead of having to trim it yourself. The bone provides extra flavor and is easy to remove once it’s cooked, but a boneless version would work for this recipe as well.
The first layer in the slow cooker is the onion and garlic. Roughly chop half of an onion into large chunks, then place them in the bottom of the insert. Peel and crush the 4 cloves of garlic and add them in next. Rub the pork shoulder with the salt and pepper, then place it on top with the fat cap facing upwards.
The sauce blend is similar to a mustard based BBQ sauce. It’s equal parts mustard, honey, and balsamic vinegar with a couple tablespoons of worcestershire sauce. Measure everything into a mixing bowl, whisk together and pour over the pork. Cover the slow cooker with the lid and set it on low for 6 – 8 hours.
You’ll know the meat is done when it’s fall apart tender. If you can easily lift and maneuver the shoulder as one piece, let it cook a little longer. My slow cooker has a tendency to cook on the hot/fast side, so I do this recipe for 6 hours for a 3lb shoulder. If your’s cooks on the slow side or if you choose a larger cut of pork, you may want to go for the full 8 hours.
To shred the pork, carefully remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a large plate.
Strain the remaining juices, onions, and sauce into a medium sized saucepan. Reserve any chunks of pork in the strainer and discard the onions.
Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat then drop the heat to medium and allow it to cook down for 10 minutes while you finish the pork.
Grab two forks and pull the meat apart until you achieve the desired size chunks, removing any visible fat
or gristle as you go. Once the meat is shredded, return it to the slow cooker to keep warm until you are ready to serve.
The sauce should reduce by about half during the 10 minute boil. Slowly add the cornstarch slurry while whisking the sauce. Don’t pour it in all at once or it can seize up and turn into a gelatinous goo. Once the cornstarch is mixed in, return the sauce to a boil for a couple of minutes to thicken.
You can mix the sauce with the pork shoulder prior to serving or you can serve it with the sauce on the side. I prefer using the sauce as a gravy when serving the pork over polenta or mashed potatoes. However, I mix the meat with the sauce prior to serving for things like pulled pork sandwiches or pork tacos. The choice is really up to you.
If it’s more pork than you or your family can eat at once, I find it keeps well in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place the pork and sauce into separate freezer safe containers so that you can decide later how to best enjoy that portion.
What’s your favorite way to eat pulled pork? Have you ever made pulled pork in the slow cooker? Let me know in the comments below.
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Balsamic Honey Dijon Pulled Pork
Balsamic Honey Dijon Pulled Pork
For the pork:
- 3 lb bone-in pork shoulder - trimmed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 large onion
- 4 cloves garlic
For the sauce:
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 TBSP worcestershire sauce
- 2 TBSP cornstarch
- 1/3 cup cold water
- Roughly chop 1/2 of an onion and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Peel and crush 4 cloves of garlic and add to the slow cooker.
- Combine salt and pepper and rub all over the pork shoulder. Place pork in slow cooker.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, and honey.
- Pour over pork, cover, and cook for 6 - 8 hours on low.
Once pork is cooked:
- Remove pork from slow cooker.
- Strain juices, sauce, and onions into a medium sized saucepan. Discard solids.
- Bring liquid to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
- Shred pork using 2 forks and return to the now empty slow cooker insert to keep warm.
- Combine cornstarch and water, mixing to combine completely, then slowly add to the reduced sauce while whisking constantly. Bring back to a boil for 3 - 5 minutes until thickened.
- Combine sauce with the pork prior to serving or serve on the side.