Crock Pot Kalua Pig

23 Feb

NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Kalua pig is one of Hawaii’s best-known dishes, and easily replicated at home. Traditionally, an entire pig is placed in an underground pit (“imu” in Hawaiian) that is lined with hot rocks and wrapped in banana leaves, then covered with a layer of soil and roasted overnight. Since we don’t have room in our back yard for an imu, nor access to a suckling pig and banana leaves, nor the desire to go through such a hassle, we just use a crock pot or french oven.

This recipe calls for about 6 lbs of pork butt, which is actually the upper half of a pig’s shoulder (the lower half is called the picnic cut, which can also be used). Pork butt is also often called a Boston butt or roast. You can also find the cut simply labeled as “pork shoulder”. Basically, any cut that’s labeled picnic, butt, shoulder or Boston should be fine.

5-7 lb. pork shoulder, butt, Boston butt, or picnic shoulder
1 tbsp coarse sea salt (black sea salt is preferred but not necessary)
1 tbsp liquid smoke (I prefer Wright’s or Colgin, both are Paleo-friendly)

When choosing your pork shoulder, look for something that has skin and bone attached; they will yield much more flavor.

In either a crock pot or Dutch oven, place the pork butt and pour the sea salt and liquid smoke on top. Cover and cook on low for 14 hours. Flip it over halfway through.

Pull out the pork pieces with some tongs and set them aside, and then pour the liquid and fat into a container. Next, place the pork pieces in a skillet (or return them to your french oven if you used one) and gently shred using the tongs; be careful not to over-shred. Pour about half of the liquid back into the pork while you’re shredding it.

This recipe yields enough meat for six hungry people. We usually have one big meal for two and then fill two quart-sized plastic bags for freezing.

Also, you can reuse the extra liquid. The fat can be separated and used as lard, and the liquid makes a great gravy base or pan sauce to pour over any pork roast.

Additionally, leftover kalua pig is often mixed with head cabbage for leftovers. It brings a new texture to the meat and reinvigorates the dish. To do so, reheat the cold pig in a covered pan on medium heat for about five minutes, adding chopped cabbage and a little water for an additional five minutes.

25 Responses to “Crock Pot Kalua Pig”

  1. Michelle March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Ok we are trying the pork out tonight!!! My bf’s mom lives on the big island between Hilo and Puna so he is familiar with all of the recipes on your blog and we are excited to see them!!! What is a traditional side dish that i could make to serve with the pork?
    The only change I am making it I am cooking it in an Electric pressure cooker. I am slightly frightened that it will mess it up but we are going to give it a shot. My mom gave it to me and most of the buttons are in korean so cross your fingers!!

    • Russ Crandall March 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      HI Michelle,
      Kalua pig is often mixed with cabbage (head or won bok). To do this, cut up the cabbage into strips and add it to the finished/pulled pork about 20 minutes before serving. Traditionally, it’s served with other Hawaiian dishes like poi and lomi lomi salmon. In modern-day Hawaii it’s served with white rice and mac salad. We usually eat it with white rice and steamed broccoli. Hope that helps!

  2. Michelle March 10, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Jake had one word fr dinner last night, amazing!!!! The pork was spot on!! Thanks so much for the tips!!

  3. Pamela Wampler August 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    At a recent pig-in at work my husband Jake tasted this and immediately came home and told me about it. I have had this site bookmarked ever since and finally made the Kalua Pig tonight. It was awesome! We had it with a Hawaiian slaw I found the recipe for. I am hoping we keep power during the Irene because we REALLY want to eat those tasty leftovers :) Thanks for the recipe!

    • Russ Crandall August 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

      Glad you liked it! Always happy to help out the Wampler family :)

  4. Amanda January 18, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    OMG this is sooooo good. I just had it for supper tonight. I only used a 4.4 lb Boston butt that had a bone in it, but I still used 1 tbsp of salt (red Hawaiian instead of black) and 1 tbsp of Colgin liquid smoke and it tastes like it is seasoned very well. Pork and cabbage are two of my favorite flavor combinations, I think this just might be my new favorite way to combine them!! :-)

  5. cat @ February 11, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    Yum! I kind of hate my crock pot. I’ve dried out the past 3 things I’ve put into it. I bet it could handle low heat! I <3 pork shoulder. The simplicity is especially appealing. (I always over do things.)

    • Russ Crandall February 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

      Thanks Cat. We rarely use our crock pot as well, it’s almost exclusively a “kalua pig machine”!

  6. Michelle Pauling June 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    could there be anything simpler or more delicious?? plop into the crock pot with salt and liquid smoke, out comes heaven. this was so good! got some burger buns, sliced cabbage, pineapple and make the slaw for pulled pork sandwiches, hawaiian style (if I can say that…I’m not hawaiian) – thanks for the recipe – it is going in my permanent cookbook of favorites! the only thing I’ll change next time is add a little more smoke – you could taste it and it was delicious, but I want to see how it goes with a little more – DELICIOUS!

  7. berquj January 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Do you add any liquid into the pot in the beginning?

  8. Nancy March 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Absolutely delicious, and so easy. The meat was meltingly tender and flavorful.

  9. Calliope January 10, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    I put this in my slow cooker this morning, I used lava salt, which i dont know if its the same as black sea salt, but its black LOL turned everything kinda grey haha hopefully it doesnt stay that way. I didnthave liquid smoke so threw in a few pieces of hickory smoked bacon too

  10. Jackie May 14, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    I made this tonight from your cookbook and have to say, it was delish (like all the ones I have tried)! You have made going gluten free/PHD easy and tasty! Thank you!

  11. Jen @ Honeychick Homestead June 1, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe! I was bored with my same old pork shoulder recipes, can’t wait to make this.


  1. Pulled Pork « The Domestic Man - April 22, 2011

    […] pulled pork recipe is very similar to my kalua pig recipe but with less salt and liquid smoke (and BBQ sauce). Like most slow-cooked meats, I think that less […]

  2. An Addition To My Kalua Pig Recipe « The Domestic Man - November 2, 2011

    […] not sure why I didn’t mention this in my original kalua pig recipe, but we often add head cabbage to the pig when reheating it for leftovers. This is a common use for […]

  3. Sweet Potato Poi (Poi ‘Uala) « The Domestic Man - February 7, 2012

    […] Poi is a Polynesian staple food, typically made with mashed taro root. However, it’s a little-known fact that the Hawaiian people also made poi from sweet potato and breadfruit. Given the fact that taro root is relatively hard to come by here in Maryland, we regularly make sweet potato poi to stave off our Hawaiian-food cravings. To bring in a little extra island flavor, I add a little coconut milk to the poi, which gives it a taste similar to haupia (a Hawaiian coconut dessert). Its creamy texture and sweet taste are perfect accompaniments to my kalua pig recipe. […]

  4. Venezuelan Corn Cakes (Arepas) « The Domestic Man - June 5, 2012

    […] the heck you want inside. Meat, cheese, veggies, whatever. It went perfectly with some leftover kalua pig, like in the picture at the top. I also had some cold chicken and sauerkraut with one recently, and […]

  5. 144 of the Best Paleo Crock Pot Recipes - September 25, 2014

    […] 24. Crockpot Kalua Pig […]

  6. home grindz: Kalua Pork - stilettos to snatches - October 8, 2014

    […] comes from Nom Nom Paleo, but I’ve also adapted a few things from The Domestic Man’s version such as the inclusion of the liquid smoke if I’m fresh out of bacon. But, to be perfectly […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64,426 other followers

%d bloggers like this: