How to Make Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker

Bring a taste of Hawaiian luau to your kitchen with this easy and delicious Kalua Pig recipe, made conveniently in a slow cooker. Traditionally, Kalua Pig is cooked in an underground oven called an imu, which gives it a unique smoky flavor and incredibly tender texture. While we might not have an imu at hand, this slow cooker version captures the essence of the beloved Hawaiian dish with minimal effort. The slow cooking process allows the pork to become exceptionally tender, falling apart with the touch of a fork, all while being infused with a rich, smoky flavor. Perfect for gatherings, potlucks, or a family dinner, this Kalua Pig recipe promises an authentic island feast right at your table.

Why You’ll Love Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker:

  • Effortless Preparation: Just set it in the slow cooker and let it do the work for you.
  • Authentic Flavor: Liquid smoke and sea salt give the pork the traditional Kalua flavor.
  • Versatile Serving Options: Enjoy it in tacos, sandwiches, or alongside your favorite sides.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: Sure to impress guests with its tender texture and rich taste.



Ingredients Notes For Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker:

  • Pork Shoulder: A fatty cut that becomes incredibly tender and flavorful when slow-cooked. Also known as pork butt or Boston butt.
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt: Coarse sea salt is essential for giving the pork its authentic flavor. Hawaiian sea salt (Alaea salt) is traditional, but any coarse sea salt will work.
  • Liquid Smoke: Imparts the smoky flavor that is characteristic of Kalua Pig cooked in an imu.

Recipe Steps:

  1. Prepare the Pork: Pierce the pork shoulder all over with a fork or knife to help the flavors penetrate.
  2. Season: Rub the pork generously with Hawaiian sea salt, then with liquid smoke, ensuring it’s evenly coated.
  3. Slow Cook: Place the seasoned pork in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 16 to 20 hours, or until the pork is exceptionally tender and easily shreds.
  4. Shred and Serve: Remove the pork from the slow cooker, shred it with two forks, removing any excess fat. If desired, you can mix some of the cooking juices back into the shredded pork for added moisture and flavor.
  5. Enjoy: Serve the Kalua Pig hot, with rice, on Hawaiian rolls, or with your favorite sides.

Storage Options:

  • Refrigerate: Store leftover Kalua Pig in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Freeze shredded pork in small batches in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.


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How to Make Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker


  • 56 pounds pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)
  • 11.5 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt (or coarse sea salt)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring
  • Optional: 2-3 banana leaves (if available)


  1. Prepare the Pork:
    • Pierce the pork shoulder all over with a fork or make several cuts with a knife to help the seasoning penetrate deeper into the meat.
  2. Season the Pork:
    • Rub the Hawaiian sea salt evenly all over the pork shoulder. Then, drizzle the liquid smoke over the pork, making sure it’s well-coated.
  3. Optional Banana Leaves Wrap:
    • If using banana leaves, rinse them under water and pat them dry. Lay out the leaves on a clean surface, overlapping them to create a layer large enough to wrap the pork. Place the seasoned pork on the banana leaves and wrap it tightly, tucking in the ends. This step adds an authentic flavor but can be skipped if banana leaves are not available.
  4. Cook in the Slow Cooker:
    • Place the wrapped pork (or just the seasoned pork if not using banana leaves) in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for about 16 to 20 hours, or until the pork is very tender and shreds easily with a fork.
  5. Shred the Pork:
    • Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks, discarding any excess fat. If you cooked the pork in banana leaves, remove and discard the leaves before shredding.
  6. Serve:
    • Skim off any fat from the liquid left in the slow cooker. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and mix it with the juices. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt or liquid smoke if necessary.
    • Serve the Kalua Pig hot with your favorite sides, such as steamed rice, Hawaiian sweet rolls, or alongside a fresh salad.
  • Author: Maria

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