by Olena

Healthy Pulled Pork (Video)

by Olena

4.9 from 7 reviews

Healthy Pulled Pork

Healthy Pulled Pork

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 whole 10 hours, and it’s gonna be saucy, smoky and delicious?!

And what if I also told you that super easy healthy coleslaw with Greek yogurt is included?!

And what if I told you it is a healthy freezer and make ahead meal?!

Are you in? Let’s dive in then.

Is Pulled Pork Healthy?

Well, if you don’t pour a bottle of store-bought BBQ sauce over the pork shoulder, then pulled pork is healthy. And if you are not vegan, of course. I prefer to buy local and humanely raised pork. Fed with non-GMO or even organic feed… Am I dreaming? Probably. Do what you can.

My healthy pulled pork recipe is cooked in homemade barbecue sauce ingredients. Minus the sodium, sugar and preservatives of any other pulled pork.

Healthy Pulled Pork Recipe

What Is Liquid Smoke?

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. Think of a store (possibly more fancy and expensive than your go-to) that carries a large variety of foods. Possibly ethnic and imported, and check out their condiments aisle. Or Amazon never fails.

Liquid smoke costs $4-5 a bottle and lasts you a lifetime in a fridge. You will use it for years making healthy versions of BBQ sauce, pulled pork and BBQ chicken.

bottle of liquid smoke

Best Cut of Pork to Cook in Crock Pot?

Pork shoulder aka pork butt roast. It’s 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”.

It also can have other names: picnic shoulder, shoulder roast, Boston butt roast. Bone in or boneless os fine. It is perfect for making healthy pulled pork in slow cooker. Tough tissue will break down low and slow.

How to Make Healthy Pulled Pork

how to make Healthy Pulled Pork in Slow Cooker step by step

1. I used a pork shoulder with bone in (boneless is fine). Trim meat of any visible fat.

2. 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.

3. Place meat on top and spoon some sauce over it. Cover and cook on Low for 10 hours.

4. Remove meat onto a cutting board and turn up heat to High.

Healthy Pulled Pork in Crock Pot

5. 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. Add shredded meat to the sauce and stir.

What to Eat with Healthy Pulled Pork?

I highly-highly recommend to make my super easy healthy coleslaw recipe to go with pulled pork. As easy as opening a store bought bag of cabbage and mixing it with yogurt dressing that is creamy without mayo.

Serve on a whole grain/wheat bun (brioche buns were used for a pretty picture effect to make you swoon). Or with quinoa (brown rice) for a wholesome meal. Or side dishes like cauliflower mashed potatoes or healthy sweet potato casserole to catch that extra sauce. OMG, actually sweet potato + pulled pork = I died. See, sky is the limit.

coleslaw in bowl and assembled pulled pork sandwich on a bun with coleslaw

Craving More Meaty Saucy Recipes?

Watch Olena Make Healthy Pulled Pork in Slow Cooker:

And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly cooking videos!


Healthy Pulled Pork

healthy pulled pork

4.9 from 7 reviews

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork made from scratch with simple ingredients in a crock pot. Healthy coleslaw recipe without mayo is included.

  • Author: Olena of
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 hours 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: North American


  • 45 lbs pork shoulder or butt roast
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce*
  • 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


  1. Trim meat of any visible fat. 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. Place meat on top and spoon some sauce over it. Cover and cook on Low for 10 hours.
  2. 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.
  3. Add shredded meat to the sauce, stir and serve on a whole grain/wheat bun topped with my super easy healthy coleslaw.

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

Freeze: In a large Ziploc bag, add all ingredients (except flour), release out air as much as possible, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and cook as per instructions + 1 hour.

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


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

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

33 comments on “Healthy Pulled Pork (Video)

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  1. 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!

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

  3. Yummy, yummy, yummy! Thank you for the great recipe Olena! Super easy to follow, and turned out great!

  4. 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!

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

  9. 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. 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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