Crockpot BBQ Beef (Healthy and Whole30)


Our Crockpot BBQ Beef is an easy high-protein dinner offering fall-apart tender shredded beef coated in a smoky, savory homemade barbecue sauce. Cooked low and slow, it requires minimal prep time for a hands-off, “set-it-and-forget-it” recipe that makes enough to feed a hungry crowd or plenty of leftovers for yourself. Paired with crisp coleslaw, this is a yummy dish that can be served a variety of ways, and we think it tastes even better the next day!

Overhead view stone serving bowl filled with shredded bbq beef

Recipe Highlights: Crockpot BBQ Beef

There’s a lot to love about this BBQ beef recipe, including:

  • A hands-off cook time of 8-10 hours to lock in flavor and ensure your beef is juicy and tender
  • A tangy barbecue sauce made without brown sugar or ketchup, meaning it’s free from any added sugar and Whole30 friendly, too
  • Leftovers store well, making for quick lunches or easy dinners throughout the week
  • The addition of creamy, crunchy coleslaw adds brightness to the dish, as well as a crunchy texture and more nutrition

Meal Prep Magic

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of meal prepping around here! And while we love all our meal prep recipes like these 45 meal prep ideas and slow cooker recipes such as our Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken and Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili, this BBQ shredded beef is definitely one of our all-time favorites.

It’s saucy, tender, flavorful, made without any added sugar, and makes enough for up to 10 servings. And did we mention that the crockpot does all the cooking for you? All you have to do is season and sear the beef, add the quick homemade BBQ sauce, and then set it to cook. While it’s slow cooking away, whip up the coleslaw, and then dinner is served!

With a total time of around 10 hours, this shredded barbecue beef is an easy, healthful twist on a classic American dish. Smoky, savory, and utterly delicious, it’s perfect for barbecues, picnics, pitch-ins, entertaining, weeknight dinners, and meal prep.

All ingredients for bbq beef arranged in small bowls

Ingredients To Make Crockpot BBQ Beef

Here’s what to gather to make this slow cooker BBQ beef recipe with coleslaw today:

For the BBQ Beef:

  • Boneless beef chuck roast – One of the most inexpensive cuts of beef, chuck roast is cut from the beef shoulder, neck, and upper arm area of the cow. As a result, it’s fairly tough on its own, but when cooked long and slow in a crockpot it becomes incredibly tender and juicy. For optimal nutrition, we recommend grass-fed beef, which has a healthier fat profile and more antioxidants
  • Avocado oil – may sub olive oil
  • Yellow onion – you’ll need 1 large yellow onion; may sub white onion
  • Tomato paste – this helps thicken the sauce and adds incredible depth of flavor
  • Dijon mustard – may substitute brown or yellow mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar – We prefer the natural sweetness of apple cider vinegar, but white vinegar plus an extra pinch of brown sugar will also work
  • Water
  • Seasoningsgarlic powder, dried oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper create a tangy taste with just a hint of spice

For the Coleslaw:

  • Coleslaw mix – we use a bag of shredded coleslaw mix to save time, but you can also shred and combine green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots
  • Mayonnaise – we like Primal Kitchen Mayo for a creamy base and a boost of calcium. For an egg-free shredded beef BBQ recipe, use vegan mayo
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Seasonings – add 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and salt and black pepper to taste

For the complete directions and ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card below. All of our recipes include the nutrition information, listing kcal, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, sodium, total fat, and more per serving.

How to Make BBQ Beef In The Crockpot

Prepare this crockpot BB beef in the morning, and hours later you’ll have a nutritious and yummy dinner waiting for you. Here’s how:

  1. Sear the beef: Cut the beef roast into 3 chunks. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the beef pieces. Sear them on both sides just until browned.
  2. Transfer the meat: Place the seared beef over the sliced onions in the slow cooker (aka your crockpot).
  3. Mix the BBQ sauce: In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce, whisking until they’re smooth. Pour the mixture over the beef.
  4. Slow Cook: Place the lid on the crockpot, and cook on LOW heat until the meat is tender and shreds easily with a fork.
  5. Shred the beef: Use two forks to shred the meat, and stir it with the onions and sauce.
  6. Make the coleslaw: Add the coleslaw mix to a medium bowl. Then, in a separate, small bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and whisk to combine. Toss the coleslaw mix with the dressing, coating it completely.

Overhead view black cutting board with grilled and sliced beef roast on top.

Grass-Fed Vs. Grain-Fed Beef

Strolling the aisles of your local grocery store, you’ve probably noticed a variety of beef choices including options like grass-fed and grain-fed varieties. The different cuts and labels can be confusing. However, the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef is really quite simple.

  • Grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat mostly grass.
  • Grain-fed beef comes from cows that eat diets made from mostly corn and soy products.

As a result, we believe that grass-fed beef is worth the hype, as it offers many benefits in comparison. For example, grass-fed beef:

  • Is more sustainably raised
  • Has a healthier fat profile, including less total fat and much more omega-3 fatty acids
  • Contains higher amounts of vitamin A and vitamin E
  • Richer in antioxidants

Find Grass-fed Beef Near You

Close up side view baked potato stuffed with shredded bbq beef and topped with coleslaw

Frequently Asked Questions

What cut of meat is used for BBQ beef?

Boneless beef chuck roast or a beef shoulder roast is what we use and recommend for making BBQ Beef. We have not tested this recipe with beef brisket or short ribs.

What cut of beef is best for shredding?

Chuck roast is the best cut of meat for shredding, because it has quite a bit of marbling that melts as it cooks and breaks down the tough fibers of the beef, making it fall-apart tender and easy to shred.

What spices are used to make BBQ sauce?

Every BBQ sauce recipe is a little different with some using ingredients such as a few tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, liquid smoke, and ketchup. However, for our version, we kept the ingredient list simple, using common spices including garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, a teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

What is the best type of BBQ sauce for beef?

We prefer to use homemade barbecue sauce for this recipe, but if you’re in a pinch for time Primal Kitchen Original BBQ Sauce is a great no-sugar-added alternative.

How long does this BBQ Beef recipe last?

Once cooked and cooled, the beef can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Kept in a separate airtight container, the coleslaw mix will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Can I make this Crockpot BBQ Beef in a pressure cooker?

We haven’t tested this recipe in the pressure cooker, but you could make our Instant Pot Shredded Beef instead.

Do I need to cover my roast with beef broth while it cooks?

No, the BBQ sauce will keep the beef covered and moist during cooking, eliminating the need to coat it in extra liquid.

Overhead view baked potato stuffed with shredded BBQ Beef topped with pickled onions with coleslaw on the side

Overhead view stone serving bowl filled with shredded BBQ beef


Crockpot BBQ Beef (Healthy and Whole30)

This saucy BBQ Beef is great for a variety of occasions, from entertaining to meal preps to weeknights dinners straight out of your crockpot. This delicious protein tastes great when served over baked sweet potatoes, added to a baked potato bar, stuffed into veggies, or served in buns and wraps, too.

Prep: 15 minsCook: 8 hoursTotal: 8 hours, 15 mins

Servings: 1012 1x


For the BBQ Beef:

For the Cole Slaw:


  1. Place the onions on the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Cut beef roast into 3 chunks, about 1 pound each. If searing meat before placing in the slow cooker, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or other skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the all of the beef and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning each piece once.
  3. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker with the onions.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, mustard, vinegar, water, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir well then pour over the beef and onions. Stir to coat the meat and onions.
  5. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on LOW heat for 8-10 hours or until the meat is tender and shreds easily.
  6. Remove the meat from slow cooker to a baking dish and shred with 2 forks. Return the meat to slow cooker and stir into the onions and sauce before serving.
  7. To make the Coleslaw: Add the coleslaw mix or cabbage to a medium bowl. To a small bowl, add the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder. Whisk well to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Store leftover beef and coleslaw may be stored in a separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Beef may be frozen for up to 3 months.

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Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: 1/12 of recipe (4 oz BBQ Beef without coleslaw)
  • Calories: 175
  • Fat: 6 g
  • (Sat Fat: 3 g)
  • Sodium: 361 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 5 g
  • (Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 2 g)
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Cholesterol: 75 mg


© The Real Food Dietitians

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Close up side view baked potato stuffed with shredded BBQ beef topped with coleslaw.

The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel Cook of Half Acre House.

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