Hawaii expat living abroad in Australia, food and family blog

Slow Cooked Kalua Pig (Pork)

Slow Cooked Kalua Pig (Pork)

Kalua Pig (also called Kalua Pork) is a traditional Hawaiian dish that is well loved and indulged in regularly in Hawai’i. This recipe for slow cooked Kalua pig utilises a slow cooker to achieve pork that’s tender and flavourful. It’s “ono” (delicious) and so irresistibly addictive that you’ll find yourself coming back for more!

What is Kalua Pig

Kalua pig is a traditional Hawaiian dish that features succulent, tender pork that has been slow-cooked to perfection. The pork is typically seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt and sometimes other ingredients like garlic, ginger, or liquid smoke for added depth of flavour. What makes Kalua pig special is its cooking method, traditionally prepared in an imu, an underground oven. The pork is wrapped in banana leaves, placed on hot rocks, covered with more leaves and soil, and left to cook slowly for hours, resulting in meat that is incredibly tender, moist, and infused with the earthy, smoky essence of the cooking process. The end result is a dish that captures the essence of Hawaiian culinary traditions, often served at celebrations, gatherings, and luaus, delighting all with its rich, smoky flavour and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Since the traditional cooking methods would be challenging for everyday families (and how many would like a small pit in their backyard), many have modernised the process and now prepare Kalua pork in the oven or using a slow cooker.

Key Ingredients to make Kalua Pig

You only need three key ingredients to make Kalua pig.

Kalua pig ingredients
  1. Pork shoulder – I use boneless pork shoulder roasts. If the roast is packaged with twine or netting around it, just cut that off to rub the salt and flavouring into the meat.
  2. Hawaiian Salt – There are two types of common Hawaiian salt. Alaea red sea salt and white sea salt. Hawaiian salt is a coarse sea salt. You can substitute it with Himalayan salt or another coarse sea salt if Hawaiian salt is not available in your area.
  3. Liquid Smoke – Because we are not using the traditional underground oven cooking method, liquid smoke re-creates some of that smokey flavour into the meat. In Australia I have found this in a local specialty food store, but it is also available to purchase online in many places. You can get it on Amazon here.

How to make Kalua Pig

To make Kalua pig using a slow cooker, start by seasoning a pork shoulder generously with Hawaiian or another type of corse sea salt. Then rub in your liquid smoke all over the pork. You can also add ingredients like garlic, or ginger for a bit of extra flavour.

Next, place the pork in the slow cooker, no water is needed in the pot. Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on low for about 10 hours or on high for 5 hours. When the pork is tender and falls apart easily it is ready. Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks. You can return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and mix it with the cooking juices for even more flavour.

Serve the Kalua pork hot, traditionally accompanied by steamed rice, poi, lomi lomi salmon, and or other Hawaiian foods. This easy slow cooker method yields wonderfully tender, flavourful Kalua pork that will have everyone coming back for seconds!

Kalua pig and rice

Other ways to use Kalua Pig

One of my favourite things is that when I make Kalua pig, there is always leftovers. While I absolutely love it on a plate with other traditional foods such as poi, lomi lomi salmon, and laulau, Im not that ambitious of a home cook and lack so many key ingredients to replicate that in Australia. I enjoy using my leftovers in easy yet satisfying ways that always satisfy my belly.

Kalua pig loco moco

Some of my favourite ways to use kalua pig are:

  • Kalua pig and cabbage – Pan fry chopped cabbage with your leftover kalua pig. So simple and my ultimate favourite!
  • Kalua pig loco moco – Kalua pig on top of rice with a sunny side up egg and gravy. YUM! Get the recipe here.
  • Kalua pig omelette – Whip up an omelette with tender kaula pig inside. Winning for breakfast.
  • Kalua pig nachos – Seriously the best way to have nachos! Substitute out ground beef with Kalua pig to make the ultimate no-share dish.
  • Kalua pig salad – Go healthy and make a nice salad and top with kalua pig.

There are seriously so many ways to eat Kalua pig. It also freezes well so pop your leftovers into the freezer if you want to save some for later!

Dish of Kalua Pig

Slow Cooked Kalua Pig

Easy Slow Cooked Kalua Pig recipe with just three ingredients.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 10 people


  • 1 Slow cooker


  • 2 kg boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Hawaiian salt (coarse sea salt)
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke


  • Place your pork into the slow cooker. Rub with salt on all sides of the pork. Place skin side up and coat with the liquid smoke.
    pork in a slow cooker
  • Cook for 5 hours on high heat or 10 hours on low heat.
  • Take the pork out of the slow cooker and shred the meat with two forks. Pour some of the drippings over the shredded meat. Serve hot and enjoy.
    Kalua pig cooked and shredded
Keyword easy, Pork, Slow cooker

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