This pulled-pork sandwich with cilantro lime slaw (added apples this time!) is for sure one of my family’s all time favorite summer meals and one I thought would never fit once I started counting macros.  But it does it does!!

Easy Macro-Friendly pulled pork sandwich with cilantro lime apple slaw

I made some adjustments to the slaw, stopped buttering my bun, found a BBQ sauce I love that’s lower in sugar and voila 👌🏻. My macros are set for maintaining instead of losing now which means my carbs and fat are much higher than when I started so I can even make one with juicy pork butt fit my macros.  (If you’re “cutting”, you won’t be cutting forever!) BUT when my numbers are lower and Ross wants to smoke a fattier pork butt, I’d do this lean pork loin in the instant pot or slow cooker for myself which came in handy all week for BBQ pork pizzas and salads etc.. and it was still so delicious! And maybe more importantly I was still eating with my family.

And it’s so light! I’m always floored how a BBQ pulled pork sandwich can turn out to be one of our lowest fat meals.  Sometimes I skip a side salad and just have two. Ok all the times.

Easy Macro-Friendly pulled pork sandwich with cilantro lime apple slaw

Easy Macro-Friendly pulled pork sandwich with cilantro lime apple slaw

Lightened up BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Slaw

Everyone in my family loves these and will choose them in a line-up.  They’re so surprisingly light and with the instant pot they’re so fast! Can’t go wrong.
4.84 from 6 votes
Author Lillie
Prep Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 360 kcal


  • 1 Brioche bun
  • 3/4 cup Barbecue pork (100g) recipe below
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro lime apple slaw (80g) recipe below
  • 2.5 Tbsp. Stubbs barbecue sauce (30g) because it's lowest in carbs or your favorite homemade*

For the Cilantro Lime Apple Slaw

  • 12 oz bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 Bell pepper, diced- (red, yellow, or orange are my fave!) (50g)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Chopped green onion (30g)
  • 1/4 cup Chopped apple (40g)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (20g)
  • 1 Tbsp. White wine vinegar (15g)
  • 2 Tbsp Light mayo (30g)
  • 3 Tbsp Fresh squeezed lime juice (45g)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Honey (7g)

For the Pork

  • 2 lb Pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin I use the kind that’s only 2.5 fat for 4 oz. I get mine from Costco- looks like this
  • 1 Tbsp. Liquid smoke (15g; sold at grocery stores near bbq sauce)
  • 1/2 cup Water (120g)
  • 1 onion, chopped (280 g)
  • 8 cloves Garlic (I use the frozen Dorot cubes I get at TJ- LOVE these)
  • 1 Tbsp Brown sugar (18g)
  • 2 tsp Dry mustard
  • 2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne* (optional.. if you like a kick)


  • *Our favorite super simple (non-low carb!) homemade bbq sauce: I don’t always want to spend the carbs on all this sugar but sometimes I just– do!
  • Whisk together 1 cup ketchup, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1-2 tbs liquid smoke and microwave for a minute or bring to a light boil on the stove.

For the Cilantro Lime Apple Slaw

  • Mix first six ingredients together for dressing (Add up to ¼ cup canola oil if you aren’t watching your fat, I skip it.)
  • Toss with remaining ingredients. It might seem dry at first but it gets better as it sits for a little bit. If it still seems too dry, just add another squeeze of lime or dash of vinegar.

For the Pork

  • Cut pork into 4 inch chunks and season with salt. Sear on all sides.
  • Put smoke, water, pork, onion, garlic, and all spices in the instant pot (I used it!!!!) or you can use a slow cooker. (Don’t stress about the spices, use what you have and skip what you don’t)
  • Set your instant pot to manual and 45 minutes. Allow for 10-15 minute natural release, then open the vent. Open the lid when it releases easily.
  • I like to pull out the chunks and shred them in a shallow dish for ease. Then pour as much of the juices over it as seems good. Toss in juices.
  • If you like your pork a little less juicy and more crispy, you can fry some up in a pan with cooking spray like these carnitas. We like it both ways.

For the Slow Cooker

  • Set to high for 6 hours or low for 8-10.
  • When done, shred with two forks and toss in juices.

For the Sandwich

  • Spray the inside of the buns with cooking spray and pan-toast on a skillet
  • Immediately top with shredded pork, bbq sauce, and cilantro lime apple slaw. Enjoy!! And then probably do it again because these boys are pretty darn light.


Serving: 1brioche bun with 100 grams of pork and 80 grams slaw and 2.5 Tbs StubbsCalories: 360kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 26gFat: 8g

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About the Author

Hello. My name is Lillie. I’m not a registered dietitian, or a macro coach, or a public figure or culinary genius. I’m a mommy of four who FOUND macro-counting and fell in love with this balanced approach to food...

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi, could you please tell me what the macros are for just the pork? I use the meat in different ways and want to add it to my meal tracker.

    1. Never mind, Lillie. I scrolled through the comments and saw you responded to this already. Thank you!!

  2. Wow! I made this for Christmas Eve dinner and everyone loved it. I omitted the liquid smoke but beyond that…. This will definitely be a keeper!

  3. 5 stars
    Loved your pulled pork sandwiches. They were delicious. Also made the coleslaw and it contains so many different but wonderful flavors and the dressing is very light. I love your recipes Lily. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Wow I can see this recipe needs so many updates! I’m so sorry! Each item is loaded into my fitness pal separately. So you can search lillieeatsandtells bbq pork. For the 100 gram portion it’s 119 calories, 2 fat, 3 carbs, 21 protein !

  4. I love pulled pork and it’s versatility in recipes. But I have never made it. I want to use tenderloin versus butt/shoulder for lower animal fat. But does browning it first make a huge difference? I know the answer will be yes, but hoping you’ll tell me not a huge difference, just a small difference LOL.

  5. 5 stars
    Love this recipe so much!!! For the slaw, what kind of apple is everyone using? Granny Smith or a sweeter variety?

  6. Hi Lillie! Can you double this recipe? What about swap the pork for chicken? I am making sliders for the Super Bowl this weekend but have probably 15 people total. Thank you!

    1. Yes! If I double, I add 5 minutes sometimes but no big deal. I haven’t used chicken for this recipe in particular but it would be great! Reference my buffalo chicken or smoky cilantro IP chicken for cook times and details with chicken!

  7. OMG so easy to make and delicious!!! Husband approved, lol. He ate like 8 tacos and also loved the pickled onions. Thank you for making our lives easier and yummier.

  8. Oh no! I came back to this page to remake the pulled pork (made it once before from this page and it was AMAZING) but can’t find the recipe now! Is it unavailable now?!

  9. I’m not seeing the recipe for the pork on the page and really want to try it! Where can I find it?

  10. Would it still be good without the liquid smoke? That stuff creeps me out as it’s basically carcinogens in a bottle.

  11. When you doubled it, did you use both of the Costco packs of tenderloins? Did you also double the water in your instant pot?

  12. I’ve never made a meal like this before but my whole family loved it! I’m going to use the leftover meat to make your pork quesadillas. Thanks for another great recipe!

  13. I’m planning on making this for a group of people – would you recommend mixing the bbq sauce in the crockpot with the pork at the end? Thanks!!

  14. I’m making this for a crowd of people…would you recommend mixing the pork with the bbq sauce after it’s cooked and shredded in the crockpot?

  15. I halved the pork recipe and made it in the crock pot and it was so good! I didn’t have any cumin but everything else was great! Mine took about 3.5 hours on high, but like I said, I made half the recipe. Highly recommend!

  16. Made the BBQ Pulled Pork yesterday – tastes great! I noticed that the macros listed here on your site (and on MFP) are different than those listed in the digital download (119 cal per serving vs. 123 cal per serving, etc). Should we be going by what’s in MFP or the digital download version since that is the “newest”? Thank you!!

    1. I can’t believe I didn’t catch that– must just mean I calculated it twice so I’d just take it as a good confirmation that the macros are pretty consistent with so little variation! And I’d say use the one in MFP.

    1. Have you ever made your own mayo? SOO easy and you don’t have to deal with all the fake ingredients in store-bought mayo!!

  17. Loved it. All of it! Thank you for sharing all your delicious recipes. Haven’t made one I haven’t liked. 🙂