Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. Try these other Game Day recipes as well.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Slow Cooker Italian Roasted Pork Sandwich Recipe

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Made in a slow cooker, this roasted pork sandwich is a hearty recipe that’s perfect for a weeknight meal or a big Game Day. Flavored with a quick homemade Italian style and topped with greens and cheese, the sandwich comes together quickly. And the best part is that the slow cooker does most of the work, so you can simply set it and finish it up later.

Why this recipe works.

When a recipe uses a slow cooker, there is an unspoken rule that the recipe is easy. This recipe embraces the slow cooker mentality and allows the cooker to do most of the work. Choosing the correct cut of meat is what gives success in the long cooking time. A pork shoulder is a slightly tough meat with a good amount of fat, making it ideal for a long slow cooking process. During the time in the slow cooker, the fat bastes the meat and melts, giving way to a tender and fall-apart texture. The next step is flavor. With a long cooking time, seasonings and flavor can fade. Strong flavors are important, so they maintain during the cooking time. Giardiniera with the pickling brine and herbs are the key to giving a full flavor that works with the meat. The result is a tender roast that is well seasoned, with the cooking time being completely hands-off. This is what slow cookers were meant to create.

Italian roasted pork sandwich full of pulled pork and topped with greens and cheese sitting on a parchment-lined baking sheet after being toasted in the oven.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Pork roast can either be a shoulder roast or a butt roast. Both are tough cuts of meat and need a long cooking time to be tender.
  • Giardiniera is a mixture of chopped vegetables that are pickled in a sweet-sour brine. The sharpness of the brine helps cut through the fatty meat and gives a bright flavor that compliments the meat.
  • Worcestershire sauce is a way to add a depth of flavor that seems like a lot more work and ingredients were added to a dish than actually were. The sauce can never be picked out, but you will notice if it is missing.
  • French bread is an American soft white bread sold in grocery stores as french because of the shape and style of the loaf. You can make your own homemade version using my French bread recipe or use store-bought buns for a quick option.
  • Greens are dressed in a quick homemade Italian dressing-style vinaigrette for a bit of crunch and texture in the sandwich. Use small leafy greens such as arugula or a young spring mix.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make roasted pork sandwich including French bread, pork shoulder, spices, cheese, salt, Worcestershire sauce, greens, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Prepare the spices. In a mortar, add the fennel seed, and grind it using a pestle until it is a fine powder. Pour the ground fennel into a small bowl and add the dried thyme, dried oregano, black pepper, and salt. Mix all of the herbs and spices together until well combined.
  1. Prepare the pork shoulder. Add the pork shoulder to the slow cooker and sprinkle the spice mixture all over, turning the roast to coat each side. Slice off the top stem of the head of garlic and throw it into the slow cooker alongside the pork without removing the peel. Pour the Worcestershire sauce and giardiniera all over the top of the pork. Place on the lid of the slow cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours.
  1. Toast the bread. Slice a loaf of French bread in half and place both halves on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place the bread in the preheated 375°F oven and bake for 6 to 8 minutes until toasted and golden.
  1. Shred the meat. Once the meat has fully cooked in the slow cooker, remove it and place it on a cutting board. Using a knife or two forks, shred the meat into pieces, allowing it to separate itself. Fish out the head of garlic from the liquid still in the slow cooker and squeeze it on top of the meat. Without removing any of the liquid in the slow cooker, place the meat back into the canister and mix it to incorporate the meat with the juices. Allow the meat to marinate in this liquid while finishing the sandwich components.
  1. Prepare the dressing and greens. In a medium bowl, add the dried oregano, red chili flakes, dried thyme, salt, black pepper, giardiniera brine, and olive oil. Use a whisk to mix all of these ingredients together. Add the greens and toss them in the dressing until lightly coated.
  1. Assemble the sandwich. On one half of the toasted French bread, add the meat. Sprinkle both halves of the bread with the shredded cheese. Then place the bread back in the oven and toast for 6 to 8 minutes until the cheese is melted. Once melted, remove the bread from the oven and top it with the greens and other desired toppings. I recommend pepperoncini and more giardiniera. Place on the top half of the bread and slice into any desired serving size. Serve immediately.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • When adding the spice rub to the pork shoulder, make sure to use your hands to really massage the granules into the meat. The most flavor will be achieved when all four sides of the meat are coated, and the spices are worked into the crevices as well.
  • The pork can be prepared the night before or the morning of the day when it will be served. Simply load up the slow cooker with the meat ingredients and choose the time of day when you want to cook it.
  • While shredding the meat, remove and discard any fat. Some cuts of pork can have a fat cap, which can be removed before cooking. But once cooked, the fat cap can be extremely easy to remove and separate from the meat.
Two hands holding half of roasted pork sandwich showing interior filled with pulled pork, greens, and cheese with the texture of the bread.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

What cut of pork works best for this recipe?

Shoulder and butt pork roasts both benefits from a long cooking time. These cuts of meat are tough, with a higher ratio of fat that needs a long time to break down.

Is there an alternative way to grind up the fennel seed without a mortar and pestle?

Yes, you could use a cast iron skillet (or something else substantially heavy) and crush the fennel seed on a wood cutting board. A spice ground can also be used to achieve the same result.

What if there is leftover meat once filling up my sandwich?

When purchasing a roast, the weight will vary and could be larger or smaller. The leftover meat will be perfect for leftover sandwiches, made in soup, enchiladas, or frozen for future use.

What type of greens are recommended for this salad?

Leafy greens that are smaller-sized work well on the sandwiches. Arugula or a mix of small leaves works well.

How long does this sandwich last once prepared?

Once assembled, the sandwiche/s should be served immediately. The juices from the meat will slowly soak into the bread over time and are best enjoyed fresh.

What types of cheese are good for melting?

Fontina is a nice flavored cheese that melts easily. Mozzarella and provolone can also work well.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More Game Day recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

Half of a roasted pork sandwich topped with greens and cheese on French bread sitting on a piece of brown-colored parchment paper on white surface.

Slow Cooker Italian Roasted Pork Sandwich

5 from 14 votes
Made in a slow cooker, this roasted pork sandwich is a hearty recipe that’s perfect for a weeknight meal or a big Game Day. Flavored with a quick homemade Italian style and topped with greens and cheese, the sandwich comes together quickly. And the best part is that the slow cooker does most of the work, so you can simply set it and finish it up later.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Slow Cooker Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

For the pork shoulder

  • 1 ½ tsp fennel seed ground
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 lb pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 12-oz jar giardiniera (reserve 2 tbsp brine for dressing)

For the sandwich

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 6 oz fontina cheese shredded
  • sliced pepperoncini

For the dressed greens

  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp giardiniera brine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups loose greens

Instructions
 

For the pork shoulder

  • Grind the fennel seeds using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
    1 ½ tsp fennel seed
  • In a small bowl, combine the ground fennel, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, and black pepper. Set the prepared shoulder in a 4-quart slow cooker and rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder. To the slow cooker, add the head of garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and the giardiniera with the brine, reserving 2 tbsp of the brine for the dressing. Set the slow cooker and cook until the meat is tender and falls apart easily, 6-8 hours.
    1 tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 head garlic, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 12-oz jar giardiniera (reserve 2 tbsp brine for dressing), 2 lb pork shoulder
  • Once the meat is cooked, shred it into small pieces and return to the slow cooker with the liquid.

For the dressed greens

  • In a medium bowl, combine the dried oregano, red chili flakes, dried thyme, salt, black pepper, reserved giardiniera brine, and olive oil. Whisk to combine and add the greens, tossing to combine.
    ½ tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp red chili flakes, ¼ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 2 tbsp giardiniera brine, ¼ cup olive oil, 3 cups loose greens

For the sandwich

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Slice the loaf of French bread in half horizontally. Place the halves cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the bread with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toast in the preheated oven until the bread is beginning to brown and slightly dry, 6-8 minutes.
    2 tbsp olive oil, ¼ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 loaf French bread
  • Once toasted, remove the bread from the oven and add the desired amount of meat to the bottom half of the bread. Sprinkle the meat with half of the shredded cheese and sprinkle the top half loaf of the bread with the remaining shredded cheese. Return the sandwich to the oven until the cheese is melted, 6-8 minutes.
    6 oz fontina cheese
  • Remove the sandwich from the oven and top it with the dressed greens and sliced pepperoncini. Place the top half of the loaf on top, creating the sandwich. Then slice and serve immediately.
    sliced pepperoncini

Notes

  • When adding the spice rub to the pork shoulder, make sure to use your hands to really massage the granules into the meat. The most flavor will be achieved when all four sides of the meat are coated, and the spices are worked into the crevices as well.
  • The pork can be prepared the night before or the morning of the day when it will be served. Simply load up the slow cooker with the meat ingredients and choose the time of day when you want to cook it.
  • While shredding the meat, remove and discard any fat. Some cuts of pork can have a fat cap, which can be removed before cooking. But once cooked, the fat cap can be extremely easy to remove and separate from the meat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 549kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Difficulty Easy
Method Slow Cooker

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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5 from 14 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So good! Made without fennel as that’s not my favorite, but otherwise as written. I cook for just my husband and me, so we have lots to freeze for other meals. Fontina – yes!roasted garlic – yes! I wasn’t sure about putting the whole garlic in with the skins, but it was intact and easy to squeeze out at the end of the cooking time. I also had extra greens left after putting the sandwich together, but I ate that as a salad with the sandwich. Love this recipe!

  2. Good morning
    I love you.
    You are sunshine.
    Gonna stop drooling, and make the Italian slow cooker roast pork. Looks scrumptious.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Kaleb, just made this and we LOVED it! Super easy and have left overs that I intend to make barbecue with. Thanks!

  4. My slow cooker is not working. I’m going to cook it in the oven in my le creuset cookware. What temp and how long? My shoulder is abut 4lbs

  5. 5 stars
    Just made this last night and it is incredible. Quick and easy to assemble in the slow cooker. The flavors are amazing. Great with shredded cabbage on top. Betting it will feeeze well too. Going to put this into my rotation.

  6. 5 stars
    Outstanding. Best sandwich we have eaten for a long time. So easy and delicious. People at my husband’s work were going, “What smells so good!” when it brought leftovers to work.

  7. I started watching your videos about 3 weeks ago and enjoy them. I decided to make this sandwich today. I also made French bread from your website. The pork sandwich is delicious. And the French bread recipe is a keeper. I’m looking forward to trying your other recipes.

  8. 5 stars
    I have made this for my very picky family and for parties! It is always a huge hit and everyone wants the recipe! So delicious and so easy!

  9. 5 stars
    A stellar recipe. The spice rub makes it so yummy. What’s better than a day with dinner in the crockpot!

  10. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe a couple times. Absolutely delicious. The best sandwich in Philadelphia is a Roast Pork Sandwich from DiNic’s in The Reading Terminal Market. This is a very, very close second to that excellent sandwich – which is saying a lot.

  11. 5 stars
    We had the pork sandwich with your German potato salad, both were delicious, we couldn’t decide which one we liked better. Keep up the good work Kaleb!