Summer is in full swing, BBQs are happening, grills are in heavy use, my smoker is getting a workout and we are loving every bit of it. After a recent trip to Virginia, pulled pork was on my mind, and this Root Beer Glazed Slow Cooker Pulled Pork came to mind. San Diego has been getting really hot lately so I thought about busting out the slow cooker to keep things cool and work some magic.
This Root Beer Glazed Slow Cooker Pulled Pork is perfect for this summer’s parties, BBQs and picnics. Juicy, tender and sticky sweet with a bite, this slow cooker pulled pork gets a dose of reduced root beer for a flavor punch that will have you going back for seconds. And you don’t even have to step outside in the hot sun or turn that oven on to heat up the house!
There’s nothing like the smell of a roast, cooked low and slow, that permeates your house as it cooks, and the same goes for a slow cooker. So I thought about it and opted for a pork shoulder. First off I would change up my usual pork roast dry rub that has brown sugar and would work in root beer. I had just read a recipe that basted the turkey in beer and thought why not use root beer in my pulled pork? It has that sweet element and I love the taste of root beer, which I just picked up at the market.
After rubbing the pork shoulder all over with a mixture of chili, garlic and onion powders, smoked paprika, dry mustard and fennel and celery seeds I got the root beer reducing. I wanted to incorporate a basting sauce of some tasty BBQ sauce and a condensed root beer syrup. So I poured one bottle of the root beer in a saucepan and reduced it to 1/3 of a cup of thick and gooey root beer syrup.
When we went to Nashville one year to visit Dave’s brother we were taken to The Loveless Cafe. Talk about amazing food, and every year we get a wonderful care package from my sister-in-law from there. Our favorite is the smoked ham pieces I usually pan fry and use with grits and the other is this wonderful Sweet with a Bite BBQ Sauce. I decided this BBQ sauce and the root beer reduction would be the liquid used in slow cooking the pork.
I chopped an onion and lay that on the bottom of the crock pot and put the dry rubbed pork shoulder on top of them. I poured 1 bottle of root beer and the BBQ sauce over the pork and closed the lid. Set the timer for 8 hours and we would be feasting!
The root beer glazed pork ended up to be super tender and flavorful. I literally touched the bone and the meat fell away without a struggle. Discarding the bone I got the forks out and removed the pork to shred the meat and set a side. I poured the cooking liquid (onions, root beer and BBQ sauce) mixture into the saucepan with the root beer reduction and used my immersion hand blender to purée. Next I reduced that to a catsup type consistency and poured it over the shredded pulled pork.
I was able to pick up some brioche sandwich rolls and they were perfect to hold the juicy root beer glazed meat and sauce without falling apart or being too heavy.
While the pork was cooking I made a Peach and Tarragon Coleslaw to top the pulled pork – a perfect meal. Look at this delicious pulled pork? The tangy crunch of the coleslaw was a perfect foil to the unctuous, sweet and spicy pulled pork sandwich.
Note to self, I need to pick up more napkins next time I go to the store. Enjoy!
Root Beer Glazed Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 4 lb pork shoulder
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp ground fennel seed (See Note 1)
- 1/2 tsp celery seed
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 bottles root beer (2-12 oz bottles)
- 24 oz favorite BBQ sauce (See Note 2)
- Mix the chili, garlic and onion powders, salt, dry mustard, paprika and ground fennel and celery seeds together with a whisk in a small bowl. Rub the pork shoulder all over and press dry rub into the meat. Set aside.
- Chop an onion and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the dry rubbed pork shoulder on top of the onions and pour 1 bottle of root beer and your favorite BBQ sauce over the pork. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours.
- Pour 1 bottle of root beer in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and turn to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced to about 1/3 cup of syrup.
- Remove cooked pork to a plate, remove any bone and pull the pork (shred). Set aside.
- Pour the onion, root beer and BBQ sauce mixture from slow cooker into the saucepan with the root beer reduction and either use a hand immersion blender or pour it into a blender and purée. Cook and reduce until it is a catsup like consistency and pour over the pulled pork.
- Serve the glazed pulled pork on a roll or bun of choice with coleslaw.
- Add the chili, garlic and onion powders, salt, dry mustard, paprika and fennel and celery seeds to a spice grinder or food processor and pulse several times to blend if you only have whole fennel seeds to start with. I keep ground fennel seeds on hand in a small airtight container for different spice blends.
- I love Loveless Cafe's Sweet with a Bite BBQ Sauce, but feel free to use whatever you like. I have found that a heavily smoked BBQ sauce tends to overpower and diminish the flavor of the root beer glaze, so taste test your favorite brand first with a little bit to see if it is too smokey/strong and loses the root beer flavor. You want to still be able to taste that root beer!