by Olena

Healthy Pulled Pork

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Olena Osipov
4.9 from 12 votes

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This Healthy Pulled Pork is smoky, delicious, and an easy slow cooker recipe perfect for pulled pork sandwiches with healthy coleslaw.

For easy weeknight dinners, we also love making crockpot butter chicken and crockpot chicken spaghetti. Plus I have an Instant Pot pulled pork version too!

Healthy Pulled Pork

Healthy Pulled Pork Recipe

What if I told you that you can make healthy pulled pork, from scratch, with simple ingredients, in a slow cooker, while you do something else for 10 hours?! And what if I also told you it is a healthy freezer and make ahead meal?!

My healthy pulled pork recipe is cooked in the best homemade barbecue sauce. Minus the sodium, sugar and preservatives found in other pulled pork recipes. This pulled pork comes out amazingly tender, saucy and smoky! Just add it to your favorite bun and top it off with my healthy coleslaw, alongside some applesauce or go full picnic style and make Instant Pot potato salad!

I don’t make pork often to be honest,  but when I do I make sure it’s juicy, tender and delicious – like these Instant Pot ribs, pork carnitas, and pork chops!

Let’s dive in and make this juicy healthy pulled pork!

healthy pulled pork sandwiches

Ingredients for Healthy Pulled Pork

  • Pork: Pork shoulder aka pork butt roast. It’s the same thing. It is part of the pig’s shoulder. It is not part of a butt. “Butt” goes back to the days when butchers in Boston area packed the pork shoulder unto barrels called “butts”. Other names include picnic shoulder, shoulder roast, Boston butt roast. Bone in or boneless is fine.
  • Liquid smoke: Please don’t be intimidated by this ingredient and don’t give up on the recipe. It is a common item you can find in many grocery stores. Liquid smoke costs $4-5 a bottle and lasts you a lifetime in the fridge. You will use it for years making healthy BBQ sauce, pulled pork and BBQ chicken. bottle of liquid smoke
  • Spices: Chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Liquids: Applesauce, tomato sauce, and maple syrup/honey.
  • Flour: This ingredient is added at the end to thicken the sauce.

Healthy Pulled Pork Recipe

How to Make Healthy Pulled Pork

This pulled pork recipe is so easy to make. It takes less than 5 minutes to prep!

There is a full recipe card below.

  • Combine ingredients: The beauty of the slow cooker is that you just have to throw in all the ingredients. Whisk together tomato sauce, applesauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Then add the pork and spoon some sauce on top.
  • Cook: Cover and let the slow cooker do it’s thing on low for 10 hours. how to make Healthy Pulled Pork in Slow Cooker step by step
  • Shred the meat: Remove the meat from the slow cooker onto a cutting board. Using 2 forks, shred the meat and discard any bones (like you do with shredded chicken), tough tissue or fat.
  • Sauce: Crank the slow cooker to high heat. Slowly whisk flour into the sauce mixture. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Once done, add the shredded meat and stir.

Healthy Pulled Pork in Crock Pot

Serving and Storing

  • Coleslaw: I highly-highly recommend making my super easy healthy coleslaw recipe to go with this pulled pork. It is as easy as opening a store bought bag of cabbage and mixing it with a creamy yogurt based dressing.

healthy coleslaw

Store: Leftovers can be placed in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Freeze: Put pulled pork in the freezer for up to 3 months and pull it out for another busy weeknight dinner.

Make Ahead: You can prep this meal ahead of time by combining all of the ingredients (except flour) into a large ziploc bag. Keep it in the fridge (for no more than 48 hours) and cook as per instructions.

More Health(ier) Pork Recipes

More Hearty Meat Dinners

healthy pulled pork sandwiches

Healthy Pulled Pork

Healthy Pulled Pork {Slow Cooker Recipe}

This Healthy Pulled Pork is smoky and delicious, easy slow cooker recipe and is perfect for pulled pork sandwiches with healthy coleslaw.
4.92 from 12 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 225kcal
Author: Olena Osipov


  • 4-5 lbs pork shoulder or butt roast fat trimmed
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce low sodium
  • 3/4 cup applesauce unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder or flakes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour


  • In a large slow cooker, add tomato sauce, applesauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; whisk to combine.
    Healthy Pulled Pork
  • Place meat on top and spoon some sauce over it. Cover and cook on Low for 10 hours.
    Healthy Pulled Pork
  • Remove meat onto a cutting board and turn up heat to High. In slow cooker, slowly add flour while whisking until completely dissolved. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • While sauce is cooking to thicken, shred meat with 2 forks (hands) discarding bones (if any), tough tissues and fat.
    Healthy Pulled Pork
  • Add shredded meat to the sauce, stir and serve on a whole grain/wheat bun topped with my healthy coleslaw.
    Healthy Pulled Pork

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

    Make Ahead: In a large Ziploc bag, add all ingredients (except flour) and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Cook as per instructions.



      • Sodium: I used low sodium tomato sauce, so if yours is not, add less salt to taste.
      • Liquid smoke: You can find liquid smoke in a condiment aisle of many grocery stores, or on Amazon.


      Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 463mg | Potassium: 437mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 264IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 2mg
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