Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while. This amazingly easy and incredibly delicious Hawaiian style slow cooker Kalua pork. Or Crock pot Kalua pork. Whatever you call the cooking vessel. I call it the way to amazing Hawaiian style pork. Which is also called Kalua Pig. Either way its delicious.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 4 2 2 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Mmmmmm. Pork.  Funny story about this pork. We were in Hawaii a few years ago hanging on the beach in Kauai on a Sunday, when all the locals are out having their weekend Luau. All kinds of yummy smells coming from the picnic areas at the beach. I adore Hawaiian food. We happened to be near one couple that had some little kids that were playing near our little girl. So we started chatting with them. So friendly and funny. We were asking them what they were cooking etc. The conversation turned to Kalua pork. I was saying how it was my favorite dish. Traditional Hawaiian Kalua pork is cooked in an underground oven called an Imu. Its basically a 2- 4 foot deep pit dug and filled with kindling and rock, most often lava rock or basalt, and lit on fire. It takes a few hours for the kindling to turn to coal and the stones to get to an even heat and once they are ready to cook the pig, leaves are placed on top to steam cook the pork. Hawaiians would traditionally use anything from coconut palm fronds to grass to banana leaves. The whole pig is then laid on top of the bed of greenery, covered with more leaves or greens then the dirt that was dug out of the pit is used to cover it back up to keep the heat in. Its cooked at least 8 hours, depending on the size of the pig. Similar amount of time it takes to cook a 4-6lb pork shoulder in a crock pot, but without having to dig a hole in your hard and find banana leaves.

Traditional Kaula pork is seasoned with Hawaiian salt, rock or red salt. I always buy a bag of this salt when we go to Hawaii on vacation. I also find it at Cost Plus World Market. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that store?

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 7 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

The smoke flavoring comes from the style of the cooking in the underground oven. Since I currently live in a rental home digging that pit for the imu isn’t happening and we don’t own an actual smoker, so liquid smoke is like totally the next best thing. The Hawaiian guy we were talking to on the beach told us that for making Kalua pork in the oven or crock pot that hickory flavored liquid smoke was better to use than mesquite.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 10 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

So back to this story from the beach. he guy was telling us that the best way was either in an oven in a pan with the pork wrapped in banana leaves after being smothered in liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt or to use a slow cooker but he had never used a slow cooker, just had many cousins that had. And that either recipe would work. Hawaiians call each other Aunty and Uncle and Cousin. No matter what, blood relation or just friends. He told us to call him Cousin Ben and that we were now his “Cousins” and to come visit any time. Aloha spirit. That’s one of the many things I love about Hawaii. His wife was super nice and their kids were so adorable. And I am forever thankful for being on the beach that day for this recipe. Although when I got home I had maybe forgotten so I googled and found the exact same recipe on like 50 different sites but who cares I heard it first from a local Hawaiian so my recipe is courtesy of ” Cousin” Ben of Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 8 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Pork in the crock pot. First you want to get anywhere from a 4-6 lb pork shoulder roast or “Boston” butt. We find our pork roasts at Costco and butcher them into 3-4 sections depending on the weight of the roast we get and we freeze most of it until we want to cook it. Place one of the sections rinsed and patted dry with paper towels into the crock pot.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 9 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua PorkPierce it all over with a fork. This is good to get some aggressions out if need be.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 1 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua PorkCover it liberally with the Hawaiian salt and the liquid smoke as demonstrated 3 pictures back.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 5 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

6 – 8 hours later ( or overnight) Kalua pork/pig.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 6 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork It’s so tender you can shred with the back of a spoon. So ono as the Hawaiians say, meaning so GOOD!!!

4.8 from 4 reviews

Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner, Pork
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork. Easy to prepare and no hands on cooking make this pork recipe a breeze to make and turns out perfect every time.
Ingredients
  • 1 4-6 lb pork shoulder or Boston butt roast
  • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke, Hickory or Mesquite flavor
  • 2-3 tsp red Hawaiian Sea salt (for a smaller roast, 2-3 tbsp for a larger)***
  • Banana leaves – optional (I personally don’t use them)
Instructions
  1. Wash and pat dry the pork roast and place in the slow cooker
  2. Pierce all over with a fork, pour the liquid smoke evenly over the roast and sprinkle liberally with the sea salt.
  3. Place the lid of the slow cooker on and set the time for 8-12 hours on LOW.
  4. Check at about 8 hours for doneness. If not done let go the full 12 hours, checking every hour.
  5. Either remove the pork from the pot and shred with a fork and return to pot or shred in the pot when its done. You can remove some of the liquid and shred then add some back in to keep the pork from drying out.
Notes
1.If using banana leaves, which can be found at any Asian grocery store, place some leaves in the bottom of the pot reaching up the sides. Place the roast on top of the leaves, then add the liquid smoke and salt and wrap tightly with the leaves tucking them back under the roast. you can tie with cooking twine if wanted but its not necessary if the leaves are wrapped tightly enough. Cook the same as a non wrapped roast. This will give the pork more of a Lau Lau style flavor. 2.The reason the roast is pierced with a fork is to get the flavor from the salt and smoke deep into it, it won’t dry it out. There is no extra liquid needed since this is made in a covered crock pot. 3.If making in an oven instead, place the roast on a large piece of foil, pierce all over, add the liquid smoke and salt and wrap tightly with foil, place in a roasting pan and pour ¼ water in the pan. Roast at 325 deg F for about 5 hours for 3lbs of pork shoulder, and longer for bigger pieces up to 8 hours. Checking every 30 min for doneness This is excellent with sticky rice, sweet potatoes or steamed veggies like bok choy or cabbage. !**** I have had so many comments on the amount of salt used and my typos regarding tsp/Tbsp. IF the roast is smaller, 4-6lbs use less salt, 2-3 TSP (tsp) as in teaspoons. UP to a tablespoon if desired. If you have a larger roast say up to 10lbs use 1-3 TBSP as in tablespoons. The only seasoning the roast gets is from the salt and I personally like to err on the side of saltier. If you don’t want it as salty, use less. Another way to keep the fat amount down is to trim the roast before placing it in the crock pot, or once the roast is getting close to done, drain as much of the fat out as you can ( I use a ladle and a measuring cup) and reserve the liquid, then shred the pork and add some of the liquid back into keep it from drying out.

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork PineappleandCoconut 3 2 2 Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

So many friends ask me for this recipe and since we make it so often, and its so simple with few ingredients, 3 exactly, that I tell them verbatim and never email the recipe. My friend Christy thought it was Kahlua pork, and while that sounds amazing, its actually has no booze in it. But that gave me an idea for a post in the near future…. Booze or not, this recipe is amazing and foolproof and really really really tasty.

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Comments

  1. I wonder if smoked salt would be good? Either way–delicious! Pinning!

  2. I have never heard of that store, I wonder if there is someplace in STL I can get the Hawaiin salt because this looks so tender and yummy.

  3. You know I love your Kalua Pork! I’ve made it several times since that day when I was so confused and it’s always a hit. Will definitely try the sauce now!

  4. Melissa C. says:

    Boo trying your recipe today. Read several at the store and they all said mesquite :( hopefully it turns out okay anyways. I’m from hawaii and this is the first time I am making this teehee! My dad always did it. Wish me luck.

  5. Hi! I’m looking for a Hawaiian ‘meat’ to bring to a foodie night with some friends and found your recipe. But I try to eat a low salt diet and so do most of my friends, so I’m wondering if I don’t have ‘salty tastebuds’, will this be horribly salty?

    • Hi Lindsay, It’s really not very salty but you can cut the salt in half, or even less than that, and always add more once its done cooking to suit your taste. It would be a little bland without any salt, and the type of salt used is really mild, not as salty as typical table salt.

  6. Sandra Leonard says:

    I’m so disappointed, It was way to salty! I followed the exact recipe as above, I was so exited because my family loves the kaluha pork recipe from a restaurant in Oregon. So I taught I would give it a try, well it was inedible! Next time I will only put 1/2 of a teaspoon of salt instead of 2-3 tablespoons.

    • Oh no!! I am so sorry!! I hope you do try it again with less salt next time. I guess depending on the size of the roast determines the amount of salt. We like it on the salty side and the Hawaiian salt isn’t as strong of a salty flaver ( to me anyway) than other salts like kosher.

    • Barbarainnc says:

      Recipe said 2-3 tsp. which is teaspoons, not 2-3 Tablespoons that you used.

      • Where does it say that I used tablespoons over teaspoons? I have updated my recipe with the option of using as little or as much salt as you want.

  7. Doug Uhlmann says:

    Crock pot Kahlua pig rocks! While in the Navy I was stationed in Pearl Harbor for 8 years. I loved it! Met many locals and got in good with them. It was great picking a little piece of beach somewhere on the island and do the weekend luau. You can pick up Hawaiian Sea Salt.. Red or black at Whole foods or your local Asian market and most health food stores carry it as well

    • I love the way the Islands smell on the weekends because of the luaus. I get the Hawaiian red sea salt at whole foods or cost plus. I always have several bags at home – its really the best tasting salt!

  8. Thank you! I made this for our Father’s Day get together yesterday and it was a hit!

  9. Hey Shanna,
    So glad I found this recipe! My family and I just got back from a 2 week visit to Maui and Oahu and I fell in love with the food there. I was looking everywhere online for a good Kalua Pork recipe to make! It’s in the crock pot right now, and can’t wait to try it. I’m gonna spice it up and turn it into a Hawaiian taco with pineapple salsa! Yum… I’m going to post the recipe on my blog but soooo giving you the credit for this amazing Kalua Pork recipe. Also, following your blog now on bloglovin and Facebook.

    Krista

    • I am so glad you like it!! Isn’t Hawaii the best? I just love the food. Those tacos sound so good!! Thanks for following – I appreciate it!

  10. I am planning on using you recipe for a neighborhood cocktail party along with some marinated chicken and pineapple skewers salads and tropical rice. There will be around 60-70 guests. Have you ever made this recipe for a crowd this size and if so how much raw meat do you think I need?

    • Say about 4 ounces a person (for an average portion size) I would go about 20-25lbs for that many people. Err on the side of people taking larger portions. I would make it in several batches and freeze in ziplock baggies with the juices leftover in the crock pot so when you reheat its not dry. Thaw overnight in fridge the night before the event. You can use the big disposable tin bake pans you see at the grocery store to reheat the pork in the oven ( keep covered in foil)and just heat on low, 200 deg f until ready to serve. Most crock pots hold about 10 lbs of pork shoulder and remember the more you have in the crock pot at once the longer it will take to cook so plan for that. Let me know if you have any other questions – sounds like a delicious party!!

  11. Just want to say, Thanks! I made this for the family two weekends ago. Everyone loved it. We go to Hawaii frequently and always get Kalua Pork plate lunches. Now, how about a recipe for Lau Lau? :-)

    By the way, on the salt comments, I used a six pound pork shoulder and two and 1/4 Tbsps. of red Hawaiian sea salt. Just right!

  12. Love Kalua pork with cabbage, rice and mac salad. Reminds me of my time in the islands. I wonder if water should be added in the cooker or do you just run it dry?

    • Hi! No water is needed because of the amount of fat on the cut of pork used. I actually drain the fat out, shred the pork in the crockpot, then add some of the fat back into keep it from drying out. I seriously make my recipe once a week and have never had it dry out!

  13. For those who said they ruined their pork with too much salt. I think there is a typo in this recipe.
    It says 1 Tbsp of smoke which is right
    But then is says 2-3 tbsp of salt. (she wrote the lower case ‘t’ for teaspoon, but accidentally put a ‘b’ in there which makes people think tablespoon.)

    Anyway, use 2-3 tsp, not tbsp and it will turn out perfect.

    Great recipe.

    • Thanks Josh. I updated the recipe with more specifics. I meant Tbsp not tsp I just didn’t capitalize the T and the amounts listed are per size of roast. I hope my update helps make the recipe more clear.

  14. Tammi Lacy says:

    I made this for a luau party that I organized at work and it was delicious! I found frozen banana leaves at the Asian mart and I had found Hawaiian sea salt at Homegoods several months back for about $5. All I could find at the grocery store the day I went shopping was pork tenderloin, but it worked beautifully. I wrapped it in the leaves per the instructions and added the other ingredients and put it on low for about 8 or 9 hours (I forgot to pierce the meat but it was fine anyway). It was literally falling apart when I took it out so pulling it apart took all of 3 minutes. It was a hit at the luau. I will be making it again for my family. Thanks so much for posting this!

    • I am so glad it worked!! Pork tenderloin totally works for it as well. Shoulder roast or Boston butt is just what is traditionally used and has a little more fat than tenderloin so it will be a little more flavorful because of that, but not much. Both options work really well!

  15. dense freitas says:

    well, I made this last night–with banana leaves–for DH 60th b-day today and I have mixed feelings. meat is super tender which is a good thing. the slow cooker certainly made it easy and the house smelled great when we woke this morning. don’t really care for the laulau favor the banana leaves lend to the meat and broth. last time I did kalua pork for him, 50th b-day, I did an oven version, sans-banana leaves, which I think we prefer. now that it’s cooked we’ll eat it, but I will leave off the banana leaves next time. DH is a born ‘n raised island boy so he’ll enjoy it. will round out the menu with other favorites that are easily found here in the deep south of Georgia. poi won’t be on the table. he’ll have to get that our next trip home.

    • I never make it with banana leaves and always in the crock pot. I know some people do use the banana leaves. That’s why I have it as an option. Plus banana leaves are hard to find in Vegas!!!

  16. I was born and raised on Hawai’i island and currently live on Oahu. That being said, I love this recipe with a couple of minor changes. Mainly, I find that the Mesquite smoke gives a more authentic flavor. Mesquite is what we call Kiawe here, and though it was introduced after contact (1778AD), it has become the most flavorful and commonly used wood for BBQ’s and imu’s. I’ve made this recipe multiple times using the Hickory and found it delicious, this time i decided to try it with the mesquite and am very happy with the results.

    Also, I use a smaller roast with more white meat on it and have found that it cooks fully on LOW in 6 hours. I love to cut up some cabbage and add it to the crock pot with the meat after I’ve shredded it and let it cook about 10-30 minutes, depending on my desired texture and the size of my cabbage chunks. I then serve it with potatoes and use left overs to make a kalua pig wrap. My man is from Montana and is still in the love affair stage of living here and loves when I make this one at home, especially since we know its healthier (i skim off the fat from the juices and pull all the fat off the roast before serving it) and less expensive than going to Young’s for the good stuff all the time. If I had known how easy this was and that it was possible to have the full flavor without an imu I would have been making this years ago. Thanks!

  17. We made this over the long weekend, absolutely delicious and couldn’t be easier for entertaining.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Hawaii I immediately started searching for Kalua pork recipes and found one at this awesome blog Pineapple & Coconut! {you should check it out, she loves any and all things Hawaiian} I didn’t just want to make [...]

  2. [...] During our family’s first trip to Hawaii, many years ago now, we had the pleasure of staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Honolulu. While the decor and amenities were excellent, one of the more salient memories we have is of the luau dinner where they served Hawaiian kalua pork, which we tried to re-create for my parent’s 30th anniversary. Kalua Pork, not to be confused with Kahlua of which there is none included, is a roasted dish that is traditionally prepared in an imu, a 3-4 foot deep pit dug and filled with kindling and rock, most often lava rock or basalt, and lit on fire. As the author of the blog Pineapples and Coconut, from which this recipes comes, explains, it  takes a few hours for the kindling to turn to coal and the stones to get to an even heat and once they are ready to cook the pig, banana leaves are placed on top to steam cook the pork. If you’re fresh out of imus in your backyard, this recipe calls for a re-invention of this traditional dish in a crock pot. Since the cooking time is so long (anywhere from 8-12 hours), it goes without saying that preparation should begin very early in the day if you are planning on having it for dinner or the night before if is being served for lunch. The beauty of a crock pot is that it allows for you to keep something cooking without having to put it on the stovetop, nor watch it. We would also suggest that regardless of whether you want to keep it going longer than the eight hours that the recipe calls for to check on it, you take the pork out and divide it up with a fork. We feel that in doing so and then putting it back in for another two hours to continuing cooking, the whole pork was able to absorb more of the juices. We served the pork with a side of basmati rice, which is also traditional, and an almost necessary touch to breakup the meat flavor and texture. This recipe can be found at the following link: http://www.pineappleandcoconut.com/recipes/hawaiian-style-slow-cooker-kalua-pork/ [...]

  3. […] missing out.  I’m going to try to sum up Shanna in a few words:  pineapple, coconut, Hawaii, yummy, yummy, and yummy.  Basically, I squealed when I found out Shanna and I would be […]

  4. […] use this to make Kalua Pig in the slow cooker, check out the recipe here. However, we get this same salt at the grocery store. They sell it for $9.99 per pound in the deli […]

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