On a recent trip to Austin, I ordered some barbecue brisket tacos, and they were probably the best tacos I’ve ever had. Knowing I’d NEVER be able to replicate authentic Texas barbecue, I decided to try my hand at making some barbecue-inspired tacos and hoping for the best.
Without any recipe, I threw some pork in the slow cooker, whipped up a coleslaw, and assembled some tacos. To my pleasant surprise, I LOVED them. We have tacos weekly in our house, and these are officially some of my favorites.
The tacos I had in Texas were massive, so I replicated that here! These are BIG, meaning 2 tacos is plenty to fill you up as a meal. As someone who normally eats 6 tacos at a time, I can vouch for the fact that these are very filling.
The best part? This recipe is EASY. Throw everything in a crockpot and be on your way.
Typical pulled pork is made from pork shoulder- you know, the fatty, delicious stuff. Being as I wanted to make this healthier, I went with a pork loin roast, which is very lean. You can use a regular pork shoulder if you’d like, but the pork loin worked great and saves you a ton of calories. It needs a little bit of extra liquid to compensate for the lack of fat, but in my honest, meat-loving opinion, it still worked out great. I wouldn’t hesitate to use a pork loin again!
I ended up finding a 5 pound pork loin on sale for insanely cheap, so this recipe is going to make a big ol’ batch of pulled pork. It’s great for meal prep through the week, but you’ll see that you can easily scale back the recipe if needed. The 5 pound roast made enough for roughly 20 tacos, but I made sure the meat itself was versatile enough to use for other dishes as well. Since this isn’t drenched in sauce, you can use it for sandwiches, mix it with eggs for breakfast, or anything else you can think of!
Also worth noting that this is different than pork tenderloin.
I stumbled upon a calorie-free seasoning that I decided to try in this recipe. You can use any seasoning you want, but since this is low fat, you’ll want to be pretty generous with the seasoning for flavor. Because of that, make sure you use one that you like!
I chose a Memphis-style rub because it’s sweet & spicy- I didn’t want to go with anything overly barbecue-y because I knew I ultimately wanted to enjoy these as tacos without too much of that smoked flavor.
That being said- feel free to get creative with the seasoning and make your own if you choose to. I definitely recommend something sweet & spicy, but it’s up to you.
I purposely did not make this heavy on the sauce, as I wanted the pork to have many applications. That being said, there is some barbecue sauce used in this recipe, and I can’t recommend G Hughes enough. G Hughes is a sugar free sauce that you not only would not know it’s sugar free, but is undoubtedly the best tasting barbecue sauce I’ve ever had.
I use the Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce, but there are lots of different flavors to choose from. 2 tablespoons of this sauce is 10 calories and 2g carbs, vs a regular bbq sauce that can normally be 60+ calories and 15+ grams of carbs. Definitely check a store near you to see if you can get your hands on this sauce! They have a store locator on their site you can check out.
When it comes to coleslaw, I either love it or hate it. I love slaw that is nice and light, but I am absolutely repulsed by slaw that is super heavy on the mayo.
Whenever I make my own, I keep it very light by keeping it vinegar-based and more of a sweet slaw. In this case, I bought some Fat Free mayo, which quite frankly I had no idea existed until I saw it at the store. Using a small amount of that, this coleslaw came out super light, while still tasting authentic and creamy. This is going to be a staple for me, because you can enjoy it as a side with pretty much any meal!
Weighing Out Portions
Since this is a recipe that is cooked in bulk, you may be wondering how to weigh out a single portion. Well, there’s a few options.
First and foremost, the number of portions is going to be dependent on the size of the roast you buy, and the size of the portions you want. Let’s say that you buy a 5-pound pork loin like I did. I want portions of 4oz, which means that this recipe will make 20 servings.
After the pork is finished, you can divide the total weight by 20 to figure out how much a cooked serving weighs.
OR, I like to take the simple approach. If I want a serving size of 4oz, I know that meat will typically cook down to 3oz due to a loss of water weight. Instead of worrying about the exact measurements, I went ahead and assumed that a serving would still be right around 4oz- since we are adding some liquid, sauce, and onions, I figured that my final serving would still end up close to 4oz. It’s just an estimate, but it makes it much easier!
Either method works- just remember that the amount of servings will vary based on the size of the roast you get!
Assembling The Perfect Taco
When it comes to putting the final taco together, consider this a blank canvas. Everyone has different preferences, but this is what I recommend:
- Flour tortillas over corn tortillas. They hold up really well to the meat, and they’re amazing once toasted up. Plus, I found a low carb variety that I really love. I prefer Kroger brand because it’s not quite as high in fiber, but it’s very similar to Mission’s “Carb Balance” flour tortillas. A medium-sized tortilla comes in at just 70 calories, which is great considering the size.
- I really load these up- you can make smaller tacos for fewer calories, of course, but I love that 2 tacos makes for a nice hefty meal.
- I add pickled jalapenos to these before serving, which I highly recommend! You can leave them out or swap them out for pickles if you hate spicy, but that extra crunch is a welcomed addition.
- The pork can be served right out of the crockpot, but I really like mixing it with some sauce and then searing it in a hot stovetop pan. The caramelization of the sauce is a nice added touch!
Okay, enough talking. Let’s get to taco-ing.
Don't forget to check out my recipe books if you enjoy my recipes!
Healthy BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos
Macros for one BIG taco, or 2 smaller tacos (using 4oz of meat)
*10.5g fiber, 2g sugar
Ingredients for Pulled Pork
Ingredients for Coleslaw (enough for roughly 10 servings)
Rest of Taco
- There’s no need to do any trimming on the meat, simply add it directly to the crockpot. Pour 1 cup of beef broth over the top of the roast. Take your seasoning and generously cover the top of the roast (as if it were a rub). Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours.
- After 7 hours, the pork will be fully cooked and safe to eat, but we’re going to turn it into pulled pork at this point before cooking it a little longer. Carefully drain the liquid from the crockpot into a separate bowl and set aside. Using forks or other kitchen tools, shred the meat apart into pulled pork.
- Dice up one sweet onion and add it to the crockpot. Add 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and add back 1 cup of the liquid you set aside. Mix this up really well.
- Sprinkle seasoning over the top of your pork one more time before covering and letting cook for one more hour. See my pork at this stage as a reference of how much seasoning I used:
- Once your pork is covered, make the coleslaw. Empty the coleslaw mix into a large bowl, and combine it with 1/4 cup fat free mayo, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and then salt and pepper to taste. It should taste great at this point, but the flavors blend together in the fridge and become significantly better, so refrigerate the coleslaw for the remaining hour while the pork finishes cooking.
- After 8 hours, mix up the pork once more. Now we’re ready to make some tacos!
- Take out however many portions of pork you’d like to eat and mix with some additional barbecue sauce (1 tbsp per serving is enough if you want to keep it light on the sauce, but with the low calorie bbq sauce, you can easily add more). Optional: once your meat is mixed with the additional sauce, you can add it to a hot stovetop pan for a minute or two to get a nice sear on it!
- Warm up your tortillas. I like to just add them to a hot pan for 30-60 seconds on each side. Once heated, add your pork, some of your coleslaw, and a few pickled jalapenos. The jalapenos are a really good addition, but can be omitted (or subbed for pickles) if you don’t like the extra heat.
- Before serving, I added some greek yogurt to a sandwich bag, cut the tip off, and piped the yogurt over the tacos. Mostly for presentation, but also to control just how much I used. This can be sour cream, but the greek yogurt helps keep these even healthier. If you don’t want either, you can omit all together or drizzle some additional barbecue sauce instead.
- Package up the rest of the meat in the fridge for your meal prep throughout the week, or portion out and freeze for a later date.