Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Barbecue Sauce

Now I’m about half way to reaching my target weight I’ve started to think about how I’ll be able to maintain that weight, but still eat the dishes I love. The solution I’ve come to is to make my favourite dishes healthier, lower in calories and fat.

I decided to start with pulled pork in barbecue sauce. My original recipe uses pork shoulder, which although I remove most of the excess fat is still a fatty cut of meat. Using the slow cooker means it’s not essential to use a fatty cut of meat for slow cooking because none of the moisture escapes (unless you leave it for hours and hours longer than the recommended cooking time) it won’t dry out. So I decided to use the leanest cut of pork, the fillet or tenderloin. This cut is only about 3-4% fat. It is a more expensive cut, so maybe not great if you’re planning on feeding a large crowd but when there’s just the two of us it doesn’t exactly break the bank, and even a generous portion cost less than £1.50. Using this cut also meant that the pork cooked in half the time it usually takes (3-5 hours on low), so you cold even prepare it when you come in from work!

I also served this with wholegrain rice instead of burger buns.

This recipe provides 5-6 generous portions.

Rub Ingredients:

Mustard powder – 2 tablespoons

Paprika (ordinary, sweet or hot) – 2 tablespoons

Smoked paprika – 2 tablespoons

Ground white pepper – 2 tablespoons

Ground cumin – 2 tablespoons

Ground coriander – 2 tablespoons

Ground ginger – 2 tablespoons

Cayenne pepper – 1 tablespoon

Chilli flakes – 1 tablespoon

Celery salt – ½ tablespoon

Crock-Pot Ingredients:

Pork fillet/tenderloin – 2.5lb/1.1kg aproox. 2 fillets (trimmed of any excess fat/sinew and halved). This is the minimum for my 5.7L crock-pot, you can double the quantity but this was just right for the amount of sauce. If your crock-pot is 3.5L the maximum size joint you can use will probably be 1.5kg, but check your instruction manual.

Mushrooms – 5oz/150g (sliced)

Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:

Olive oil – ½ tablespoon

Red Onion – 1 (diced)

Garlic – 3-4 cloves (diced or crushed)

Spice rub – 3-4 tablespoons (There will be more left but don’t use it all unless you want a fairly-very hot barbecue sauce.)

Celery salt – ½ tablespoon

Smoked paprika – ½ tablespoon

Cider vinegar – 2 tablespoons

Tomato ketchup – 8 tablespoons

Tomato puree – 1 tablespoon

Soft brown sugar – 3-4 tablespoons

Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoons

Soy sauce – 1 tablespoon

Honey – 2 tablespoons

Orange juice – 3½ fl oz/100ml

Marmite – ½ teaspoon

Equipment: Mixing bowl, cling film, slow cooker, chopping board, knife, saucepan, wooden spoon, ladle, jug


  1. Combine the rub ingredients in a large bowl, mixing together well.
  2. Put the pork in the bowl, and rub spice mixture all over the flesh, covering well.
  3. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. Heat the olive oil in the saucepan, add onions and garlic and soften.
  5. Add the spice rub, celery salt, and smoked paprika. Warm through to release the flavours.
  6. Add the cider vinegar and simmer for a minute or two before adding ketchup, puree, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and honey. Mix together well and simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Stir in the orange juice and marmite, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
  8. Place the pork in the crock-pot and set on low.
  9. Pour in the barbecue sauce, making sure you coat the top of the pork if it’s not covered by the sauce already.
  10. Cook on low for 3-5 hours.
  11. Halfway through the cooking time turn the meat over, and baste with the sauce.
  12. An hour or so before the end of the cooking time add the sliced mushrooms.
  13. Half an hour before the end of the cooking time ladle out most of the barbecue sauce into a jug (or jugs) and leave to cool.
  14. When the pork is just about ready skim off any fat from the jug(s) of cooled barbecue sauce. Pour the sauce into the saucepan and bring to the boil.
  15. Turn down to a simmer, taste and adjust to your liking (I added another tablespoon of ketchup and honey). Continue to simmer until it’s the consistency you desire while you prepare the pork.
  16. Take the pork out of the slow cooker and put on a plate. Leave to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. Pour off the remaining sauce from the crock-pot and leave to cool before freezing for later.
  17. Pull the pork apart with 2 forks.
  18. Serve with rice and the reduced sauce.

11 comments on “Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Barbecue Sauce

  1. Great idea to help maintain your success. I love pulled pork too, I’ll have to give this a try.

  2. Marmite is an unusual addition. I’ve only heard of it being used as a spread before.

  3. […] The main challenge of this weekend was to make the meals I love to eat healthier. So I made my usual pulled pork recipe lower calorie and fat by using pork fillet instead of pork shoulder to create Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Barbecue Sauce. […]

  4. […] Pulled pork needs long slow cooking, traditionally on a barbecue, but the slow cooker is a perfect and efficient method when it isn’t really barbecue weather! To give it a barbecuey feel and flavour I like to marinate my pork in a dry rub overnight and cook in my homemade barbecue sauce. You can use a jar or bottle if you’re short on time, but making your own allows you to tweak the ingredients to get the exact taste and consistency you want, more sweet, more heat, more sour, more spice. I just raided my spice cupboard for the rub (which is also the spice base for the sauce), so don’t feel bound to use the exact ingredients or quantities. You’re the cook; it’s entirely up to you! For a lower-fat version check out my Healthier Pulled Pork recipe. […]

  5. […] into old bad habits and jeopardize her success. The first recipe she ‘healthed up’ was pulled pork. JT loves pulled pork but it’s not something I ever make at home, mainly because it is so […]

  6. […] to makeover my own favourite recipes to make them lower-cal and healthier (Healthier Carbonara and Healthier Pulled Pork, etc.) and in this programme they do the same. They’ve made some really tasty recipes, […]

  7. […] pleased when my idea to make my Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Barbecue Sauce healthier by using pork fillet instead of shoulder turned out so […]

  8. […] when cooked in the slow cooker. I’ve made lots of slow cooked dishes using pork filler, like Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Barbecue Sauce and Slow Cooker Zingy Sweet Pork Fillet. These recipes are low-fat but not low-syn as the sauces […]

  9. […] Pork with Homemade Barbecue Sauce, Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce, Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork in Barbecue Sauce), but always in my slow cooker. For a change a few weeks ago I decided to give it a go in the […]

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