Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions

Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions

22 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2011

Traditional pulled pork is barbecued, which gives it a smoky flavor. But the slow cooker happens to be the absolute easiest way to cook pulled pork—and you can get a hint of smoke by adding chipotle chile. Serve the pulled pork with potato salad, collard greens and grits. Or make it into a sandwich and serve it on a bun with coleslaw.

Ingredients 8 servings

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  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or turbinado (see Notes)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chili sauce, such as Heinz
  • 1½-3 teaspoons minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce (see Notes)
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or blade (butt) roast, trimmed


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 6 minutes. Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add garlic, oregano, pepper and salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook until mostly evaporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in chili sauce and chipotle to taste.
  2. Place pork in a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker and cover with the sauce. Cover and cook until the pork is almost falling apart, about 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low.
  3. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and shred using two forks. Stir back into the sauce.
  4. Variation: Turn 3 cups leftover pulled pork into Pulled-Pork Torta. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a deep-dish pie pan or other 9-inch round baking dish with cooking spray. Heat 3 cups finely shredded Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions (including sauce) just until warm. Drain one 14-ounce can no-added-salt diced tomatoes (reserve juice); combine with ¼ cup diced Spanish-style chorizo (see Note) or pepperoni in a bowl. Mix well. Spread about ½ cup of the mixture in the prepared pan to cover the bottom. Top with one 8-inch flour tortilla (preferably whole-wheat). Spoon one-third of the remaining mixture over the tortilla. Top with another tortilla. Repeat twice, topping with a fourth tortilla. Drizzle the reserved tomato juice over the top and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle ¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top and continue baking until the cheese is melted and the torta is bubbly, about 20 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with ¼ cup each finely chopped scallions and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.
  5. Per serving: 374 calories; 18 g fat (7 g sat, 7 g mono); 68 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 4 g added sugars; 22 g protein; 3 g fiber; 574 mg sodium; 274 mg potassium.
  6. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (23% daily value), Zinc (21% dv), Calcium (20% dv), Iron (15% dv).
  7. 2 Carbohydrate Servings
  8. Exchanges: 1½ starch, 2 vegetable, 2½ lean meat
  9. Note: Spanish-style chorizo is a seasoned, fully cooked smoked pork sausage. Find it near other cured sausages in well-stocked super markets or online at tienda.com.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To finish, bring the sauce to a simmer and continue with Steps 2 & 3. The cooked pork can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Equipment: 4-quart or larger slow cooker
  • Notes: Raw cane sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw) is steam-cleaned, coarse-grained and light brown in color, with a slight molasses flavor. Find it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or at natural-foods stores.
  • Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapeños packed in a flavorful sauce. Look for the small cans with Mexican foods at large supermarkets. Once opened, they'll keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.
  • For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1 cup
  • Per serving: 355 calories; 18 g fat(6 g sat); 3 g fiber; 20 g carbohydrates; 25 g protein; 14 mcg folate; 90 mg cholesterol; 14 g sugars; 9 g added sugars; 244 IU vitamin A; 10 mg vitamin C; 49 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 664 mg sodium; 504 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 1½ other carbohydrate, 3 medium-fat meat

Reviews 22

January 04, 2017
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By: rebelgrrl
This recipe is fantastic! I had extra chipotle in adobo in there and served over nachos with cheddar. The guys used Hawaiian rolls to make sliders with the leftovers. I'd give it more than 5 stars if I could!
November 05, 2016
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By: Linda Burns
Love this recipe. This is a great healthy comfort food recipe. it's especially good with a sweet vinegary coleslaw like this old one from Eating Well. http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/251546/barbecued-pork-coleslaw-sandwiches
March 16, 2016
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By: EatingWell User
My favorite! This is officially my new go to recipe! What a great flavor!!
June 10, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Big hit for a potluck! I made this for a work potluck, and it was a huge crowd pleaser! Everyone asked for the recipe! I made the sauce the night before, started the crock pot in the morning for a lunchtime party, and served it with Martin's potato rolls for make-your-own sliders. Like another reviewer said, it took a bit longer to caramelize the onions than stated in the recipe, so I ended up cooking most of the moisture out trying to give them good color (adding sugar during caramelization also pulls the moisture out); I had to add a little water back in to the sauce at the end of Step 1 to loosen it up. I used Demerara sugar rather than turbinado to give it a little more depth of flavor, and the max suggested amount of chipotle. The sauce is not too sweet, not too spicy, and not too vinegary, which is why everyone enjoyed it so much. Personally, I like mine with a bit more smoke, kick and vinegar, so I'll probably increase the chipotle, black pepper, and vinegar when I make it for myself. Pros: Easy, delicious
June 18, 2013
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By: alyh
Hi, this recipe sounds awesome & I really want to try, I am in Australia so chipotle chile in adobo sauce is not readily available- can anyone offer a good substitute?
May 07, 2013
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By: Bakerette87
Made this pork to use for the pulled pork torta recipe, also on this site. I love the flavor of the onions and the sauce, though I'll add a little more chipotle when I make it again. I only had one problem with making this: after 4.5 hours on high in my slow cooker, my pork didn't feel tender at all. I ended up putting in the oven for 1 hour on 300. Even after that, it was still a lot harder to shred than I expected. Might have been the particular cut of meat I had. I used a pork shoulder butt that had the joint in it. Must be a tough part. I'll definitely be trying this again with an un-jointed portion of meat. Served this on King's Hawaiian sweet rolls...Amazing!
February 17, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Make it Sweet! Accidentally purchased SWEET Chili Sauce (vs. regular); only used 2/3 cup, and a moderate squeeze of Ketchup. Followed crock-pot recipe and it was outstanding! The sweet chili sauce plays well with the flavor of the caramelized onions. Served with brochen rolls and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. : ) Pros: EASY!, delicious, saves well
February 03, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
flavourful and easy I've made pulled pork before, but none of my earlier attempts matched this one for flavour. I don't have a slow-cooker, so baked it for about four hours in a 300-degree oven. It turned out great. I will be making it again! Pros: taste
January 05, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
A Crowd Pleaser and Easy to Make.. The first time I made this, everyone went nuts for it. I'm making it again today for a party tomorrow. This time, I'm offering medium-sized Pop'n Fresh biscuits and small sweet rolls as sliders for everyone to make for themselves. The coleslaw was a great accompaniment as were bread'n butter pickles. You can adjust the heat by adding more of the smoked jalapenos but the amount in the recipe was actually perfect for my crowd. Collards sounds like a good accompaniment. I make mine with red bell peppers, onions, garlic, ham hock and chicken bouillon cube, which I rarely otherwise use. But it adds the required salt as well as flavor and it seems to season it just right. What do I know...I'm a Yankee from the toes up! But I certainly do recommend this Pulled Pork recipe. Pros: Easy to make in the slow cooker.
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