Brown Sugar & Root Beer Pulled Pork Slow Cooker Recipe

It took me forever to have pulled pork for the first time – as in, I’m pretty sure I was 27 or 28 by the time I took my first bite of a pulled pork sandwich. It really was love at first bite, as they say, and from that point on I’ve been a pulled pork convert, making this recipe in my slow cooker ever since.

I’ve played around with a few recipes and then really settled on how I like to make pulled pork. It all comes down to the toppings. I like a spicy topping – like those super spicy pickles from Trader Joe’s, jalapenos, a little touch of siracha. So because I like a lot of heat on top of my sandwich, I like to make the pork sweet. Balance, right?

To make this recipe, you can definitely leave out the sugar, and you can use a lower carb BBQ sauce if you want, and really just take the method and make this your own – who am I if not one to give you a you do you boo recipe basically every day? I place the pork shoulder in the crock pot and rub it down with salt, pepper, 1/3 c brown sugar, oregano and a little red chili pepper flake. Then I top it with 3/4 a bottle of bbq sauce and 1 bottle of root beer. The result, a delicious, sweet pulled pork ready to serve up on football Sunday!

For the bread, my go-to lately has been the Hawaiian King Bread original mini buns. They’re not pre-sliced so give yourself a little prep time to cut them. I take the buns and toast them up in a pan with a little butter allowing them to cool before serving. If you cool them completely and then wrap them up in saran or a ziploc bag, you can prep them ahead of time!

To serve, I will put out:

  • Extra BBQ sauce
  • Hot sauce, such as siracha
  • Spicy sliced pickles, sweet sliced pickles (we have more than one spice-hatin’ friend!)
  • Pickled onions
  • Coleslaw (I’ve been known to sneak a poblano pepper or sliced jalapeno in my coleslaw)
  • Jalapenos

And for a little pro tip: this works really well with chicken, too! I just use 1/4 cup brown sugar instead of 1/3 cup!

Brown Sugar & Root Beer Pulled Pork

This sweet pulled pork recipe is perfect for game day and compliments all the spicy toppings you love on a pulled pork sandwich! 
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 9 lb bone in pork shoulder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flake
  • 1 bottle bbq sauce
  • 1 bottle root beer
  • 45-60 mini slider rolls
  • butter for toasting rolls optional
  • toppings, such as jalapenos, coleslaw, pickles, etc.


  • Spray crock pot with cooking spray; place pork shoulder in the slow cooker with the meatiest side up.
  • Combine sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, chili flake in a bowl; stir to combine.
  • Rub the pork shoulder with the seasoning mixture.
  • To the crock pot, add 3/4 bottle of bbq sauce and the bottle of root beer. 
  • Set on low for 8 hours. 
  • Once finished cooking, skim any fat off the top, shred the pork and remove the bone. Leave on warm for serving. 
  • Toast buns with a little butter in a pan. If making ahead, toast the buns with butter, allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container or ziploc bag until ready to serve.
Keyword bbq, crock pot, pulled pork, slow cooker


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