Kalua Pork Recipe

Kālua is a traditional Hawaiian style of cooking that involves an imu, which is a type of underground oven. This is the traditional “pig roast” that you see during luau feasts where the pig is placed in the ground and roasted. It has gained great popularity with tourists who visit the area, and you can now see pigs being cooked in the ground all over the US and other parts of the world.

This recipe comes from the traditional Kālua Pig that is served in Hawaii, but has been simplified to make it easier than putting a whole hog into the ground and cooking it for several hours. Here, we use the pressure cooker to cook the meat quickly and also make it fork tender.

There are many variations of this recipe on the web, and I recommend you treat it more as a guide than a recipe. Add to it and make it your own. We have several modifications that we will do that changes the meal completely. This is one of the most versatile recipes you will find for pork, and I have never served it to anyone who didn’t fall in love with it.


Kalua Pork


  • 1 Boneless Pork butt roast about 5 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium head of cabbage sliced


  • Chop your pork butt roast into small pieces, removing any large pieces of fat as you go along.
    Pork and Cabbage Chopped
  • In a small bowl, mix the salt and paprika together, making sure to mix them with a crushing action to release the flavor of the paprika.
    spices mixed
  • Coat the pork pieces with the seasoning and rub it into the meat. Place the seasoned pork into the pressure cooker and add the water.
    meat seasoned and into cooker with water
  • Secure the lid and select Manual from the settings. Adjust the timer to 60 minutes. Once finished cooking, allow the pressure to release on its own.
  • Once the pressure has released, remove the pork from the pot and place it into a bowl. Shred the pork and cover with a towel or lid to keep it warm.
    pork after being removed from cooker
  • Add the sliced cabbage into the pressure cooker and stir to coat.
  • Set the cooker to manual and set the timer for 4 minutes. When done, allow the pressure to release on its own.

You can mix the cabbage with the pork or you can serve them side by side.

kalua pork

Tips and Variations

My favorite way to serve this dish is side by side with some jasmine or basmati rice and chopped pineapple. You can drizzle some pineapple juice and extra salt into your rice as you fluff it for a really great flavor.

You can add some of the traditional smoky flavor to the meat by using Liquid Smoke. I generally add between ½ to 1 teaspoon, but adjust to your taste.

The traditional dish is made with Alaea salt, which is sometimes referred to as Hawaiian red salt. The salt is coarse sea salt that has been mixed with volcanic clay that is rich in iron oxide. It imparts its own flavor, and is worth the try if you can find the salt. While it is available at some international food stores, it can be pricey. Here is a link to some on Amazon.

You can use the Kalua pork to make a tasty fried rice. Just use some cooked rice, soy sauce, pineapple juice, diced carrots, and pineapple tidbits, onion, and bell pepper. This is a great way to use up the leftover pork.

Another great leftover use is to crisp up the pork with a little butter in a skillet, and them add it to warm tortillas. I also do this with eggs for breakfast, and it is fantastic.


If you like pork I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try. It is so versatile that you can use it as a base for many dishes, and it always comes out delicious.

Let us know in the comments if you have tried this recipe or others for Kalua pork, and feel free to share and tips or variations you have tried as well. And be sure to pin it on Pinterest too, so you can try it out later!

kalua pork recipe pinterest image

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