This Slow Cooker Pork Roast is as flavorful as can be with the addition of balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.
As I’m typing this, the snow is very lightly falling outside. So lightly, I can barely see it. It’s too cold for those giant, lacy snowflakes I like to catch on my tongue. They are tiny icy snowflakes that just barely dust the ground in a fine powder. The kind you can blow like confetti. It’s cold – downright frigid! And it’s the perfect time to make Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Balsamic Vinegar and Herbs. The recipe is incredibly simple and yields a tender, delicious pork roast with a mouthwatering balsamic sauce. The sauce can be reduced on the stove so it is thicker, almost like a gravy, or served it as-is.
This winter has been much colder than others I remember. And I give myself permission to complain about it for at least 2 more months. I’ll stop near the end of March when it is my birthday and the first day of spring. It will probably keep snowing through the spring if the plentiful snow we’ve already had is any indication. I’ll wish and hope for a spring as warm, lovely and vibrant as last year’s. In the meantime, I will stay inside all bundled up, eating soup and vegetable stews to stay warm inside and out.
My family, however, has found the soups and stews a little tedious. They cheered when they came home from school, the smell of a slow cooker pork roast bathed in sweet balsamic vinegar wafting through the house. Another cheer came for the bowl of warm mashed potatoes served alongside. I threw together another batch of my new favorite veggie recipe, Green Beans with Olives, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts. Oh, mama! I could eat the whole pan of those beans in one sitting if my tummy would stretch that far. They are really that good. This is the ultimate meat n’ potatoes family-pleasing meal. (p.s. It’s great for a larger crowd, too, like if you’re having company. And it’s so easy to make!)
Which Kind of Cut Should Be Used for a Slow Cooker Pork Roast
I’ll admit that I often don’t pay the closest attention to the cut of pork I use for my slow cooker pork roast. I have used a pork butt, loin, or shoulder roast interchangeably as the slow cooking doesn’t seem to be affected by that factor.
A pork loin (not to be confused with the tenderloin, which I would never cook in a slow cooker!) is a leaner cut of pork with less marbling. I recommend cutting the time down a bit so as to not overcook or the slow cooker pork roast will be dry instead of juicy. Or, better yet, save a pork loin for roasting in the oven and use one of the other cuts.
A pork butt or shoulder is the ideal for slow cooker pork roasts because they have more of that fat marbling and are better suited to slow cooking. In order for the roast to be tender, it must be cooked low and slow. Cooking with a liquid, such as the balsamic vinegar in this recipe, will help keep the roast from drying out and will also flavor the meat.
I prefer cooking a boneless slow cooker pork roast because it’s easier, in my opinion. If you use a bone-in pork roast, increase the cooking time.
Another option is to use pork chops, boneless or bone-in. Pork chops can be difficult to cook correctly because they often end up dry as can be. Slow cooking can help with that as long as there is that liquid and the low and slow cooking time.
My family also really liked boneless pork ribs. They are very fatty, so it’s important to drain off the fat if you use this cut of meat. They can tolerate higher temps and long cooking times without ill effect.
Furthermore, this balsamic and herb sauce would be great over a fresh or cured ham. I’ve cooked a ham in my slow cooker many times. Half the amount of sauce ingredients, or cook the sauce on the stovetop to allow it to reduce and become syrupy, then brush over the ham as a glaze.
How Long Does a Slow Cooker Pork Roast Need To Cook?
The time can vary depending on how large the pork roast is, the type and size of slow cooker being used, and whether or not the roast is frozen or thawed. Now I know slow cooking frozen meat or chicken is generally not advisable, but I have done it a few times when it was the only option and we survived. My recommendation is to thaw the meat before slow cooking. :)
A 3-4 pound pork roast will usually take 4-5 hours on HIGH or 7-8 on LOW. If the slow cooker pork roast will be cooked unattended, it’s better to go with the LOW setting. I prefer to use LOW when slow cooking meat unless I have a time constraint or didn’t plan ahead. (Ahem.)
Smaller pork roasts should be fine on LOW for 7-8 hours, while larger roasts will probably need more like 8-10+ hours.
Which Slow Cooker Should I Buy?
I have owned a few different slow cookers over the years. I started with a CrockPot given to me by a good friend. I loved that slow cooker and used it often until it quit working. My next slow cooker was the All-Clad 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker with a non-stick metal oven- and stovetop-safe insert. I loved that slow cooker dearly, but unfortunately the non-stick coating bubbled and peeled and I believe it became hazardous to keep using it. It also stopped working shortly thereafter or I would have replaced the insert. (Or it might have been our wonky old house and it’s crazy electrical system that did it…)
Next, not wanting to give up completely on All-Clad, I bought another All-Clad 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker, but this time with a ceramic inserts. I ADORE THIS SLOW COOKER. But it is a bit more expensive and not always practical for everyone. It’s huge, basically. As far as price goes, they have come down a lot. They used to sell for around $300 and now you can find them under $150.
To keep up with my work, I added a CrockPot 7-quart slow cooker because they are affordable and work well. (Not as well as my All-Clad, but a decent second place.)
My next purchase will be an InstantPot. I will create a new version for the InstantPot and link to this post
- One, 3-5 pound pork roast (shoulder or loin are great)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Place pork roast in the slow cooker and top with the other ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the roast. (I put mine in frozen and it was done in 4 hours, but I left it for longer so it was more fall-apart tender*.)
- Remove the cooked roast from the slow-cooker. Cover and keep warm. Pour the accumulated juices and vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it reduce by about half. Slice the roast and pour the sauce over the top and serve.
- Note: If you let the roast cook even longer, it will shred easily with a fork and makes delicious sandwiches. Don't reduce the liquid, it will be absorbed into the shredded meat. We've done both ways and like them equally. It's a great thing to make when you're having company for dinner.