Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Sugar Free Barbecue Sauce

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Slow cooker pulled pork, moist, flavorful, fork tender, hitting all the notes that resulted in this response from my husband.  Today is national barbecue weeks and I’m reposting this in case you missed it.

Doug, a Nashville native, said “this is the best pulled pork I’ve ever had.” 

I used a pork butt, or pork shoulder.

A Nashville staple, often eaten as sandwiches with cole slaw, barbecue sauce and pickles, pulled pork is a crowd pleaser. It’s easy enough to run out to a barbecue place and buy it by the pound, but then there are times you just want to make your own at home.  

When you make slow cooker pulled pork, it’s almost no work at all for a very big pay off, especially when you’re entertaining and you want to make something everyone loves. 

I wanted to make this sugar free, yet use barbecue sauce as my flavoring for the pork. I decided to make my own sauce, but you can use any barbecue you love. The smell of the sauce simmering in that pork all day is intoxicating.  

What is pulled pork?

Pulled pork is generally made from the pork shoulder or pork butt, low and slow, and shredded with a fork.

What cut of meat do you use to make pulled pork?

Pork butt or pork shoulder are the best pieces and I like prefer bone-in for flavor. The fat content in these cuts of meat will ensure a very tender result.

What is the difference between pork butt and pork shoulder?

They are BOTH cuts from the shoulder. The pork butt does not come from the rear of the pig. The pork butt sits on top of the pork shoulder. The pork butt is rectangular and has more marbling while the pork shoulder is triangular. I used a bone-in pork butt from Butcher Box for this recipe.

Pork shoulder might also be called picnic shoulder and pork butt may also be called Boston Butt.

Pork Butt

Should you cut off the fat cap from the pork butt?

Cut off the fat cap of the pork butt which you’ll find on one side. This allows flavors to penetrate. There will still be plenty of fat throughout the meat, which will yield a tender result. 

How do you flavor pulled pork?

I almost always follow the fat, acid, salt trio in my savory recipes. The sauce I used contained tomato puree, ketchup, apple cider vinegar (acid) Worcestershire (acid and salt). The pork itself has enough fat.  I also added some liquid smoke and spices (onion powder, garlic powder). You can use a fresh onion, chopped and added to the sauce and throw in a few garlic cloves, but I happened to have some quality onion and garlic powder. 

To get that yummy sweetness that sits against all that acid, I added two tablespoons of maple syrup. Since I cook sugar free, I used Choc Zero’s maple syrup.  I do not like super sweet savory food, but if you do, add more sweet. We found this recipe to be perfectly balanced, but you can feel free to add more heat or sweet. 

I didn’t use a rub for the meat. Instead, I submerged it in my homemade sugar-free barbecue sauce.  I also find it helpful to cut the pork butt into two or three pieces to put into a slow cooker, but you don’t have to do that. 

How long do you cook pulled pork?

Unlike my carnitas, I do not brown the pork prior to putting into the slow cooker. I set my slow cooker to six hours on high, but you can  Many of you might be thinking why I don’t use an instant pot. I’m in a minority, but I really love that slow slow cooking that I can check on from time to time and taste for seasoning. The food aroma is also very different, and I don’t like how meat smells in a pressure cooker. 

How can I make my pulled pork sugar free and keto friendly?

I’m so glad you asked. As I referenced above, I used choc zero maple syrup, which, as an affiliate, I promote and love. I use Choc Zero products in my keto bakery. You can also add in some brown sugar or Swerve brown sugar.  

I also serve these with my grain free cheddar biscuits. I make them a little larger when I want to make sandwiches and make 9 instead of 12. Crisp up the biscuits in the oven, right before serving. Add pickles, a little more sauce and wow, you have an amazing pork sandwich. Or add in cole slaw. I would have done this for this recipe had we not been snowed in and I couldn’t get to the grocery store.

Sugar Free Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue Sauce

I used these ingredients, and you can substitute the sugar free maple syrup for regular maple syrup if you desire.

  • Tomato Puree (can use more ketchup)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Ketchup (or sugar free)
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Maple Syrup (or sugar free)
  • Garlic Powder (or a few cloves garlic)
  • Onion Powder (can fine dice a medium onion instead)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (make sure to see notes on this if you avoid gluten or fish)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne

You can also purchase a sugar free barbecue sauce. G Hughes is a great brand for both barbecue sauce and ketchup. I found mine at Publix.

I would still add in more apple cider vinegar to the barbecue sauce to thin it down. 

Make Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Our Grain Free Biscuits

If you’re in Nashville area, you can order our grain free, gluten free biscuits from our bakery. If not, here is the recipe for the grain free cheddar biscuits and you will love them. Add slaw or pickles and you are eating a delicious gluten free, keto friendly southern treat.

The Grain free cheddar biscuits are made with almond flour, coconut flour and golden flax. These are not eggy like many on the internet.  

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

More Pork Recipes from Spinach Tiger

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4 from 2 votes

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow cooker fork tender pulled pork with homemade sugar free barbecue sauce
Prep Time15 minutes
Slow Cooker Time6 hours
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barbecue sauce, pulled pork, sugar free
Servings: 8


  • 4 pounds pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 2 cups Barbecue Sauce see notes
  • 1/2 cup water or broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoons sugar free ketchup or more puree
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Choc zero maple syrup can use regular (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke


  • Slow Cooker Pork
  • Trim fat cap off of pork roast. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Make sure barbecue sauce is the consistency of thin ketchup. Put roast into crock pot. Put water or broth in bottom. Pour half or about one cup) of barbecue sauce over pork.
  • Set the time for six hours on high or ten hours on low.
  • If pork doesn't feel fork tender, cook a bit longer. It will tenderize and be easy to shred.
  • I periodically poured more sauce from the bottom.
  • Once pork is done, allow to cool and rest for 15 minutes. Use two forks to shred.
  • Add more barbecue sauce and put back into crock pot. Serve from there.

Barbecue Sauce

  • Mix all ingredients together.


If you are using a store bought barbecue sauce that tends to be quite thick, water down with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water for the braising part to one cup barbecue sauce.
Add 1 cup of barbecue sauce to pulled pork. 
Regarding maple syrup: can substitute with Swerve brown sugar (for sugar free)or regular brown sugar. 

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If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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4 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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