For those of us who decide to spend part of our food budget on meat, doing so can feel like it comes with certain strings. To begin with, it most definitely can't go to waste (those cuts can really add up). Secondly, it has to be versatile—it'd be best if we could get a couple of meals out of it. And lastly, it seems only natural that we spend time cooking it in the kitchen. After all, there is something almost therapeutic about the act of cooking.
And don't worry about all the preconceptions around how intensive the prep work is either. Enter the slow cooker. It eliminates a lot of the hassle associated with perfectly preparing meat, and that's especially true of pork. Its many variations, from pork tenderloin to pulled pork to pork chops, can all be expertly made in a slow cooker, and that's shown by these 10 mouthwatering recipes.
Serve up Hawaiian pork chops, pork carnitas, barbecue sliders, and more during busy weeknights, and you'll not only capitalize on this meat's versatility, but you'll also see how it doesn't always have to come with specific strings. Heck, you don't even need a particular set of skills.
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Chops
Ingredients: In this recipe from Creme de la Crumb, two pounds of pork chops are mixed with a blend of soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, minced garlic, and the juice from a can of pineapple slices for flavor that's reminiscent of a tropical Hawaiian vacation. Layer the meat and sauce over rice for the perfect finish.
Quick Tip: "Just before serving, you will transfer the liquid from the crockpot to a saucepan on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil," Tiffany says. "Stir together the cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water until it dissolves, and then stir it into the boiling sauce. It will thicken up quickly."
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
Ingredients: Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb also serves up this easy weeknight meal, which comes together using minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, and diced green chilis. Once the meat is ready, serve it in soft tortillas with added cilantro and salsa.
Quick Tip: "The best part? This takes 10 minutes of prep. Maybe less since you just dump it all in the slow cooker and come back to pull it apart with a couple of forks a few hours later," she says.
Slow Cooker Honey Balsamic Pork Tenderlion
Ingredients: We couldn't move on from Creme de la Crumb without mentioning this simple and versatile recipe for pork tenderloin, which is made with help from onion powder, soy sauce, cornstarch, and brown sugar. It's cooked on low for eight hours and can be used for sandwiches throughout the week.
Quick Tip: "Transfer as much liquid from the slow cooker as possible to a medium saucepan," Tiffany continues. "Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk together cold water and cornstarch and stir into boiling sauce. Reduce it to a simmer and allow it to cook for three to four minutes until slightly thickened."
Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Pork Sandwich
Ingredients: Natalie from The Modern Proper takes the aforementioned pineapple-and-pork combination and puts it into the ideal lunch sandwich. She adds mixed jalapeños, juiced limes, and barbecue sauce, too.
Quick Tip: "If bread is something you're trying to avoid, have no fear. This pulled pork is also great for tacos, rice bowls, salads, burritos, and breakfast hashes," she says.
Southwest Barbecue Pork Sliders
Ingredients: If you're still in the mood for a pork barbecue sandwich, take your obsession to the next level with this option from Half Baked Harvest. Blogger Tieghan pairs her pork with enchilada sauce and pepper jack cheese on a brioche bun.
Quick Tip: "You can really use any cheese you love here, but I think either sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, or pepper jack are the way to go," she notes. "Gotta keep those southwest flavors on point."
Cheesy Crockpot Cajun Pulled Pork
Ingredients: All right, one last pulled pork sandwich option from Half Baked Harvest, and once you see its ingredients, you'll know why it was tough to resist. This one is packed with pork that's been mixed with paprika, avocado, cajun seasoning, and molasses. Then, it's layered with a slaw of fresh corn, onion, and red pepper.
Quick Tip: "Remove the pork and sausage from the crockpot and set aside to cool slightly," Tieghan says. "Skim off the excess fat from the cooking liquid, and then strain it into a large skillet and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by one-third, or for about 10 minutes."
Slow Cooker Hatch Green Chile Verde
Ingredients: Heidi at the Foodie Crush mixes pork with husked tomatillos, smashed garlic, and roasted hatch chilis for this recipe, which is layered in salsa verde and served with warm tortillas.
Quick Tip: "By using both olive oil and butter, I was able to raise the temperature to sear the pork rather than steam it (the combo results in a higher burn point)," she says.
Slow Cooker Pork Roast and Cherries
Ingredients: Save this recipe from Melanie Makes for a cozy dinner party since it uses heartwarming thyme, apple juice, dried cherries, and chopped onion for a dish that's equally impressive and comforting.
Quick Tip: "The cooking liquid is thickened to create an amazing finishing sauce that ties everything together," she writes. "Served over rice or pasta, this slow cooker pork roast and cherries can serve a crowd!"
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Gyro Bowls
Ingredients: Opt for this colorful recipe from Melanie Makes when you're looking for an unexpectedly easy twist on a beloved meal. She takes slow-cooked pulled pork and pairs it with arugula, cherry tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers alongside a tzatziki sauce.
Quick Tip: "To assemble gyro bowls, add pulled pork, arugula, cherry tomatoes, red onion and cucumbers to a bowl," she says. "Serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top as well as a slice of pita bread."
Slow Cooker Peach and Pepper Pork Chops
Ingredients: This last recommendation from Melanie Makes combines two unlikely flavors, peaches and red peppers, for a pork chop sauce that's sweet yet savory. It's mixed with minced garlic, too.
Quick Tip: "The preserves are definitely the key to this quick and easy recipe, as it packs a flavorful punch of sweet peaches and red pepper flakes," she says.