by Olena

Healthy Pulled Pork

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
4.9 from 15 votes

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

For easy weeknight dinners, we also love making crockpot butter chicken and crockpot chicken spaghetti.

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!

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 ingredients 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, 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

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.
4.94 from 15 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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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

      40 comments on “Healthy Pulled Pork

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      1. Hello! I made many times, so delicious my husband and friends love it! I was wondering if I try it cook in pressure cooker should I add tomato sauce on top of meat or it’s okay to put on bottom?and 1 hour it will be enough?
        Thank you.

        1. Hey. Add 1/2 cup water and put rubbed roast on a trivet and applesauce on top. Yes one hour. I would add tomato sauce when you sauté sauce to thicken after cooking. I developed new recipe for IP pulled pork will post in a few weeks and that’s what I did. Worked like a charm. Enjoy!

      2. Can you substitute almond flour for wheat flour? And what is the difference between using maps syrup versus honey? Lastly, should the liquid smoke be hickory flavor? Thank you!

        1. Almond flour doesn’t thicken food well. Use twice less cornstarch than flour recipe calls for. No difference in sweetener – it’s what you have on hand. Any smoke is fine!

      3. 5 stars
        ever so nice to have this generous Pulled Pork recipe and not using a bottle of bbq sauce .. thank you

      4. 5 stars
        I have made this twice now, both instant pot and crock pot. Delicious both times!! One of my favorites. The pork always turns out perfectly and the sauce for it is so good… and it’s actually healthy and not loaded up with sugar like most store-bought sauces. Thanks Olena… you are teaching me how to cook!! 🙂

      5. Hi. Is the tomato sauce similar to ketchup or is it different ? I live in Australia and we have slightly different terminology. Thanks!

        1. Tomato sauce is crushed and purées tomatoes. Not ketchup. Look for Passata maybe. It’s just tomatoes and maybe spices and a bit of sugar.

      6. I was just curious to know if this can be done completely in the instant pot on high pressure, would it turn out as well or is the slow cooker best? I put this together and it’s in my freezer, so I was interested in just placing it frozen into the instant pot and cooking it from there. Thanks! I love your easy recipes!

      7. 5 stars
        This was great. I actually did this in Instant Pot, because I didn’t have my act together to do it in the morning. I put on slow cook and “normal” setting for 2 hours, “More” setting for 2 hours and then normal for last hour. 5 hours total. Super yummy. I bet it would be even better with slow cook x 10 hours as you said, but this worked for us.
        TY for all of the great recipes.

        1. I think Instant Pot slow cook function is good enough. I have heard it’s a bit slower than actual slow cooker, so I’m happy it worked for you.

        2. I put Instant Pot on the slow cook and Normal setting for 10 hours. The pork wasn’t fully prepared. I set on the slow cook and More setting for an additional 3 hours and it finally cooked but not ready to be shredded by forks (I cut with a knife). Retrospectively, I’d say 10 hours slow cook/More setting should work best.

          1. Unfortunately Slow Cook option on Instant Pot doesn’t work as well as actual slow cooker. It takes way longer. Next time use 1 hour Pressure Cook on Instant Pot.

      8. 5 stars
        I forgot to note that I substituted the tomato sauce with fire roasted crushed tomatoes- which definitely boosted the flavor level!

      9. 5 stars
        This was absolutely delicious!!! I don’t like bbq sauce, so the liquid smoke substitute was perfect. It gave the pork amazing flavor without the heaviness of bbq sauce.

      10. Hi, making this out of a cabin at a family reunion. I don’t want to bring all the ingredients in their bottles out to the lake. Would you recommend making the sauce and bringing the pork and putting them together there? Or could I dump it all (minus the flour) in a gallon ziplock and take it to the lake like that?

      11. 5 stars
        Hi, I made this for dinner last night for my family. It’s hard to eat clean and have it also satisfy picky kids and adults too. It was good stuff, and I’ll definitely make it again. Thanks for the recipe!

        1. Hi Jeff. Glad this healthy crock pot pulled pork worked for everyone. North American picky eaters are hard to please, I agree. I watch my kids’ friends and it is honestly a nightmare what these kids don’t eat. The only way to convert them is for parents to put their foot down, buckle up and survive a storm of screams for a bit, and then it will be all unicorns and rainbows for the rest of the life.:)

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