Enjoy a flavorful, affordable, and extremely easy slow cooker meal with this Pork and Squash recipe. Not only is it budget-friendly, but it’s also made with a cut of pork that promises lots of flavor. This is an ideal base protein that you can serve a number of different ways, delivering a dinner than can do double-duty over many nights.
We all have our favorite easy recipes that we lean on regularly for a weeknight dinner. Well, I’m here to say that this Pork and Squash recipe is one of my new favorites. It makes the perfect bowl meal that I know I’m going to have on repeat far into the new year. Brown rice, fresh veggies, kimchi for gut health, this amazing pork and squash, topped with an over-easy egg? Sign me up!
Not only is pork and squash cheap and easy to make in the Crock-pot, but when you incorporate Asian-inspired flavors, it produces a really delightful and interesting dish. It’s so tasty, you’re gonna want to have it on all the things – rice bowls, cabbage salads, tacos like these Korean Beef Tacos, and more!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s a versatile protein or meal component. Like my Dutch Oven Carnitas, this pork recipe is a go-to meal component to build other meals from. Make this pork recipe into a complete meal by serving it in Asian-inspired tacos one night and atop brown rice bowls with veggies, cilantro, and probiotic rich kimchi for a high protein, fiber-filled meal the next!
- You can set it and forget it. This easy pork and squash recipe cooks a long time in the slow cooker, allowing you to prep it in the morning and go about your day knowing that dinner will be ready when you are.
- Leftovers are great the next day. You can easily change how you serve this easy meal with different toppings and starches, so that it never gets boring. You can also freeze the pork for a later date.
- Affordable and easy! Two of my favorite words 🙂 Grocery prices are through the roof, but prices on pork are still somewhat manageable.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy pork and squash recipe:
- Boneless pork shoulder or butt – this is a flavorful cut of pork that is good for braising, making it perfect in the slow cooker. It goes on sale often, so don’t hesitate to buy an extra roast or two to store in the freezer for later.
- Salt and pepper – Season with your favorite salt and freshly ground black pepper, keeping in mind that both the soy sauce and fish sauce will add some saltiness.
- Coconut water – The coconut water adds a nice zip of flavor. You can dilute a few tablespoons of coconut milk in water to make an approximation in terms of flavor or substitute water or chicken broth or chicken stock if you don’t have coconut water.
- Fish sauce – The fish sauce doesn’t make it fishy. Instead it works as a seasoning, adding both saltiness and umami.
- Soy sauce – You’ll get umami flavors from the soy sauce as well. If you want to make this dish gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos.
- Fresh ginger – Fresh ginger is easy to use, but look for the frozen cubes at the store to make this recipe a little easier.
- Garlic & Onion – Mincing fresh garlic clove yourself gives the strongest flavor to the dish, but you can used jarred minced garlic if you like. And I use yellow onion, but you can also use white onion if you have it.
- Butternut squash – Last but not least, you’ll need a bag of frozen, pre-cooked butternut squash. You’ll add this at the end of the cooking time to heat it through, right before serving. You can also use sweet potatoes or acorn squash if you prefer.
Here’s how to make this pork and squash recipe in slow cooker:
Season the pork shoulder generously with salt and black pepper. Place the pork, onions chunks, coconut water, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in the crock of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours.
In the last 30 minutes of cooking, stir in the frozen squash. Continue cooking until the squash is warmed through.
Serve the pork and squash in tacos, as a hearty protein in bowl meals, or in springs rolls.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How to make in the Instant Pot
Season the pork shoulder generously with salt and black pepper. Place the pork, onions chunks, coconut water, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in the pressure cooker. Close the lid and set it to manual high pressure for 20 minutes.
When the cooking cycle is complete, do a quick release. Add in the frozen squash and close the lid. Allow the pot to sit for 20 minutes or so, until the squash is heated through.
For best results, freeze the cooked pork prior to adding the squash. Cooking squash can get a bit mealy in the freezer. You can easily add the squash to the pork when you reheat it.
To freeze: Let the pork cool to room temp, then transfer it, along with the cooking liquid to an airtight sealable freezer-safe container. Chill this completely for several hours or overnight before placing it in the freezer. This will help the dish freeze more quickly and prevent ice crystals and freezer burn.
Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To serve: thaw in the fridge and reheat, adding the frozen butternut squash when you reheat it.
You can use a different cut of pork, but keep in mind that pork butt and pork shoulder are the ones that shred beautifully. Pork loin will work in a pinch. Avoid using pork tenderloin, a lean meat which cooks very quickly, making it not so ideal for a long cooking, fix-it-and-forget-it type meal like this one.
To maintain the best texture in this dish, I recommend frozen precooked squash. It’s readily available and easy to work with. If you have a lot of fresh butternut squash to use up, consider precooking it and stirring it at the end of the cooking time to warm up. Cooking it the entire time in the slow cooker will result in very mushy squash.
This pork and squash recipe is delicious in rice bowls, tacos, and spring rolls. Leftovers are great atop a pizza with a bit of hoisin for the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and chopped green onion to finish.
Slow Cooker Pork and Squash Recipe
- 4 lb Pork shoulder boneless
- 1 large onion cut into large chunks
- 1.5 cups coconut water
- 3 tablespoon fish sauce
- 4 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon ginger grated
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- salt and black pepper
- 1 bag butternut squash frozen
- Cut pork shoulder into large chunks so it cooks more quickly. Season generously with salt and pepper.4 lb Pork shoulder, salt and black pepper
- Place pork shoulder pieces into slow cooker and add coconut water, soy sauce, fish sauce, onions, garlic and ginger. Cover with lid and cook on high for 5-6 hours1 large onion, 1.5 cups coconut water, 3 tablespoon fish sauce, 4 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoon ginger, 3 garlic cloves
- In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the frozen butternut squash and cover the slow cooker with lid, allowing the pork to finish cooking and the squash to warm through. Alternately, you can also add the frozen squash when the pork is done cooking and is sitting in the "warm" setting of the slow cooker. The ongoing residual heat will heat it through.1 bag butternut squash
- Remove pork from slow cooker and spoon out squash. Shred and serve pork and squash in bowls or tacos. Top with your favorite garnishes.