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
Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Balsamic Vinegar and Herbs
A flavorful, tender pork roast slow cooked to perfection. Reduce the cooking liquid for a tasty, tangy sauce or gravy to serve with the roast.
- Total Time: 8 hours 10 mins
- Yield: 6-10 1x
- 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
Yes, please. And can I feature this on my slow cooker site? (And I just made a balsamic pork roast too, different though.)
Oh Lindsey, this is one gorgeous piece of meat. Definitely perfect for these cold, cold nights!
You had me at balsamic. And pork. And herbed.
This is so incredibly gorgeous. With all this cold weather, I’m craving hearty warm meals like this. The balsamic is such a nice addition!
I will be trying this one very soon!
I am going for this one. I love pork roast and balsamic glaze :D
Thanks for the wonderful green bean recipe too. I could eat green beans all day long.
Just wondering, Lindsey… what cut of pork did you use for this? Could you use a pork loin? It looks delicious!
I think the roast I used was a pork shoulder. The package didn’t say what it was and I can’t remember. Certainly you can use a pork loin. I think that would be even better. :)
I know you said you put it in frozen (I didnt know you could do that!) but how did you get the charred look on the pork?
Thanks! Looking forward to trying it!
Sometimes I will sear the outside of the roast before putting it in the slow cooker. This time I didn’t do that. The charred look just comes from the caramelized balsamic vinegar on the side that was against the insert of my slow-cooker. I have the All-Clad one that can go from stove top to oven to slow-cooker. It gets things nice and browned even when I don’t start them on the stove first. I hope that answers your question. :)
Oh my goodness! That’s about all I can say right now. It all looks delicious! But we love pork roast anyway …
Wow! I just pulled this out of my crockpot and it is incredibly delicious. I reduced the sauce by half, but wanted it a little thicker so I added some cornstarch. I found this recipe through Kalyn’s Kitchen Slow Cooker site, and I can’t wait to share it with my friends.
What type of pork roast did you use? Is pork loin too lean?
Sorry, after reading the comments above, my answer is already commented above.
So made this in a crockpot but it never browned put it in the oven to brown, it would probably b better in a dutch oven in the oven. But the flavor I liked but men in house liked my old fashion gravy they hate change. Makes it difficult to do anything different.
This looks amazing and perfect for the semi-paleo thing my family is trying. Thx!
Does the vinegar go into the crock pot or just used with the juices to reduce after the pork is cooked?
Hi there! The vinegar goes in with the roast in the slow cooker and then you can reduce it for a thicker sauce afterwards. Hope that helps! :)
This looks delicious! But, my family and I don’t eat pork. Any suggestions on what type of meat brides pork this will work with? Thank you :)
Hi there! You could easily substitute beef, chicken or turkey. If you eat beef, that would be my first choice for substitution. Otherwise, chicken breasts or thighs, or even a whole chicken would work. A boneless turkey breast would also work really well and could be sliced similarly.
The sauce is also good on pulled chicken and beef. (I’ve tried it on everything except for fish!)
Great question! Thanks for the comment!
This looks delicious!! Have you ever put vegetables in with the roast while cooking in the slow cooker?
I tried this a few weeks ago and it is one of the tastiest pork pot roasts I’ve had in a long time. It was a winner with my boyfriend(which is always a plus). Next time I make it I will make sure to have a dinner party so I can share the tastiness.
@melissa I haven’t tried that, but I think it would be absolutely delicious!
@anonymous Yay! I love to hear that. Thanks for coming back to tell me!
I am trying this tonight! Have had basalmic chicken…this sounds just as delishous!
I’m super excited to try this recipe! I just put it in the crockpot using pork loin. I am also thinking about trying it with bison or venison. Thanks so much for sharing such a lovely, yummy-looking recipe!
Jennie, I’d love to hear how it tastes made with bison and venison! I haven’t eaten either of those for years, and I should change that. :) Thanks for stopping by. Let me know how it goes!
Hi apologies if it does say somewhere, how many people does this serve? Thank you
Hi Sara! I didn’t list the number of servings. I’ll go add that in. It does depend on several factors – how large the roast is and how much meat you want to plan as a serving. Typically you can plan on 1/4 pound per person. We tend to go for smaller servings at our house, but I also have relatives and friends who are meat lovers and would eat more. :) So the short answer is between 6-10.
Just saw this on Feedblitz. Is the Pork Shoulder bone in or boneless? Thanks
Hi Steve! I used boneless, but you could certainly use bone-in. It might take a little longer to cook through, but that would be the only difference.
I just wanted to let you know that this worked very well in the oven. I browned on all sides in a dutch oven, added the rest of the ingredients, and cooked with the lid on at 325. I used a small boneless boston butt, a little over two pounds, and it took about 2.5 hours.
The only negative was that the sauce was *almost* burned tasting. I think it was from the sugar in the vinegar being cooked for so long in a hot oven. Any suggestions for next time? FYI I used 1/2 cup balsamic and 1/2 water because my balsamic is the gold label from TJs and very sweet.
Thanks again for your very speedy reply last week. My apartment was so much warmer with the oven on and I got a delicious dinner!
Hi Lia! Thanks for reporting back. I was wondering how it turned out! Hmm. That’s disappointing about the burnt flavor. I’m wondering if using a little more water might help. My other thought is that maybe lowering the oven temperature. If you didn’t want to add water, chicken stock would be another option. Oh! One more thing you could try – start cooking it for awhile with a little water in the bottom, then add the balsamic vinegar and sugar during the last hour or so. I’ll have to try it in the oven and see how that goes. It’s been awhile since I last made it. My family would LOVE to eat it again anyway. :)
Lower temp and adding the balsamic later are both good ideas. Thanks! I’m normally a slow-cooker gal since I’m at work all day, but if I happen to be home again for a snow day (fingers crossed that won’t happen until next winter), I’ll give it a try and let you know!
Anyone try a loin roast? I am skeptical, because I like mine med rare to medium.
Hi Fran! You might be surprised by this recipe! It yields a very flavorful, tender meat with delicious sauce. But it’s definitely different than an oven roasted loin served medium rare – not even the same kind of recipe. I feel like a loin roast is better for the oven and this recipe is better with a shoulder or butt roast.
I loved this recipe. The smell of the vinegar at first was not to appetizing, but once cooked, it was delish. Since doing a whole 30, I did not use honey but substituted for the juice of a mandarine. I did also cook the drippings down to half. Worked great. I love it.
In the crock pot now. I’m using a frozen pork sirloin roast and am out of honey so replaced it with brown sugar. Looking forward to dinner tonight!!
I am trying to get used to cooking with fresh herbs and new ingredients when time and money allows. But my house currently smells of insane vinegar. And my daughter is hiding in her bedroom away from it. Will that go away? Lol. I’m still learning.
Well, I don’t know what to say! haha The recipe does use a lot of vinegar. Our family LOVES vinegar, so we don’t mind it. The strongest smell should subside after awhile. And yes, the sauce does still taste like vinegar. But it’s milder and sweeter. If you decide to make it again, you could use less vinegar and use stock or water for the remainder.
can you use a balsamic glaze and if so how much?
I don’t see why you couldn’t. If it’s an extra thick glaze, you could water it down a bit, but the ones I’ve seen before would work without being thinned out. You probably wouldn’t need to reduce the sauce at the end either. As for the amount, it depends on how large the roast is and how much flavor you want, and the glaze used. I’ll just say that if it were me (again, depending on the glaze and its concentration), I would use 1/2 or 3/4 the amount in the recipe.
I would love to print this recipe can u help me
Hi Judy! For some reason this recipe wasn’t formatted for printing. I went in an fixed it. If you go to the recipe box, right under the photo there is a print link that you can click. Hope that works! If not, let me know and I’ll email it to you!
Lindsey when using a frozen roast did you cook on high for four hours, or low temp for 4 hr.
I plan on putting this is in my crockpot in the morning. I forgot to get dried rosemary but I do have fresh. How much should I use?
Lindsey, I don’t have any balsamic vinegar but I do have a bottle of balsamic vinegar salad dressing. Can that be used as a substitute?
I cooked this today for 8 hours in the crockpot. I cooked it over a bed of sweet onions. I used the vinegar for the roasting and the glaze. Overall we felt it was too acidic and not quite as tender as I would have liked. Afterwards I shredded the pork and added in a little bbq sauce. Thank you