Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Luscious pork shoulder and tangy barbecue sauce can be part of your clean eats plan – if you follow our easy slow-cooker method, that is.

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Brandon Barré

You save 473 calories, 35 g total fat, 33 g sugars, 2,941 mg sodium over traditional pulled pork sandwiches.

Prep Time
55 min
Cook Time
300 min
355 min


  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder (or other mild chile powder)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 3 1/2-lb bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, at room temperature
  • Neutral-flavored oil cooking spray (such as safflower or grape seed oil)
  • 11⁄3 cups unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp potato starch
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp Sucanat (TRY: Wholesome! Organic Sucanat)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper, optional
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded (NOTE: Shred using the shredding disk on a food processor or using the large holes on a box grater.)
  • 1 large zucchini, trimmed and shredded
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2cups)
  • 10 whole-wheat buns or kaiser rolls


  1. In a small bowl, combine chile powder, cumin, black pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Rub all over pork. Mist a large, heavy skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Add pork and cook without moving until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn pork and repeat until all sides are browned. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1 cup water, cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours, or until meat easily separates from the bone and internal temperature reaches 145°F on an instant read thermometer. Let pork rest in slow cooker, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  2. While pork rests, prepare sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk tomato sauce and potato starch until smooth. Add 3/4 cup vinegar, Sucanat, Worcestershire, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, cayenne (if using) and remaining 1/4 tsp salt; whisk to combine. Turn heat on stove top to high and bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking frequently, until flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. Prepare coleslaw: In a large bowl, stir together lemon zest, yogurt, honey, poppy seeds and remaining 2 tbsp vinegar until combined. Place grated carrot and zucchini on two layers of paper towel (or use a clean kitchen towel) and press down firmly with additional paper towels to absorb as much water as possible. Transfer to bowl with yogurt mixture. Add cabbage and stir until combined.
  4. Transfer pork to a work surface and shred pork with 2 forks, discarding any fat. Transfer to a large serving bowl, add about three-quarters of the sauce and toss well with tongs. Add additional sauce, to taste, or reserve for another use. Add 3/4 cup pork and about 1/2 cup coleslaw to each bun.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 sandwich
  • Calories 401
  • Carbohydrate Content 40 g
  • Cholesterol Content 77 mg
  • Fat Content 12 g
  • Fiber Content 5 g
  • Protein Content 32.5 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 4 g
  • Sodium Content 551 mg
  • Sugar Content 17 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 0 g