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  • Brittany Sparks

Healthy Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

This Healthy Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce is a great dish to have on your table this Fourth of July. It is simple, delicious and makes for great leftovers. I came up with this recipe when I lived in New York City and did not have access to an outdoor grill. This made me feel like I was eating at a gourmet barbecue get together. Even now that I am out of my tiny New York apartment and have access to a barbecue I still prefer to make my pulled pork this way. I am sure this will open your eyes to a whole new way of cooking pork!

This recipe makes for about 16 (1/2 cup) servings of pork. If you are not making this for a large party, leftovers can be turned into an array of other tasty dishes throughout the week. I like to mix with a little eggs and beans for breakfast tacos or use for pork & veggie quesadillas. Another option is to add it into casseroles.

In this recipe I use pork tenderloin which is a leaner piece of pork, and I cook it in a steamer basket. It only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and is loaded with flavor from my homemade spice rub. By steaming pork tenderloin, it not only keeps the meat moist but also allows a leaner piece of pork to be used, making this recipe much healthier. A typical pulled pork sandwich made from pork shoulder contains around: 600 calories, 12 grams of fat and 900 mg of sodium. This healthier version totals out to only 300 calories, 3 grams of fat and about 400 mg of sodium per sandwich!!

When steaming pork I cook it covered over medium-low heat. Make sure to check the temperature with a meat thermometer at 15 minutes. You want to cook it to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. If it overcooks it will become tough and hard to shred. It usually takes around 15 to 25 minutes to cook. Once done, remove from the heat and shred with a fork. If it overcooks you can add about ½ to 1 cup of the cooking liquid to help with moisture.

This recipe is great with a homemade barbecue sauce; however any barbecue sauce will work. I usually use my cherry barbecue sauce, which also can be made in as little as 15 minutes. The recipe can be found here. Using a homemade sauce helps to control the sodium content, which can be pretty high in store bought sauces. This sauce is also lower in potassium than most store bought barbecue sauces, making it a better choice for those monitoring their potassium levels.

Top off your sandwich with sliced tomatoes, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, lettuce and/or sliced avocado. For those with kidney disease, lettuce and shredded carrot and cabbage make for a great low potassium topping.

So keep in mind that pork tenderloin is a great leaner cut of meat you can include into your healthy lifestyle and is delicious in this pulled pork recipe!


Healthy Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

Author: Brittany Sparks

Makes 16 (1/2 cup servings)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 lbs. Pork Tenderloin, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1 inch medallions

  • 1 ½ to 2 Cups Barbecue Sauce (See Recipe here for Cherry BBQ Sauce)

Dry Rub

  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder

  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder

  • 1 Tbsp Cumin

  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder (I like to use smoked Chili Powder)

  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional for heat)

  • 1 Tsp Salt


  1. Place all spices and salt in a large bowl or large zip topped bag. Stir or shake to combine. Prepare a large saucepan with steamer insert. Fill with water till just under the steamer basket. Place on the stove and bring to a boil.

  2. Slice the pork into 1 inch medallions. Try to keep the pieces uniform in size to allow for even cooking.

  3. Add the pork to the spice mixture and stir or toss to combine.

  4. Place the pork into the steamer basket. If you have bigger pieces place those on the bottom. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until the center of a pork medallion reaches 145 degrees. This takes approximately 15-25 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to cool enough to handle, and then shred.

  5. Mix pork with BBQ sauce, (see recipe for Cherry BBQ Sauce). I like to enjoy on a bun topped with shredded carrots, purple cabbage, lettuce and a slice of avocado.

Nutrition Facts

Per ½ Cup Meat made with Cherry BBQ Sauce:

Calories 181, Total Fat 3 g, Saturated Fat 0.7 g, Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g, Sodium 193 mg, Total Carbohydrate 6.7 g, Protein 12.7 g, Total Fiber 1.1 g, Potassium 342 mg, Phosphorous 161 mg


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