Pulled Pork with North Carolina BBQ Sauce

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Easy slow cooker pulled pork with a vinegar based North Carolina BBQ sauce - gluten free, dairy free, healthy, easy, and migraine-friendly! #pulledpork #slowcooker #crockpot

Starting a migraine diet can be challenging in more ways than one. Not only can it be difficult to wrap your head around everything you should and shouldn’t eat, but it also can sort of wreck your social life. Our group of friends usually gets together once a month for a large meal at someone’s house. Ever since I’ve been on the diet, I get several texts from whoever is cooking that weekend about what I can/can’t have (I have really nice friends). I always feel terrible trying to explain everything to them! I’m here to solve this problem for you with a major crowd pleaser.

I served this for our “Friendsgiving” instead of a turkey and everyone was asking for the recipe. It’s so perfect for anyone also following gluten free as you can just have the pork separately or put it on a potato or a salad. I could think of no better recipe than this for your Superbowl party. We like to have ours with a simple coleslaw on top and some North Carolina BBQ sauce. This brings me to my next discovery…

The first time I ever heard of Carolina BBQ sauce was in a song at Ballet Burn and it made me extremely hungry. “North Cack baby I’m a boss. Carolina BBQ sauce with the slaw” got me thinking about an alternative to those typical BBQ sauces that are full of MSG and triggers. Carolina BBQ sauce is vinegar based and a little easier to make HYH friendly. Although some people may prefer the traditional BBQ sauce, it’s really great on this pulled pork. It was definitely the favorite sauce choice at our Friendsgiving. I find using distilled white vinegar with a splash of apple juice tastes surprisingly like apple cider vinegar, which is not allowed on the Heal Your Headache diet. Please don’t dump the whole thing in your pot of pulled pork like you would with a regular BBQ sauce. It is much too strong! You’ll want to use this one sparingly.

The Dizzy Cook Pulled Pork Recipe

Slaw on Top

As for the slaw, I don’t get fancy here since it’s just going on top. I mix 1/4 cup of Heal Your Headache safe mayo or Sir Kensington’s with 1tbsp of the Carolina BBQ sauce along with 1 tsp of sugar and some pre-shredded cabbage from Trader Joes. You could sprinkle in some celery seeds or chop a green onion and some parsley to flair it up a bit. It’s better if you can let it sit for 30 minutes before you serve.

Chili Powder & Instant Pot Options

Be careful to read the back label of your chili powder. I like Morton & Bassett Organic Chili Powder because all the ingredients are clearly listed. The burger buns I get from my local bakery since it’s tough to find clean ones. Sometimes I will have luck with brioche style buns at the store bakery. Just be sure to double check the labels. If you can’t find anything clean, just throw this on a baked potato, sweet potato, or even corn chips.

If you’re concerned about tyramine build up or just want a faster meal, you can make this in an instant pot. Keep the recipe here the same but use the cooking instructions + 2 cups of broth found here. Definitely freeze these leftovers for when you have a bad day and don’t want to cook.

The Dizzy Cook Pulled Pork Sandwich

5 from 4 votes
The Dizzy Cook Pulled Pork Sandwich
Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
6 hrs 10 mins
 

Shallots and garlic along with wonderful spices make this crock-pot pulled pork perfect for parties!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, BBQ
Keyword: Heal Your Headache, HYH, Instant Pot, Pulled Pork, Slow Cooker
Servings: 4
Author: The Dizzy Cook
Ingredients
  • 1 3-4lb boneless pork shoulder aka "pork butt" do NOT get pork loin or it will be very dry!
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup HYH safe stock or water
Instructions
  1. Place shallots and garlic at the bottom of your slow cooker. If your pork is wrapped in twine, remove the twine/netting. Place pork on top of shallots and garlic in the slow cooker. 

  2. Combine spices in a small bowl and rub onto pork. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on high or 8-10 on low. My 3lb pork shoulder took about 6 hours on high. Remove any fat that's accumulated on the top and pulled apart pork with two forks until shredded. It should shred very easily if done. 

  3. If you want to remove the pork and then reduce the sauce in a separate pan you can. I usually just shred mine in the accumulated juices and serve from there. 

 

5 from 4 votes
The Dizzy Cook Pulled Pork Sandwich
Carolina BBQ Sauce
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

This thin, vinegar based sauce is a little different than the thicker, sweet kind that most are used to. It pairs wonderfully with pulled pork. Try it sparingly at first, but I won't be surprised if you end up using a lot more!

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, BBQ
Keyword: Heal Your Headache, HYH, North Carolina BBQ Sauce
Servings: 1 cup
Author: The Dizzy Cook
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4-1/3 cup organic apple juice (no additives)
  • 1-1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne Optional - only if you like things real spicy!
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a simmer until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

  2. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature or place in the fridge until ready to serve. Best if you can let sit at least an hour.

  3. This makes around 1 cup of sauce. Adjust as needed! The sauce is meant to be used sparingly so try a teaspoon or two on your pulled pork before you go all in.

Easy slow cooker pulled pork with a vinegar based North Carolina BBQ sauce - gluten free, dairy free, healthy, easy, and migraine-friendly! #pulledpork #slowcooker #crockpot

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.

16 comments

  1. K

    5 stars
    I’ve made the pulled pork twice now (with ((super strong garlic flavor)) and without garlic) and the 2nd time I made the bbq sauce finally and did it with a homemade tomato paste… It’s very very good! I use it as a dressing for other food too. My taste buds are very happy!

    Thanks again for this recipe!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      I never thought to use it for a dressing before, but that is a wonderful idea! Kind of like a bbq dressing. Thanks so much for all your wonderful feedback. 🙂 Which do you prefer – a lot of garlic or no garlic? I think I’m usually team garlic!

      Reply

      1. K

        Haha. Yeah, I used the sauce as a side for when the beef falls out of the enchiladas when you cut them. (your enchilada recipe! So good!). I may try 1 garlic clove next time. It’s so much of a garlic bomb with the 4 cloves that it comes out of your pores for awhile haha.

        Reply

        1. Alicia

          Oh jeez! haha I’m such a garlic lover. Maybe I should edit that down a bit. 🙂

          Reply

  2. K

    Haha, seems so 🙂

    I had a question, how long do you think the Carolina BBQ sauce is good for in the fridge?

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      It should be good up to 2 weeks, but I usually just make half and it doesn’t last that long. If you’re super sensitive to tyramine, I’d probably only keep it for 3 days.

      Reply

  3. Brittany Moffatt

    5 stars
    I made this pulled pork this weekend for my family and it was amazing and so easy!!! Flavor was awesome. I did use half of the recommended garlic as others felt four was strong. Next time I may try three cloves of garlic.

    The slaw was pretty good. Just a different taste with the Whole30 mayo.

    The Carolina sauce had a more vinegar taste then expected. I may try it again and reduce the distilled vinegar and increase the the apple juice and try adding a touch more tomato paste.

    Make this pulled pork though, it’s so good and easy.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Haha I try to warn people about the vinegar flavor so they use it sparingly. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I love it in this recipe! Let me know how it goes with the changes – I think more apple juice would be great. I do have a more traditional BBQ sauce that I’m really excited about, but I’ve been working on that one for the book. 🙂 Thanks for all your helpful reviews!

      Reply

      1. Brittany Moffatt

        Can’t wait for your book!

        Reply

  4. Stacy

    5 stars
    I love this BBQ sauce recipe. I’ve used it many times for other things and it’s so good!!

    Reply

  5. Amy McNally

    5 stars
    This was one of the first recipes I tried after my diagnosis. It made me so happy, because I realized I could still have food that tasted good! It is so easy to make, and everyone loves it! Thanks, Alicia!

    Reply

  6. Karen Mizrach

    I am making this today! Probably I will freeze about half of the pulled pork, since it’s just me eating. I will make the sauce later today. Should I freeze the sauce with it, separately, or make a new batch when I thaw out the meat? Any tips for freezing this appreciated!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      I would just cut the sauce recipe in half or quarters and make it again. I’m not sure it would be great in the freezer, but it will keep for a while in the fridge as well since it’s vinegar based.

      Reply

  7. Anonymous

    Thank you! I’ve made the sauce before and love the vinegar. It should be amazing with the pork.

    Reply

  8. Caitlyn

    Hi all,

    I have not yet tried this recipe but I was wondering if anyone knew of a safe hamburger bun? I know Alicia mentioned it in this article, but I was hoping somebody may have found something that you can quickly grab in times of need.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hey Caitlyn, You might have better luck with a response in the dizzy cook recipe chat group on facebook. 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/dizzycookrecipechat/

      Reply

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