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Hawaiian Pulled Pork (Kalua Pork Recipe)

Hawaiian Pulled Pork, also known as Kalua Pork is so succulent and tender without any effort at all on your part you’re going to wonder why you haven’t been making this at home your whole life.

Want a twist on them—- (not at all authentic, but very delicious none the less– drizzle the pork with Hawaiian Huli Huli Sauce!

tray of fresh pulled pork

The name Kalua pork will make you think of Hawaii and all of the Luau’s you’ve ever been or seen on television. Made with 3 simple ingredients only (salt, pork and liquid smoke) this delicious recipe is one of the easiest meals for entertaining or a weeknight dinner you’ll ever make.

I was surprised the first time I was reading about this recipe that it didn’t have Kahlua Alcohol in it.— they have nothing to do with each other, just similar names (although spelled differently!)

How Hawaiians Make Pulled Pork

Affectionately known as Kalua Pig on the islands of Hawaii to many tourists, is traditionally made in an Imu— which means it’s cooked in an underground pit dug down 4-6 feet deep.

Typically baked on top of lava rock and heated stones when the coals are ready they will lay down some tropical leaves such as palm fronds or banana leaves then place a whole pig on top. The leaves are dampened which creates steam during cooking. Finally covered with more leaves dirt then left to steam/bake in the pit for up to 12 hours.

The pork that comes of this is fall-apart tender and incredibly delicious. As much as I’d like to be truly authentic the thought of digging a pit and roasting a whole pig in an underground oven is a bit much for me.

Today’s recipe shows you how to really short cut that process for juicy, smokey pulled pork made in your oven roaster or in you slow cooker.

Freaky Friday Blog Hop Logo Fall 2020

It’s that time again for Freaky Friday –

It’s the once a quarter event I share with you recipes that are tried and true from other food writers put on by Michaela at an Affair from the Heart. We all swap names and pick a recipe to share with our readers that we know you will love and introduce you to another place you can find great recipes!

dinner plate with Kalua pork, steamed rice and pineapple

The Foodie Affair

This recipe is from my friend Sandra at The Foodie Affair. Sandra is a fitness enthusiast who loves to experiment with all kinds of food. She shares what she calls sinful recipes and healthy ones hoping you can find a balance.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to rely on her site to find low sugar option foods that still taste great.

She shares a lot of keto and low carb recipes that I’ve found fully satisfying and delicious. Most foods that say low carb and keto leave me hungry and just wanting to eat more but not Sandra’s recipes— they are the kind you don’t even miss the sugar and carbs!

Even when she is sharing recipes that aren’t low carb and healthy she shares with you sugar free alternatives. For example— I HIGHLY suggest you try her Sweet Potato Cake recipe… she gives you a sugar substitute that you won’t miss all the sugar in— and no-one will be the wiser. ( A great Thanksgiving side recipe that’s a healthier option!)

This time of year we are all so busy and she has so many crockpot meals that are hands-off cooking. I made her Greek Flank Steak and her Kalua Pork and decided that I had to share the kalua pork recipe with all of you because it was so easy, and only 3 ingredients!

I’d loaned out my slow cooker so when I went to make this I didn’t have it so I decided I would make the shredded pork recipe in a small roasting pan in the oven.

ingredients to make roast pulled pork in the oven
Red Salt, Liquid Smoke and a Pork Shoulder

Ingredients

Hawaiian Red salt is the traditional salt used in making this. You can find it on Amazon or at your local specialty store like a World Market. If you can’t find it you can sub Himalayan Pink Salt or even Kosher Salt.

I use Hickory Liquid smoke over mesquite. I think it tastes more authentic, but it’s a personal preference.

Sometimes at the market the packaging can be confusing. A pork shoulder and pork butt are both cuts from the shoulder of the pig.

A pork shoulder can be called a picnic roast and the butt is often referred to as a Boston Butt. For this recipe, use whichever one you can find at your grocery store.

One tends to have a little more fat and is an odd shape (the pork shoulder) but we’ll be trimming away some fat and shredding the meat so that doesn’t matter at all!

How to Make in the Oven

  • Season the pork roast on all sides with the liquid smoke and salt. Massaging it into all of the crevices so the flavor gets in everywhere.
  • Fit the roast into a roasting pan– don’t worry if it’s snug in there, it will reduce down as it cooks.
  • Cover with a lid or with foil so it can steam as it cooks. It releases lots of juices you’ll want to save to spoon over the top.
  • Slow cook for 4-5 hours until the pork is able to be easily “pulled” /shredded with a fork.

How to make in an Instant Pot

  • Buy a pork roast that will fit into your pressure cooker. I suggest a 4-6 pound roast, but if you have a larger instant pot you can absolutely use a larger roast. (If you use a larger roast you may need to increase the cooking time slightly and use just a bit more Hawaiian Sea Salt and Liquid Smoke flavor.)
  • Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of your Instant Pot.
  • Season according to the recipe below.
  • Place the roast in the instant pot, and seal.
  • Pressure cook on high for 90 minutes for a 6 pound roast. Let it natural release (usually about 20 minutes.
  • Open the pressure cooker and use a fork to shred the meat.
  • Save the liquid for an au jus.

Common Questions when preparing this Classic Hawaiian Favorite

Does it matter if I buy a bone in pork butt or boneless?

The pork shoulder cut breaks down easily and shreds just fine with a bone or without. Again, buy what you can find!

What is traditionally served with Luau Pork?

Steamed cabbage, pineapple and sticky rice are great options that are commonly served with this easy and simple recipe.

How do I make this in a slow cooker?

Follow the seasoning instructions in the recipe and place it in the slow cooker/crock pot and cook it on low for 10-12 hours. You’ll want to flip the meat at least once.

pinterest image of kalua pork

More ways to use Hawaiian pork

I love using this meat for game day parties or for small bites for a happy hour at home!

Make more than you’ll need and use the leftovers for Pulled pork Sliders, filling for Easy Air Fryer Taquitos, or as a topping on top of these Crispy Potato Skins.

This is a easy recipe to make in large portions for a large dinner party. If you double the recipe you can easily feed lots of people inexpensively.

Take a look at all of our 2020 Freaky Friday Fall Edition Recipes:

  1. An Affair from the Heart – Instant Pot Chicken & Rice Soup
  2. An Affair from the Heart – Honey Corn Bread
  3. Aunt Bee’s Recipes –  Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars
  4. Devour Dinner – Instant Pot French Onion Meatballs
  5. House of Nash Eats – Slow Cooker Crack Chicken
  6. Lemoine Family Kitchen – Turkey Cranberry Sliders
  7. Life Currents – Cheesy Shrimp Dip
  8. Life, Love & Good Food – Lemon Garlic Smashed Potatoes
  9. Or Whatever You Do – Traeger Grilled Parmesan Halibut
  10. Sugar Dish Me – Whipped Shortbread Cookies
  11. Take Two Tapas –  Pork Tenderloin Sliders
  12. The Foodie Affair – Easy Greek Style Cauliflower Rice Salad
  13. The Speckled Palate – Upside Down Cranberry Cake
  14. West Via Midwest – Hawaiian Pulled Pork (Kalua Pork Recipe)

Yield: 12 Servings

Hawaiian Pulled Pork (Kalua Pork Recipe)

plate of pork and rice

A Hawaiian Luau favorite you can make at home by slow roasting in the oven or in your slow cooker. An easy no effort meal to feed a crowd

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°
  2. Score edges of roast in a criss-cross fashion about ¼" deep.
  3. Pour liquid smoke over the top and rub the smoke over the entire roast.
  4. Season all sides with hawaiian red salt.
  5. Place into a roasting pan, fat side down to start.
  6. Slow roast for 4-5 hours rotating one time.
  7. You will know when the pork is done when you insert a fork and the meat just falls apart.
  8. Shred the meat with a fork. Reserve juices to serve on the side.
  9. Serve with sticky rice and sliced pineapple.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 483Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 176mgSodium: 472mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 52g

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. Please calculate your own nutritional information if you want it exact to what you make and use my calculations as a guide only.

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Amy Nash

Friday 23rd of October 2020

This recipe is SO easy and SO freakin' good! I ended up using leftovers to make nachos the next day and they were delicious!

Katerina | Once a Foodie

Wednesday 21st of October 2020

Ohh, this is such a wonderful recipe - I love kalua pork when I travel to Hawaii. I've never thought to make it at home but I really should give it a go, it looks so succulent and delicious. Yum!

Rebecca

Tuesday 20th of October 2020

I haven't made Kalua Pork in years, I forgot how good it really is. It's one of my most favorite dishes when visiting Hawaii too!

Brandi Burgess

Monday 19th of October 2020

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a while! We LOVE pork at our house! I am adding it to our menu next week!

Nicole Johnson

Monday 19th of October 2020

I had no idea that kalua pork wasn't kahlua pork and directly related to the brand!! This looks amazing. Great work!

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