Easy Hawaiian Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
I feel like I should apologize. 1) For holding out with the recipe for so long and, 2) for giving the recipe that will make you crave slow cooker Kalua Pork. I mean CRAVE it. Part of the reason is that I didn’t want everyone to know how easy it is. This slow cooker kalua pork tastes like you worked on it for hours, but honestly, your slow cooker does all the work.
It all started from a trip to Maui and then another trip and another. Each time we went, we would go to a few of the local favorite restaurants and our go to lunch once a week was Kalua Pork. It is served as a HUGE plate of pork, with a healthy serving of rice and some sauteed cabbage. We would pour a little soy sauce over the top and have really happy bellies.
Our trips were always during February or March and by September, it all felt like a distant memory – because it was. However, I wanted to bring that taste back to our tongues. If I couldn’t bring the warmth of the island back, at least I could bring the taste, right?
After playing with the recipe, I knew I had it. Well, at least the quick(er) version. What I mean by that is that you don’t have to dig an imu (Hawaiian pit with coals) to make this pork, but do not be mistaken. This is delicious, but the Kalua Pork made using an imu is AMAZING. Throw your shovel aside and go for “really good”. Head to Hawaii for the real deal.
This makes a LOT of pork, which is also why it is one of my favorite slow cooker dishes. Here are some others:
- Cook once, eat three times.
- 10 minutes prep
- Enough food for a crowd.
- People are going to think you labored over this. (That can be our little secret.) Friends request this all of the time.
Three different ways to enjoy your Kalua Pork
Night 1: Traditional
Straight up pork, with sauteed cabbage and rice. After you finish using your fry pan for the Kalua Pork *magic* (more on that in a minute), add half a cup of water to the hot skillet and a head of sliced cabbage. Sautee until it is ready to serve. In our house, this version takes on many forms. Some of us like nice tidy piles of each on our plate…
…others. Well, they really love it and mound it all up!
I like to call this the post-soccer practice food coma. Yes, he ate it all. Actually, he put a small portion away and then ate that and more. Growing, active boys, but at least he’s grateful for a full plate of food.
Night 2: Tostadas
Warm up the pork and add refried beans, avocado, sour cream, tomatoes, salsa, Tapatio hot sauce, olives, lettuce (I can’t stand hot lettuce, so you won’t see it on our table) and tostada shells. This self-serve dinner is SO fast and it makes them happy. Want proof?
I know. It just looks like a hot mess. Mine was much tidier – just sayin’.
Night 3: Fried Rice
If we make it to Night 3, I can usually add leftover rice, some veggies and the remaining pork into our skillet with a little toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. At the end, I will scramble in 2 eggs by making a hole in the middle of the rice in the pan, add a tablespoon of oil and then I drop the eggs in there when it’s all hot and scramble them up. Top with chives and sesame seeds and BOOM, you have Night 3.
- Use a gluten-free soy sauce, like Bragg’s Amino Acids
- Make sure your liquid smoke is gluten-free. We prefer Stubbs.
Now that I have convinced you to make it, here’s the recipe:
Hawaiian Slow Cooker Kalua Pork
This is an easy way to bring the taste of Hawaii to your table and to cook once for up to 3 meals.
For the Slow Cooker
- 1 large onion sliced
- 6 lb pork butt or shoulder
- 1 tbsp coarse salt kosher or Hawaiian
- 1 tbsp Liquid Smoke Stubbs is GF
For the Skillet
- 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp coarse salt
Getting it into the Slow Cooker
Slice onion and place in the bottom of your slow cooker.
Pat pork dry with a paper towel and then rub it down with the salt. Place it into the slow cooker.
Pour liquid smoke over the top of the meat.
Cover and cook on low for at least 6 hours and up to 8.
After it is Cooked
Get your largest skillet and heat it up on high on your stove top.
Carefully pull pork pieces from your slow cooker and add to the hot skillet. After all of the pork is in the skillet, pour the juices and onion from the slow cooker over the pork and gently shred the pork. Add the soy sauce and salt to taste. Reduce. Lower heat to medium.
Start to scrape the bottom of the skillet. This is where the awesome crispy bits live.
Once it is fully reduced and the meat has "fried up" a bit, remove it from the skillet to a serving dish.
If your skillet looks like this, do not waste it! Throw a little chicken or veggie broth in there and deglaze that pan. Pour the remains over your pork. Another option is to add some sliced cabbage during the deglazing process, you won't regret it!
Here’s a little Hawaiian music for you while you get this going: