Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Slow Cooker Recipe for Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce

Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce
Just make the barbecue sauce with all Stevia or Splenda and you can enjoy this pulled pork for Phase One!

(I'm afraid that breaking my arm three weeks ago put a crimp in any plans I had for a special round-up of Superbowl Recipes, but I decided I should at least end our A Month of Daily Phase One Recipes with some Phase One ideas that would work for Superbowl parties.  And as long as you skip the optional brown sugar in this low-sugar barbecue sauce and make it with all Stevia granulated sweetener or Splenda,  this pulled pork is perfectly legal for Phase One.)

When I mentioned on Facebook that I was making a version of pulled pork with low-sugar barbecue sauce, I had people asking me to post the recipe. That didn't surprise me, since this is a classic American dish, but I do want to start by saying that one reason I decided to tackle this was because I find most barbecue sauce recipes to be too sweet, without enough complex flavor undertones. I wanted to see if I could come up with a version that would suit my preference for more savory flavors, so if you try this recipe, be prepared for a sauce with plenty of mustard flavor, smokiness, and spice, and just the barest touch of sweetness.

Even without the sugary barbecue sauce, pulled pork is something that required some thought about how to make it friendly to the South Beach Diet, which recommends meat with less than 10% fat. I started with a crockpot recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork that I'd spotted on Prudence Pennywise. Then I consulted my butcher for ideas about a lean cut of pork that would pull apart when cooked for a long time at a low temperature, and ended up going with a pork loin roast that I cut into two pieces against the grain, so I had shreds of pork that were 3-4 inches long. For the sauce I use mostly Stevia or Splenda, but I did add a bit of brown sugar. You could make this with all sweetener and no brown sugar if you want it for phase one. Finally, read below about the reduced sugar ketchup that was the base of my sauce.

I trimmed all the outside fat off my pork loin roast, and then cut it in half against the grain. This roast was about 2 pounds after trimming, but next time I'd get one just a little bigger.

This is the same ketchup I used for Low-Sugar Cocktail Sauce, but they've changed the bottle so I thought I'd show you what it looks like now.  If you don't want to use ketchup with artificial sweetener, buy a natural ketchup without added sugar from the health-foods store.

Mix the barbecue sauce in a measuring cup or bowl. I tasted a few times and added a little more of this or that until it tasted good to me. (The flavors will get more intense as it cooks.)

Spray the crockpot with olive oil, then put the trimmed pork roast that you've cut in half in, pour the sauce over and cook all day on low. I used a 2.5 quart crockpot, so if you only have a big crockpot I'd double the recipe and freeze some.

When the meat is done enough to pull apart easily, remove from crockpot with a slotted spoon., then shred with two forks. (I ate some before I took this photo, so a two pound roast will be a little more than this!) Pork should cook about 7-8 hours, on low, depending on how hot your crockpot cooks.

I thought the sauce seemed a little thin, so I took it out of the crockpot and simmered on the stove until it was reduced by about 1/3. This also concentrated the flavor just a bit more. (This step is completely optional.)

You can put the shredded meat back into the crockpot with the sauce to keep it warm, or serve right away. This would be great on sandwiches, but I just ate it with a salad of shredded lettuce, shredded, cabbage, and homemade blue cheese dressing.

Slow Cooker Recipe for Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce
(Makes about 6 generous servings, recipe adapted from Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Prudence Pennywise.)

3 lbs. boneless pork loin roast (trim all visible fat, roast should be about 2 1/2 lbs. after trimming)
olive oil, for spraying crockpot (or use non-stick spray)
1/2 cup reduced-sugar ketchup or natural ketchup without added sugar
2 T tomato paste
4 T Splenda or Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener
1-2 T brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it, or use all Splenda or Stevia if you prefer)
(You can also use 1/3 cup Splenda-brown sugar blend, which will make the sauce a bit higher in sugar)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mustard (regular yellow mustard, not Dijon)
2 tsp. green Tabasco (or 1 tsp. red Tabasco)
1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke (or more, optional but recommended)

Spray slow cooker with olive oil or non-stick spray. Trim all visible fat from pork loin roast, then cut in half against the grain and place in slow cooker.

Combine reduced sugar ketchup, tomato sauce, Splenda or Stevia, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, green Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and Liquid Smoke in measuring cup or bowl and whisk together, then pour over roast. Turn slow cooker to low and cook 7-8 hours, or until meat shreds apart easily.

Use a slotted spoon to remove meat from slow cooker, and place on cutting board. Check the sauce in slow cooker and if you'd like it a bit thicker, pour sauce into small saucepan and simmer at medium-low heat until reduced by 1/3, probably not longer than 10-15 minutes.

While sauce thickens, use two forks to shred apart the meat, placing back in slow cooker to keep warm if desired. When sauce is as thick as you want it, pour over meat. This can be kept warm in the slow cooker for an hour or two, or served immediately.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
If you're making this recipe for the South Beach Diet, it's important to follow the suggestions about using pork with only 10% fat and using low-sugar ketchup and mostly Splenda or Stevia to sweeten the sauce. Even with those adaptations to the recipe, for the sauce with brown sugar it's probably good to limit serving sizes for phase 2.  For phase 3 you can have a larger portion, or eat it on a whole wheat roll. If you made the sauce with all Splenda or Stevia, it would still have a very small amount of sugar from the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, but the all-sweetener version would be something I'd eat for a "once in a while treat" for phase one.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce

More Pulled Pork Recipes You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Prudence Pennywise
Pulled Pork Sandwich from Simply Recipes
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce from Andrea Meyers
Crockpot Barbecued Pulled Pork from A Year of Slow Cooking
Vietnamese Pulled Pork from Sunday Nite Dinner
Pulled Pork Enchiladas from Life's Ambrosia
Pulled Pork Traditions from Seriously Good
Alabama Pulled Pork Sandwiches with White Barbecue Sauce from Recipe Girl
Southwestern Spicy Pulled Pork from The Perfect Pantry
Pulled Pork from Gastronomy Domine
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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  1. mmh, I`ve never had pulled pork, but I own two Slow Cookers so I should do it in the near future

    Ulrike @ Küchenlatein

  2. I can't wait to try this! I'm not usually a big meat eater, but pulled pork is one of the exceptions. I'm with you on the savory bbq sauce, too. Mustard is one of my favorite condiments, and I want to be able to taste it!

  3. I've never made Pulled Pork but love it. What a great recipe :)

  4. I love pulled pork, this is definitely a must try.

  5. Now that title reminds me of BBQ season, which has really passed here.. :) But I love how it looks!

  6. Looks delicious. Thanks for this recipe. I just love pork no matter how they cook it.

  7. I didn't know that Heinz made a low-sugar ketchup. I haven't been able to eat store-bought ketchup for years. I make it (not often) from roasted tomatoes and it's a real treat. I never thought I'd hear myself say that.

    Your dish looks fabulous. Also saw on Twitter that you reorganized your office & have a great work space. I bet that feels great.

  8. I absolutely adore slow cooker pulled pork. I usually use pork tenderloin to do it, which is incredibly lean. I really like your homemade bbq sauce recipe!

  9. I have BBQ at most three or four times a year. One of those times is usually at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in early June. (Incidentally Kalyn -- it occurred to me that if you time your visit right, you can experience both the Block Party and the NYC BlogHer conference within the same time frame.) BBQ is just not something I have on a frequent basis so when I do eat it, I tend to go all out.

    I prefer vinegar-based sauces that aren't sweet so much as piquant. North Carolina-style pulled pork works well in this regard.

  10. Ulrike, would be fun to think of you cooking this American classic in Germany! Go for it.

    Katie, I'm not a big meat eater either, but I did like this very much.

    Helene, thanks. Super easy to make!

    Veron, hope you like it.

    Junglefrog, I guess barbecue season has passed here too, sigh.

    Cherry, I'm a pork fan too (especially for someone who's not much of a meat eater.)

    Amy, the reduced-sugar ketchup is great! I am loving my new office and now that I changed the desk I love it even more.

    Joanne, thanks, glad you like it.

    Stash, I have heard about the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. I think Chris Lilly sometimes goes there (I met him once at a Kingsford "Barbecue University." But the BlogHer conference is in August. Not sure I've had the Carolina Style barbecue, but it sounds interesting.

  11. I'm with stash on the NC vinegar style bbq sauce for pulled pork, but that's because my first experience with real BBQ was as a barefoot kid on a farm in North Carolina. It was the best thing I had ever eaten.

    Here's one I got from my grandmother:

    But this is more of a piedmont style. Further east in NC, they skip the ketchup altogether.

  12. Not only does this look delicious, but it looks beautiful too!!

  13. I'm not really into sweet sauces that's why I think this recipe will work for me. I like the idea of more savory flavors. Really interesting.:) Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  14. That looks good. I do catering in San Francisco for a living and have tried many different types of ways to make pork. I myself do not like it, but alot of people as you know do. I am going to try this out.

  15. This sounds like an easy, flavorful dish. I really like the idea of the low-sugar sauce. Does that mean I can have seconds without the guilt?

  16. You are correct Kalyn, most BBQ sauce recipes aare way to sweet. Also, Tu for a great slow cooker recipe as I need to start using it more.

  17. I was actually craving this at 9am! It looks absolutely heavenly.

  18. Love the pop of the colors on the plate. I'm a big fan of pulled pork - bookmarking the recipe.

  19. I'm a pretty good BBQ cook. Normally, BBQ is a boston butt that is slow smoked. The pork loin is a good idea, but the sticky sauce! Yikes! North Carolina BBQ is heavy on vinegar, so it would have the high acidity we look for on south beach. Here's what I may try:

    1) Rub the pork loin and let it sit overnight (Don't trim the fat!). My basic rub is based off Steve Raichlen's. I use splenda brown sugar when I make a batch, which means 2 T rather than 1/4 cup.

    2) Proper BBQ is smoked. Get a bag of hickory chips, and soak 2-3 cups in water for 30 minutes while you prep your grill (1 cup per pouch). You want your grill at 325 degrees, setup for indirect grilling. Also, you need access to the heat so that you can put your smoker packets on. For me on my weber gas grill, I take one grill off, and put one in the center. I slide the smoker pouches over the front burner with my tongs, and have the front burner between 3/4 and full blast with the back burners off. The meat goes over the back burners.

    3) For a butt, it usually takes 6-8 hours. A loin would probably only take 4-5 hours. Every hour, throw on a new smoker packet. I just slide the ones from the previous hour to the side, and turn up the grill up momentarily to ignite the packet and get the grill back to temperature. Used up packets I toss (with the tongs!) into a terra cotta pot.

    Also, you'll want to mop the meat with mop sauce. Again, I'm using Steve Raichlen's mop sauce:
    1 cup cider vinegar
    1 small onion, sliced thin
    1-2 jalepenos, sliced thin
    1 t splenda brown sugar
    1 t black pepper
    1 t crushed red pepper
    1/2 cup water
    I let this sit by the grill, covered so it doesn't attract bugs. Use a glass bowl.

    3) You're looking for 170 degrees on the meat thermometer. When you get this, put the pork on a platter and cover it with foil for 10 minutes to rest. Shred your pork.

    4) Some people like to soak the pork, but it is not a requirement. The sauce to go with this is:
    2 cup cider vinegar
    3 T low sugar ketchup (good call Kalyn!)
    1 T splenda brown sugar
    4 t sea salt (substitute 1 t of hickory salt if you've got it)
    2 t crushed red pepper
    2 t black pepper
    1 T texas pete (or tabasco if you can't get the good stuff)

    Dill pickle spears are a required garnish. Obviously there is a fair amount of splenda brown sugar, I'll see how it works if I cut the brown sugar in half again.

  20. I'm glad people are liking this simple way to make pulled pork.

    Todd I can tell you're a man who's a lot more serious about pulled pork than I am. I wasn't aiming for a completely authentic recipe, but one that can be cooked easily in the slow cooker. Thanks for sharing your version, I'm sure it's tasty!

  21. This is a great idea! I did something similar lately but used stevia and blackstrap molasses to cut the carb content even more, without my having to risk getting a migraine (Splenda does that to me).

  22. Tracey, that sounds interesting. I haven't cooked much with stevia, so it's good to know it will work in a recipe like this.

  23. Made this yesterday in the slow-cooker, and it was fabulous. I love a good pulled-pork BBQ, and this hit really well right in the middle--not too tomato-y, not too sweet, not too-vinegar-y. Next time, I will use just a bit less Splenda white and a bit more Splenda brown, for a darker taste.

    I put it on one of those Arnold Sandwich Selects, a 100% whole wheat bun-sorta-thingy. I love those, and they made a good splurge when it comes to carbohydrates. With a dollop of coleslaw on top, I was a happy, happy girl!

  24. Roberta, so glad you liked it. I've heard about those sandwich buns, but haven't seen them here. Want to try them!

  25. Kayln, your site is unbelievable and I tried the pulled pork recipe yesterday and it's sooooooo good! I highly recommend it. I doubled the recipe and used the splenda/brown sugar product. I added a bit more spice to the sauce as well but overall it's a super delicious meal. I felt like the pork was a little dry though which is weird b/c I didn't think that was possible with a slow it possible it cooked too long? I had about 5 lbs. cut into 4 pieces.

  26. Karen, the roast I had was only about 2 pounds, so if you didn't increase the sauce by quite a bit, that's why it would have been more dry. Glad you liked it though!

  27. Thanks Kalyn....I did double the sauce recipe too and the meat was all covered with the sauce. Anyway, thanks for posting such wonderful recipes! Can't wait to try some more of them!

  28. I followed your original recipe (including the brown sugar *ekk* and it is so good. I did cut it up into 6 chunks and cook on high for 8 hours. My crock pot never gets anything right unless I cut it up and cook on high.

    So good. I can't wait for DH to try it and I've already shared the recipe link with my family.

  29. I am a sucker for pulled pork and this happens to be the best one I have made. The whole family loved it, even my very picky 1 year old. HIGHLY recommend this one!

  30. Thanks! Especially love getting an endorsement from the one year old!

  31. Hello, I'm just ending my second week on SouthBeach and tried this recipe in my slow cooker. It was wonderful! I doubled the sauce for a 3 pound roast and it was perfect. I live in Germany and I took it to our "potluck" was gone in about 10 minutes! Germans typically don't like super-sweet cuisine, so this bbq was perfect!

  32. How fun to hear that this was a hit even in Germany, where this type of dish isn't traditional. So glad you liked it.

  33. I added some Cary's sugar free syrup as a sweetener - trick I learned in a south beach baked beans recipe...yum! Thanks for another great recipe! Side note it is also really tasty when you drizzle a little of the syrup on a microwaved sweet potato!

  34. Nicole, good idea; thanks for sharing!

  35. I found this on your Christmas Dinner list and decided to give it a go - the last time I made pork in the slow cooker it was a disaster, but I was brave.

    This. Is. Delicious. I had to modify it a bit - we don't use artificial sweeteners, so I added some honey and started with homemade ketchup from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian." Couldn't find a 3lb roast so we only get to sop up 1.8 lbs of this treat! We're adding some of Smitten Kitchen's "Not Your Mama's Cole Slaw" and hardly had to do any work on Christmas. Thank you!

  36. Emily, so glad you liked it! And it sounds like the coleslaw would be great on the side for a Christmas dinner.

  37. Good gracious! Are you tired of my questions yet? Don't get too tired of them because I need your help! Ha ha! So my precious sweet husband went to the store for me yesterday and could not find tomato paste so he bought tomato sauce. I think those tiny little cans hid from him. Anyway, I want to make it today but wasn't sure if the sauce would work?! HELP! Thanks so much!

  38. Cristy, no worries about the questions; I am happy to help. I would put the tomato sauce in a pan on the stove and cook it until it's thick and most of the water has evaporated. If you don't do that I'd worry that the pulled pork would be rather runny.

  39. Thanks so much Kalyn! Reducing the sauce worked perfectly. It was soooooo good! My husband said it is the "best thing I have ever cooked hands down!" YAY! Thanks again!

  40. Cristy, that's great! So glad to hear it was a hit.

  41. I am looking for the recipe for the coleslaw pictured with the pork? Can you tell me which one it looks so good!

  42. Carrie, quite honestly I am not 100% sure that it wasn't some salad I just threw together, bit it looks like it may be Spicy Mexican Slaw. I love that recipe in any case!

  43. oh yeah that looks really good! thanks! i truly enjoy your recipes. thank you!

  44. Carrie, glad to hear you like it!

  45. Kalyn, this sounds great and I want to try it. I like that it's a slow cooker recipe and I don't like barbecue sauces filled with sugar, so this is good! I use Splenda a lot and will look for the ketchup. I've never heard of it. Thanks for the recipe, dearie!

  46. I made this on Friday night along with the Blue Cheese Coleslaw. I cooked the pork all day on low, and it was falling apart. I cut back on the Splenda quite a bit, but I still thought the sauce was a bit sweet for my liking. It's a great recipe, so I'll definitely make it again. I'll just half the Splenda and up the hot sauce next time to tailor it to our taste. I also didn't use the liquid smoke and maybe that addition would ratchet down the sweet, as well.

  47. Kalyn,

    We've been using this sauce on lots of other things and wanted to thank you for coming up with something so close to the BBQ sauce I grew up with. It's fantastic!

  48. Scott, so glad you like it. I really need to try it on barbecued chicken!

  49. Hi,

    I love your website and get nearly all my healthy food recipes from it. We changed our diet and I've lost 20 pounds so far!

    Thank you so much and I am trying the pulled pork tonight. Also I really loved the Sriracha beef cabbage bowl!


  50. Lynn, congratulations on the 20 pounds! So glad to hear you're enjoying the blog and that it's been helpful.


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