It requires a low and slow cook time, but is well worth the wait when it hits the dinner table! If you’re a fan of slow-cooked pulled pork dishes, then pork shoulder is a cut that’s already on your radar. It’s great when you need to feed a crowd or make a meal with leftovers to spare with minimal effort, and the perfect Sunday roast centrepiece too.

Keep reading to discover more, from how to buy pork shoulder to how to store and cook it.

A shoulder joint wrapped in string

How to buy pork shoulder

Generally, look for firm, pale, pink meat, which is moist and firm to the touch, but not damp or oily. The fat should be white, and the bones (if any), tinged with red. The skin should be dry and silky, not slimy or damp. Older pork cuts tend to have a coarser feel that can indicate less tender meat.

Pre-packed supermarket pork carry labels with a ‘use by date’. These labels are used on perishable foods that can go off quickly. Do stick to the dates applied to the product you purchase.

Serving sizes: How many pork shoulders should you buy?

Bone-in or boneless pork shoulder can typically weigh between from 900g to 2.5kg. For our recipes, a 1.6kg boneless pork shoulder joint typically provides enough pulled pork for 6 servings. For general roasts, allow 100-175g uncooked meat per person.

How to store pork shoulder

Ideally, use raw pork shoulder as soon as it’s purchased, but it will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge. Simply wrap well or store in a sealed plastic food container at the bottom of the fridge.  Alternatively, wrap well (to prevent freezer burn) and store in the freezer for 3-6 months. When ready to use, defrost overnight on the lowest shelf of the fridge.

Once cooked, cool thoroughly, wrap well and store in the fridge (at a temperature of 5°C or below) away from raw perishable products and eat within 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Part shredded pulled pork on a wooden board, with slow cooker in background.

Pulled pork

Pulled pork is a popular, versatile dish using pork shoulder that’s cooked low and slow.  It’s great value for money and literally falls apart when cooked and is meltingly tender. Whether cooked in a labour-saving slow cooker, Instant Pot, or a traditional oven, the results are impressive.

View our How To Guide for Pulled Pork

Slow cooker pulled pork recipe

For minimal hands-on time, let your slow cooker do all the work with these easy to follow steps:

  • Add selected seasoning/rub of your choice to your whole boneless pork shoulder. Transfer to a slow cooker.
  • Add your liquid of choice (stock, BBQ sauce, canned tomatoes).
  • Cook on HIGH or LOW according to your slow cooker instruction manual.
  • Remove joint from slow cooker, shred with two forks and serve in rolls, wraps or with jacket potatoes.

Oven cooked roast shoulder recipe

The best way to cook a whole shoulder joint is slow and low in the oven. To cook it expertly, follow these simple steps:

  • Wrap it in a double layer of foil (to lock in the moisture) and pop in a preheated oven at 220°C, 200°C Fan, Gas Mark 7 for 30 minutes
  • Reduce to 150°C, 130°C Fan, Gas Mark 2 and cook for 5 hours, or longer
  • Test the internal temperature on your meat thermometer or temperature probe should reach 90-92°C or 195°-197°F

And there you have it – beautiful, tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat that is soft and falls apart when shredded with two forks.

Top flavour pairings for pork shoulder

Flavourings and accompaniments that go well with pork include:

  • Herbs – Sage, rosemary, thyme, coriander, mint, basil, oregano, parsley
  • Spices – Cinnamon, paprika, Chinese five spice, cumin, star anise, caraway seeds, juniper berries
  • Most citrus fruits, apples, pears, soft fruits as well as dried fruits, such as plums or prunes all complement pork too