Kalua pork is a Hawaiian-style pulled pork that is made with just 3 ingredients. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect for any occasion.
Whether you’re looking for an easy weeknight meal or something to take to a potluck party, this kalua pork recipe is sure to please.
The key to Kalua Pork is the long slow cooking process. Popular at Hawaiian Luaus, it is traditionally made by smoking a whole pig in a sand pit, but can be made at home using pork shoulder and cooked in a slow cooker.
I’ve got lots more Luau Party Food recipes for you to try out – right-click and open them in a new tab to read next!
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The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions, to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required and understand the steps and timings involved.
I wanted to make pulled pork for a family gathering, but I also wanted to try a different recipe than my usual slow cooker pulled pork.
I found lots of kalua pork recipes online, but with just three ingredients I wasn’t sure how flavourful it was going to be. But wow, how wrong I was!
What is Kalua Pork?
Kalua Pig is the main feature at Hawaiian Luaus, and a big tourist attraction because it is cooked using a whole pig.
Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that uses an underground oven called an imu.
The imu is made by digging a large (6′ x 4′ x 3′) pit and lighting a fire in it using koa wood.
It is then layered with rocks which will retain the heat when the fire has burned down. When the rocks are hot, they are covered with banana leaves.
The pig is prepared by rubbing salt all over it, placing rocks inside the body cavity, and wrapped with more banana leaves.
Once the pig is in the pit, it is covered with wet burlap to provide even cooking and to retain moisture, and that is then covered with a layer of sand.
When the pig is cooked, it is removed from the pit and shredded.
I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to be digging holes in our garden and roasting pigs in it, so it’s good that there is a recipe for kalua pork that can be made in the slow cooker!
I love using my slow cooker for gatherings because it means I can start the dish off and just forget about it for several hours.
It tastes good cold too, wrapped up in a tortilla with some lettuce and slaw.
Pulled pork is great for parties as it can feed a crowd and is always a winner! Here are 99 Recipes for a Hawaiian Tropical Party if you need some food inspo!
Special Ingredients for Kalua Pork
Pretty much every recipe I found online called for a specific ingredient which may be a bit tricky to source in the UK – liquid smoke.
Now, we had a bottle of this because I am the sort of person who when she goes on holiday to the USA goes grocery shopping to bring back American ingredients!
Mesquite liquid smoke is said to yield a more authentic flavor than hickory, but use what you can find!
Tesco sells a liquid smoke and barbecue sauce combo which isn’t really what you want for this recipe. But you never know, you might find plain liquid smoke down the World Foods aisle of your supermarket.
Kalua Pork Ingredients on Amazon
If you can’t source liquid smoke, as a last resort throw in some smoked garlic (which I know you can buy in the UK) or some smoked bacon – it won’t be as authentic, but it’ll still be tasty!
But thanks to the magic of the internet these specialised ingredients can be bought online!
That all said, I just used regular table salt!
More Recipes Using Pork
The hero ingredient in this dish is of course pork, so here are some more recipes using the same:
- Sweet & Sour Pork Chops with Peppers & Pineapple
- Cuban Mojo Pork – Perfect For Making Cubano Sandwiches!
- One-Skillet Honey Applesauce Pork Tenderloin
- Amazing Pecan Crusted Pork Chops with a Fresh Plum Sauce
More Pulled Pork Recipes
Looking for more pulled pork recipe ideas? Check these out next:
- Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pulled Pork
- Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with Coleslaw
- Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Tacos
- How to Make Instant Pot Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Porked)
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps
- Slimming World Pulled Pork with Apple Slaw & Sweet Potato Wedges
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Christmas Pulled Pork
- Smoky Pulled Pork – from Wendy at Daisies & Pie
How Do I Make Kalua Pork in a Slow Cooker?
The printable recipe card below has the full ingredients list and instructions. Any demonstration photos on the card do not print out to save ink.
- 2.5 kg (5.5lbs) pork shoulder, remove the thick layer of skin, but retain some of the fat
- 2 Tbsp liquid smoke
- 2 Tbsp salt
- Place the pork in the slow cooker and prick all over with a fork.
- Pour over the liquid smoke and then rub in the salt.
- Cook on low for 12+ hours.
- Pull apart and shred with two forks.
Mesquite liquid smoke will provide a more authentic taste, but you can use hickory if you have that. If you can get a hold of Hawaiian Red Salt, and grind it, use that instead of regular table salt.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1400mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.
Make It A Special Dinner!
You’ve made the main dish, but what about the rest of the courses?
Here are additional recipes to create a menu for a dinner party or special meal:
- Appetizer: Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts Party Appetizer with Spicy Mustard Dip
- Soup: Roasted Fennel & Tomato Soup with Coconut Milk
- Salad: Fresh & Fruity Rice Salad (Empire Rice Salad) – A Real Crowd-Pleaser!
- Side Dish: Creamy Red Potato Salad with Fresh Herbs For Barbecues or Picnics!
- Beverage: Hawaiian Margarita Cocktail
- Dessert: Hawaiian Sweet Pineapple Coconut Loaf Cake – A Tropical Dessert Idea!
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy – please feel free to check them out too.