Kalua Pork (Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Oven)

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork is a classic Hawaiian favorite made easily in your slow cooker with just a few ingredients. It’s succulent and smokey flavor will keep you coming back for more!

kalua pork shredded on a platter

In Hawaii, Kalua Pork (also known as Kalua Pig) is a popular meat that’s found on almost every menu. At counter service restaurants and food trucks, it’s a popular option as part of the Plate Lunch with two scoops of rice and Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Kalua Pork?
  2. Ingredients for Kalua Pork
  3. How to Cook Kalua Pork
  4. FAQs
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Storage and Reheating
  7. Expert Tips
  8. More Hawaiian Inspired Recipes to Try
  9. Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Recipe

What is Kalua Pork?

At luaus and family gatherings in Hawaii, it’s quite popular to roast a whole pig in an underground oven called Imu. A hole is dug 2-4 feet in the ground, filled with leaves, branches, and lava rock, then lit on fire. Once the kindling and rocks are at an even heat, tropical leaves, like banana leaves, are placed on top.

The Kalua Pig is rubbed all over with Hawaiian Sea Salt, placed in the hole and covered with more leaves, branches, and dirt. The pig cooks in the ground for most of the day – at least 6-8 hours. The result is an incredibly succulent and smokey flavored Kalua Pork.

To make Kalua Pork at home, you don’t need to dig a hole in the ground – you just need your crock pot, some flaked sea salt, and Liquid Smoke. The shoulder is a fatty meat, which adds to the flavor. It’s so flavorful and tender, no matter how you cook it. Don’t worry, I’ll also show you how to make this kalua pork recipe in a pressure cooker or the oven, too. It’s so flavorful and tender, no matter how you cook it.

Kalua Pork 1

Ingredients for Kalua Pork

You only need 3 ingredients and there aren’t really variations or substitutions.

Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt – Dense, fatty cuts of pork that are perfect for the “low and slow” style of cooking. You’ll want to use a 3-5 pound roast so make sure you’re using at least a 6-quart slow cooker. You’ll still get a ton of meat. If you’re slow cooker will hold a larger roast, do that and freeze the leftovers.

Hawaiian Sea Salt – For tenderizing the meat and giving it that salty flavor. You can use flaked sea salt as a substitute. Kosher salt will work as a last resort, but it’s saltier so you will want to use a little less.

Liquid Smoke – Liquid Smoke is literally the liquid made from burning hickory, applewood, or mesquite wood. The cooled smoke forms condensation droplets which are collected and filtered.

How to Cook Kalua Pork

There are three different methods you can use for cooking your pork: Slow cooker, Instant Pot, and Oven. No matter which method you use, I promise you will have salty, smoky, succulent pork!

Slow Cooker

  1. Pat the pork butt dry with paper towels and place it in the slow cooker. Rub salt and Liquid Smoke all over the meat.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours. Period. The end. That’s really all there is to it!
Kalua Pork 4

Instant Pot

  • Rub the sea salt all over the pork roast and place in a pressure cooker. Drizzle Liquid Smoke all over the roast.
  • Cover, seal and cook on high pressure for 60 minutes, then do a 15 minute natural release. Switch to the venting position and allow the rest of the steam to release. The larger the roast, the longer this will take.
  • Once there is no more steam, open the lid and shred the meat with two forks.

Oven Method

  • Preheat your oven to 225℉. Place the pork roast in a 6-7 quart oven safe pot or roasting pan. Rub all over with salt and drizzle on the Liquid Smoke.
  • Cover with the lid, or in a roasting pan cover the pork tightly with foil. Cook for 8-9 hours.

FAQs

How long does it take to cook Kalua Pork?

In the slow cooker or the oven, it also takes 8-10 hours. It takes about 2 hours if you use a pressure cooker. If you’re using a larger roast than the one used in this recipe, you may need more cooking time.

What does “kalua” mean in Hawaiian?

The word kalua means to cook something in an underground oven, which is how kalua pig is traditionally cooked.

Serving Suggestions

The shredded pork is often served with cooked cabbage, sticky rice, and Hawaiian-style macaroni salad.

We also love to make sandwiches, tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, and salads. Stuffing the meat inside a Hawaiian roll might be my favorite thing ever.

Kalua Pork 5

Storage and Reheating

Storing: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.

Freezing: Store cooled pork in freezer bags. Keep frozen for up to 6 months.

Reheating: Thaw if frozen, then reheat in a skillet on the stovetop or in the microwave.

  • No matter which method you use, you can shred the meat right in the pan or pot and mix with the juices. I recommend removing some of the juices and keeping them to add back in as much as you need.
  • The amount of salt is very important to this recipe. As a general rule, you should use about 3/4-1 teaspoon per pound of meat. So a 4 pound roast would use 3-4 teaspoons.
  • Table salt is not the same as sea salt. It’s very fine and much saltier. If using table salt, cut the amount in half.
  • Himalayan Sea Salt is a great alternative and can usually be found at the grocery store Hawaiian Sea Salt, which I prefer, can be found at World Market and Trader Joe’s or online.
  • Liquid smoke give you the smoky aroma and flavor, without having to dig a pit. If you prefer, you can use smoked sea salt instead.
Kalua Pork 6

More Hawaiian Inspired Recipes to Try

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Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Easy, delicious, smokey and salty Hawaiian style Kalua Pork has just 3 ingredients and can be made in the slow cooker, instant pot or oven.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 9 hrs
Total Time 9 hrs 5 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine hawaiian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 299kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 pound boneless pork butt/shoulder 3-5 pounds
  • 1-2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
  • 3-4 teaspoons Hawaiian sea salt (see note) or flaked sea salt or Kosher salt (use less of the kosher salt)

Instructions
 

Slow Cooker

  • Place pork roast fat side up in your slow cooker. Rub all over with Liquid Smoke and salt.
  • Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours.
  • Shred meat in the slow cooker and serve hot.

Instant Pot

  • Rub the sea salt all over the pork roast and place in a pressure cooker. Drizzle Liquid Smoke all over the roast.
  • Cover, seal and cook on high pressure for 60 minutes, then do a 15 minute natural release. Switch to the venting position and allow the rest of the steam to release. The larger the roast, the longer this will take.
  • Once the steam has stopped, open the lid and shred the meat with two forks.

Oven

  • Preheat your oven to 225℉.
  • Place the pork roast in a 6-7 quart oven safe pot or roasting pan. Rub all over with salt and drizzle on the Liquid Smoke.
  • Cover with the lid, or in a roasting pan cover the pork tightly with foil. Cook for 8-9 hours or until the meat shreds easily.

Notes

  • No matter which method you use, you can shred the meat right in the pan or pot and mix with the juices. I recommend removing some of the juices and keeping them to add back in as much as you need.
  • The amount of salt is very important to this recipe. As a general rule, you should use about 3/4-1 teaspoon per pound of meat. So a 4 pound roast would use 3-4 teaspoons.
  • Table salt is not the same as sea salt. It’s very fine and much saltier. If using table salt, cut the amount in half.
  • Himalayan Sea Salt is a great alternative and can usually be found at the grocery store Hawaiian Sea Salt, which I prefer, can be found at World Market and Trader Joe’s or online.
  • Liquid smoke give you the smoky aroma and flavor, without having to dig a pit. If you prefer, you can use smoked sea salt instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 299kcalProtein: 42gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 1024mgPotassium: 769mgCalcium: 32mgIron: 3mg
Keyword kalua pig, kalua pork, slow cooker kalua pork

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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