How Long Should You Slow Cook Pork Shoulder? [Speed It Up]

Pork shoulder in a slow cooker

One of the best ways to prepare pork shoulder is in a slow cooker because it’s easy, reliable, and produces impressive results.

Slow-cooked pork is moist, deliciously tender, and falls apart. But it can take several hours to cook it.

If you want to complete the task faster, here are some easy tips to speed up the process.

But first…

Ideal Time to Slow Cook Pork Shoulder

On the low setting of a slow cooker, you should cook the pork shoulder for six to eight hours. For a larger cut of 7 to 8 pounds, slow cook it for double the time.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the cooking time. Let’s find out what they are.

Tips to Speed up The Slow Cooking of Pork Shoulder in A Slow Cooker

Here are some simple ways to speed up the cooking of a pork shoulder in a slow cooker.

1. Tenderize the meat.

Pork takes longer to cook because the meat is tough. It has thick muscle fibers that don’t break down easily.

Hence, they take longer to cook. However, you can speed up the process by tenderizing the meat.

Use a meat mallet to pound the pork shoulder and break down the tough muscle fibers.

You don’t want to pound it too much that it becomes mushy.

Just lightly pound all over the cut with the rough edge of the mallet to break the fibers apart.

2. Score the surface of the meat.

The best way to tenderize a tough cut of meat is using a meat mallet.

However, if you don’t have one, you can score the surface of the meat. There are many ways to do this.

One of the easiest ways is to poke holes all over the meat with a fork.

It will break the thick connective tissue in different regions and help it cook faster.

Another way is to score the surface with a knife in a crisscross pattern.

It will break the tough connective tissue into segments, making it easier to cook.

Related: Ideal Time to Slow Cook Chicken Thighs | Ideal Time to Slow Cook Ribs

3. Let the pork come to room temperature.

If you store the pork shoulder in the freezer or refrigerator, let it come to room temperature before cooking it.

There are several benefits to waiting till it reaches room temperature.

Thawing the meat completely will ensure that there are no hard or frozen bits.

So the meat will cook evenly and thoroughly.

Another factor is that all the fat in the meat will cook faster once it has thawed.

It will give you more control over the cooking process.

You can easily identify when the meat is done. There is a smaller risk of overcooking.

However, don’t let the meat remain at room temperature for too long.

Place it in the slow cooker as soon as it reaches room temperature to prevent bacterial growth.

4. Use a tenderizer.

A pork shoulder is a fatty piece of meat that produces enough liquid. So, you can cook it in its own moisture.

However, you can speed up the cooking process by using a liquid to tenderize the meat.

Acidic ingredients like buttermilk, vinegar, and lime juice break down tough proteins and connective tissues.

They also add extra flavor to the meat.

So you can use any of these ingredients to tenderize the meat before cooking it.

Marinate the pork shoulder in any of these liquids for half an hour, and it will cook much faster.

5. Salt the meat.

Salted pork shoulder

Adding salt to the meat before cooking will draw out moisture from the inside and make it easier to cook.

It will also intensify the flavors of the other ingredients added to the meat. So salt the meat before adding it to the crockpot.

When you cook the pork in the slow cooker, the moisture in the meat will evaporate, and steam will rise to the top.

However, it can’t escape and is trapped by the lid.

This lets the pork shoulder steam in its own liquid and cook slowly and thoroughly.

6. Cut the meat into smaller pieces.

It takes less time to cook the same piece of meat when you cut it into smaller pieces.

Another advantage of cutting the meat is that it will fit better in your slow cooker.

When you cut the pork shoulder before adding it to the crockpot, it will usually be done in six to seven hours on the low setting.

We recommend cutting a standard pork shoulder of 4 to 8 pounds into two pieces to help it cook faster.

For a larger cut of pork, you can make more pieces.

7. Start on the High setting and reduce it to Low.

The slow cooker has two settings—High and Low.

You can cook the same ingredient in less time on the High setting.

However, it’s not the best approach for all types of meat.

Pork shoulder is a tough and thick cut. Hence, slow cooking it on the Low setting yields better results.

Since the cooking time is longer, the meat will be more flavorful and tender.

However, you can switch between these modes if you are trying to reduce cooking time.

Start the slow cooker on High and cook the pork shoulder on this setting for four hours.

You can then switch it to Low and cook till the pork is done.

This will reduce the cooking time, but the result will still be good.

Further Reading: What Temperature Should You Operate a Slow Cooker At? (The Complete Guide)

8. Place foil paper beneath the cooker lid.

This is one of the easiest ways to speed up the slow cooking of pork shoulder.

Remove the lid of the slow cooker and place aluminum foil at the mouth of the cooking pot.

Then place the lid back and turn on the cooker.

The foil creates a strong seal for the moisture from the meat. Additionally, it reflects the heat back into the pot.

This speeds up the cooking process, and you still get all the benefits of slow cooking.

This method works with all tough cuts of meat, not just pork shoulder.

Related: Ideal Time to Slow Cook Pot Roast

9. Wrap the meat in foil paper.

This method is like the previous one.

However, the difference is that you will take the pork out and wrap it mid-way through the cooking process.

To understand how this works, let’s look at what happens during the cooking process.

When you are cooking pork, the natural juices from the meat evaporate.

They form a cool layer around the meat, slowing down the cooking process.

This typically occurs at a temperature of 155°F to 165°F.

It’s called stalling, and the meat doesn’t cook till it overcomes this stage.

However, you can speed up the process by wrapping it in aluminum foil at this stage.

Depending on the slow cooker, the meat will reach this temperature within four to five hours of cooking.

Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat.

Use overlapping pieces of foil paper of the same length as the meat to cover the pork.

Seal it with the fat side up to keep it moist.

Place it back inside the cooker and continue cooking till it’s fully cooked.

Let the meat rest for at least thirty minutes after cooking to let the flavors intensify.

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