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Hawaiian Style Slow Cooker Kalua Pulled Pork

by California Digital News

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Tender slow cooker kalua pulled pork is salty, smokey melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Enjoy authentic Hawaiian luau pork flavor at home with this super simple 3 ingredient masterpiece.

You don’t need a luau to enjoy Hawaiian cuisine and this moist kalua pulled pork. Serve with a side of Hawaiian sweet rolls, Hawaiian macaroni salad, and this incredible grilled pineapple for a complete island experience!

Slow Cooker Kalua Pulled Pork

Slow cooker kalua pulled pork is the easier version of authentic kalua pork. Traditionally, kalua pork is cooked in the ground, but this slow cooker is a great modern day method! With only 3 ingredients this is one of the easiest meals to make! It cooks low and slow to achieve the most tender results. You won’t believe it when you taste this explosion of salty and smokey flavor. And it’s a perfect recipe to make for a crowd!

Also known as kalua pig or Luau pork, kalua pulled pork is a staple at Hawaiian luaus. They carry on the tradition of cooking a whole pig in an underground oven filled with hot stones. The pig is generously salted and wrapped in banana leaves then lowered into the ground to smoke all day. This slow cooker method also requires all day to cook. You’ll want to plan ahead because to get that divine tenderness you’ll want the pork to cook for at least 16 hours. For more delicate juicy pork recipes try my carnitas, this Mississippi pork, or my sweet pulled pork!

Kalua Pulled Pork Ingredients

It doesn’t get any easier than a 3 ingredient recipe. Especially when the result is as incredible as this kalua pulled pork. Although there are only 3 ingredients, using the right ingredients will ensure that authentic kalua pork flavor.

  • Pork Butt Roast: This cut of meat is also called a pork shoulder roast. You can get one with the bone or without.
  • Course Hawaiian Salt: Hawaiian salt is loaded with minerals and is traditionally important in this recipe. Look for this in your specialty stores like Cost Plus World Market, or Trader Joe’s. You can also order it from Amazon. Use any kind of course salt like Kosher or Himalayan salt if you can’t find Hawaiian salt.
  • Liquid Smoke: Available at any grocery store near the BBQ sauces. It adds the signature smokey flavor to the pork so don’t skip this ingredient!

Kalua Pulled Pork Recipe

This kalua pork recipe is perfect for feeding a crowd. Super simple to make, but you definitely need to plan ahead! Prepare the pork the night before and allow it to cook all night. It’s SO worth the wait!

  1. Place Pork in Slow Cooker: Spray the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place the pork in the slow cooker.
  2. Season With Salt/Add Liquid Smoke: Sprinkle the salt on top of the pork and generously rub the salt on the pork. Pour the liquid smoke on top of the salted pork.
  3. Cook: Cook on low for 16-20 hours. Yes, really that long! Turn the roast halfway through.
  4. Shred: Once fully cooked, remove the roast and shred it with two forks. Remove any fat pieces as you shred the pork and discard them. Add the shredded pork back to the slow cooker. The pork will absorb the juices and flavor from the bottom of the slow cooker!
  5. Enjoy: Enjoy the pulled pork over rice or served in a bun!
First photo of the pork roast in the slow cooker. Second photo of the salt sprinkling on the roast. Third photo of the liquid smoke pouring on the roast. Fourth photo of the roast prepped before it cooks.

Tips For the BEST Kalua Pulled Pork

This is a really hard recipe to mess up but here are some tips to make sure it stands out above the rest. It’s so incrediby easy and it turns out perfect every time.

  • Pork:  Pay attention to the size of your roast. If you get a roast larger than 6 pounds (8-12 pounds) you’ll want to increase both the salt and the liquid smoke. Too little can leave your pork tasteless. The amazing flavor comes from the salt and liquid smoke. For a larger roast increase the salt and liquid smoke by 1-2 teaspoons.
  • Rinse and Trim: Rinse and pat your roast dry to ensure the flavor “sticks” to it. Trim your roast of large chunks of fat, and place fat side up in the slow cooker, the fat will baste the rest of the roast as it cooks.
  • Pierce: Poke the roast with a fork all over before rubbing in the salt and liquid smoke to increase the flavor inside and out.
  • Liquid Smoke: It is recommended by some Islanders to use hickory liquid smoke for an authentic flavor, but mesquite is just as good. It’s mostly personal preference.
  • Time:  I know I’ve said it before, but truly the longer you can cook it the better. This will work if you start in the morning and let it cook all day. It may not be quite as tender, but will still taste amazing.

Top view of the shredded kalua pork in the slow cooker.

Storage and Ideas for Leftovers

Kalua pulled pork makes great leftovers! Use in your favorite Mexican dish such as quesadillas, tacos, burritos, or on top of nachos. You can also use leftovers to make pulled pork sandwiches or sliders. The possibilities are endless!

  • In the Refrigerator: Bring leftovers to room temperature and store in an airtight container with the juices. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • In the Freezer: Freeze leftovers in a freezer safe container or freezer Ziploc bag. Seal tightly and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To Reheat: Thaw frozen leftovers in the fridge over night. Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop in its liquid. Make sure to reheat with the liquid because the pork might taste dry if you leave it out.

Top view of kalua pulled pork in a black bowl with rice and macaroni salad on the side. A fork is inside the bowl with teriyaki sauce and green onions garnished on top.

More Delicious Pork Recipes

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  • Spray the inside of the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place the pork in the slow cooker.

  • Sprinkle the salt on top of the pork and generously rub the salt on the pork. Pour the liquid smoke on top of the salted pork.

  • Cook on low for 16-20 hours. Turn the roast halfway through.

  • Once fully cooked, remove the roast and shred it with two forks. Remove any fat pieces as you shred the pork and discard them. Add the shredded pork back to the slow cooker. The pork will absorb the juices and flavor from the bottom of the slow cooker!

  • Enjoy the pulled pork over rice or served in a bun!

Updated on February 16, 2024
Originally Posted on May 22, 2013

Calories: 449kcalProtein: 76gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 214mgSodium: 2795mgPotassium: 1272mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.



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