Dec 1
Update 12/8/09: I’m excited to be a featured blogger on for’s Holiday 2009 blow-out ~ come see our favorite holiday recipes!

One of the best things I ate during the Foodbuzz Festival last month was a Porchetta Sandwich from Roli Roti at the Taste of SF Street Food Fare the first night of the festival.

Roli Roti Sign

The sandwich was absolutely incredible.  The pork was mouth-wateringly juicy and flavorful, and the crispy bits of skin gave the sandwich great crunch.  Seriously, one bite of that sandwich was enough to induce food nirvana.

Roli Roti Porchetta Sandwich

After coming home from the festival I had a massive craving for pork, so I turned to a family favorite–a recipe for kalua pig.  My mom gave me this recipe a few years ago and I have made it so many times now that I have it memorized (plus it helps that the recipe only uses THREE ingredients).  This recipe cheats by cooking the pork in a slow cooker, instead of slow roasting it in a hole in the ground.  Granted, the traditional way is preferable, but I don’t really have a place to go digging a hole in my backyard to roast my own pig (darn!).  The only hard part about this recipe is that you have to plan ahead because the meat cooks for 16 to 20 hours (depending on how hot your low setting is on your slow cooker, you may or may not need the full 20 hours).  To make the kalua pig, you use a large pork butt roast (also known as pork shoulder).  (As a side note, the whole fact that this cut of meat is called pork butt cracks me up, since it’s really a shoulder cut.  I think someone needed an anatomy lesson…)  The great thing about this cut of meat is that it is usually one of the cheapest cuts of meat.  It’s perfect for slow cooking because it is marbled with lots of fat which helps it keep the meat moist and tender while cooking.  Ok, so you’ve got your roast.

Pork Butt Roast

Now all you’re going to do is stab it all over with the tip of a sharp knife.

stabbing the roast

Now you’re going to rub some Hawaiian Sea Salt into it.  I like to use a combination of Hawaiian Black Sea Salt and Hawaiian Red Sea Salt (Alaea), but you can use whatever kind of coarse sea salt you like or can find.  The black sea salt gets its color from lava.  The lava adds not only color, also minerals and activated charcoal, giving it a smokey earthy flavor.  The red sea salt (also known as alaea salt) gets its color from, alaea, or volcanic baked red clay. Alaea enriches the salt with iron oxide and gives the salt its reddish pink color. The flavor is slightly nutty and sweet.

Trader Joe's Hawaiian Sea Salts

Then you’ll drizzle a bit of liquid smoke flavoring over the meat, cover the slow cooker, put it on low heat, and forget about it for 16 to 20 hours, turning it once during the cooking time.  THAT’S IT!  Don’t be tempted to add any additional liquid–you don’t need it.  The fat in the roast will provide more than enough liquid, I promise. **Note: For this size of roast, you will need a 6-qt. slow cooker.  If you have a smaller slow cooker, use a smaller roast and reduce the amount of the other ingredients accordingly.  As I mentioned above, you may or may not need the full 20 hours of cooking time, depending on how hot your low setting is on your slow cooker.  When I use my slow cooker, it takes about 18 hours. *UPDATE: With my newer slow cooker my cooking time is less, as the lowest temperature is higher.  With newer slow cookers I find that a cooking range of 8 to 12 hours on low heat works nicely.

Kalua Pig in the slow cooker

When it’s done, you’ll be able to easily shred the meat with two forks.

Shredding the Pork

The meat is smokey and flavorful and wonderful eaten with rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.  I served mine with some kurigohan (Japanese chestnut rice)–the slightly sweet and nutty rice pairs wonderfully with the smokey savory pork.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig with Kurigohan

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

Makes 12-14 servings

5-6 pound pork butt roast
1 1/2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt (coarse sea salt)
1 1/2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring

1. Pierce the pork roast all over with the tip of a sharp knife.  Place the roast in a large slow cooker and rub the salt all over the meat.  Drizzle the liquid smoke over the meat.

2. Cover the slow cooker and cook on Low Heat for 16 to 20 hours**, turning the roast over once half-way through the cooking time.  Depending on how hot your low setting is on your slow cooker, you may or may not need the full 20 hours.  When the meat easily shreds with a fork it is ready.

3. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred with two forks, adding drippings from the slow cooker as needed to moisten the meat.

*Note: Don’t be tempted to add any additional liquid–you don’t need it.  The fat in the roast will provide more than enough liquid.  For this size of roast, you will need a 6-qt. slow cooker.  If you have a smaller slow cooker, use a smaller roast and reduce the amount of the other ingredients accordingly.

** Newer slow cookers have higher low temperature settings which decreases the cooking time.  With these cookers I have found that a cooking range of 8 to 12 hours on low heat works nicely.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

LollyChops December 1, 2009 at 9:23 am

Oh dear….  this looks CRAZY good.  You know I cannot resist slow cooked & pulled meat.  Sheesh you are trying to do me in over here!
HUGS and love little lady!


LollyChops December 1, 2009 at 9:25 am

…AND I have to wait 16 to 20 hours to even get to eat it!!  ahhhhh!!!!
…AND I guess I need to order that fancy salt too.  Shoot. 


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Yep, I’m gonna have the pig slowly torture you for 16 to 20 hours… :D If you google Hawaiian Black Sea Salt and Hawaiian Red Sea Salt there are a bunch of places you can order it from (like Also, World Market often carries at least one of the kinds!


Barbara @ December 1, 2009 at 11:38 am

This looks too easy to look this good; guess the hard part is in the waiting!


[email protected] December 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm

OMG. I am so making this soon. Delectable and soooo easy!!!


kat December 1, 2009 at 3:14 pm

a favorite easy dinner for us in Hawaii was kalua pig, cabbage and onions.  Just cook cabbage and onions in a pan until wilted, add kalua pig…dinner is served!


Megan December 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Food Nirvana! That sounds like a very accurate description!


Tamakikat December 1, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Hi  there LFM,
Hope this finds you and the rest of the Fuji Family well and :).

Like the new look of the blog including this comment part.

This pork 'butt' recipe (-LOL) sounds really good. The liquid smoke flavoring is new for me. If I had a slow cooker I'd try make this for sure.
All the best to you.


Emily December 2, 2009 at 10:26 am

You know I've never put salt on the pig roasts before putting them in the crockpot, or cooked them quite as long.  And I've got a few more left from the last pig we butchered.  Woo-hoo!  I am sooo doing this next week.  Gotta make room in the freezer anyway.  It's bye-bye steer time!


Almost Slowfood December 2, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Oh that sounds so yummy!!! 
Love the new look. Love it!


Jackie December 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

That is some beutiful kalua pig there!  Mmmm, I think I'm going to have to make some this week!  I do mine the same way but I also empty a whole package of baby spinach on top and cook it all together.  Then afterwards I shred the meat and spinach together and serve it up that way.  I do want to look for your sea salts though.  You always have good spices suggestions so I'm going to hunt these down!


Hillary December 2, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Yum!  This brought back memories of many elementary school lunches in Hawaii for me.  Even after living on the mainland for several years now, I can still remember the taste of that pork…thanks!


mamakd December 2, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Yummy!  I had a few Hawaiian roomates and this was one of my favorite dishes they made.  I can't believe how simple it is to make on your own…I may even be able to manage it!  Trader Joe's here I come!


[email protected] December 4, 2009 at 10:27 am

Rachael what's a substitute for the liquid smoke flavouring?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Mardi– That’s hard! Liquid smoke is a very potent seasoning that imparts a smoky flavor to whatever you are cooking. A little goes a long way. So to actually get that same/similar flavor, you have to smoke your meat! However, you could get a bit of that flavor by adding some smoked bacon or chipotle pepper (for a bit of a spicier option). You can also omit the liquid smoke altogether!


Jeffrie May 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm
Deanie December 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I stopped at the store tonite and got a smaller roast (the biggest they had), but you must have a huge crockpot!  Hee hee.  Anyways, I was so thrilled at how reasonable it was I couldn't believe it.  Mine was $4.11 and plenty for 4 people plus leftovers and I'm hoping we do have leftovers for tacos.  I am going to use regular sea salt since we are on a strict budget right now and may add some other spices, such as porchetta spices/herbs.  I will make it Sunday and can't wait.  Thanks for the budget recipe, we will love it I'm sure.


TikiPundit December 6, 2009 at 9:31 am

This is a great recipe — thanks for posting it!
It's finishing up now.  Amount of salt and smoke was proper.  I found a 7lb butt and trimmed off the exterior fat.  Used a 6qt crockpot and it was really done at about 16 hours.  I let it go 17.5 — within the norms of the posted recipe. 
Overnight the whole house smelled like, surprisingly enough, bacon.  
Naps will commence after lunch today, which will be pig, steamed rice and soup.


molly December 7, 2009 at 11:25 am

i made this over the weekend and it  was so fantastic! thank you!


slammie December 9, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Can you use regular salt?  I've got the liquid smoke but am too lazy to go out to find sea salt.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Slammie– Yes, you can use regular salt (I assume you’re referring to table salt). If you use regular salt, however, you will lose a bit of flavor. In addition, because table salt has a fine grain, one teaspoon of table salt actually contains more salt than a tablespoon of sea salt. So you would need to adjust the salt amount.


Keith Wright January 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Kosher salt.. NEVER table salt except for baking.


Jeanie December 10, 2009 at 1:10 am

I made this recipe last night – I saw a pork butt on sale for a dollar a pound and was able to get a 4-pounder – slightly smaller for our 2-person family.  SO GOOD.  The aroma was near-painful to have to endure for so long without being to able to dig in.  but it was worth it!  YUM.  This is a fool-proof definite must-do-again recipe.  I'm going to be telling people about this! :D  Thank you!


Carol December 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

Great recipe!  You can also do it in the oven at a low temperature for several hours.  Just wrap the meat in foil, and keep it sealed throughout so that it steams.  You can do this with a turkey in the oven too.  It's a little more work to take out all the bones, but the meat should fall off the bones easily after it's done.  Do a stir fry with the leftovers by adding chopped cabbage and a little extra salt, and maybe some broth or water if too dry to get Kalua Pig Cabbage and serve with white rice.  It's another Hawaii favorite.


Angela January 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

LOVED this recipe! I made it new years eve day and everyone loved it. Thanks!


natalie March 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Just returned from Hawaii where I had some amazing Kalua Pig and would love to try this! I have a new pressure cooker that I’ve been playing with and would like to try it on the K Pig. Wondering how long it might take using this method. Any ideas/experience using this recipe in a pressure cooker?


Lucinda March 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I’ve been making this recipe for years and it comes out amazing and flavorful every time! The only thing I do different is to add to a whole head of cabbage (shredded) about an hour or so before dinner for an authentic Hawaiian kalua pig and cabbage dish. I normally serve it on some jasmine rice along with a couple of squirts of sriricha and it tastes soooo good!


:) March 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Do you think I can substitute 2 to 3 pork tenderloin for pork butt?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) March 20, 2010 at 10:03 pm

@:), Yes! Just make sure you watch your liquid. Pork tenderloin doesn’t always have as much fat as the pork butt, and you wouldn’t want your meat to burn. The fat in the pork butt slowly melts as the meat cooks, and that is what keeps it juicy and tender. Depending on how fatty your tenderloin is, you may want to add a bit of broth to your slow cooker and check it occasionally to make sure it’s cooking properly. Hope that helps!


:) March 22, 2010 at 10:11 am

Thank you for your response! I purchsed my pork tenderloin at Costco (totaling close to 5 lbs.). It turns out that I had 4 tenderloins out of this and removed as much visible fat and silver skins from each piece. I decided to tie them cut the long pieces and lay them on top of each other like a roast and tie them up with string. Total weight after trimming and tying is 4:10.5 pounds. Proceed with the rest of your recipe and it’s currently in the slow cooker. I set the slow cookder to 16 hours, but will check it at 12 hours. This will most loikely be tomorrow’s dinner because it will not be ready until 10 p.m. or after tonight. So can’t wait until tomorrow’s dinner. I’m planning to cook some rice with coconut milk and have a cabbage slaw with the kalua pig.

Thanks for your post and resonse,


:) March 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

To conclude my experiment with pork tenderloin, it was a bit dry. Total cooling time was 11 hours, but I should of stop the cooking after 7 hours. It was “shreddable” at 7 hours, but I decided to continue cooking for 4 extra hours. I had 2 cups of broth in the pot which I added to the shredded meat, but still is a bit dry. Today when I warm it up for dinner, I might have to add some chicken broth to the meat to make it more moist. Pork butt will be a better choice for a more tender and moist meat, but if you choose to use pork tenderloin, cook at less time. I used pork tenderloin for pulled pork tacos which worked beautifully and not dry at all so I know if you cook for less time for this recipe, it will work.


Keith Wright January 26, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Thousands have experimented with this recipe. That’s why BUTT is specified and not tenderloin. Always interesting how people have poor results when cooking lean meats in pressure and slow cookers. They’re meant for tough cuts of meat with lots of fat and connective tissues, meant to be braised. Loins and breasts are meant for quick cooking and roasting.


:) March 23, 2010 at 6:10 am

Oh, I forgot to mention that the flavor is just like Kalua Pig as you purchase it at a Hawaiian BBQ take out. Great recipe!


Keith Wright January 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Without banana or TI leaves..hmmm. Like cafe au lait without cream.


[email protected] March 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Sorry, this looks fine in a pinch. But once you graduate, you will realize there is no substitute for a real wood fired or pit cooked piece of meat. This is a truly a subpar shortcut although it still tastes fine. Liquid smoke? Like I said, if you are in a pinch.
Real Meat Pete

In a pinch, I would add a 1/4 cup apple or mango juice to this, and hit the top with Franks.


Loni May 14, 2010 at 10:35 am

Yay! I just googled Kalua pork recipe and your blog came up! I should have known to check here first! I’m having a Luau for Autumn’s 1st birthday and this recipe is perfect. Thanks!


Jennifer AKA Joker May 20, 2010 at 10:45 pm

I’m actually making this tomorrow afternoon, for a Family Reunion the next day.
I’m serving mine over plain Jasmine Rice. (being a hardcore Cajun, my family always used the same long grain rice, with salt added to it.) I bought jasmine on a whim and made it with baaarely any salt, it was heaven and I’ve never gone back. (and now my family’s rice taste like salt from the container.)

I come from a family that does not understand tasting the FOOD, they want to cover it up completely with seasonings.

When I told my Dad about this recipe, he (without trying it) stated that it doesn’t sound to good, and probably won’t be because it was “filled”. As in shot up with a mixture of garlic and green onions, and covered with a thick layer of “Slap Yo Mamma” seasoning.

27 years of that mentality, left me bored of the food in this state (Louisiana), and I broke free and am more for experimentation. This blog has been a massive help to create a better eating world for me, and is one of my favorite food blogs.

I’ve made Tibetan Flat Bread twice now, and it was amazing (my grandmother even likes it and she is a SEVERE picky eater, and known to turn down anything before trying it just based on a a look at it.)

I tried my hand at the Udon recipe, and it would’ve been fantastic, if Wal*mart would not be in the middle of a remodel, and didn’t Ninja hide the food I see the day before.
Even the workers couldn’t find the Noodles I had seen the night previous. (our Asian section is severely lacking)

My Slow cooker Creamy Porkchops, came out to perfection, so tender it flaked like perfectly prepared fish. (So soft even my Grandfather could chew it)

Wow this got…. wordy. Either way from the depth of my heart, and the entirety of my stomach I thank you for your hard work with this site, and for sharing the delights with me and everyone.

Keep up the good work, you ARE Cooking Mama.

I plan on many, many more tries.


Jennifer AKA Joker May 20, 2010 at 10:46 pm

@Jennifer AKA Joker,
not “was filled” the right thing is “wasn’t filled”
typing when meds kick in, not a good idea.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) May 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm

@Jennifer AKA Joker, Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I am so glad that you have been enjoying my recipes! Please let me know if you ever have any questions!


Loni June 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Thanks for recipe! The Luau was a huge success! The pork was good, no complaints, it was all gone by the end of the night. I do have one question for future reference… What do you do with the liquid? I had so much liquid when the pork was cooking, it filled about half the crock pot. Do you have a lot of liquid when you are cooking yours?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 8, 2010 at 5:02 am

@Loni — Depending on the pork shoulder roast I use, sometimes I have more liquid than other times. I reserve it and use it as necessary to add moisture back into the meat. Just think, that’s all fat that has rendered down from the roast that you’re not eating! ;-)


Cindy July 7, 2010 at 10:40 am

This recipe is amazing! I made it for a luau with friends, it was gone by the end of the night, and it was requested for a camping trip two weekends later. Easy and delicious! Thank you for sharing this with us!


Liza July 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Does it matter what kind of liquid smoke you use? Are there not options… e.g. hickory, mesquite, etc


JayPea August 20, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Butt in this case does not refer to buttock (only ONE of the many definitions) but refers to the the thicker or blunt end of something, in this case the shoulder of the pig. Butt as short for buttock is slang and not an official meaning of the word “butt” in any case. So, no anatomy lesson needed, just a dictionary:):)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Hey JayPea, Yes, I hope you realized I was joking. :-)


KJR October 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I’ve used your recipe a million times and LOVE it! So yum! Just one question though, can I substitute beef for pork? I have a few chuck roasts that I need to use up and wonder if it would be good. Any idea?


Rachel Bachteler November 1, 2010 at 7:21 am

Recently had this wonderful recipe at a 50th B’day party . . . and couldn’t believe my taste buds! I inquired about a recipe from the hostess . . . but . . . was told, “it was a family secret” . However, receiving a “Thank you for your gift”, card. in the mail, the receipe name was mentioned. Wa-lah! On to the computer – and there you were, with the receipe! Thanks for not keeping it a secret and bring much joy for this offering.
Rachel – Rae

P.S. What temperature for the crock pot? Low, med, or high?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) November 2, 2010 at 5:04 am

@Rachel Bachteler — Yay, so glad! I like to cook mine on low, but when in a pinch I’ll cook it on medium or high and adjust the cooking time.


Kikukat December 23, 2010 at 1:09 am

Kalua pig makes an awesome filling for enchiladas. Dip flour tortilla in enchilada sauce, place a mound of kalua pig, roll and place seam-side down in a pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Top with shredded cheese and heat through. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Onolicious (delicious in Hawaiian slang)!


Lamb March 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I just bookmarked this after finding your link through recipegirl. I’m looking forward to trying it :)


rosie May 18, 2011 at 7:37 pm

These things look so good


Ang May 31, 2011 at 11:58 am

I’ve had this book marked ever since coming home from a vacation to Hawaii. I finally made it this weekend… it was simply AMAZING and my boyfriend said it was just like the Hawaiian pork we had!

A small note: I have a brand new slow cooker – my roast was 6.5lbs., I put it on low at 1030pm, expecting to have it for dinner the following day, When I woke up the next morning to flip it over, it all fell apart, so I checked the temp and it was 100% done. Cooked to temp and falling apart on its own, after only like 10.5-11 hours. So, just an FYI – slow cookers really do have different ‘low’ settings – keep your eye on the bugger if yours is new!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm

@Ang, Yes, the newer slow cookers don’t seem to cook as low, which is a bummer!!


Kel June 3, 2011 at 8:28 am

Thanks so much for the recipe! I am going to make this this week for a large gathering we have coming up (about 75 people). My one main question is did you use a “boneless” or “bone in” roast? Also, I have a newer crockpot and I know for sure that this would be way too long in mine–any ideas on how to tell when it’s done? Should I go by temperature? And last question, any ideas on how to figure how much raw meat to buy for this large group? This will be the main dish and only meat–serving rolls, coleslaw, several fresh fruits, fresh veggies and desserts.

Thanks again! Hoping you get this soon as I am going to be purchasing the meat tomorrow. So glad I stumbled across your site just in time (had another recipe I was going to use)!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm

@Kel, Kel, I use both bone-in and boneless, depending on what looks the best at the market! For your large crowd though, I would go with boneless, as this will simplify things for you. To be safe, I would go with 25 to 30 pounds of meat! As far as telling when it’s done, when it is falling apart and shreds easily it’s done. With slow-cooked pork I find this is a much better indication than temperature, because if you were to rely on temperature, you often don’t cook this type of meat long enough. It really benefits from time, because all of the fat renders down, and the protein bonds break down, making the meat moist and tender! Good luck! I hope to hear how everything goes!


K Pruitt July 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Where did you find the Trader Joe’s Hawaiian sea salts? My Trader Joe’s doesn’t have this.


GastroStu August 18, 2011 at 2:35 am

Those pics are making my mouth water, looks fantastic. I’ll have to Google Hawaiian Sea Salts and buy some online, never seem it in a shop before.


Lori October 13, 2011 at 6:10 am

I am making this now with Kosher salt. I am used to making this in the oven with water, salt, and liquid smoke. I hope not adding water will give it enough moisture. I don’t have 18-20 hours so I am trying it on High for 8. I hope it works. Has anyone tried it on High?


Ann Spencer March 26, 2012 at 8:12 am

Thought I’d chime in on the cooking time issue. I’ve made this recipe a number of times and it is a winner! I have both an ancient (1976) Crockpot and a new, larger one. In my old slow cooker, the 16-20 hour cooking time works perfectly. However, about ten years ago, slow cooker manufacturers, in their infinite wisdom, increased the temperature of both Low and High settings by about 20 degrees. That means that the Low setting, which used to be 200 (below boiling) is now 220 (above boiling). I’ve found that even with a large pork roast, 12 hours in the new slow cooker is plenty. I hope this helps!


Leave a Comment

{ 6 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: