This Slow Cooker Pork Roast is incredibly flavorful thanks to tangy balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.
Slow Cooker Pork Roast, A Perfect Cold Weather Meal
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 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!)
Selecting the Right Cut of Meat for Slow Cooking
The first step is to select the right cut of pork. However…
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. In my experience, having experimented with pork butt, loin, or shoulder roast, all can be used interchangeably. Slow cooking doesn’t seem to be affected by that factor.
A pork loin (not to be confused with the tenderloin) 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. 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.
Pork tenderloin is best left to the grill, stovetop, or oven. Tenderloins are lean, tender, and small. Slow cooking is best for the bigger, fattier cuts.
A pork butt or shoulder is the ideal for slow cooker pork roast because they have more of that great fat marbling and are better suited for 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. The vinegar also helps cut through the fat and richness of the meat.
How To Make a Slow Cooker Pork Roast
After selecting the right cut of meat for the slow cooker pork roast, then it’s time to get prepped and ready. Seasoning the meat well with with salt and pepper is a great idea. The next step is searing the meat. This will help seal in juices and also adds a lot of flavor.
When I sear the pork roast, I start with the fattiest side and allow some of the fat to render. This adds another layer of flavor. If you’re using a leaner cut, add a little oil or butter to aid in the browning process. Make sure to sear the roast in a very hot pan and allow it to develop a nicely browned crust on each side.
One awesome tip I learned, after adding the balsamic and herbs, is to place a piece of parchment over the roast. This will help the roast stay juicy.
Slow Cooker Pork Roast Cooking Time
The cooking time for a slow cooker pork roast 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.
Pork Roast Alternatives and Variations
Occasionally I will opt for smaller cuts such as boneless or bone-in pork chops. Pork chops can be difficult to cook properly and can easily end up dry. Slow cooking pork chops with liquid is a great option, but it is important to add liquid and use a low and slow method.
My family also really liked boneless pork ribs. You’ll see them labeled as “country ribs.” They can also tolerate higher temps and long cooking times without ill effect. This cut is very fatty. I always spoon off the excess fat. The balsamic herb sauce is absolutely delicious paired with country ribs.
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.)Print
- One (3-5 pound) pork roast (shoulder or loin are great)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 3–4 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 3–4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
- Prepare the roast: If the roast has a fat cap, score it with a very sharp paring knife. If desired, tie the roast with baker’s twine.
- Season the pork well with the salt and pepper on all sides.
- Preheat a heavy-duty pan, such as a cast-iron skillet, over medium-high heat. Sear the roast, starting with the fattiest side, on each side for 3-5 minutes, or until a golden brown crust forms.
- Meanwhile, combine vinegar, honey, and herbs in a small bowl.
- Place seared pork roast in the slow cooker and pour the balsamic mixture over the top. Place a piece of parchment paper over the roast and tuck it down a bit around the roast. Place lid on slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the roast. Test for doneness around the 3 or 5 hour mark. The roast will be done when the meat is very tender and starts to fall apart. (A frozen 4-pound roast was done in around 4 hours on high, but I left it for longer so it was more fall-apart tender.)
- Carefully remove the cooked roast from the slow cooker and place it on a plate. Cover with foil and keep warm.
- Pour the accumulated liquid into a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce by about half. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- To serve: Slice the roast and pour the warm sauce over the top. Serve immediately.
- For shredded pork, allow the roast to cook for a little longer. The pork will shred easily with a fork. It makes delicious sandwiches. The liquid doesn’t need to be reduced for shredded pork. The liquid will be absorbed by the shredded meat.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Category: Main
- Method: Slow Cooking
- Diet: Gluten Free
Keywords: slow cooker pork roast, pork roast, pork, slow cooker pork, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme