Thursday, February 3, 2011

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork with Alabama White BBQ Sauce

Pulled pork is a mainstay of Southern cuisine; Alabama is home to many famous BBQ restaurants, all known for their pulled pork, ribs, chicken, smoked turkey and much, much more. Alabama is also known for its white BBQ sauce, a runny, tangy blend of vinegar, mayonnaise and cracked black pepper. Personally, when it comes to actual BBQ sauce, I prefer a North Carolina-style sauce, thin and sour, over a thick, sweet, tomato-based Kansas City-style sauce. However, I firmly believe that, when good pork is seasoned and cooked correctly, it's blasphemous to mask the flavor of the meat by dousing it in a strong sauce. 

The pork shoulder roast, also known as a Boston Butt, is the preferred cut of pork for pulled pork. Here in the South, pork shoulders are often smoked and sold for fundraising by local churches, charities and other fundraising organizations. 

Rather than slaving away for hours over a hot smoker, I prefer to cook my pulled pork in a slow cooker. Though I lose the crusty bark and smoke ring that a smoker full of wood chips provides, the low & slow cooking process still yields tender, moist, flavorful meat. I simply season with pork shoulder with a spice rub before bed, toss it in the slow cooker with a braising liquid in the morning, and, by that evening, the house will be filled with the irresistible scent of pulled pork, ready to be simply shredded and placed atop a soft bun and enjoyed with a few pickle slices and sauce if needed. 

My rub recipe is based loosely on Memphis BBQ legend Mike Mills' "Magic Dust" recipe, but with several changes and additions. I call it "Bubb Rubb" and use it not only on pork, but on chicken as well as vegetables. 

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork with Alabama White BBQ Sauce
rub recipe altered from "Magic Dust"
braising liquid recipe adapted from Paula Deen
white BBQ sauce recipe adapted from Christy Jordan's Southern Plate

1 4-5 lb pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt)
Bubb Rubb:
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 Tbsp ground mustard
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp onion powder
Braising Liquid:
2 cups apple juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
White BBQ Sauce: 
2 cups mayonnaise
6-8 Tbsp white vinegar
6 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp black pepper
4 Tbsp granulated sugar

To make the rub, simply combine all of the rub ingredients and store in an airtight container. Rub the pork shoulder roast generously on all sides with the rub, then wrap the roast with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The rub....

This 6 1/2 lb beauty came from Sam's Club. 

Use a LOT more rub than shown in this picture. The meat should be completely covered. 

Make a mental note of which side is the "fat pad"; this will be important later. 

The following morning, combine the ingredients for the braising liquid. Pour in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Unwrap the rubbed pork shoulder roast and place, fat pad up, in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 8-10 hours, or until the blade bone is easily pulled  out and the meat shreds easily. 

I usually combine these in a mason jar when prepping the meat; in the morning, I just shake the jar to combine everything and just pour it in the slow cooker. 

This bone slid out cleanly and without effort after 7 hours of slow cooking.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and let cool until easy to handle; shred the meat with two forks. Strain the fat from the braising liquid and reserve as a sauce for the meat if desired.

Let's get a closer look....


To make the white BBQ sauce, simply whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar. You can also combine the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake well to combine. The sauce WILL be runny - I like to store mine in an inexpensive plastic squeeze bottle.  

The sauce will be runny, almost watery - this is normal. 

This recipe yields a lot of sauce; store any leftovers in the refrigerator. 

To serve the pulled pork, simple pile the meat atop a soft bun, top with a few sliced pickles if desired, and drizzle with the white BBQ sauce. Serve with sides like cole slaw, baked beans, or potato salad.

Let's get a closer look....



  1. ahhh...your recipes are better than PW!!!! I had already planned to cook a pork roast tomorrow, but now I'm going to try it with your recipe - great timing!!!

  2. Better than *THE* PW? Wow, thanks!!! Please let me know how your roast turns out! :)

  3. The roast was actually already sliced - I think it was a picnic....anyway, it was fabulous, even though I didn't have quite all the ingredients for the rub and the braising liquid. I did have everything for the Alabama White sauce and was amazed that everyone loved it! They sniffed it, and were shocked at how strong smelling it was, but when they put it on their BBQ the loved it and went back for 2nds!!!! Thanks so much! Yes - better than the PW - I don't even read her anymore!!

  4. Jenn, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! For most people, Alabama BBQ sauce is an acquired taste, so people either love it or hate it! Thanks for reading!

  5. yummmmmmmm, always a classic, and always delicious! this sounds like a perfect warm sunday meal! thanks for sharing!

  6. Looks delicious. If you like the bark, what I've been doing is after I shred the pork dumping it in a frying pan with the braising liquid and then simmering until the liquid is gone and giving it a little fry to get crispy. Super tasty.

    1. Ohhhh, that sounds really good, runninggunner! I'll have to follow your running blog, too - I just started running back in August, and now I'm training for a half-marathon coming up at the Talladega Superspeedway!

  7. Julia, I am not a fan of BBQ sauces, made with ketchup, and other sweet ingredients. So I am thrilled to find your sauce for pulled pork. Thank you. ~Ann

    1. Thanks, Ann! We have ALL kinds of BBQ sauces here in Alabama - Carolina-style (vinegary), Memphis-style, AND Kansas City-style (sweet and THICK). I like to flavor my pork (as you can see from the recipe), but then keep it simple with the sauces so I can really enjoy the pork-y flavor :)

  8. This looks wonderful! I had never heard of white BBQ sauce before, I will have to give it a try.

    1. It's great, Terry - some people think it seems kind of weird (with the mayo and vinegar), but it's got an AMAZING flavor.

  9. I have been curious about the Alabama white sauce, I am bookmarking this recipe!
    I would love it if you would share it on our BBQ Block Party-Linky Party

    Hope to see you there.

    1. Thank you for the invite, Shawna!!

  10. Well it seems like blasphemy to put white sauce on anything but chicken. And I agree North-Carolina sauce on pork is best. But suppose nothing wrong combining two great things. :-)

    1. White sauce IS great on chicken, but combined with the NC sauce on pork? SO GOOD :)

  11. Made this sauce months ago for another recipe (tomato allergy). Been craving this recipe and found you. I had a pork tenderloin-will this be okay? I put in crock pot, filled to middle of pork w water, used salt pepper rub. Turned on high. Do you think this will work? I needed something easy today. Serving w broccoli cauliflower salad. Thanks for putting this together :)