The traditional kalua pork and cabbage recipe is a delicious Hawaiian dish that is cooked in an underground oven. With a few modifications, you can make delicious kalua pig at home in your oven or slow cooker.
When our local Hawaiian restaurant closed without any other nearby options, I made it a personal goal to learn how to cook some of my favorite Hawaiian food. One of them being a kalua pig plate lunch.
You can make just the pork portion but I do like to add some cabbage and onions for a bit of flavor variety and extra nutrition.
I find it pretty amazing that just a few simple ingredients can result in what has become my favorite way to cook pork because the flavor is so unbelievable.
Now, this isn’t exactly a traditional Hawaiian kalua pig. I’m not digging out an underground oven in my backyard to cook a whole pig, after all.
But this easy cooking process is the next best thing to have your own personal Hawaiian luau.
- ~5 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast (pork butt) – This cut of pork roast has good fat content that becomes super tender and moist over a longer cook time. You can use boneless for a shorter cook time but bone-in is more flavorful. I don’t recommend using a different cut of pork.
- 1 to 2 tablespoons salt – preferably Hawaiian red salt or Hawaiian smoked sea salt as it has a different mineral content and flavor. This may sound like too much salt but this is a large cut of meat and Hawaiian salt tends to be a larger grain, and thus less salt per tablespoon compared to table salt. It’s also less salty. If you use regular salt (I recommend kosher salt), you may want to cut back a bit as you can always add more after it’s cooked. I used the Hawaiian red salt linked above.
- 1 cup chicken broth or water – broth will add more flavor but try to use low or no sodium as you want the saltiness to come from the Hawaiian salt if possible.
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke – this gives the pork a nice smoky flavor without having to actually cook it over a smoke pit. I’ve only used hickory flavored liquid smoke.
- 2 medium onions, sliced into half moons (optional) – Onions aren’t a traditional ingredient but I do like the flavor it adds.
- 1 head of cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces – Ultimate amount will depend on how large of a roast you have and the ratio of pork to cabbage you like. I use a medium to large head of cabbage for about 5 pounds of pork.
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (optional) – Not a traditional ingredient to add, but, again, I like the flavor it adds.
- Banana leaf (optional) – I have never used banana leaves to make this recipe but they are said to help add more additional flavor to the dish. If you want to give it a try, you want to wrap the pork in the leaves before cooking.
- Garnish ideas: Sliced green onions
- Paper towels or clean kitchen towels – for drying the pork
- Oven-safe Dutch oven or roasting pan – preferably with lid
- Knife – for cutting slits into the pork and chopping the veggies
- Tablespoon measuring spoon
- Tongs – helps to easily shred the pork and move it from the pot to skillet or container
- Airtight container – These are my favorite refrigerator food storage containers
- Ladle – helps to easily add the cooking juices to the pork and cabbage
- Large deep skillet or pot – to cook the pork and cabbage in
- Bowls used in photos for serving
1. Preheat your oven to 225°F. Pat the pork roast dry with paper towels. Trim some of the fat if there is a lot on your roast, but you want to keep a good amount. I personally never trim it.
2. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt on all sides of the roast. You can cut down on the salt if you think it’s too much, but as mentioned above, Hawaiian salt is a bit different. You can always add more salt after cooking before serving.
3. Pour broth or water into the Dutch oven or roasting pan.
4. Place the salted roast into the Dutch oven into the broth.
5. Use a knife to cut slits in the pork. Alternatively, you can use a fork to poke holes but the knife will go deeper. Pour over the 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke.
6. Cover and roast for about 8 to 10 hours until the roast is fall apart tender. The bone should be able to be pulled right out.
7. Shred the pork and moisten with some of the juices. Refrigerate if not immediately making the pork and cabbage.
8. Place some of the juices in a large deep skillet or pot and cook the onions until slightly softened. Add the cabbage and cook until slightly softened. Add the garlic, pulled pork, and more juices if desired and warm through. Taste for seasoning before serving.
Leftover pork should be refrigerated and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Cooking method: Looking for a slow cooker kalua pork recipe? This recipe can easily be made in a Crock Pot. Follow the steps as given, cooking on low for 8 to 10 hours.
I have made this recipe in my Ninja Foodi pressure cooker on the low slow cooker setting with great results.
Also, if you’re looking for just plain kalua pork, you can skip the onion and cabbage part and just serve immediately after shredding.
🍽 Make It A Meal
Want to make this a meal like a Hawaiian lunch plate complete with mac salad? You’ll want to include:
While not a Hawaiian dish, this grilled pineapple recipe makes for a great sweet treat at the end of a meal.
- An approximately 5-pound bone-in pork butt or shoulder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons salt - preferably Hawaiian red salt or Hawaiian sea salt
- 1 cup chicken broth or water
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- 2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons (optional)
- 1 head of cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (optional)
- Banana leaves (optional) - see recipe notes
- Preheat the oven to 225°F. Pat the pork roast dry with paper towels. If there is a ton of fat on the roast, you may want to trim some, but you also want to leave a good amount for flavor.
- Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt on all sides of the roast. Pour 1 cup of chicken broth or water into an oven-safe Dutch oven or roasting pan that will fit your roast.
- Place the pork roast into the broth or water with the fat cap side up. Cut several slits into the top of the roast with a sharp knife or poke with a fork. Pour 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke over the pork so it can seep into the holes.
- Bake in the preheated oven (or in slow cooker on low) for 8 to 10 hours or until tender and easily falls apart. The bone should pull right out. Once the pork is cooked, remove it from the oven and shred it.
- If not immediately using, store shredded kalua pork with some of the juices in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to keep the rest of the juices in a separate container to reheat the pork with to keep it moist and flavorful.
- Otherwise, place a large deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat with a couple of tablespoons of the pork juices. Add the onions if using and cook until slightly softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chopped head of cabbage and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the cabbage is tender, stirring every minute or so. Add in the 4 chopped garlic cloves if using and cook for an additional minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the pork, stirring so everything is evenly distributed. Add juices to desired moistness and continue cooking until everything is warmed through and the cabbage is at your desired softness. Taste for seasoning before serving, adding a dash of liquid smoke or salt if desired.
- Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove until warmed through.
If you'd like to follow the tradition of using banana leaves for this recipe: season the bottom of the pork with salt, place the pork bottom side down onto the leaves, and season the top of the pork with salt. Cut slits into the top of the pork, pour over the liquid smoke, wrap the rest of the roast in the banana leaves, and continue the recipe as written.
For more tips to make this recipe, variations, and ingredient substitutes, visit the original article at https://smartsavvyliving.com
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1/10th of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 651Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 196mgSodium: 1527mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 55g
Nutrition information may not be accurate. Optional garnishes and toppings aren't included. Nutrition information is calculated automatically by and provided by Nutritionix. Exact nutrition information depends on the specific ingredients, brands, and amounts you use.