The Best Way to Cook Pulled Pork for a Large Crowd

Pulled pork can be flavored with a variety of marinades and spices.
Image Credit: Julie Deshaies/iStock/GettyImages

Cooking lunch or dinner for a large crowd can be daunting. The timing must be perfect, the food must be delicious and cooking it should be simple enough to keep you from stressing out before it's time to eat.


Thankfully, pulled pork can lighten the load a bit. Rather than worrying about timing, you can make it in advance and heat it up about two hours before mealtime.

Video of the Day

Video of the Day

Things You'll Need

  • Spices

  • Large slow cooker or pot

  • Cooking liquid, like red wine vinegar or beef broth

  • Meat thermometer

  • Forks

  • Barbecue sauce

  • Serving bowl or platter


  1. Place the raw pork on a clean working surface and stud its surface with cloves at 2-inch intervals to enhance the meat's natural sweetness, if desired.
    • If you're serving a crowd of 12, cook about 6 pounds of pork.
  2. Dust the meat with paprika, garlic powder, sea salt, ground black pepper and any other spices you enjoy.
  3. Pat the pork lightly to help the seasonings stick.
  4. Place the seasoned pork in a slow cooker or large pot. You may need more than one depending on how many people you're cooking for.
  5. Pour a couple inches of cooking liquid into the pot; a tasty combination includes a splash of red wine vinegar and an inch or two of beef broth.
  6. Cover the slow cooker or pot and cook the pork on the lowest setting for 5 to 9 hours.
  7. Check the meat every hour and add more liquid as needed to prevent burning.
  8. Test each cut of pork with a meat thermometer every hour.
  9. Remove the meat from the pot when the temperature registers at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Drain and discard the liquid from the pot and turn the heat off.
  11. Remove and discard the cloves from the pork.
  12. Let the pork cool for about 20 minutes or until it's comfortable to handle.
  13. Shred each cut of pork with a pair of forks and place the shredded meat back in the pot.
    • If you used multiple slow cookers or pots to cook the pork initially, try consolidating the meat into a single pot after shredding it.
  14. Stir barbecue sauce into the pork until the meat is coated thoroughly.
  15. Place the lid back on the pot and refrigerate the pork until about 2 hours before you plan to serve your guests.
    • If the meal is just a few hours away, skip the refrigeration.

How to Store and Reheat

Reheat the pulled pork on the lowest setting for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the pork from the heat and adjust the seasonings to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and serve while hot.

Refrigerate any leftovers immediately and consume them within four days. Always reheat leftovers to a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.


Roast the pork in the oven instead of in a slow cooker if it’s easier for you. After seasoning the pork, place it in a roasting pan and cover it loosely with foil.

Roast it at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. After shredding the meat and tossing it with the barbecue sauce, simmer it in a pot or slow cooker.