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Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

This Kalua Pork is a tender, smoky, and hugely flavorful Hawaiian dish made using only 5 ingredients. It’s perfect for weekly meal prep.

A plate of Hawaiian Kahlua pork over white rice, garnished with red cabbage, carrots, and a side of green lettuce.
Smoky, tender, flavorful Kalua Pork that’s ideal for weekly meal prepping.

What is Kalua pork?

Kalua pork is a popular Hawaiian luau-style pork dish. The term “kālua” refers to food that’s been cooked in an underground oven, or “from the pit” in the Hawaiian language. It does not contain any liquor. It’s smoky, tender, and incredibly flavorful. In Hawaii, this dish is commonly served with rice.

Why This Recipe Stands Out

Here is why this recipe works:

  • 5-Ingredients: You’ll only need a handful of basic pantry ingredients, all easily found at major grocery stores.
  • Tender and Flavorful: This dish is fork-tender and bursting with savory flavors, similar to our favorite Pulled Pork recipe.
  • Meal Prep and Freezer-Friendly: Like our Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa, this recipe freezes beautifully, for future meals.
  • Ideal for Gatherings: This Kalua Pork recipe feeds a crowd, which makes it ideal for parties and gatherings.
  • Goes Well with Everything: Serve this dish with Hawaiian rolls, Jasmine Rice, or Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.

Key Recipe Ingredients

Raw pork shoulder on a wooden cutting board, surrounded by spices, a measuring spoon, and a cup of sauce.
  • Pork – The best cut of pork for this dish is boneless pork butt/shoulder. It’s an ideal cut for slow braising and slow cooking, as it breaks down and becomes tender with a long, slow cooking time.
  • Liquid smoke This is where this Kalua Pork gets all its succulent, smoky flavors. We went into detail about liquid smoke in this post.
  • Coarse sea salt – There’s a big difference in amounts used when it comes to coarse vs. fine salt, so do be sure to use coarse-grained salt. See What Is Kosher salt?
  • Garlic powder – Be sure to use pure garlic powder, and not a blend that might include additional sodium
  • Black pepper – If you aren’t already using whole peppercorns in a pepper grinder, it’s time. You’ll notice a drastic improvement in aroma and flavor immediately.

Substitutions And Variations

Here are some ideas for changing things up:

  • Type of Pork: While this recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder (or pork butt), you can also use a bone-in pork shoulder with equally delicious results. The meat will be so tender, it will fall right off the bone, just like this Smoked Pork Butt.
  • Smoky Seasonings: Add more smoky depth by using a bit of smoked paprika.
A close-up of a Kahlua Pork featuring pulled pork and purple cabbage served over white rice, with a glass of red wine in the background.
The savory flavors of this Kahlua Pork are unbelievable, and it’s freezer-friendly too.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

  1. Dry the pork thoroughly with paper towels. Use a sharp, small knife to pierce the pork all over, making slits about 1/4” deep.
  2. Rub the salt all over the pork. Next, rub the liquid smoke all over the pork. Sprinkle the garlic powder and black pepper.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours, turning the roast over once midway through cooking.
  4. Shred the pork in the slow cooker using forks. Add water or broth to thin out the mixture. Cook on low for 1-2 more hours.

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

This kalua pork recipe makes a generous amount, so it’s perfect for meal prep:

  • Meal Prep: Place cooked Kalua Pork into desired meal prep containers, without any garnishes or condiments. Include all accumulated juices. Serve over the next several days, over Jasmine rice, brown rice, in tortilla wraps, or in buns.
  • Cook and Freeze: Cooked Kalua Pork can also be divided into freezer containers to store in freezer for several weeks.

What to Serve With Kalua Pork


  • Kalua pork is often served over a bed of rice. We recommend trying it with Jasmine rice or brown rice.


  • Turn your kalua pork into a delicious sandwich by serving it on a bun. Hamburger buns, hoagie rolls, and Hawaiian rolls all work well.
  • Turn it into a wrap using some tortillas.

Salads and Greens

  • Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with kalua pork.
  • It’s also great over a bed of greens to really bring out its flavors. You can also use it as a filling for lettuce wraps.
A pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw and red cabbage on a bun, served on a wooden table.
The easy prep and incredible flavors make this Kahulua Pork a go-to recipe for potlucks and gatherings.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is the best cut of pork for Kalua Pork?

The best cut of pork for kalua pork is boneless pork butt or shoulder. It is an ideal cut for slow braising and slow cooking, as it breaks down and becomes tender with a long, slow cooking time.

How do I know when the pork is done?

The pork is done when it is tender and easily shreds with a fork. For this recipe, it will take about 12 hours on low in the slow cooker for the pork to reach this stage.

Can I cook the pork on high in the slow cooker to shorten the cooking time?

We do not recommend cooking the pork on high in the slow cooker, as cooking on low heat is the key to achieving the traditional, flavorful kalua pork.

How long does Kalua Pork keep?

Kalua Pork can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you store it in the freezer, it can last for up to 2-3 months. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container or freezer bag to maintain its flavor.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

A close-up of a Kahlua Pork featuring pulled pork and purple cabbage served over white rice, with a glass of red wine in the background.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

5 from 9 ratings
You won’t believe how easy this Hawaiian style Slow Cooker Kalua Pork is. Just 5 ingredients for this tender, smoky pulled pork. Ideal for meal prep and parties. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 13 hours
Total Time: 13 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: Amy Dong



  • Thoroughly dry pork with paper towels. Use a sharp, small knife to pierce pork all over (about 1/4″ deep slits throughout entire pork.) Place pork in slow cooker.
  • Rub salt all over pork. Rub liquid smoke all over pork, using all the liquid smoke. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and black pepper. Cover and cook on low for 12 hours, turning roast over once midway through cooking.
  • Using forks, shred pork in slow cooker. Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. Add up to 1 cup water or broth as needed to thin out – do not skim the drippings. Cook on low 1-2 more hours.


  • Dry the pork thoroughly before seasoning. This will help the salt, pepper, and garlic powder to stick better and prevents excess water content.
  • Use a sharp, small knife to pierce the pork all over. This allows the flavors of the salt, liquid smoke, and seasonings to penetrate deeply into the meat, giving you a more flavorful dish.
  • You can lightly trim the pork prior to cooking, but be sure to leave some fat on, as it needs enough fat in order to be tender and not dry. 
  • When shredding the pork, leave it in the slow cooker. This allows the meat to reabsorb some of the flavorful juices and become even more tender.
  • Traditionally, kalua pork is slightly saltier than typical roasts, as it’s meant to be eaten with plain white rice. If your pork was pre-injected with a tenderizing salt solution, or if you’re watching sodium intake, decrease salt to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Be sure to use coarse grained salt and not table salt. 
  • Hawaiian Mac Salad is a popular side dish to serve with this recipe. See original article for additional serving suggestions. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.6g | Protein: 49.9g | Fat: 7.7g | Saturated Fat: 2.4g | Cholesterol: 148.7mg | Sodium: 585.5mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 1.2g
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose
Method: Slow Cooker

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Recipe Rating


    • Lauren
    • 5 stars

    This kalua pork was SO good! It was super easy to make and made the perfect start-of-summer sandwiches. Will definitely be making this one again!

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you liked it, Lauren!

    • veenaazmanov
    • 5 stars

    The slow cooker process of making this delicious side dish sounds perfect for a flavorful, soft moist and juicy Pork dish. Quick and easy too.

    • Juyali
    • 5 stars

    I love trying different and unique recipes. This pork was tender, flavorful, and easy!
    The slow cooker made it absolutely delicious.

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you!! 🙂

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