Slow cooker pork shoulder is a great recipe for those who want minimal effort cooking. All you have to do is sear and sauté a few ingredients, throw everything into the crock pot and dinner is served in 8 hours. 

Slow Cooked Italian Pork Shoulder from Zestuous

Crockpot pork shoulder

Cooking pork shoulder is super easy. All you need is a good slow cooker, some simple ingredients and you’re good to go. If you’re looking for a wonderful recipe with a no-fuss cooking process, you’ll love this slow cooker pork shoulder. 

I love filling the slow cooker with rich meats and flavorful vegetable bases in the morning so I can come home to an elegant, restaurant-style dinner after a long day at work. This Slow Cooked Italian Pork Shoulder is one of my favorite recipes. 

The pork has a slight crust from an initial searing, and then, when you pierce through it with your fork, it falls apart because it has absorbed the flavors of mild vegetables and jus (broth) for 8 hours.

It’s all about that base.

In Italy, a soffritto is used to create the flavor base for many dishes, including stocks and sauces. Soffritto (or mirepoix as it’s called in France) is a combination of sautéed carrots, celery and onions. In New Orleans, the combination is changed slightly. You’ve probably seen Emeril sauté the Holy Trinity – instead of carrots, he uses green bell peppers with celery and onions.

I have my own flavor base. It’s a combination of celery, onions and poblano peppers. Poblanos are one of my favorite peppers because they add just a hint of heat. It’s enough to let you know that the pepper is there without slapping you in the face. They represent what Zestuous is all about.

Let’s talk slow cookers.

There are a lot of varieties out there. One of the main reasons people use slow cookers is because they’re easy. You can throw all of your ingredients into a pot in the morning and come home to a fabulous dinner.

The problem with slow cookers is that if you just throw raw ingredients into a pot, you’re missing out on some really great flavors.

That’s why I love my Breville Fast-Slow Cooker. It has a sear setting, so I can brown my meat and sauté my vegetables before I throw in the final ingredients and head off to work. Sure, it takes a little more time in the morning, but you save time in the end on dishes, and your slow-cooked dinner comes out so much better.

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Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder

This recipe is a lifesaver for busy days. Toss everything in the pot in the morning, and by dinnertime, you'll have a delicious, fall-off-the-bone pork shoulder ready to go. Plus, it practically cooks itself – perfect for nights when you want a hot meal without the hassle.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbls butter
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbls Zestuous Rub
  • 4 lb pork shoulder
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • one 14.5-ounce can tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Heat: Heat the butter and olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat (or use the sear setting on your slow cooker).
  • Sear: Combine the flour and rub in a bowl. Cut the pork shoulder into four large pieces. Toss the pork in the flour mixture, and shake off the excess. Sear the pork in the butter and oil on all sides, until brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Sauté: Add the onion, pepper, celery and garlic to the pot. Sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Cook: Transfer the veggies, meat and remaining ingredients to the slow cooker (or change your slow cooker setting from sear to slow cook). Slow cook for 8 hours.
  • Serve: Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes or any of your favorite sides.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 23gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 384mgPotassium: 443mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 165IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
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Slow Cooked Italian Pork Shoulder from Zestuous

Ingredients for slow cooker pork shoulder

  • Boneless pork shoulder: Also called pork butt or Boston butt. Look for a four-pound pork shoulder. 
  • Butter and olive oil: For searing the pork shoulder. 
  • Flour: For coating the pork shoulder to give it a nice crust. 
  • Zestuous Rub: The perfect blend of spices consisting of ancho chili powder, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt. 
  • White onion, poblano pepper, celery stalks and garlic: My flavor base that adds a slight kick and creates an aromatic depth of flavor to the pork shoulder. 
  • Tomatoes
  • Red wine: Part of the cooking liquid that helps break down the tough connective tissue in the meat and infuses extra flavor. 
  • Beef or chicken stock: Cooking liquid for the pork shoulder. 
  • Thyme and bay leaf: Aromatic herbs that add flavor. 
  • Salt and black pepper

See the full recipe card for servings and a full list of ingredients.

How to make slow cooker pork shoulder

✔️ PRO TIP

Let your pork shoulder come to room temperature before searing to ensure even cooking. 

  1. Heat: Heat the butter and olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker or a large sauce pot over medium-high heat (use the sear setting on your slow cooker).
  2. Sear: Combine the flour and rub in a bowl. Cut the pork shoulder into four large pieces. Toss the pork in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Sear the pork in the butter and oil on all sides until brown (about 5 minutes per side). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Saute: Add the onion, pepper, celery and garlic to the pot. Sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
  4. Cook: Transfer the veggies, meat and remaining ingredients to the slow cooker (or change your slow cooker setting from sear to slow cook). Slow cook on the high setting for 8 hours. 
  5. Serve: Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes or any of your favorite sides. 
slow cooker Italian pork shoulder

How to serve slow cooker pork shoulder

You can serve the pork shoulder in tact with grilled mashed potatoes and charred Brussels sprouts with almonds or shred the pork shoulder with forks for pulled pork sandwiches. 

Storage

Leftover slow cooker pork shoulder can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to sear the pork shoulder before slow cooking it?

I recommend it, but it’s not necessary. It gives the meat a nice crust, but it depends on your personal preference and the amount of time you have. 

What size slow cooker do I need?

I recommend at least a 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe. 

Can I use a bone-in pork shoulder?

Yes.

Can I cook the pork shoulder on HIGH?

Yes. Cook on high for four hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 195-200F. 

What if I’m not serving the pork shoulder right away?

Turn the crockpot to the warm setting until you’re ready to serve.

What’s the difference between a pork butt roast and a pork shoulder?

The main difference between a pork butt roast and a pork shoulder lies in the location of the pig. Surprisingly, both cuts come from the shoulder area. The pork butt is higher up, closer to the back, while the pork shoulder is a bit lower. 

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Christie Vanover

About Zestuous

Hi. I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and have dozens of top ten category finishes. People know me as the girl who is forever hovering over a grill, smoker or campfire with tongs in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.


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