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Should you finish pork shoulder in a crock pot? (Explained)

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It takes a long time to smoke pork shoulder, and time isn’t always on our side. Looking for a quick remedy can be a good idea in these desperate situations. That’s exactly what slow cooking a smoked pork shoulder can do for you.

Can You Finish a Smoked Pork Shoulder in a Crock Pot?

You most definitely can! In fact, some people prefer to finish their pork shoulder this way every time! Keep in mind that the finished result may differ from that of a thoroughly cooked cut in a smoker. 

You shouldn’t lose too much of the smoky flavor it’s been developing. But there is a tricky little tactic that some smokers utilize when they are pressed for time. It’s sort of like “reverse slow cooking.”

The pork shoulder is slow cooked until nearly done, then finished in the smoker. This way, you can give it a fresh smoke before putting it to rest. Remember that the slow cooker will have broken down much of the connective fibres in the meat, so wrap it before putting it on the smoker to keep it tight and together.

Should You Finish a Pork Shoulder in a Crock Pot?

Depends On the Situation.

As previously stated, if you’re pushed for time and require a smoked pork shoulder right now, go ahead. However, if you want a fully smoked, high-quality pork shoulder, just let it smoke.

Furthermore, if bark is significant to you, it may not be a wise choice.

In a slow cooker, pork skin does not crackle. Even if the pork has been smoking for a long time before being placed to a crock pot, the quality and texture of the bark may be diminished, if not completely ruined. 

For example, if you’re preparing pulled pork, a slow cooker may actually help the pork shoulder reach a melty consistency. But if you want a cut with crackling, savory skin, you might want to avoid it.

Can you Finish in the Oven?

If bark is crucial to you and you need a quick fix, try completing it in an oven rather than a crock pot. An oven helps better preserve the bark and smoky flavor.

Place the wrapped pork shoulder in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep an eye on the pork because the oven will cause the internal temperature to rise quickly.

When the temperature rises above 200 degrees Fahrenheit (F), it begins to dry out.

Why Finish a Pork Shoulder in a Crock Pot?

Getting Through the Stall

If you’re short on time and your pork shoulder has smoked past a certain stage, finishing it in the crock pot can be a faster choice.

This is especially true once you arrive at the dreaded stall. (The stall is a temperature range, often between 150- and 170-degrees Fahrenheit, in which the internal temperature of meat plateaus and refuses to rise.) 

This can be upsetting, especially if your dinner guests are due to arrive in 3 hours and your pork shoulder has been stuck at 165 degrees for the past 6 hours.

In this case, you could try putting it in the slow cooker to get it past the stall and up to 200 degrees (F).

Save Pork Shoulder from Drying Out

Things don’t always go as planned, despite our best efforts. If your pork shoulder is drying out in the smoker and you’ve exhausted all other alternatives for saving it, you can finish it in a crock pot to keep the moisture in. 

Does Pork Shoulder Require liquid in a Crock Pot? 

Technically, no, slow cooking pork shoulder does not normally necessitate the use of additional liquid.

Pork retains a lot of water, which coagulates with the broken-down fats and connective tissues inside the slow cooker, producing plenty of moisture on its own. 

Of course, nothing prevents you from including whatever you want!

Some folks like to use apple cider vinegar in their slow cooker (which is sometimes used on pork shoulder in a smoker). BBQ sauce is placed directly into the slow cooker to combine with the pork for pulled pork.

What Temperature is Pork Shoulder Done in a Crock Pot?

Slow-cooked pork shoulder adheres to the same guidelines as smoked pork shoulder. Before pulling it out, the internal temperature should be between 195- and 200-degrees Fahrenheit.

With a fork, the pork should be satisfyingly soft and easily peel apart with a fork, literally falling off the bone.

It Should Still be Rested

When slow cooking (or finishing a pork shoulder in a slow cooker), you must still allow it to rest once it is done. Whether smoked or slow cooked, the fats and juices still need time to redistribute and settle in the meat.

Final Thoughts

Smoked pork shoulder can absolutely be finished in a crock pot; the outcome will only fluctuate slightly depending on your end goal.

It should work great for pulled pork. You’re already attempting to generate a melty texture, which a crock pot can provide.

If you want something with a little more bark, you could just wait out the smoker. A crock pot doesn’t completely destroy healthy bark, but it also doesn’t help it.

Keep in mind that when it comes to internal temperatures, crock pot cooking adheres to the same guidelines. So, you should still have a reliable meat thermometer on hand.