Kalua pork. Hawaiian style kalua pork made in a slow cooker, so easy, so tasty and just a few ingredients.
My favorite Hawaiian pork dish ever. Typically seen at Luaus in Hawaii this amazingly easy and incredibly delicious Hawaiian style slow cooker Kalua pork is a mostly hands off recipe, my favorite kind of recipe.
This is also called crock pot kalua pork, kalua pig, luau pork. However you call it or make it, anyway is delicious. I have also included instructions on how to make it in the oven, smoker and instant pot.
And if you ever get the chance to cook it in a traditional imu pit in your yard, invite me over. I will bring the mai tais.
Kalua pork history:
There is some back story to this recipe. If you wish to skip this part, scroll down to the recipe. ( I promise I won't be offended, just don't forget to check recipe notes for lots of details).
I have a fun story about this Kalua pork recipe: We were in Hawaii a few years ago hanging out on a gorgeous beach in near Poipu, Kauai on a Sunday, when all the locals are out having their weekend Luau. There were all kinds of yummy smells coming from the picnic areas at the beach.
I adore Hawaiian food, and this was making us really hungry! 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. Our daughter hit it off with their kids, we hit it off with the adults.
This is what I love about Hawaii, that Aloha spirit, everyone is like family.
We were asking them what they were cooking etc. and they showed us all what they had. So much amazing food! They had a small hibachi grill and were cooking whole prawns first, then they were going to cook some reef fish they had just caught themselves! The conversation turned to Kalua pork and I told them how it was my favorite dish.
They said they only brought their small hibachi grill to the beach. No time to dig an Imu. So prawns and reef fish it was for them that day. It was pretty cool watching the dad spearfish with a three prong spear for reef fish off the jetty.
How is Traditional Hawaiian Kalua Pork made?
Traditional Hawaiian Kalua pig is cooked in an underground oven called an Imu. An Imu is 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, tropical leaves are placed on top to steam cook the pork.
Hawaiians would traditionally use anything from coconut palm fronds to grasses, ti leaves or banana leaves.
The prepared 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. Or climb your neighbors palm tree to harvest leaves.
Traditional Kalua pork is seasoned with Hawaiian salt, rock or red salt. I always buy a bag of Red Alaea salt when we go to Hawaii on vacation. I also find it at Cost Plus World Market. There are several other places mention in comments on where to buy the salt too.
Substitutions for red salt in Kalua pork:
Kosher salt - it will be saltier so use less. Diamond kosher is less salty than Mortons.
Smoked salt of any kind - you can use this then use a little less liquid smoke.
Himalayan salt - isn't very salty so you will have to use a lot more. This is a salty pork dish, it is meant to have a generous amount.
PLEASE READ KALUA PORK RECIPE NOTES:
There are lots of options in the notes but the most important is how much salt to use which is dependent on how much pork you cook. There has been confusion from several readers. Smaller roast less salt. (4-6 lb roast) Larger roast more salt. (10-12 pound roast). And as always adjust to your own taste. I prefer saltier Kalua pork, some might not like it as salty. As a general rule ¾-1 teaspoon of salt per pound of pork is suggested, depending on kind of salt used. Some salts ( table salt) are saltier than others ( Hawaiian sea salt, diamond Kosher salt).
The smoke flavoring comes from the style of the cooking in the underground oven. Digging that pit on my backyard for the imu to get that smoky flavor isn't happening anytime soon, although our puppy has dug some nice holes in the backyard for us the past few months, liquid smoke is the next best thing.
The Hawaiians 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.
We also own a smoker and have made the Kalua pork in our smoker as well and it comes out just as good. The smoker is my husband's "baby" so when I make the Kalua pork I make it in the slow cooker, he makes it in the smoker. Recipe instructions for making in an oven as well as smoker are in the recipe notes.
Hawaiian Kalua pork recipe shared by a local Hawaiian:
So back to this story from the beach. The 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, again.
Ben's wife was super nice and their kids were so adorable. They played with our baby girl on the beach that day. I am forever thankful for being on the beach that day for this recipe and new friends.
I know there are many variations of kalua pork recipes online, I heard it first from a local Hawaiian so my recipe is courtesy of " Cousin" Ben of Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii circa 2012.
How to make Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Pork:
First you want to get anywhere from a 4-6 lb boneless pork shoulder roast or "Boston" butt. That is what will fit best in most slow cookers.
We get our boneless pork shoulder roasts from a small Utah pig farm that delivers to Vegas through the food co-op. Sustainably and humanely raised and so incredible tasting.
We have also gotten pork shoulders from Whole foods and Costco. Since we place a huge emphasis on where our food comes from and how its raised, we mainly use pork from the farm that we buy from.
You can get a bigger pork shoulder roast if you have a bigger slow cooker. Ours is pretty good sized and I have had as big as a 10lb roast before. But we usually make a 4-6lb roast.
I would go with 8-12 lbs if you are making for a luau, potluck, party or even to freeze and save for later. Thaw in fridge before reheating.
What else do you need besides pork shoulder?
That lovely red Hawaiian alaea salt and liquid smoke. You can also use smoked salt if you like.
Pierce the shoulder all over with a fork. Cover with the salt. Depending on how much fat is on the roast you get you will want to trim some off before you place in slow cooker and season it. Don't trim all of it off, but trim off the bigger amounts of fat so the pork isn't totally submerged in liquid fat as it cooks. You still want some to keep it from drying out.
How long does it take to cook Kalua Pork?
Time cooking depends on size of roast and temperature. Keep an eye on your roast depending on the size when it gets close to being done.
Once done the slow cooker Kalua pork is so tender you can shred with the back of a spoon. So ono as the Hawaiians say, meaning so GOOD!!!
So many friends ask me for this recipe and since we make it so often, and it's so simple with few ingredients, 3 exactly, that I tell them verbatim and never email the recipe. This is also a base for so many recipes we make and it freezes really well. It's also great in burritos, tacos, sandwiches and more!!
How to cook Kalua Pork:
This recipe is made in the slow cooker, it realls is an easy kalua pork recipe. I have included options for other cooking methods since not everyone has a slow cooker.
Oven Kalua pork:
- No slow cooker? No problem. You can make this recipe in the oven.
- For the oven wrap the prepared pork shoulder ( pierced all over, salt, liquid smoked as stated in recipe) in foil and place in a heavy duty roasting pan. You can also wrap in ti or banana leaves then in foil. The Ti leaves are harder to find in stores. Banana leaves you can find in well stocked international or Mexican grocery stores. Ti and Banana leaves aren't edible, the just help keep in moisture and lend to a more traditional flavor. You want to discard those after cooking. You can also have some extra banana or Ti leaves to serve the pork on top of. It looks really nice and authentic.
- You want the kalua pork to steam as it cooks. If making in an oven, the leaves and foil help steam it. Oven temperature for kalua pork should be 275-325 Deg F. Cook low and slow just like a slow cooker. This again will depend on the size of the roast you get. It should take around 6 hours, but check internal temperature, it should get to 180-190 Deg F. 165 Deg F is the temperature you want to reach for cooked pork but it won't be falling apart properly at that temp. You want to cook it until the pork is so tender you can separate it with a spoon, so go for the higher temp.
Kalua pork in a smoker:
- With a smoker you can cook a much larger piece of pork than you would in an instant pot or even a slow cooker ( depending on the size of your slow cooker).
- Prep your wood chips - you want to go for a stronger smoky flavored chip such as hickory, mesquite or if you can find it, Hawaiian Kiawe wood.
- Set smoker to 275 Deg f. Set out a large pan (that fits in your smoker) and line the bottom with banana leaves or Ti leaves. You could even do foil or parchment.
- Prep the pork with piercing all over with a fork and salting. Place on the prepared pan.
- You can do one of two things at this point - smoke uncovered/unwrapped for 3 hours, remove then wrap and continue smoking for another 5-7 hours. Or wrap up and smoke uninterrupted for 10 hours. I prefer to wrap first then smoke because handling the hot pork to wrap up after 3 hours isn't much fun.
- Again, reach an internal temp of 180-190 ( you can pierce the pork through the foil/banana leaves or unwrap slightly to check temp.
- Let the pork shoulder rest still wrapped up for an hour before shredding. Keep any pan juices with the shredded pork for the smoky flavor and to keep it from drying out.
Instant pot Kalua pork:
- This is probably my least favorite method only because instant pots/pressure cookers tend to not hold as much, you start with satueeing to brown the pork and while it does cook faster, kalua pork is a slow cooked recipe to get that flavor and super tender texture.
- For instant pot kalua pork the size of the roast will depend on how big your pot is, I wouldn't go any smaller than 4 pounds of pork shoulder. Cut your pork shoulder in half.
- Set the pot to sautee, add a few tablespoons of oil and brown both halves of the pork all over, for just a few minutes. remove the pork from the instant pot, place on a plate, and turn off the pot from sautee.
- Pierce the pork shoulder with a fork and season with salt ( amount and kind stated in original recipe).
- Add in a half a cup (120ml water) and the liquid smoke to the instant pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the pork halves back in and add a little more salt.
- Set your pot to high pressure for 90 minutes ( more if using 6 pounds or more of pork).
- Let the pressure release and once safe to do so, open the lid and check the pork for tenderness. You can shred in the pot or remove and shred then return it. You want to keep the the pork resting in its juices to not dry out.
Please check my notes section in my recipe for options on salt, etc. I have had so many questions over the years about the recipe that I add answers to the notes section from time to time!
Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
- 1 slow cooker
- 6-8 pounds pork shoulder or Boston butt roast*
- 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke Hickory or Mesquite flavor
- 2-3 teaspoons red Hawaiian Sea salt 2-3 Tablespoons for a larger roast- over 6 pounds***see notes
- Banana leaves - optional I personally don't use them in the slow cooker, but I do when we cook it in our smoker - see notes for smoking instructions
- Rinse and pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towel, do not trim off excess fat and place in the slow cooker.
- Pierce all over with a fork, pour the liquid smoke evenly over the roast and sprinkle liberally with the sea salt.
- Place the lid of the slow cooker on and set the time for eight to twelve hours on LOW.
- Check at about eight hours for doneness. If not done let go the full 12 hours, checking every hour.
- If you have used banana leaves you can remove them before shredding the pork.
- Remove around 2 cups of liquid (500ml) and set aside. This should be most of the cooking liquid removed. Shred the pork with forks and then add some of the liquid back in to keep the pork from drying out. You might not add all the liquid back in, save it for storing the pork if there are leftovers.
- The pork should be kept warm-hot in the liquid before serving. You can place the banana leaves on a platter then serve the pork on top of them or use fresh banana leaves for serving. Do not eat the banana leaves.
- The pork saves well kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, keep some of the cooking liquid with it. Thaw in refrigerator if frozen. It can be reheated on low in the slow cooker.
Lets make it a luau with these other recipes to go with the slow cooker Kalua pork:
Aloha and enjoy my favorite easy kalua pork recipe.
What kind of flavor do the banana leaves add to the pork in this recipe?
They help retain moisture more than add flavor
Hi! What drinks do you recommend pairing with this dish?
Hi! Mai tais of course! Or a Hawaiian beer from either Maui Brew Co or Kona Brew Co. For non-alcoholic you could make mocktails with Hawaiian sun juices - guava, passionfruit, POG, Pineapple-orange etc and add sparkling water to it, some lime juice etc. Anything fizzy and tropical would go great either with alcohol or not.
My daughter, who has a far better sniffer than me did not like the smell of the leaves after cooked. She had no problem with the pork however as it doesn't seem to flavor the pork much at all.
I am not a fan of the banana leaves in the slow cooker when making this recipe, I prefer them when I make it in the oven
Adding Spinach to it makes it have a bit of a crunch to it and if it too salty then it soaks up any of the extra salt. but make sure you get a lot of spinach as it cooks down a lot.
I saw the funniest meme the other day, it was a pan with some cooked spinach in it and it said " this was 80 bags of spinach" ha ha ha its so true how much it cooks down!!
Kelly B says
Why for the love of GOD did you not correct the recipe??? Deep in the recipe notes you say that the salt is wrong, but you still left the recipe WRONG
(for a smaller roast, 2-3 tbsp)
tbsp NEVER means teaspoons. Thanks a lot ruined our meal. Geesh.
No my recipe says 2-3 TBSP for a larger roast. Not for smaller. Read again. I didn't ruin your meal. You didn't read it. In the notes it states over 10lbs size roast you use Tablespoons of salt. 1 tsp for a 10lb roast isn't much. It literally states in my recipe if your roast is under 4lbs use less salt, if over 6lbs use more. It is best to read a recipe in its entirety before making it, and before accusing someone of ruining your meal. Which I didn't.
You are amazing. I love reading your comments back!
Elizabeth L says
QUESTION: Wondering why not to trim off excess fat for crock pot cooking? I'm not a fan of pork swimming in its grease. My inclination is TO trim off the fat, however, I love a chef who says " follow the recipe or don't blame me" - LOL Please advise ... Thanks! In other news - I almost spit my coffee out at the comments re: salt and ruining " her" dinner. I honestly thought she was kidding when I started reading ..and then I realized she was serious. ( eye-roll emoji). Your answer? Perfection.
Kalua pork would be very dry if the fat is trimmed off pre-cooking. It needs the fat to stay moist even after cooking and stored in a container in the refrigerator or freezer. Always reaheat with the fat, then you can drain it off as you serve. The fat also holds in a lot of flavor as well. This isn't the lowest calorie pork dish out there, but if you do want less fat, definitely drain it before you serve. What I will do is set a strainer over the pot and take out servings of the pork with tongs, press into the strainer to let the fat and juices drip back into the pot. But not too much because it will make it drier. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions.
Paula DeBoer says
Kelly, why didn't YOU question it when you were preparing it??? If you are a decent cook, you would KNOW how much salt would be too much...always start low and add...you can't take away overseasoning from the brginning
Kelly figure your life out.
Janet N says
I have made this several times now using your recipe and it is perfect! I grow a banana plant every summer now so I have leaves to freeze and use in winter! I am in fact making this again tomorrow and just came by to refresh my memory and make sure I had the time right. I do prefer the hickory liquid smoke, and red hawaiian salt is a must! My oven has a slow cooker setting, and it usually takes about 6 hours. Thanks for doing up the recipe, Aloha! Oh I forgot to say, this tastes exactly like the real kahlua pork we had right out of an imu in Hawaii 🙂
Awesome!! So glad you love it!
Janet N says
Back again to refresh my memory. Hawaiian themed birthday dinner on saturday, mine! I dont mind doing the cooking because this is such an easy recipe and I have the banana plant growing, which this year is about 16 feet tall and has stalks with at least 8 inch diameter! Grows beside my palm tree, here in BC Canada! Very south west corner of the country ? thankyou again!
That is amazing that you are growing tropical plants in BC!! I have never been to BC, my husband has and says I will love it. I really want to grow banana trees here in Vegas, I need to find room in my yard. Thanks for the wonderful note and I am so glad you love the recipe and have a very happy birthday!
LINDA Barrett says
Where can I buy red Hawaiian salt in Maryland USA
Do you have a Cost Plus World Market near you? They carry it. Or you can order online - Amazon has it
You can also order several different Hawaiian salts, including a smoked salt, from Mountain Rose Herbs online.
Thanks for the tip! Always looking for new places to find seasonings!
Broke da mouth
Mahalo! Happy new year!
Lana Y Pigao says
As a Hawaiian living on the mainland I use any
Sea Salt if I can’t get HawAidan salt. Sometimes World Market carries Hawaiian salt. Also banana leaves contribute to the smokiness.
I get my Hawaiian red alae salt from World Market!
Is the recipe you use for the soup you mentioned in the video on your blog somewhere?
Not sure what soup recipe you are talking about. What video?
A Hawaiian friend gave me this exact same recipe. To simulate the flavor of the banana leaves, you can stir in a small box of frozen chopped spinach (I think about 10 ounces - no need to defrost) either before or during cooking the pork, then when shredding the pork, just stir in the spinach. In addition to the extra flavor, it's also healthier. And -- I also found the Hawaiian salt online at Cost Plus.
Great tip about the spinach! Thanks!
How much, if any, of the fat do you cut off before cooking? When I do 'traditional' pulled pork I don't trim it all. The pictures look like it's been trimmed up a bit. Thanks!
It depends on how much fat is on the roast you get. This one had a ton but you do want some fat for flavor and to keep the pork from drying out while slow cooking
A friend of mine who is Hawaiian and from Hawaii doesn’t use Spinich he actually used Cabbage, but he said the spinich works just as well just 2 different flavors
I think there are so many different ways this simple recipe can be made. That is what is so great about it - you really can customize it however you want!
As a substitute for banana leaves, you can put aside some of the bananas you would have used for banana bread and put one or two on top of the pork before you put the lid on the slow cooker. You leave the entire banana intact and literally just lay it on top of the pork. One will do the trick for the Kalua taste. Another good use of overripe bananas 🙂
Great tip! Thank you!
Do you use just the peel or the entire banana? Making this for Super Bowl ..
I am assuming they leave the banana in the peel. You would get the flavor from the peel, if un-peeled the banana would mush and blend into the pork for a stronger banana flavor. I personally don't use banana leaves or banana ( when made in the slow cooker). This is just my guess since I am not the one who uses the banana.
Going to try this tonight for our Sunday meal! Can’t wIt thanks for the good tips sure appreciate the recipe.
I’m going to make this. I bought a pork shoulder that is bon-in and is 9.5 lbs. how much liquid smoke would you use for that size of roast? Thx
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. Depends on how smoky you want it! Hope you like it. We made it last night for meals for the next few days. So yummy!
I’ve always used ti leaf when baking Kailua pig in oven, on bottom and on top of meat. I keep a potted ti plant just for this. Works the same as banana leaf I guess. It helps to tenderize the meat
Nice!! I should look into getting a ti leaf plant. They would love hanging out with my plumeria and pineapple plants. I wonder if I could get ti leafs from the international grocery - I will have to look next time I go. Thanks for the tip!
We lived in Hawaii for several years and I just want to point out that while ti leaves are used for cooking, they aren't edible. They are used because they are tougher and don't get soggy but I doubt any grocer here will sell them since they can't be eaten.
Also wanted to add that everytime we had kalua pork at a potluck in Hawaii it had cabbage added to it in a pot after shredding the meat and cooked until cabbage was tender crisp. By far that was the most common way we ever ate it. That's the local way... probably cause it goes a bit further.
Aloha! Thanks for your comment. I don't personally use ti leaves or banana leaves in the slow cooker. Mostly because they are hard to find here in stores. Banana leaves more popular than ti for sure, but they are hit and miss. Even at our well stocked international grocery stores. I also personally don't care for the kind of cabbage used, so I omit it. But feel free to add it in. Green cabbage is most commonly used with kalua pork in dishes in Hawaii because it does make it go a bit further. Instead of a full plate of Kalua pork you get less pork and more cabbage. Cabbage is cheaper and more filling, but if you like kalua pork with cabbage I say go for it! I added in to my notes about cooking cabbage with the pork!
In Hawaii we use Ti leaves which are widely found around Hawaii. They are much smaller than banana leaves and are much thicker and hold up under heavy heat unlike banana leaves which get soggy. Can’t say I’ve ever seen or heard of anyone using banana leaves in Hawaii for Kalua pork.
I have heard of both banana leaves and ti leaves used in Hawaii from many friends and from asking restaurants and luaus. Banana are easier to find on the mainland in most international grocery stores or specialty stores. I have yet to find ti leaves here. They are better for sure. Just wish that they were available on the mainland.
Sandra J Hutton says
I use plantains. Just use the peels to wrap the roast in after salting and applying the smoke.
That is a wonderful idea. I will have to try that. Sounds like that will help keep moisture in and add some more flavor. Thank you!
Hi iv made this before n delish, but I'm serving 20 people, so how big of a roast do I need n how much more liquid smoke n salt do I need?
I would go for a bigger roast, 10 lbs. 1 1/2 Tbsp to 2 Tbsp smoke, 1-2 Tbsp salt. Start with less and once the roast is almost all the way done taste and season again if needed. Really its all about your taste and how salty you like foods. Kalua pork is meant to be a salty pork dish.
A. Young says
How long would you cook the 10lb pork shoulder in the slow cooker?
I would check it around 12 hours and go from there checking every hour until it is falling apart.
What should the cook time be reduced to if you put it on high?
Depends on the size of the roast. The larger the roast, the longer you cook. I would say one hour per pound, but then add on a little more time to ensure its fully cooked.
i brought some unseasoned pulled pork. Can i use that and just add the ingredients to it? Help please
I am sure you could just add smoked salt and it would be good!
Hey Shanna! Thanks for the recipe! My Filipino friend said you can substitute pink himilayan sea salt for the red Hawaiian salt- has anyone tried that sub? I’m havung trouble finding it locally and can’t irder online bc I want to make it tomorrow. TIA!
That would be just fine!!
Looking forward to this tonight! I was given a whole set of Hawaiian salts as a gift last month, and found a 3lb shoulder roast for $2.47! Can't wait for dinner!
Oh yeah!! I love all my spices and salts from Hawaii. Hope you enjoy!
Just a heads up: if you're planning to add any sort of additional soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, learn from my mistake and lessen the salt -- or eat lots of pineapple. #SaltAcidFatHeat
Ha ha! I am all for lots of pineapple!
Has anyone ever made it with pineapple juice?
I’m from Hawaii but never ever made this bc it was always available from restaurants lol and it was ono!!! But when I came to the mainland and used to work at a Hawaiian bbq restaurant there was a manager there. She was so sweet! She was like aunty. And she used her own family recipe for the Kalua pork and it had pineapple juice. And it was ‘broke da mout’ kine good!!! But she’s no longer there. It’s been years now... any idea about how much pineapple juice I could use in this for a smaller roast?
This is my First time and I’m kinda nervous...
thanks so much for your time!
I personally have not made it with pineapple juice. Enzymes in pineapple tends to break down the meat and almost make it mushy if its on the meat for too long. Like in a marinade. Citrus has the same effect on meats. Better for short time marinades - few hours versus overnight. I would say though if you aren't using the pineapple juice as a marinade but adding it to the cooking process that one half to a cup of juice would work. But that depends on the size roast you are cooking. Half a cup for a smaller roast (around 4 lbs or so) and up to a cup for a larger roast ( 8lbs or so). What size roast are you planning on? I should try this soon with pineapple juice to see how it comes out and add that to my recipe notes.
You said your husband makes it on a smoker. Any special tips for a smoker? At 225 F. a good sized roast can take 110-12 hours, or more. Does he use a water pan?
Hi. Our smoker has a built in water pan that we use. When we smoke it we wrap it in banana leaves and we have done both smoke in an aluminum pan as well as just place it on the smoker rack. We set the smoker at 275 Deg F and cook until internal temp is around 190 Deg F and the pork is falling apart, easily shredable with a fork. Usually it's an hour to an hour and a half per pound. You can go with an hour per pound and check it then go from there if it needs more time. Hope this helps!
This looks so good. I am pinning it to try now. I am also adding it my blog post about summer party ideas because this is perfect for a Hawaiian Luau party!
Thank you so much!
Cheryl carlson says
Can u use a pork tenderloin for this having trouble finding a pork shoulder or butt roast
I haven't made it with pork tenderloin since the fat content is very low compared to shoulder roasts. I don't think it would come out the same since the cooking time wouldn't be as long and tenderloin doesn't shred the way shoulder does. You should be able to find pork shoulder at any butcher shop, well stocked grocery store or Costco even. Ask the meat counter to help you find it.
I'd like to ask about freezing it. Does it dry out? Do you have any recommendations for the best way? I'm doing food for an Hawaiian festival and want to serve this but I think I need to make it advance.
As long as you freeze it with the liquid from the slow cooker you should be good. It should be kept hot in the liquid before serving as it is. If you don't have one, I suggest investing in a vacuum sealer. That is how we keep food super fresh and lasting longer in the freezer and it doesn't dry out. Hope this helps!
I also received this recipe from a Hawaiian family and it's just fantastic! So very simple but outrageously delicious. I use several smaller 2-3 lb. roasts instead of one large in my slow cooker. I've tried one large one but find the smaller ones are more tender and cook quicker. I moisten the pulled meat with the juices and then use the remaining juice to make sticky rice in my rice maker. Approx. 1/4 c. juice + 3/4 c. water (depending on saltiness of juice). Yummy. I freeze portions of meat & rice into containers and pop in the freezer. I'd love to know how I could also get the farm-raised pork you mentioned as I live in Vegas too. Thanks for your extra notes! The recipe is accurate re salt & smoke! Oh, and I use Hawaiian pink salt that I was directed to at certain CVS stores that have a small specific shelf with Hawaiian products. I also originally purchased the liquid smoke there too until I found that Walmart had it for $1.09 inatead of $2.98 for the exact product! You can't go wrong with this easy and delicious recipe. Aloha!
Thank you so much for your comment! Check out the Vegas food co-op.(https://www.vegasfoodcoop.com) They work with Christansen's farm out of Utah. They do deliveries here. It is usually a Friday evening - not every month and they have two locations for their pick up. The quality of the pork is amazing and you can get anything from a full or half pig, or packages with just chops, ground pork, sausage etc. Everything we have gotten from them has been amazing. They also have beef and lamb. Hope you get a chance to order from them. Worth every penny!
iolaire mcfadden says
Thank you, I roughly followed you recipe on New Years day and it turned out great. Main difference was ground sea salt, and adding 1/2 box frozen spinach (heated) about 2 hours before serving and the rest (hot from microwave) just before serving (make sure its in liquid for a few minutes).
I feel like the Banana leaves are important if you are in a metropolitan area that would have them. They were available frozen in the first international market I checked and on sale probably since its around the holidays.
So glad you loved it. Thanks for the tip about the spinach too! Happy new year
Patricia M says
I love this recipe, I made sure I read in its entirety lol. I can't wait to try it out. I love Hawaii and this is going to make me happy and reminisce on our trip there.
I hope you enjoy it!
I just put the roast wrapped in banana leaves into my crockpot. I’ll cook it overnight and check it in the morning. I can’t wait! I’ve made your recipe one other time and it turned out wonderful! Thank you so much!
Wonderful! I am so glad you love it. Comments like yours make my day. Thank you!
About how many normal size servings does 6 lbs make?
A lot ha ha. It varies depending on what your idea of a serving would be. 4 oz or 6 oz per serving is typical.
Heather Jackson says
THis looks awesome and I can't wait to try. (I don't know why I never knew how amazing Kalua pork was in my previous 50 years but it's my latest delivery go to and I love it!.) That said, the local Hawaiin BBQ place serves it with macaroni salad (and sticky rice.)
I'm thinking about doing this for an alternative Friendsgiving we are doing and would love to have authentic sides. Do you have a good recipe for the macaroni salad (I find some restaurants have way better than others.) as well as a sticky rice you recommend? I liked the reader tip to add juice frmo the pork to the rice cooker when making the sticky rice. Any other tips welcome on the sides front. Yours practicing aloha. 🙂
Hi! Thanks for your comment. I can email you some recipes
Susan Dubose says
Super simple and quite delicious. While this was stewing, the entire apartment began to smell of a mesquite bbq. I served this over iceberg lettuce and fresh tomatoes, and my husband ate it as a sandwich using King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls
We love making kalua pork sandwiches with Hawaiian sweet rolls. I have a recipe on my blog for sandwiches with a guava bbq sauce that is so good
Wow this look so delicious. I can't wait to try this recipe I will save this post. Thanks a lot!
Chris Johnson says
Our family loves this recipe and has it regularly.
Wear a glove when liquid smoking and salting the meat. Allows you to rub the seasonings and keeps your hand from smelling like liquid smoke.
I have tried different liquid smokes and prefer the one in the square bottle. It’s the wright one. 🙂
I use the peel from a banana, and sometimes a garlic clove or two (don’t hate me Hawaiians! 😉 ).
Most of the time I do it in the oven, with the pan tightly wrapped with foil, 10-12 hours.
Cooking a bigger roast allows for easy freezing of leftovers for a second meal.
For the greens I serve with it - quick stir fried baby bok choi cut into one inch pieces. Cook the stems first, then leaves towards the end, finish with salt, pepper and a generous glug of Asian sweet chili sauce.
Great tips! Thank you so much. We often serve it with baby bok choy as well. So glad you love it!
Do I still add the liquid smoke if I’m using a smoker to cook?
Thanks for sharing!
Nope! The smoker is an amazing way to cook Kalua pork and it gets all the smoke it needs from the wood chips. Hope it comes out great!
I just made this tonight and it was so yummy! I used my Ninja foodi on slow cook mode for 8 hours, every two hours I switched low high low high. put liquid in freezer to separate as I pulled pork apart hour 7ish, scooped off top layer of fat and poured liquid back in ninja with the pork and cabbage for another 30min so not soggy. So simple, so easy, so yummy!
I love your side story, I actually live in Poipu Kauai! Aloha, and mahalo
Awe so glad you love it and my story. I miss Poipu! All of Hawaii. I need to get back soon, when it is safer to do so. Aloha!
Laurie Rasor says
Have A Good Day
I tired this and the pork came out a little dry, but I don't think it's the fault of the recipe as I'm still getting used to my smoker! It was still good, but I know I can do better next time.
Definitely go by temperature rather than time with using a smoker. You could also wrap in banana leaves to help keep moisture in as well. For smoker you want the temp to be 200-250 for smoking - the smoker not the pork, and usually 90 min per pound of pork. Really depends on your smoker and the weight of the pork you use.
You could always add in a cup of broth or stock to the pan the roast is in if its a leaner cut of pork - not as much fat OR you can add in a few strips of raw bacon to add in some fat. Let me know how it goes next time!
Thank you so much for the recipe and the notes! I made 14 lbs for 28 people and only had about an ice cream scoop size for leftovers. It was a huge hit for our family and many people commented on it. I loved that you noted how to make in an oven. I have made it in the oven and crockpot and they turned out identical.
I bought the salt you recommended and it's more than enough, but am looking forward to making this again and again. Thank you for sharing, Adam
Thank you so much for the kind comment, I am glad everyone loved it!
Kelly Theriault says
Hi! What is a substitute for Hawaiin red salt?
You could use Diamond Kosher salt but use a little less since it is "saltier" than red or use sea salt. Definitely don't use. iodized salt and Morton's Kosher tends to be even saltier. I would star with less salt and taste once cooked and add more if needed. It is a salty pork dish but you don't want to over salt it at the beginning.
Beck and Bulow says
I’m making this right now! Smells delicious! I’m so excited to have found this! I’ll check back later and please visit us: https://www.beckandbulow.com
I learned you can wrap whole bananas in tinfoil yo get some of the sweet banana flavor.
Interesting! I haven't tried that yet. Thanks for the tip!
Made this for a very special dinner with the missus a few weeks back. Making it again with beef tonight. Great recipe, very tasty.
Thank you so much!
How much Kahlua and when do you add to cooking?
I appreciate people posting recipes as I look up recipes for reference.
I’ve been smoking meats, poultry and fish over 45 years so I look for smoking recipes but very few available.
I got a desperation call from my nephew the day before a huge baby shower saying his go to guy got Covid so I had to smoke the pork butt Kalua style which I never had. Fortunately the local Asian store had banana leaves but, he gave me his over baked with fake some flavoring so I winged it and made my no fail pulled pork and a Kalua pork which turned out awesome.
I should probably post my recipe but I figured it out on my own and I’m cooking another tomorrow early morning winging it again.
Thanks for your comment but I am not 100% sure what exactly you are trying to say here. Are you wanting to post your recipe in my recipe comments? I do have ingredients and instructions for smoked kalua pork in my recipe card.
Okay recipe if it weren’t for the thousand word essay beforehand and constant pop ups
What a lovely comment. There is a jump to recipe button is at the top.Of every recipe. Feel free to use that next time instead of complaining. I have a "thousand word"essay because of all the questions I constantly get about the recipe.This way I have it all in the blog post for people to see instead of waiting for me to reply. The ads pay for things like web hosting, ingredients, photography equipment. All that stuff that goes into a FREE TO YOU recipe. Again jump to recipe button at the top and you are so very welcome for again a free to you recipe.
I love this recipe. I will be honest, never done pulled pork before so this was a first try. Everyone at work still boasts about it and I didn't have to worry about left overs. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much! I am so glad you like it.