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Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

italian_pork_roast

There was a cosmic convergence among five factors to bring this recipe post into your kitchens:

1. Nom Nom Paleo did a cooking demo of her incredibly, lusciously delicious Slow Cooker Kalua Pig at our paleo throwdown in Estes Park, Colorado — and her 3-ingredient recipe inspired me to think about how I could adapt her technique to some other flavors.

2. I’ve had to jettison spices this month while I experiment with the autoimmune protocol for paleo.

3. I’m playing around with herbs since my spice playground is verboten.

4. I’m pushing the boundaries of using my slow cooker as a roasting vessel. I have a passionate dislike for stew and soups made in the slow cooker — they just don’t caramelize enough for me, and I feel like they’re always too watery — but I’m loving my slow cooker as a countertop oven.

5. Dave just acquired a new camera, and he’s snapping pics all over the place so he can deepen his relationship with it before we start official photography for Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat… which is why we have along-the-way photos in this post, in addition to the finished, tender, shiny, scrumptious pork.

Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

I started with a 7-pound pork shoulder roast. Mine had a bone, but boneless will work, too.


Then I picked out some nice chubby garlic cloves and cut them into slivers…


I mixed Penzeys Italian Herb Mix with salt…


Stuck the garlic slivers into my piggy friend…


Then gave him a salt+herb massage. People pay big bucks for that kind of loving rub-down!


Straight into the slow cooker — no fuss, no muss, no liquid…


And 16 hours later, it was fall-apart tender and infused with flavor.

Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

Serves a lot! | Prep 10 min. | Cook 16 hours, give or take

Ingredients:
5-7 pound pork roast, boneless or bone in (shoulder, Boston butt… ribs would work, too)
5-7 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Penzeys Italian Herb Mix (or 1 teaspoon each dried oregano+dried basil+dried rosemary)

Directions:
1. Pat the pork roast dry with paper towels. Use a small sharp knife to make slits all over the pork, then insert the garlic slivers into the slits.

2. In a small bowl, mix the salt and dried herbs, using your fingers to crush the leaves and mix them with the salt. Rub the mixture all over the pork roast, working into the nooks and crannies.

3. Place the pork roast in the slow cooker and cook on low for 14 to 16 hours. As the pork roasts, the pan of the slow cooker will fill with liquid. You have two choices: (1) let it go and pour off the liquid when the meat is finished cooking; or (2) halfway through cooking, remove the lid and carefully pour off the liquid. Put the lid back on the pork and let it continue roasting; refrigerate the liquid in a glass bowl/jar or BPA-free container so the grease can separate from the luscious juice. I like to pour off the liquid so the outside of the roast gets crispier.

4. When the meat is finished roasting, it’s fall-apart tender. You can either shred it with forks, mixing the crusty bits with the interior, tender bits — or break it into serving-size hunks. It’s crazy-good either way. Remember the juice you put in the fridge? Now you can easily skim off the excess fat, re-heat the juice in a pan on the stove, and use it as a sauce for the cooked meat.

Other Crazy-Good Pork Recipes

Bigos
Moroccan-Spiced Pork Chops
Scotch Eggs
Czech Meatballs
Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew
Cook’s Illustrated BBQ Pork
Citrus Carnitas
5-Spice Slow-Cooker Pork Ribs

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113 Responses to “Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast”

  1. Fay says:

    That looks delicious! Unfortunately, I don’t eat pork. What cuts of beef do you think might work with this? I also hate crockpot anything, for the same reasons you mentioned above, so I’m eager to try this!

    • Mel says:

      I made it with a grass-fed beef chuck roast, and it was really tasty. Basically, any roast cut will work, I think. The low, slow heat is pretty forgiving. I’ve also used this technique on stew meat, and it worked well.

    • Beverly Scarpulla says:

      My mom always browned the outside of a roast in a pan before cooking. I am trying this tonight for tomorrow and will follow the recipe exactly bc it’s the first time I’m making it, but if I were more adventurous I would brown it first… I don’t want to screw up 7 lbs of meat! Lol.

      • You can brown it first, if you’d like… I skipped that step because when I made mine, it got nice and brown on the outside in the slow cooker, without needing to add that extra step. BUT… if you want to be guaranteed a brown crust on the outside, you can brown it on the stove, then transfer to the slow cooker.

  2. Sarah says:

    That looks so good! Perfect for cold days :)

  3. Melissa Clayton says:

    I live in Louisiana – where can I find Penzey’s spices? Do they sell it in major grocery chains or should i search for it on-line? If I wanted to maybe make this today (because it looks so delicious) what could i use as a substitution?

  4. Danielle H says:

    This looks yummy!! Do you think this could work with beef? For a Italian Beef recipe? If so, what cut of beef? If not, do you have an Italian beef crockpot recipe? Hubby has been craving Italian beef so I need to find a yummy and (possibly) whole 30 approved recipe :)

  5. This looks SO GOOD. I’ve never seen anything that crispy looking come out of a slow cooker! I’m definitely going to try the longer cooking time, and pouring off the liquid. Mmm, I can taste it already…

  6. StaceyO says:

    Simply brilliant! Going on the menu for next week! Also, glad to hear about the 2nd Well Fed book. We are living out of the first and love it!!!

  7. JennF says:

    This is so perfect! I’ve had a huge (just under 8 lb) pastured pork roast in my freezer forever because I didn’t know what to do with a bone-in roast that big. Now I know! I’ll be making your recipe this weekend. Thanks!

  8. I’m thinking of trying this with a pork tenderloin that’s sitting in my freezer and just monitoring the cooking time so I don’t end up with cinders. Sounds delish! Glad to hear about the new book but here’s a suggestion for the publishers– spiral-bound. I use mine so much it is literally falling apart– they just don’t bind books like they used to. I’m going to take all the pages out and put them in plastic sleeves in a binder, then I can integrate my new Mel recipes with them.Thanks for the post!

    • Mel says:

      “The publishers” are my husband and me… we’re Smudge Publishing, and the bindings on our recent printings are AWESOME. It was just the first printing that had some problems, which isn’t unusual.

      Well Fed 2 will probably be available both as a spiral bound AND as a lay-flat. I personally hate spiral, but I know other people like it.

    • Mel says:

      Also: pork tenderloin is VERY lean. You might want to sear it first in a cast iron skillet, then finish it in the crockpot and definitely don’t leave it in there too long, or it will get dry. And you might want to add some chicken broth to the crockpot. The technique described above will NOT work for a lean cut like tenderloin.

  9. Jenny says:

    I’ll have to figure this out — my crockpot only goes up to 10 hours on low.

    • Jenifer says:

      Same with mine, Jenny. As a matter of fact, it says 10 hours, but when I tried to make the kahlua pork, it actually switched to warm an hour or so BEFORE the 10 hour mark!

      Very frustrating!

      • Debra says:

        Ditch those crockpots…. I ruined several wonderful meals because of that exasperating built-in timer.
        After buying 2 new ones, trying them and donating to Goodwill, I finally found one at the grocery store, simple, plain, like the one I had for a decade. The brand, Hamilton Beach.
        The others had automatic shut-off or leaky, spewing lids.

  10. SophieE says:

    Do you think this kimd of liquid-less roasting in the slow cooker would work with beef cheeks? I’ve been thinking of doing a teriyaki beef cheeks type of this but didn’t want it to be liquidy like all the other beek cheek stews I’ve made. Thought this might be a good way.

    • SophieE says:

      I ended up doing this with beef cheeks. Tasted nothing like Teriyaki but was AMAAAZZZINNGG (just added some coconut aminos n stuff like that). This technique produced the much desired exterior blackening of the cheeks.

  11. Karen says:

    ooh well fed 2!
    YAY how long do we have to wait for it? So exciting!

  12. Gary says:

    Just eaten this, but lamb shoulder for 8 hours. Simply amazing.
    Roll on Sunday for the pork shoulder for 14 hours. Tastiest meat you’ll ever eat, and all that lovely rendered fat for cooking, yum.
    Great recipe Melissa.

  13. erin malone says:

    Just made a modified version of this – pork roast, stuffed with garlic, sprig of rosemary, and then a dozen small (2″) tomatoes halved and 1 cup water in the slow cooker for 6 hours. It was fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing all your good recipes.

  14. Steve says:

    Great looking roast and so simple. I’ll have to switch up my standard “overnight roast” for this one week.

  15. Ian says:

    Went out and got a pork roast today, its going in tonight. Figuring on having enough to provide into, and maybe through, the weekend.

    My GF has done similar with a whole chicken. Just put it in the crock pot, no liquids added. Don’t remember how long, maybe ~5 hours? It too ended up as pull-apart goodness.

  16. Erin says:

    Melissa,
    Please please please add a Pinterest button to your posts! I’m making a board of slow cooker and freezer Paleo meals. :)And I want to click a little P so that this one will go on that board.
    Muchas Gracias,
    Erin

  17. Sarah says:

    I just have to say; How. Delicious. Is. This? Got up at 6am on a Sunday morning to prep it and it was soooooo worth the early start.
    Round 1 was last night’s supper nom nom nom
    Currently making it through round two in a salad at my desk.
    So simple. SO GOOD. Thank you Mel – you’re awesome :)

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! Glad you liked it! I’m working on variations so we can use this technique on other flavors. YAY!

      If you put it in the slow cooker at 10:00 p.m., then it can cook overnight and you don’t have to get up early ;-)

  18. Veronica says:

    I am NOT a pork eater at all, made this for my husband Sunday, it was sooooo DELISH !!!!! I used the reserve liquid to make a gravy added it to a rue. Put ANY preconceived thoughts of crockpot and pork out of your mind, TRUST ME YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!!!!

  19. [...] article animal flesh and vitamins recipe slow cooker italian roast [...]

  20. Buttoni says:

    This sounds very easy and DELICIOUS, Melissa. I love doing garlic-studded meat. Bet this would be equally good on beef and lab roasts.

  21. Jacqui says:

    This is so tasty, but it was a bit stinky overnight as a slow roasting piggy in the kitchen infused the sleeping household with piggy smells! Put it on at 10 p.m., drained liquid @ 6 a.m., let it finish cooking till noon. Very easy…except for the tricky part of trying to figure out how to pour off the liquid.
    Mel, can you give us some more “crock pot as a roaster” recipes? I love this idea! And thank you for YOU. This week my house has Choc Chili, your lemon AWESOME mayo, and zuccini noodles. How did I live without these things before I “met” you? XOXO :)

    • Mel says:

      I LOVE waking up to the smell of roasting meat! :-)

      I’m working on a few more counter-top roasting recipes. They’re pretty easy. Very little liquid, meat, spices… done!

      I’m so glad my recipes are filling your kitchen with yummines. YAY!

  22. Erin says:

    I get what you’re saying about the reasons for not liking slow cooking…but I’m in grad school, and the fact that I can get stews/soups/pulled meat with almost no time or effort is so worth the compromise. I would KILL for a Well Fed Slow Cooking edition!

  23. Leora says:

    Got one cooking right now. You are right, it is a wonderful morning aroma!

  24. Tina says:

    Holy crap, my stomach is GROWLING over this one! Thanks for a new method for roasting. I am looking forward to trying it!

  25. Elizebeth says:

    I love your recipes. Question: Do you think that a pork loin would be to lean for the slow cooker?

    • Ian says:

      We’ve done this a few times now. The second time my GF picked up some pork loin. Figuring it was worth a try, we did it the same way, and again removed the liquids at halfway. It was OK (not great) the first night, but the leftovers were dry, dry, dry.

      The one we just did was more of a BBQ flavor to it and was excellent. (added in some sauce with sauteed onions, worcester, apple vinegar, chili powder, and yes, a bit of brown sugar)

    • Mel says:

      Nope. A pork loin is way too lean for the slow cooker. If you want to try these flavors, use the same ingredients, but cook it this way:

      Preheat oven to 500. Place pork in a 9×13-in dish.

      Put pork in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Do not open the door. Let the pork sit in hot oven 45-60 minutes longer, until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees.

  26. [...] I’m making this for dinner tomorrow: Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast [...]

  27. Gena says:

    is it possible to do on high for 8 hours?

  28. One of the best foods around is the pork roast. I know that my kids even eat pork roast, will have to try it in the slow cooker.

  29. Deborah Dowd says:

    How did you determine the cooking time- I have never cooked anything that long in the crockpot.

  30. Kate says:

    I just got a giant enamel covered cast iron covered casserole for Christmas. Would this recipe work in this in the oven on a lower temp? I’ve not cooked with this type of dish before, so don’t know about the no liquid thing. If so, what temp would you recommend? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      That should work just fine. For this size pork roast, roast it at 425 for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and roast an additional 2-3 hours. If you have a roasting rack, you might want to put that in the roasting pan under the meat. I would also keep the meat covered for the first few hours, then remove the lid to let the meat brown during the last hour of cooking. Then let it rest for 30 minutes after you take it out of the oven.

  31. ra says:

    I have a beef roast that’s about half this size… This may be a dumb question, but, would I cut the cooking time in half? Or is it not as clean of a conversion as that?
    Thanks!

  32. [...] B: Egg Scramble L: Leftover Spaghetti D: Slow Cooker Italian Pork Roast with Side Salad and Butternut Squash [...]

  33. Michelle says:

    This is so good it is almost ridiculous !!

  34. christina says:

    just tried and this is great. thanks!

  35. Stanley says:

    Great, and I’ll make it again, though I’ll cut the salt in half. I poured off the liquid halfway through and refrigerated it. Took off the coagulated fat and reduced the liquid, but it (the “gravy”) was way too salty. The pork was not – it was great.

  36. Michelle says:

    Hi Mel,
    When I made this the juices went into a jelly form after it cooled in the fridge. Is this normal? I did scrape the fat off the top but thought the juice would still be liquid. I’m thinking that this is okay but thought I would ask.
    Michelle

    • Mel says:

      It is AWESOME that it turned to jelly. That means there’s lots of nutrients in there — like when bone broth gels. Scrape the fat off the top and re-heat the gel; it will get liquidy and taste amazing.

      • MiShelley says:

        Great, thanks Mel. My experience with cooking meat in the past has been limited to grilling or roasting (and not the slow roasting kind) so I wasn’t sure. I have tucked into it jelly and all and it is AMAZING :)

  37. Cheryl says:

    Hi, this recipe looks like it’s right up my alley with the slow cooker. It’s just my husband and I at home now, so I’m wondering how much your 7# roast cooked down…like approx how many 3-4 oz servings should i expect to get? I’ve made pot roasts in the slow cooker before and from a 2# roast end up with only about 4 total servings.

    • Mel says:

      I don’t know exactly how much we ended up with, but it was quite a bit… I’d say 4-5 meals worth, and we eat about 10 ounces per meal (4 for me, 6 for my husband).

  38. Radmod says:

    I just cooked your fab roast recipe this past weekend because I was mesmerized by the dark color of the crust in your photo. Everything about the roast turned out great with the exception of that beautiful dark color. It ended up being 20 hours because it was on warm. How did you achieve it, inquiring minds want to know?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not sure… I made it exactly as listed above, including the step where I poured off the liquid. I have a new, pretty powerful slow cooker, so maybe it’s very hot (?). Sorry I can’t be more helpful! I’m making this again today, so I’ll let you know if I do anything differently and how the coloring turns out.

      • Radmod says:

        That does make a lot of sense as far as the powerful slow cooker. Mine is a Target special but I must say your recipe still makes a mean roast! I had to freeze the leftover even with 5 people eating it! Maybe a smaller roast with the same cooking time will make the difference. Thank u!

  39. [...] about non-Whole30 food. One of the tastiest and easiest (I mean super easy) Whole30 recipes is Slow Cooked Italian Pork from Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make the Girl. Cook it overnight, no [...]

  40. [...] Pot Roast the other night that was basically life-changing. It was a beef chuck roast and I used this method and you all, I will never go back to browning my meat before I put it into a slow cooker! It gets [...]

  41. [...] Trying this crockpot recipe and making mashed cauliflower and brussels sprouts [...]

  42. Diana says:

    I have a 3 pound pork shoulder roast. Do I need to adjust the cooking time for this or do I cook for 14-16 hours on Low?

  43. Kat says:

    Ok slight problem. I wanted to try out my new pressure cooker and cooked it on high for 45 mins. And it’s kinda dry :/ anything I could do to salvage the leftovers? Put what I have left in my crock pot?

    • Mel says:

      Sorry! I have no insights to share. I don’t use a pressure cooker, so I’m not sure how to advise you.

      Anybody else have any ideas?

  44. [...] Slow Cooker Italian Pork Roast and separate into smaller portions.  Freeze and pull out when in need of protein.  This recipe [...]

  45. Martyn Rowe says:

    This looks great. I’m off to buy a crockpot today so will be giving this a try for our Sunday dinner tomorrow!

  46. [...] used a recipe developed by Mel at The Clothes Make the Girl for Slow-Cooker Italian Roast – but I did it with a chuck roast (as opposed to pork).  I like to keep the meat on hand in [...]

  47. Jessica says:

    I have a 2.7 lb pork shoulder. I did the math, and your recipe calls for about 2.5 hours per pound. This would come out to about 7 hours for my size roast. Would this be accurate?

    • Mel says:

      That should work just fine. Two things to look for to tell if it’s done: 1) it shouldn’t be pink in the middle and 2) it should be fall-apart tender.

  48. sue phillips says:

    I am trying it today. My house smells incredible. I am scard of the mo juice in crockpot….

  49. […] seasoning) and then put it on low for 16 hours. It was sort of a recipe hybrid from Michelle and Melissa and YOU GUYS IT WAS BOMB! Please do that if you are feeling lazy. Also throw it on some cauliflower […]

  50. Hieu says:

    So I am definitely responding to this post really late, but I’m about to try crockpotting my pork butt according to this general idea, but using your spice blend from this post (http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2008/07/24/healthy-tasty-moroccan-pork-chops/). I’ll let you know how it goes!

  51. Lori says:

    Any idea how the cooking time would differ for a smaller roast? I have a 2.4 lb beef shoulder roast. Thanks!

  52. Laura says:

    This recipe looks amazing! One question. Do you think I can add potatoes, onions and carrots in with it? If I did, would I have to add some type of liquid as well? Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      I’ve never tried it, but I bet it will work great. Just snuggle the veg around the meat; no extra liquid necessary.

      • Laura says:

        I went for it before I got your response and it turned out amazing! I wish I would have made a larger roast! Mine was only 2lbs and my boyfriend ate the majority of it! I did add a little bit of low sodium chicken broth, but next time Ill go without! Thanks for this wonderful and simple recipe!

  53. […] hash. *Marvel that we are still in our PJs. *Pop a pot roast in the crock pot (we’re making a sped up version of this.) *Clean up the house. *Hop in the bubble bath with a good book. *Take the pooch for a long walk in […]

  54. Kendra Y says:

    I’m made a fair share of roasts in my day, and this is HANDS DOWN THE BEST ROAST RECIPE EVER!!! I will probably never make another roast any other way. You rock!

  55. Eve says:

    I’m making this today. I can’t wait. Question: I have a 2.5 lb roasting roast…Is 8 hours on low sufficient? Also…I should then pour off the liquid at 4 hours, right?

  56. […] Italian Pork Roast: This yields tender, flavorful pork that’s great on its own and works well in Hot Plates or salads, too. […]

  57. Martine says:

    First recipe I made from your book. It was a bone-in shoulder roast. It was quite delicious!. Very reminiscent of pulled pork, and it had a lovely “bark”.

    My only complaint is that my husband scarfed all the leftovers.

  58. Margaret says:

    Fantastic!!!!!! Unbelievably tender and tasty.

  59. Margie says:

    tastes wonderful but, my roast did not produce enough liquid, any suggestions

  60. amarullis says:

    I made this with a 2 1\2lb chuck roast, cooked it for 7 hours, and it was amazing and wonderfully browned! I added the juices to reduced beef stock for some au jus and also made some caramelized onions. This is my new favorite way to make a roast. I used a turkey baster to drain off the juices and it worked out really well.

  61. Aimee says:

    Hi! Love your recipes! I bought your grocery list and started working. So far we have eaten chocolate chili and having pork tonight! Thank you so much and I look forward to ordering your cookbooks.

  62. […] Wednesday: Slow Cooker Italian Pork Roast from Clothes Make The Girl. […]

  63. AKiteFlier says:

    AHHHHMAZING – I used my fingers to “shred it” and licked them clean when I was done – I’ve never done a pork roast like this and it rivals the best pulled pork I’ve ever had. Hubby adds BBQ sauce to his portion and serves it up on a bun (No he’s not paleo or Whoe 30) and couldn’t stop raving! MANY thanks – next time going to try it with a chuck roast.

  64. […] JD is the way to go. If you would like a recipe for an awesome pulled pork, click on over to WellFed. Melissa has a fabulous recipe that makes a tender roast. You would just need a sauce to mix the […]

  65. Ladonna says:

    I honestly had my doubts about cooking it that long but it was delicious! :)

  66. katie says:

    SO I just bought a pork shoulder and am about to put this sucker in the crock-pot! one question though- the roast I got has a the skin and fat still attached. I am going to remove the fat, according to another recipe I just looked up. Do you remove the skin and fat when you make it?

    Thanks!

  67. SeanT says:

    Hi Mel, this looks great! I’m doing it tonight into tomorrow, does it really get that dark crust just in the crock pot?

  68. Rocky Beck says:

    If I wanted to use a smaller roast (2 lbs), would the cooking time be the same?

  69. […] Pork Roast – slightly different from recipe, but very close; I’m planning to do the Middle Eastern variation listed in the cookbook […]

  70. Megan says:

    I made this tonight and it is sooooo tasty. My roast was just over two lbs and I cooked it for about 9 hours. Mine did not have a fat cap on it but it did produce a good amount of juice, though it did not get crispy at all. Perhaps if I had left it a bit longer.

  71. Isabelle says:

    Hi Mel,
    After reading your blog, I’ve made a snap decision and we’re all going to go paleo! This recipe looks delicious but I don’t have a slow cooker I actually don’t like because like you I find everything comes out mushy and watery. Could I cook this in a low temp oven for about 5hours do you think?

    • Mel says:

      That should work, but you might want to cover it with foil for the first few hours, then uncover during the last 45-60 minutes so it browns.

  72. Lisa says:

    Can you cook this at a higher temperature for a shorter time.

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  74. tara says:

    I only eat fish and fowl. Would this work with a toaster chicken or chicken breasts?

    • Mel says:

      You can use the herbs on chicken, but I don’t recommend cooking it in the slow cooker. The chicken will get too dry. Instead, rub the herbs on the chicken, cover with foil, and bake 25-30 minutes at 400F until it’s cooked through.

  75. micki mcbee says:

    Do you usually do this overnight since it cooks for so long?

  76. Ginger says:

    New to Paleo and so grateful for your recipes. Thank you! This was everything you said it would be…simple to make and ridiculously tasty! Any suggestions for the leftover meat?

    • Glad you liked it! Some ideas… toss cubes into an omelet or scramble… make hash with cubed sweet potatoes, scallions, and leftover pork… shred it and serve in lettuce cups with diced tomato and a drizzle of olive oil… put on top of a salad of diced hearts of palm, red bell peppers, red onion, and mushrooms.

  77. Colin says:

    This sounds very tasty, is the pork put into the slow cooker with the fatty side underneath, or on top

  78. Anita Wheaton says:

    Great recipe. Came out just as described. I did remove the juices halfway. The pork roasts beautifully. Thank you for another great recipe.

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