This Slow Cooker Kalua Pork recipe puts a simple twist on the classic Hawaiian luau dish. It’s smokey, tender, unbelievably delicious and made easy thanks to the crockpot.
What is Hawaiian Kalua Pork?
The word “kalua” refers to the traditional Hawaiian cooking method in which food is cooked in an underground oven (known as an imu). A kalua pig, cooked underground, was often served at a Hawaiian feast.
But, because this method is pretty time consuming and complicated, kalua pig or kalua pork is now often cooked in a smoker, in an oven (wrapped in banana leaves with liquid smoke and salt) or in the slow cooker.
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 also incredibly simple to throw together and can be used on sandwiches, salads, served over rice or even added to pizza.
What to Serve with Kalua Pork
Kalua Pork is traditionally served with cooked cabbage and rice. You can also serve the shredded pork on a slider bun along with cabbage, teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple. Or else, add to your favorite salad or serve over rice. Yum!
If you have any favorite Hawaiian side dishes, such as Hawaiian macaroni salad, Hawaiian rolls or Hawaiian fried rice, those are also 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 online.
How to Make Kalua Pork in the Slow Cooker
- 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!
Storing and Reheating
Storing: let your pork cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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.
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.
Can I Cook Kalua Pork in an Instant Pot?
You sure can! In our opinion, nothing quite beats the long slow cook of a crockpot, but on the flip side, this way only takes a fraction of the time and the results are still delicious.
- 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 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
How long does it take to cook Kalua Pork?
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.
Can I cook on high heat?
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 Slow Cooker Kalua Pork should take between 6-7 hours until shredding the meat becomes easy.
Which cut of pork is best for the slow cooker?
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.
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!
- Crockpot Mississippi Pork Roast
- Cafe Rio Sweet Pork
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Roast
- Easy Ham Fried Rice
- Spicy Italian Meatballs
- Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes
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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!