Kalua Pork

Grab your slow cooker and make some Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork for dinner. The bold, smoky flavor paired with my broccoli slaw is a match made in paradise!

Love pork? Be sure to try our Instant Pot pulled pork for a flavorful dinner. Or give our easy baked pork chops a try next!

Chunks of tender kalua pork on a white plate with bbq sauce, hawaiian slaw, and fresh pineapple.

What is Kalua Pork?

Kalua Pork (or often times called Kalua Pig) is a Hawaiian staple.

Traditionally, Kalua Pork is made in a large pit in the ground. The pig is covered in banana leaves and cooked for hours and hours. The result is a tender, smoky shredded pork.

Obviously, I’m not digging a pit in my backyard, but after a quick search on google, it appears the modern way to make this (or should I say the “mainland” way to make this) is to use liquid smoke during the cooking process.

I love the smoky flavor it gives meat!

I make shredded pork often in my slow cooker. It’s such an easy dinner idea. 

However, it never occurred to me to add that liquid smoke. What a difference in flavor it gives to the pork.

Deep, hearty, bold, smoky flavor. And don’t be shy on the salt either. I wish I had some pink Hawaiian sea salt…but I just used a very coarse sea salt instead, that I found at my local grocery store. Coarse, you guys. Don’t be putting 2 Tbsp of table salt on your pork. Got it?

Kalua pork on a dinner plate with slaw and pineapple.

Ingredient Notes

The components of Kalua pork are simple. It’s all about showcasing the smoky flavor of the pork.

  • Boston Butt Pork Roast – This is the portion of shoulder meat with the highest fat, making it ideal for the long slow roasting process.
  • Coarse Salt like sea salt or Hawaiian salt is sprinkled over the pork butt before cooking.
  • Liquid smoke gives the pork the smokiness of pit cooking with no fire, coals or banana leaves required.

To make the side slaw, you’ll toss together a bag of broccoli slaw with crushed pineapple, a little olive oil, red wine vinegar and sugar. The fresh flavors pair beautifully with the hearty kalua pork.

Tips and Tricks

  • Cook on low: The longer the pork has to cook, the more tender and juicy it will be. We let it cook for a full 9 hours to get the perfect fall-apart consistency.
  • Serving: This Kalua Pork can be served as small chunks or shredded if you plan to eat it on a sandwich. It’s tasty both ways.
  • Refrigerate the slaw: Just like the pork, the broccoli slaw needs a few hours for the flavors to combine and reach their full potential of flavor. I recommend making the slaw right after you add the pork to the slow cooker, then letting it chill in the fridge while the pork cooks.
This sweet vinegar Broccoli Slaw is the perfect pairing to your meal. Serve with my favorite shredded Kalua Pork!

What to Serve with Pulled Pork

And today, it’s a double whammy recipe. It’s like you hit the bonus prize.

Because I’ve also got an easy broccoli slaw recipe that tastes amazing with this pork. Either serve it on the side, or pile it high on your Hawaiian Pizza!

You could totally opt for a classic Coleslaw recipe, however, the fresh citrus of this broccoli slaw takes you to a tropical location! Or try our delicious copycat kfc coleslaw recipe!

And unlike broccoli salad, today’s slaw recipe is shredded and tangy!

As for the bbq sauce, this one is your call. I like to choose ones that are sweet and have a spicy vinegar flavor to it.

Pairs very nicely with this pork (without overpowering the smoky flavor). Admittedly, this Kalua Pork is also amazing with NO sauce. Fork tender and delicious.

Recipe FAQs

What is liquid smoke?

Liquid smoke is a natural flavoring made by condensing smoke into a liquid. The vapor produced by burning wood is cooled, condensed and distilled into a concentrate that’s used to add a smoky taste to food without needing to cook it in a fire pit or smoker.
You can often find liquid smoke in the grocery store near the BBQ sauces.

Is Boston butt the same as pork butt?

Yes, boston butt and pork butt are two names for the same cut of pork. It’s the meatiest portion of a pigs shoulder that’s ideal for the slow cooking method in this kalua pork recipe.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover pork should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy the leftovers reheated within 3 – 4 days.

More Delicious Dinner Recipes

Yield: serves 8-10

Kalua Pork

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 5 minutes

Grab your slow cooker and make some Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork for dinner. The bold, smoky flavor paired with my broccoli slaw is a match made in paradise!


For the pork:

  • 5 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast
  • 2 Tablespoons coarse sea salt (or Hawaiian sea salt)
  • 3 Tablespoons hickory liquid smoke**

For the broccoli slaw:

  • 12 ounce package of fresh broccoli slaw mix
  • ½ cup crushed pineapple (from a can, no liquid)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar


For the Pork:

  1. Place pork in a large crockpot. Sprinkle generously with the coarse sea salt. Drizzle the liquid smoke over the pork. Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours.
  2. When pork is fully cooked, shred into large chunks and serve hot. If making a sandwich, you can shred the pork a little smaller. We like to eat the pork in large chunks the first day and make sandwiches with the leftovers.

For the Broccoli Slaw:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and sugar.
  2. Place broccoli slaw mix (found in the bagged salad section of the grocery store) in a medium bowl. Add crushed pineapple. Drizzle with dressing. Stir until combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour (more is better)!
  3. Serve slaw on the side with the pork. Or add it on top of your sandwich!


**I found the liquid smoke in the grocery store aisle next to the bbq sauces**

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 664Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 195mgSodium: 1442mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 53g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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This Slow Cooker Kalua Pork recipe is a vatiation on the Hawaiian luau staple you can make at home!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on June 24, 2015

Comments & Reviews

  1. Admittedly, I haven’t made this recipe yet, the amount of liquid smoke in the recipe strikes me a potentially way too much. However, since I haven’t made this recipe yet, I would just add a cautionary note for those unfamiliar with using liquid smoke. It is possible to get too much. I’d start with a teaspoon, and progressively add a little bit more, to taste. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out once you’ve added it. In my experience, too much can give whatever you are preparing a chemical taste. A little goes a long way!

    1. I would say since you haven’t tried it, no need to give advice, haha. The amount is perfect to achieve that smoked pork flavor!

  2. In Hawaii they line the crock pot with banana leaves , add 2 cups of chicken broth and yes red Hawaiian salt. Low and slow for 16 to 18 hrs. I usually put it on at night, flip it over the next morning and then let it go til about 3 pm. Shred put back in broth. In Hawaii they taught me to eat it with rice on the bottom, steamed veggies and then broth over the top, this is eaten in a bowl.

  3. YUUUUUUM, I love making Kalua pork, it’s so dang easy! I love how you paired it with slaw though, I normally pair mine with a pasta salad type recipe. But still, this looks amazing!

  4. Ok, so I had a funny mental image of you digging a hole in your backyard. LOL!  I never thought about adding liquid smoke to crockpot meat…that’s awesome!  And that slaw looks and sounds amazing too!  

  5. I’ve never had kahlua pork before but man does it look good! I love the idea of serving it alongside this tangy slaw! 

  6. Awww you so miss Hawaii huh? I’ve wanted to try out liquid smoke, but have been scared. Glad you used it before me. Now I know its gonna be good. Delicious recipe too! 🙂 

  7. This looks fantastic! I love Hawaii…the first time we went my husband said never again on the plane over because the ride was so long. But he loved it so much we have been there 3 times now. LOL I’m trying this…if I can’t be there, it’s the next best thing! Can’t wait to try it! 

    1. Yes, the plane, ugh. took us 9 hours! And I hate flying. MY kids were troopers though. And I definitely will be back there…it was so magical 🙂

  8. Now I want to go back to Hawaii! I made the mistake of adding TBSPs of regular table salt to my crockpot Kalua Pork before, and it was way too salty! I will never do that again. Oh, and if you ever dig a hole in your backyard to make a real Kalua Pork, let me know because I’m inviting myself over. I’ll bring the Haupia. 😉

  9. I love using liquid smoke in my slow cooker! It adds the best flavor to meat. Pinning this for later!

  10. I can’t wait to try your trick for smokey flavor in the slow cooker! and I love Kalua-Pork.

  11. Love the idea of getting that smoky flavor in the slow cooker — so smart! And thanks for the rec on the Ninja — I’ve been wondering about that one. 

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