Freezer Friendly, Meals

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Nearly eight years ago, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Hawaii, splitting the week between Lahaina and Hana on Maui. It was an amazing time — there were were, so young (barely 24! Actually, I was still 23), so carefree, giddily and newly married, with nothing on our agendas except to eat, drink, sleep, take in our beautiful surroundings and enjoy each other’s company. 😉 We sampled a nice variety of Hawaiian cuisine while we were there, and one of our favorite dishes was kalua pork. I’m sure that’s an extremely touristy thing to say, but, well, you can’t really go wrong with slow-roasted pork. (Plus, if made traditionally, it’s cooked in an underground oven! How cool is that?!)

For our first anniversary, Johnny surprised me by making a Dutch oven version of kalua pork, mixing up some fruity cocktails, setting a pineapple on our tiny two-person dining table and otherwise trying his best to bring a touch of Hawaii into our 700-square-foot NYC apartment (actually, that’s pretty big by Manhattan standards!). Suffice to say that I’ll always have a soft spot for kalua pork, but I actually haven’t had it since our first anniversary. A few days ago, when I was browsing Skinnytaste (one of my new favorite food blogs!) for dinner ideas, I came across her crock pot kalua pork recipe, and I decided to try it. The ingredient list is only three items long, and although it takes 16 hours to cook, the crock pot would do all the work. I figured there was nothing to lose.

Well, folks, I am here to report that this is, hands down, among the top five items I’ve ever cooked. I know I’m prone to hyperbole, and the truth is, I’ve met few foods I didn’t like, but by God, I followed the original recipe’s cue of serving it in lettuce leaves with some hoisin on top, and I also made some pineapple fried rice to go with it. But what I really wanted to do was just eat all three pounds of kalua pork by myself. (Don’t worry, I didn’t. I stuck with a 4-ounce serving size, which, by the way, is only 161 calories. Yes, it’s true. It’s figure-friendly and supremely scrumptious.) Until I can install an underground oven in my own kitchen, I’ll be turning to this recipe time and again.

Slow cooker kalua pork -- so good, especially when served with pineapple fried rice

One last thing before the recipe: This dish is so versatile. You can have it with rice, you can have it in a lettuce wrap, you can make sandwiches with it (imagine it on Hawaiian rolls … mmm!), you could even fill tacos with it (bit of a fusion thing going on!). I think this would make an excellent main dish for your Easter buffet — it’s a nice alternative to the usual ham. Just set out some rolls, some Asian-inspired sides, a couple of egg dishes, and you’re set. (Yes, I’m already obsessed with Easter-related food!) If you have leftovers, they’ll store well in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer, sealed well in a freezer bag, for a longer period of time. OK, enough chatting; let’s get on with it!

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork, courtesy of Skinnytaste

Makes 8 4-oz servings


  • 3 pound pork shoulder roast, all fat trimmed off
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (found near the bbq sauces in the grocery store)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • Lettuce leaves and hoisin sauce for serving (optional)


Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears, trim the fat off of the shoulder roast. There was a 1/4-inch layer on mine, but it was easy to remove. You don’t have to be obsessive about it — there’s bound to be some left; you can get rid of it easily during the shredding step.

Once the fat is trimmed, stab the roast all over with the tip of a knife. (This was strangely satisfying. ;)) Set the roast in the slow cooker, then rub the roast with the salt. Pour the liquid smoke slowly over the roast. Then, put the lid on the slow cooker, and set it to cook on low for 16 hours. If your slow cooker doesn’t go up to 16 hours, just set it for eight hours (or overnight), then set it for the remainder of the time in the morning. Try not to drool as the smell of delicious roast pork fills your house.

Perhaps not the most appetizing picture, but this is what the roast looks like after 16 hours in the crock pot

When the pork is done, transfer it onto a platter.

Transfer the roast to a large platter so you can shred it. The meat is extremely tender and moist!

Using two forks, shred the pork. Believe me, after 16 hours, it won’t take long to shred! If necessary, moisten the pork with some of the cooking liquid (I used maybe 3 tablespoons; the meat was already very moist).

Shredded kalua pork, aka platter of awesomeness

And there you have it! Easy-peasy kalua pork, ready to serve with whatever sides you like. I do recommend wrapping it in butter lettuce leaves (romaine would work well, too) with just a smidge of hoisin sauce — delish!

About Saucy Mommy

I'm Beverly, a mom of two who loves to cook and write. Check out my blog at for family-friendly (but tasty) meal ideas and pictures of bento box lunches.


8 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

  1. I’m so glad you tried this recipe. I’ve been very curious about it, but was not sure how it would turn out given that there’s so little seasoning, liquid, etc. Will have to try this very soon!

    Posted by Marci | February 8, 2012, 10:38 am
  2. Yummm love Kalua pork! Can’t believe you haven’t had any since back then! There are a lot of places to get Kalua pork in the South Bay!

    Posted by Kanako | February 8, 2012, 11:53 am
  3. i cant’ wait to try this! just big is your crockpot? i have a 7 quart one that i’m thinking about returning cuz it’s just so big…

    Posted by Lana | February 8, 2012, 4:52 pm
  4. this looks amazing! Bev do you have any recommendations for a particular type of cooker or what to look for when getting one (have been thinking about it for awhile)
    🙂 Amy

    Posted by Amy Dennis | February 10, 2012, 8:55 pm
    • Amy, thank you! I’d recommend a cooker that’s wider than it is tall, so that you can get a roast in it (I also feel like it promotes more even cooking). A “warm” function might be helpful, too, so that it keeps the food warm if the time’s up while you’re at work. Have fun shopping! Mine is an all-clad (wedding gift from Marci and Ed!) and is awesome, even 7.5 years later. 🙂

      Posted by Saucy Mommy | February 11, 2012, 5:28 pm
  5. Made this last night and it was a hit! Thanks!

    Posted by Amy D | September 26, 2012, 4:57 pm

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