Slow Cooker Barbecued Boston Butt

Slow cooker barbecued Boston butt with barbecue sauce in a hamburger bun

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 9 hrs
Total: 9 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 1 roast
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1282 Calories
86g Fat
15g Carbs
105g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 1282
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 86g 110%
Saturated Fat 32g 158%
Cholesterol 390mg 130%
Sodium 746mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 105g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 140mg 11%
Iron 7mg 38%
Potassium 1592mg 34%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A Boston butt, contrary to the way the name sounds, is actually a pork shoulder cut. A Boston butt, also known simply as a pork butt, is a flavorful cut that takes well to low and slow cooking. It's the most popular cut of meat for making pulled pork. The name Boston butt may come from Massachusetts before the American Revolution, when cuts of pork were packed into barrels, also known as "butts."

This easy, no-frills pork butt recipe is made with only a few additional ingredients, including your favorite homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce. You can use a bone-in or boneless pork roast; a boneless roast can be cut into pieces to fit in the slow cooker, but if your roast is bone-in, make sure it fits before starting the recipe.

Serve the pork roast shredded with split, toasted buns, coleslaw, and fries or chips. Baked beans are traditional with a pulled pork meal as well. It's an excellent dish to take to a party or tailgating event—serve the shredded pork hot from the crock pot. You can freeze leftovers or incorporate them into recipes using leftover pulled pork.


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"Piled on toasted buns and served with coleslaw, the pork was simple, tasty, and nearly effortless. I was happy to find the meat was very juicy and tender after slow cooking all day. I used a 7-pound, bone-in pork shoulder, chicken stock for liquid, and smoky bottled barbecue sauce for the final cooking and shredding." —Danielle Centoni

Slow Cooker Barbecued Boston Butt Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 (6- to 8-pound) Boston butt pork roast (bone-in or boneless)

  • 1/4 cup water (or beer, apple juice, or a mixture)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, plus more for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for slow cooker barbecued Boston butt recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Put the pork shoulder in the slow cooker, cutting the roast to fit if necessary.

    Boston butt roast placed in a slow cooker

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the water or other liquid and sprinkle the pork lightly with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper, if using.

    Boston butt roast with water and seasonings in slow cooker

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.

    Boston butt roast in slow cooker with lid on

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga 

  5. Drain off the excess liquids, shred the meat with 2 forks, and discard any excess fat and bone.

    Slow-cooked pork being shredded with two dinner forks on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Return the meat to the crock pot and pour about 1 cup of barbecue sauce over it. Toss, cover, and cook on low for another 1 to 2 hours.

    Shredded pork mixed with barbecue sauce in slow cooker

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Serve the shredded barbecued pork with extra barbecue sauce on the side.

    Shredded Boston butt with barbecue sauce covering toasted hamburger bun halves

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

How to Store

  • Leftover pulled pork should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days and reheated before enjoying.
  • Pulled pork can be frozen. Place the cooled meat in a zip-top freezer bag, remove the air, seal, and freeze for up to three months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using.


  • You'll probably have leftovers, and there are so many ways to use them. Aside from sandwiches, pulled pork makes a tasty addition to a macaroni and cheese casserole or use the pulled pork to stuff egg rolls or biscuit cups.
  • If you would like to make your own barbecue sauce but don't have a lot of time or ingredients, you can quickly throw together a basic recipe. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of molasses, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, and a dash each of cayenne pepper and black pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until thickened. Makes about 2 cups of barbecue sauce.

What Is the Difference Between a Pork Shoulder and a Boston Butt?

Both the pork shoulder and pork butt come from the shoulder section of the pig. The pork shoulder is located higher, with the pork butt (or Boston butt) located slightly further down the foreleg. They are very similar cuts, and the names pork shoulder, pork butt, and Boston butt are often used interchangeably.

Can You Overcook Pulled Pork?

While tough, fatty cuts like pork shoulder or pork butt are hard to overcook since long cook times help to create tender meat, but it's still possible. The main risk is drying out pulled pork, which can happen if it is cooked at too high a temperature and/or cooked for far too long. Cooking the pork with a little liquid helps keep it from drying out.