Apple Cider Pulled Pork (Paleo, Whole30)

Apple Cider Pulled Pork is an easy dinner recipe the whole family will love!

Pork shoulder is coated in a savory spice rub and then cooked with apple cider and apples.

Whether made in a slow-cooker or Instant Pot, it’s smoky, tangy and just a little sweet.

Plus it happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, keto and Whole30 compatible!

Whole30 pulled pork cooked with apple cider in a white dish with 2 forks

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Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Start with boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, which is sometimes also called Boston butt (but don’t worry, the butt is actually from the shoulder which…why call it the butt if it’s not the butt? Why?).

Boneless pork shoulder/butt is coated in a smoky spice mix, seared and then cooked with apple cider and apple cider vinegar.

And then when it’s almost done cooking, add some Granny Smith apple slices for a sweet and sour burst with the tangy meat and sauce. But if you want to leave this out, the pork will still be great on its own.

The great thing about pulled pork is it requires very little prep and yet provides a lot of delicious protein for a crowd or to eat all week.

And it happens to make your kitchen smell amazing!

Pulled pork normally takes hours to cook in the oven. But if you use a slow-cooker you can set it and forget it.

Or use an Instant Pot to cut the cooking time down by more than half!

 

What you need for this Apple Cider Pulled Pork

What’s great about this recipe is most of the ingredients are spices you probably already have in your pantry, plus a few extra things:

  • boneless pork shoulder/butt
  • 100% pure apple cider
  • apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • cinnamon
  • smoked paprika
  • ginger
  • cayenne
  • Granny Smith apple (or your favorite apple)

And for equipment:

paleo pulled pork cooked with apples and apple cider in a white dish with 2 forks next to an Instant Pot

How to make this Paleo and Whole30 pulled pork recipe

Mix all the spices together.

Untie the meat (if necessary) and pat dry with paper towels.

There’s likely a large fat cap running along one side of the pork. You can leave this on or, if it’s very thick, you can trim it off with a large paring knife. You do want some fat to make sure the meat stays moist (<–ugh, I know, sorry) so try not to trim all of it away.

Coat the pork with the spices. Really rub it in to every nook and cranny and be sure to get every side of the pork, including the ends.

And then follow the below instructions for your preferred cooking method!

 

Slow-Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Sear the meat on both sides either in a large pan or in the slow-cooker insert, if you can. This should take about 8 minutes per side. If searing in a pan, add the meat to the slow-cooker.

Combine the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and pour around the pork (don’t pour it right on top of the pork or it’ll wash away all the spices you just rubbed in).

Cook the pork on low for 7 hours.

When it’s done, core and cut the apple into 8 slices. Meaning: cut it in half, cut those halves in half, and now cut those pieces in half. You should end up with 8.

Don’t do this before the pork is ready or the apple will brown.

Add the apple slices around the pork, cover and cook on low for one more hour.

No apple? That’s fine! Just cook the pork on low for 8 hours.

Shred with two forks either in the pot or in a separate bowl. Toss the meat in the sauce to make sure it’s all coated.

 

Instant Pot Apple Cider Pulled Pork

If the pork is too big to fit in one piece, pull apart or cut the meat up into 2-3 large pieces.

Use the Sauté function of your IP to sear the meat on both sides, about 8 minutes per side.

Turn the Sauté function off.

Combine the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and pour around the pork (don’t pour it right on top of the pork or it’ll wash away all the spices you just rubbed in).

Use the manual function to set your IP to 60-75 minutes, depending on the size of your pork.

When done, hit the Keep Warm/Cancel button and let the pressure release naturally (about 20 minutes).

When it’s done, core and cut the apple into 8 slices. Meaning: cut it in half, cut those halves in half, and now cut those pieces in half. You should end up with 8.

Don’t do this before the pork is ready or the apple will brown.

Remove the meat to a bowl. Hit the Sauté button to bring the sauce to a simmer.

Add the apple slices and cook, stirring and flipping occasionally, until just slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Hit the Keep Warm/Cancel button.

While the apple cooks, shred the pork with two forks either in the pot or in a separate bowl.

Toss the meat in the sauce to make sure it’s all coated.

the best pulled pork in a white dish with 2 forks

What to serve with this pulled pork

Pile the pork and apples on top of your favorite bun. If you want, add a scoop of coleslaw on top of the meat.

To keep it Paleo/Whole30, serve with veggie rice (like cauliflower rice, sweet potato rice or parsnip rice) or mashed veggies (like mashed parsnips or mashed butternut squash).

Or add a small pile to thick, roasted sweet potato slices for open-faced pulled pork sliders.

Leftovers

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. You’ll notice the fat rises to the top of the liquid. You can remove some if you want but be sure to keep some so the meat stays moist (<— there it is again! Sorry!).

This apple pulled pork can also be frozen (minus the apple slices) for up to 3 months in an air-tight container. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Reheat it for a few minute in the microwave or over medium heat on the stove.

 

Other pork, slow-cooker/Instant Pot and apple recipes:

  1. Slow-Cooker Espresso Pulled Pork
  2. Slow-Cooker Italian Chicken Stew
  3. Creamy White Chicken Chili (slow-cooker, Instant Pot and stovetop instructions)
  4. Mulled Apple Cider
  5. Oven BBQ Pork Chops
  6. Sheet Pan Apple Cinnamon Chicken

 

apple cider pulled pork in a white dish with 2 forks next to an Instant Pot
Whole30 pulled pork cooked with apple cider in a white dish with 2 forks
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Apple Cider Pulled Pork (Paleo, Whole30)

Apple Cider Pulled Pork is smoky, tangy and slightly sweet. It's easy to make and can be made ahead of time! Use either a slow-cooker or Instant Pot and it'll make your kitchen smell amazing!
Note: cook time is for the slow-cooker version. The Instant Pot method will take about 90 minutes total, depending on the size of the pork.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple cider, apple cider vinegar, instant pot pulled pork, pulled pork, slow cooker pulled pork
Servings: 6 people
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • teaspoons smoked paprika
  • teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or more if you want it spicier)
  • 3-3½ lbs. boneless pork shoulder/butt
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or ghee
  • 3/4 cup 100% pure apple cider
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple (or your favorite apple)

Instructions

Prep the pork:

  • Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.
  • Untie (if necessary) and pat dry the pork shoulder with paper towels. There's likely a large fat cap running along one side of the pork. You can leave this on or, if it's very thick, you can trim it off with a large paring knife. You do want some fat to make sure the meat stays moist so try not to trim all of it away.
  • Coat the pork with the spice mixture. Really rub it in to every nook and cranny and be sure to get every side of the pork, including the ends.

For the slow-cooker:

  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pan or the slow-cooker insert (if it's stovetop safe).
  • Sear the meat on both sides until dark brown and caramelized, about 8 minutes per side. If searing in a pan, add the meat to the slow-cooker.
  • Combine the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and pour around the pork (don't pour it right on top of the pork or it'll wash away all the spices you just rubbed in).
  • Cook the pork on low for 7 hours.
  • When it's done, core the apple and cut it into 8 slices. Meaning: cut it in half, cut those halves in half, and now cut those pieces in half. You should end up with 8. (Don't do this before the pork is ready or the apple will brown.)
  • Add the apple slices around the pork, cover and cook on low for one more hour.
  • Shred the meat with two forks either in the pot or in a separate bowl. Toss the meat in the sauce to make sure it's all coated and serve with the apples.

For the Instant Pot:

  • Set the IP to Saute and heat the oil.
  • If the pork is too big to fit in one piece, pull apart or cut the meat up into 2-3 large pieces. Sear the meat on both sides until dark brown and caramelized, about 8 minutes per side. Hit Keep Warm/Cancel.
  • Combine the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and pour around the pork (don't pour it right on top of the pork or it'll wash away all the spices you just rubbed in).
  • Use the Manual function to set your IP to 60-75 minutes, depending on the size of your pork.
    When done, hit Keep Warm/Cancel and let the pressure release naturally (about 20 minutes). Try to shred one small part of the pork with two forks. If it's easy to shred, it's done. If it's still tough, add another 5-15 minutes.
  • When it's done, core the apple and cut it into 8 slices: cut it in half, cut those halves in half, and now cut those pieces in half. You should end up with 8. (Don't do this before the pork is ready or the apple will brown.)
  • Remove the meat to a bowl. Hit the Sauté button to bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the apple slices and cook, stirring and flipping occasionally, until just slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Hit the Keep Warm/Cancel button.
  • While the apple cooks, shred the meat with two forks. Toss the meat in the sauce to make sure it's all coated and serve with the apples.

Notes

No apple? If using the slow-cooker, cook the pork on low for 8 hours. If using the IP, you can shred the meat right in the pot or remove it to a bowl/cutting board to shred and add it back to the sauce.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. You'll notice the fat rises to the top of the liquid. You can remove some if you want but be sure to keep some so the meat stays moist.
This apple pulled pork can also be frozen (minus the apple slices) for up to 3 months in an air-tight container. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Reheat it for a few minutes in the microwave or over medium heat on the stove.

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