Hawaii expat living abroad in Australia, food and family blog

Slow Cooked Kalua Chicken Salad

Slow Cooked Kalua Chicken Salad

Nothing reminds me of home more (well food-wise) then the smokey aromas of kalua pig, best when it’s fresh from the imu (traditional Hawaiian underground oven), but who are we kidding  – we can’t all be committed to having a huge underground oven pit in our backyard. And so much time and effort into making authentic kalua pig, which is why the clever lazy ones like us use the slow cooker instead! Do yourself a favour and try this easy Slow Cooked Kalua Chicken Salad recipe.  

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kalua chicken salad

What is “Kalua”?

Have you ever tasted authentic kalua pig cooked in an imu? If you ever get the chance then you must try it! Beautiful smoky, tender, succulent meat that has been slow cooked/steamed in an underground “oven” for half the day. The pig is wrapped in banana or ti leaves and picks up all the smokey flavours of the items it’s cooked with. Usually only made for a luau (large party) on a special occasion (first birthday, graduation, etc.). It takes hours of preparation and half a day to cook thoroughly so you can see why many choose a modern alternative to achieve those delicious flavours with minimal effort.

While I absolutely love kalua pig, this is a slight variation using chicken breast. I know that chicken breast can be known for getting overly dry, but this method mades it delicious and moist! You could try it with chicken thighs as well. Chicken breast are the cheaper option here in Australia and with a fairly high cost of living and a large family, staying on budget is always at the forefront of my mind. You wont need to add any liquid to the slow cooker, just the chicken, salt, and liquid smoke. So simple and easy!

The Secret Ingredient

This easy slow cooked Kalua chicken salad recipe is very simple, but it does require a key ingredient that may or may not be hard to find…liquid smoke. I found it in a speciality store, but it may or may not be available in your area. I don’t know of any good substitute for this ingredient, unfortunately. It’s the special secret ingredient used to achieve that smokey flavour without actually smoking the meat.  

If you do not have liquid smoke available in your local stores, It is available on Amazon here.

Also, check out my post on American to Australian food substitutes here.


In this recipe I use a slow cooker, which makes the job easy and as a busy mom, I can just set and forget. Place your chicken breast in the slow cooker and rub them with coarse sea salt (Hawaiian salt is my top pick if you have it!). Pour the liquid smoke over the chicken and that’s it! No water needed in the pot as there will be enough juices from the chicken as it cooks. I cook this on high for 2-3 hours, until the chicken is easy to shred. Check it after two hours and if its shredding nicely then its done. If not, let it cook for a bit longer.

raw chicken breast in slow cooker

Take the chicken out of the slow cooker and shred the chicken in a bowl. I use two forks to shred it apart, but you can use whatever method you prefer for shredding meat. Pour some of the drippings from the pot in with the shredded chicken to get the full flavour.

shredded cooked kalua chicken

That’s it! Toss your favourite salad mix together (in this case I used a pre-packaged kale slaw mix which goes with it beautifully. Enjoy!

kalua chicken salad

Easy Slow Cooked Kalua Chicken Salad

A low carb, healthy salad that's easy to make and only uses a few ingredients.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


  • 1 Slow cooker


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke You may need to look in a speciality store to find.
  • coarse salt
  • 6 cups salad of choice I used a pre-packaged kale slaw mix from the grocery store, but any pre-packaged salad mix or homemade mix would work wonderfully!


  • Place chicken breast in slow cooker. Rub chicken with salt and pour liquid smoke over chicken. You do not need to add any water to the pot as enough liquid comes out from the chicken itself. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or until breasts can be shredded easily.
  • Take chicken out of slow cooker and shred chicken in a bowl with two forks. Pour some of the drippings back over the shredded chicken.
  • Place chicken over salad and toss together.
Keyword chicken, easy, kalua chicken, low carb, salad

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