This ridiculously easy, smoky and salty Kalua Pork (aka Kalua Pig) is made with only 3-ingredients in the slow cooker or instant pot. The mouth-watering meat is tender, juicy, and delicious all on its own, but it can also be used for burritos, salads, tacos, and more!

We love visiting Hawaii for the most authentic Hawaiian food, but when we can't be on the islands we make it at home. Some of our other favorite Hawaiian-inspired dishes are Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi, Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Skewers, and Homemade Hawaiian Punch Recipe!

An image of a bowl of shredded Kalua Pork made in the slow cooker.

Kalua Pork in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

You knew it was coming. I couldn't do my a series about my favorite Hawaii-inspired recipes without including kalua pork, could I?

This kalua pork recipe is pretty much foolproof and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. Or tripled or quadrupled or whatever you need. If you are hosting a backyard luau this summer, borrow an extra slow cooker or instant pot from a friend.

Traditionally, kalua pork is served with boiled cabbage and white sticky rice, but it also goes great served with baby bok choy and macaroni salad.

What is Kalua Pork?

Kalua Pork or Kalua Pig is the traditional centerpiece of a Hawaiian luau. A whole pig is smoked in an underground pit called an "imu" with banana leaves or coconut palm fronds and koa wood.

All of the flavor comes from the pork itself, the sea salt used to season the meat and the smoke from the wood. But we can mimic the process and get a really similar result in the slow cooker or instant pot using liquid smoke.

An imu ceremony is the part of a luau before dinner is served. This is where the cooked pig is removed from the pit it was cooked in and taken to the kitchen for shredding. It's an interesting and fun thing to experience, if you ever have the chance to go to a luau in Hawaii. 

An image of slow cooker kalua pork or kalua pig next to a sliced pineapple and Hawaiian macaroni salad.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork: Place the pork in the bottom of the slow cooker and pierce all over with the tines of a fork. Pour the liquid smoke over the pork and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours. Remove from slow cooker and transfer to a large bowl or serving platter, then shred, removing any large pieces of fat as you go. Spoon as much of the extra juices from the slow cooker as desired over the shredded kalua pork to keep it from drying out.

Instant Pot Kalua Pork

Instant Pot Kalua Pork: Cut the pork into 6 large chunks, then place in the instant pot and pierce all over with the tines of a fork. Pour the liquid smoke over the pork and sprinkle with the salt. Cover, set the knob to seal, then cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. Allow the instant pot to do a natural release for 25 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure and open. Remove from slow cooker and transfer to a large bowl or serving platter, then shred, removing any large pieces of fat as you go. Spoon as much of the extra juices from the instant pot as desired over the shredded kalua pork to keep it from drying out.

Recipe Tips

  • I have never had trouble finding pink Himalayan sea salt at the grocery store, but if you want to specifically look for Hawaiian sea salt, I have seen it at Trader Joe's, World Market, or you can always order it online.
  • You can shred the meat directly in the slow cooker or instant pot. Remove some of the juices first so you can add back in as much as you want at the end.
  • This is going the extra mile, but if you have access to banana leaves from an Asian grocery store, pick some up. You can place some leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker or instant pot, then set the pork roast on top of the leaves before adding the liquid smoke and salt. Wrap the leaves tightly around the pork and cook as directed.
  • You can make a bigger roast in the slow cooker. Just increase the ingredients proportionally to match the size of the roast without increasing the cooking time.
  • If making a bigger roast in the instant pot, add another 15 minutes at high pressure for each additional pound of meat you are cooking.

More Slow Cooker Meat Recipes

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Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

4.91 from 11 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 hrs
Total Time 12 hrs 5 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings
This ridiculously easy, smoky and salty Kalua Pork (aka Kalua Pig) is made with only 3-ingredients in the slow cooker or instant pot.  The mouth-watering meat is tender, juicy, and delicious all on its own, but it can also be used for burritos, salads, tacos, and more!

Ingredients
  

  • 4-6 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt roast
  • 1 Tablespoon hickory or mesquite flavored liquid smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon red Hawaiian sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Instructions
 

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork:

  • Place the pork in the bottom of the slow cooker and pierce all over with the tines of a fork. Pour the liquid smoke over the pork and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and cook on LOW for 12-14 hours.
  • Remove from slow cooker and transfer to a large bowl or serving platter, then shred, removing any large pieces of fat as you go. Spoon as much of the extra juices from the slow cooker as desired over the shredded kalua pork to keep it from drying out.

Instant Pot Kalua Pork:

  • Cut the pork into large chunks, then place in the instant pot and pierce all over with the tines of a fork. Pour the liquid smoke over the pork and sprinkle with the salt. Cover, set the knob to seal, then cook on high pressure for 60 minutes.
  • If you are making a larger roast, you will need to add 15 more minutes cooking time at high pressure for each additional pound of meat. Allow the instant pot to do a natural release for 25 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure and open.
  • Remove from slow cooker and transfer to a large bowl or serving platter, then shred, removing any large pieces of fat as you go. Spoon as much of the extra juices from the instant pot as desired over the shredded kalua pork to keep it from drying out.

Notes

You could also shred the meat directly in the slow cooker or instant pot, but you will want to remove some of the juices first so you can control the amount of juiciness at the end.
If you have access to banana leaves from an Asian grocery store, you can place some leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker or instant pot, then set the pork roast on top of the leaves before adding the liquid smoke and salt. Then wrap the leaves tightly around the pork and cook as directed.

Nutrition

Calories: 230kcal | Protein: 41g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 799mg | Potassium: 686mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Perfect pork!! I love kalua pork but haven't made it in years!! Will definitely be trying your recipe. 

  2. Kahluha Pork is my favorite thing to have when we are in Hawaii!  I cant believe how easy this was to make --  I did add some banana leaves to the bottom of my IP and it was delicious!  I was thinking we'd have some leftover for burritos today but every last bite was devoured at our dinner last night!  Id say that is a 5 STAR success story!

  3. I've been trying to use my Instant Pot more lately. I think summer is a great time to use it. This looks wonderful. I'll be passing it along to my husband so he can check it out too.

  4. We were stationed in Hawaii for many years when my husband was active duty, and this is the exact ingredients we use for authentic kalua pork! So simple and super flavorful! I always slow cook it, but now I'm anxious to try this in an instant pot. Great recipe for entertaining. This goes a long way!

  5. This pork looks and sounds amazing! It would be easy to make for a crowd and no need to heat up the house using the oven! What a fun theme for a party too!