This Slow Cooker Kalua Pork recipe puts a simple twist on the classic Hawaiian luau dish. It’s smokey, melt-in-your-mouth tender, unbelievably delicious and made easy thanks to the crockpot.
What is Hawaiian Pork?
No, this Hawaiian shredded Kalua Pork recipe has nothing to do with coffee liqueur. The word “kalua” translates to “cooked in an underground oven” which is the traditional Hawaiian cooking method for Kalua Pork.
A whole pig, cooked kalua-style, is often served at a Hawaiian feast. The pig is covered in salt and lowered into an imu - a 2-4 foot deep pit in the ground that is filled with stones and kindling. The pig is then wrapped in banana leaf or ti leaves and smoked for hours until it is ready. It's amazing to watch the process!
Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
Clearly, cooking a whole pig in an underground oven is pretty time-consuming. In order to get your fix of this unbelievable Hawaiian dish, Kalua Pork is now often cooked in a slow cooker, oven, or smoker.
We love the slow cooker method because you can set it, fall asleep, and wake up to the delicious smells knowing that the crockpot did all of the work. The result is a smokey, super tender shredded pork that is oh-so-easy to throw together.
What to Serve with Kalua Pork
Wondering what to serve Slow Cooker Kalua Pork on? Traditionally, it is served with cooked cabbage and rice. You can serve Slow Cooker Kalua Pork sliders on a bun, cabbage slaw, teriyaki sauce, and grilled pineapple. We also love serving it on sandwiches, salads, rice, or even on pizza. Yum!
As far as what to serve with Kalua Pork, Hawaiian side dishes, such as Hawaiian macaroni salad, Hawaiian rolls, or Hawaiian fried rice, are all great places to start. Otherwise, any of these recipes would taste great with your Slow Cooker Kalua Pork:
Ingredients in Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
- Pork Roast - we like to use bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) for slow cooker shredded pork.
- Liquid Smoke - we like to use either mesquite or hickory.
- Water - this should be mixed with the liquid smoke before putting into the slow cooker.
- Red Hawaiian Salt - if you can't find this in any local grocery stores or spice shops, you can easily purchase it online. Sea salt is also a fine substitute.
How to Make Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
- Add ingredients to slow cooker. Add your pork roast to the crockpot, then poke 10-12 holes into the top of the pork roast using a knife. Combine the liquid smoke and water in a bowl or cup, then pour over the pork roast and sprinkle with the Hawaiian salt.
- Cook. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until you can easily shred the roast with two forks.
- Shred. Once cooked, remove roast from slow cooker and transfer to a platter or large bowl. Shred, removing any excess fat or gristle, then put the shredded pork back into the slow cooker and let it sit in the juices for 15-20 minutes, or until ready to serve.
- Serve. Serve over rice, in salads, or on sandwiches. Enjoy!
Kalua Pork Oven Method
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare pork butt by rubbing with hawaiian salt and liquid smoke mixture.
- Unroll a large piece of aluminum foil and line with banana or ti leaves (you can find them at any Asian market).
- Wrap pork up tightly, covering with any extra leaves as needed.
- Place the pork package in a roasting pan and add 2-3 inches of water. Cover the top with aluminum foil and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 165 degrees F.
- Remove the pork from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before shredding.
Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Method
- Turn on your Instant Pot and select the “Saute” setting to preheat.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, let it heat up and then add the pork. Brown the pork for about 3-4 minutes per side, then remove.
- Turn off the Instant Pot and add the liquid smoke flavoring and water. Stir, then add the browned pork back in and sprinkle with the salt.
- Lock the lid and set on “High Pressure” with a 90 minute cook time.
- Once the timer goes off, use a “Natural Press Release” and carefully open the lid once the valve drops.
- Remove the pork and shred with two forks. Save the juices from the pressure cooker to serve along with the pork.
Frequently Asked Questions
This will depend on the size of your pork roast as well as your individual slow cooker. On average, we have found that a roughly 4 pound pork roast will take between 10-12 hours cooked on low in the crockpot.
You can check starting at about 8 hours and if the roast is still difficult to shred, put the lid back on and keep cooking until it’s easy to shred.
For the most tender results, we prefer to cook on low heat. But, if you are short on time, you can absolutely cook on high. On high heat, your pork should take between 6-7 hours until shredding the meat becomes easy.
Pork shoulder (sometimes called pork butt roast) is our favorite pork roast cut to use for this Slow Cooker Kalua Pork recipe. It holds up well to the long cooking time and stays so juicy and tender while holding a ton of flavor. Plus, it’s inexpensive.
Storing and Reheating
- Storing: let your shredded Hawaiian pork cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Freezing: you can freeze your Slow Cooker Kalua Pork in freezer bags. Add a small amount of cooking juices to the bag and store frozen for up to 2 months. Once you are ready to use, transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
- Reheating: to reheat in the microwave, just put into a microwave-safe container and reheat for about 30 seconds at a time on high until warm. It’s best to reheat with a little of the cooking liquids if you have any on hand. You can also reheat in a pot on medium heat over the stove. Again, it’s good to add a little of the cooking liquids, or even a touch of water, while you reheat slowly.
Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Recipe
- 4 lb Pork Roast shoulder
- 1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke mesquite or hickory
- ½ cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Red Hawaiian Salt
- Add your pork roast to the crockpot, then poke 10-12 holes into the top of the pork roast using a knife.
- Combine the liquid smoke and water in a bowl or cup, then pour over the pork roast and sprinkle with the Hawaiian salt.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until you can easily shred the roast with two forks.
- Once cooked, remove roast from slow cooker and transfer to a platter or large bowl. Shred, removing any excess fat or gristle, then put the shredded pork back into the slow cooker and let it sit in the juices for 15-20 minutes, or until ready to serve.
- Serve over rice, in salads, or on sandwiches. Enjoy!
Here are some more pork roast recipes that we love!
- Pork Carnitas Nachos
- Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Tacos
- Crockpot Mississippi Pork Roast
- Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Roast
- Easy Ham Fried Rice
- Spicy Italian Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
- Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes
- More Pork Recipes
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This Hawaiian classic Slow Cooker Kalua Pork is smokey, juicy, tender and incredibly simple to throw together. Use it on sandwiches, salads, served over rice or even added to pizza!
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Haha when I first was a kid I thought this was flavored with the adult beverage "Kahlua" ...still laugh about that every time. Your version of this beloved classic recipe is delicious. The melt-in-your-mouth texture is so flavorful and goes well with anything. I made a double batch because my large family can eat a lot the first night, then I save the rest for tacos the next night. YUMMY!
I had a pork shoulder in the freezer and found your easy recipe that looked perfect to try. The whole family loved this pulled pork and I'm sure I'll make it again soon!!!