Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker

Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker

Background and History

Kalua pig is a traditional Hawaiian dish, typically cooked in an underground oven called an imu. The imu cooking method involves wrapping a whole pig in banana leaves and burying it with hot coals, resulting in tender, smoky meat. Today, Kalua pig is commonly prepared using a slow cooker or oven, still retaining its rich flavor and cultural significance in Hawaiian cuisine.


4-5 pound pork shoulder or pork butt roast

2 tablespoons liquid smoke

2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt (or substitute kosher salt)

4-6 banana leaves (optional, for authenticity)

1 onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

Optional: additional salt to taste



Preparation Time

10 minutes

Cooking Time

10-12 hours on low heat


Rinse the pork shoulder or pork butt roast under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Rub the entire surface of the meat with liquid smoke and Hawaiian sea salt (or kosher salt).

If using banana leaves, line the bottom and sides of the slow cooker with them, allowing excess leaves to drape over the edges.

Place the sliced onions and minced garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Put the seasoned pork roast on top of the onions and garlic.

Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or until the meat is tender and easily shreds with a fork.

Once cooked, remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks.

Serve the Kalua pig hot with steamed rice or alongside traditional Hawaiian sides like macaroni salad or poi.

Nutrition Facts

(Per Serving)

Calories: 350 kcal

Total Fat: 25g

Cholesterol: 90mg

Sodium: 800mg

Total Carbohydrates: 2g

Protein: 28g


Liquid smoke is essential for replicating the smoky flavor of traditional Kalua pig. However, if you prefer, you can omit it or substitute with smoked paprika for a similar effect.

Banana leaves add authenticity to the dish and can be found in the frozen section of some grocery stores or at Asian or Latin markets.

Leftover Kalua pig can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days and reheated for additional meals.

Allergy Warning

This recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free.

Ensure the liquid smoke used does not contain any allergens specific to your dietary restrictions.

Be mindful of any allergies to ingredients such as garlic or onion.

Fitzroy Neville
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