Slow Cooker Kalua Pork with Sweet Chili Pineapple Sauce
Dreaming of a trip to Hawaii? This Slow Cooker Kalua Pork recipe can, at least, take your taste buds there. Perfectly seasoned with just two ingredients and so tender it will melt in your mouth. Serve it with an easy Sweet Chili Pineapple Sauce and have your own luau at home.
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Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
Can’t get to Hawaii anytime soon? Me neither. And whether we’re not able to travel for a few weeks or a few years, I still enjoy the fresh, tropical flavors of Hawaiian cuisine. Everything thing I love is either fruity or pork-y. And this Kalua Pork recipe is one of my favorite authentic Hawaiian foods I’ve ever tried.
It’s super easy to make, too! Just a few minutes of hands on time and you have a tender, melt-in-your-mouth Slow Cooker Kalua Pork that tastes just like your favorite luau buffet. It’s really impressive, too….and makes a tons so it’s fantastic for summer cookouts and tailgates.
What is Kalua Pork?
Kalua Pork, or Kalua Pig, is a tender, juicy pork that’s cooked in an underground pit called an Imu.
An Imu is a 2- 4 foot deep pit dug and filled with kindling and rock, often made of lava rock or basalt, and set on fire. It takes several hours for the kindling to turn to coal and the stones to get to an even heat so they’re ready to cook the pig. Then, tropical leaves are placed on top of the stones to steam cook the pig.
Hawaiians traditionally use anything from coconut palm fronds to grasses, ti leaves or banana leaves to cover the pig.
A whole pig is then placed on top of the leaves, covered with more leaves or greens before the dirt that was dug out of the pit is used to cover it completely to keep the heat in. It’s cooked for approximately 8 hours depending on the size of the pig.
For this version, we’re using a slow cooker. You get, just about, the same great flavor without having to dig out a big pit in the backyard. This is more of an oven Kalua pork recipe than a traditional Kalua Pig recipe….but the flavor is just as phenomenal.
The smoke flavoring in a traditional kalua pig is from the underground cooking but we duplicate that same flavor in the crockpot with Liquid Smoke. It’s kind of my secret weapon in smoking without actually using a smoker.
The name “kālua pork” has been used by Hawaiian cook Sam Choy to describe pork shoulder butt that’s rubbed with sea salt, wrapped in ti leaves, and slowly cooked in an oven using liquid smoke rather than an imu.
How To Make It
You’re prep time for making Kalua Pork includes….stabbing the meat violently with a fork to work off any stress you may be experiencing.
Perfect start to the day, if I do say so myself. Great pre-office workout. And then dousing the pork with liquid smoke (if you’re sensitive to MSG…there are brands that are free of MSG, just read the label) and smothering the pork in Hawaiian sea salt. It will look like a lot…..it’s not. Don’t hold back.
Then turn on your slow cooker for 10 hours….yes, 10….on low. Go about your day and don’t peek. Ever.
After 10 hours, you can shred the pork with two forks and leave it in the slow cooker with the broth. (Before shredding, I skim off some of the fat…you can skip this step if you wish.)
Whisk all the Sweet Chili Pineapple sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Wrap, taco style, in bibb lettuce leaves for a low carb meal.
What To Serve It With
We like to serve our pork along with a big pile of rice and in lettuce leaves. If you’re looking for a few more things to round out your Hawaiian feast, you may also want to add this easy Kani Salad….it’s fresh, easy and fabulous.
If you don’t want to use the sweet chili sauce, we love serving it with our favorite teriyaki sauce, too!
And if you’re not feeling like waiting for your Hawaiian dinner in the slow cooker….we also love this simple Huli Huli Chicken with a side of Mac salad. It’s ready in a fraction of the time but it’s equally delicious.
Finish up your homemade luau with a slice of Haupia Pie! It’s so coconut-y and chocolate-y and perfect.
Looking for even more easy slow cooker pork recipes, you have to try these family favorites!
- Philly Style Roast Pork Sandwich…the real deal!
- Slow Cooker Pork Loin Roast in Honey Garlic Sauce
- Slow Cooked Pork and Sauerkraut with apples and fennel
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Kalua Pork with Sweet Chili Pineapple Sauce
- 1 - 8 lb bone in Boston Butt Pork Roast
- 4 tablespoons liquid smoke
- 5 tablespoons pink hawaiian sea salt or regular sea salt
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 5 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
- 5 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- Place the pork, fat side up, in the slow cooker. Using a fork, pierce the roast all over and pour the liquid smoke over it to coat. Sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the roast and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours (the roast is done when the meat begins to fall apart when shredded with a fork.)
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the pineapple juice, rice vinegar, honey, chili sauce and hoisin sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook the sauce until reduced by half stirring with a heat resistant spatula frequently. Set aside.
- When the roast is done, transfer to a cutting board and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded meat back to the slow cooker and serve immediately with the sauce.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and frozen for up to 2 months.