Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork – Kalua Pork(Cook’s Country) Recipe

Are you craving a succulent and savory dish that will transport your taste buds straight to the beautiful islands of Hawaii? Look no further than this Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork – Kalua Pork recipe, inspired by traditional Hawaiian methods of slow cooking pork for hours over an open flame. The result? Melt-in-your-mouth pork, infused with the rich flavors of brown sugar, sea salt, and liquid smoke.

As a BBQ chef’s assistant, I’ve had the pleasure of perfecting this recipe and now I’m excited to share it with you. Whether you’re a fan of smoked meats or are simply looking for a new culinary adventure, this kalua style smoked pork is sure to impress.

But don’t be intimidated by the idea of smoking meat. This recipe is easy and requires just a few simple ingredients to get started. In fact, you can use a slow cooker or instant pot as an alternative means of achieving that slow-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

So why not try something new for tonight’s dinner? With this Hawaiian-style smoked pork recipe, get ready to experience the flavors and aromas of traditional hawaiian cuisine right in your own home.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe


Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork - Kalua Pork(Cook's Country)
Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork – Kalua Pork(Cook’s Country)


Folks, when it comes to satisfying your taste buds with food that leaves you craving for more, the Hawaiian-style smoked pork – kalua pork is a definite go-to recipe. I guarantee you won’t regret trying this juicy and succulent pork recipe. Allow me to let you in on what makes this meal so special and why you’ll love it.

First off, the recipe takes a traditional Hawaiian-style approach, so it’s not just any regular pork dish. It boasts of aromatic flavors and seasonings like green tea, hawaiian sea salt, and liquid smoke kalua. That’s not all; we also use banana leaves to smoke the pork loin slowly, which creates unique flavors typical of traditional Hawaiian-style cooking.

Furthermore, the ingredient list is seamless, with just three ingredients (green tea, kosher salt and brown sugar) needed to make a dry rub for the pork butt. You can easily find these ingredients in your local grocery store or market. The choice of meat cut (pork shoulder) for this recipe is perfect as it’s fatty enough to retain its juices after slow cooking in a smoker or slow cooker.

You’ll also appreciate how versatile this recipe is – you can use the kalua pork meat to create other meal options like pork tacos or Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches. Any leftovers can be stored in your refrigerator and reheated later without sacrificing any of its texture or original flavors.

Finally, the beauty of making kalua pig lies in its convenience- whether you’re using an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Kalua Pork Cooker, it’s easy as pie! With such effortless steps to follow along with our useful tips below (not to mention fantastic reviews from previous cooks), there’s no reason not to give this recipe a try!

So there you have it, folks – Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork – Kalua Pork – the perfect dish for any occasion! Whether entertaining guests or enjoying an evening with family and friends, trust me when I say that kalua pork is sure to leave your taste buds wanting more!

Ingredient List


 Smoky and savory Kalua pork - perfect for any luau party!
Smoky and savory Kalua pork – perfect for any luau party!


Ingredients for a Traditional Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork

For this Hawaiian-style smoked pork recipe, we will use the following ingredients:

  • A 5-6 pound boneless pork butt (also known as pork shoulder), trimmed of any excess fat.
  • 2-3 banana leaves, washed and patted dry with a paper towel.
  • 2-3 bacon slices.

For The Rub:

  • Sea salt (1 tablespoon) – adds flavor to the meat while helping it retain moisture.
  • Green tea (3 tablespoons) – traditionally used in Hawaii for its medicinal qualities and smokey flavor.
  • Kosher salt (4 teaspoons) – to season the meat well without overpowering it with saltiness.
  • Packed brown sugar (1 tablespoon) – adds sweetness and helps form a crust on the pork shoulder while it smokes.
  • Pepper (2 teaspoons) – gives a little kick to the rub.

For the Cooking Process:

  • Hawaiian sea salt (1/2 cup)
  • Liquid smoke, mesquite or hickory flavor (2 tablespoons) – replicates the natural smoking flavor, important in traditional Hawaiian Kalua pork recipe.

Make sure you have all ingredients ready before beginning with this recipe.


The Recipe How-To

The Perfect Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork Recipe

For a mouth-watering Hawaiian-style smoked pork recipe, we need to start with the best boneless pork butt that has been trimmed. We also need a few items such as banana leaves, liquid smoke, and a slow cooker or Instant Pot.

Step 1 – Prepare the Rub

The first step is to mix the spices that will give your Kalua pork its unique smoky flavor. In a small mixing bowl, blend together 3 tablespoons green tea, 4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons pepper.

Step 2 – Rub the Pork

Take your trimmed boneless pork butt and rub it with the spices until it is covered evenly. If you have time, let it rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to maximize the flavor.

Step 3 – Banana Leaves

Once you’re ready to cook your pork, line your slow cooker or Instant Pot with banana leaves for extra flavor and moisture.

Step 4 – Place the Pork in Your Cooker

Place your rubbed pork inside of the slow cooker or pressure cooker on top of the banana leaf. If using a slow cooker, set it on low for 10-12 hours. For an Instant Pot, choose the pressure cook option for 90 minutes.

Step 5 – Liquid Smoke

After either of these options are complete, pour two tablespoons of liquid smoke over the cooked pork while still in the crockpot or Instant Pot. You can now shred it using two forks until fully shredded.

Congratulations! You now have an authentic and delicious Hawaiian-style smoked pork kalua recipe that is sure to please everyone at your next backyard barbecue party.


Substitutions and Variations


 Our secret to tender and juicy pork? Low and slow smoking for up to 10 hours!
Our secret to tender and juicy pork? Low and slow smoking for up to 10 hours!


Are you looking to customize this recipe? Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try.

Firstly, if you don’t have access to banana leaves, you can use aluminum foil as a substitute. It will still give the pork a great flavor and will work perfectly in the Instant Pot or slow cooker.

For those who want a healthier option, you can use a pork loin instead of pork shoulder. Just remember to adjust the cooking time since it is a leaner cut of meat.

If you don’t have liquid smoke on hand, try using smoked paprika instead. The smoky flavor will complement the pork just as well.

For those who love spice, add some chili powder or red pepper flakes to the seasoning mix for a little kick in each bite.

You can also use pineapple or mango juice instead of water when cooking the pork for an added sweetness that would pair well with the Hawaiian style of this recipe. And if you want some crunch, add slaw made with shredded cabbage and carrots on top of your Kalua Pork tacos or sandwiches.

These substitutions and variations can help you create your own twist on traditional Hawaiian-style smoked pork while still experiencing the flavors and textures of this dish.

Serving and Pairing


 The aroma of hickory wood chips and sea salt alone will have your mouth watering.
The aroma of hickory wood chips and sea salt alone will have your mouth watering.


Now that our Hawaiian-style smoked pork is ready, it’s time to consider how best to serve and pair it for maximum enjoyment. One classic way to serve Kalua pork is traditionally alongside rice and macaroni salad in a lunch plate, but don’t be afraid to get creative!

For a modern twist, try using the smoked pork in tacos or burritos with fresh pineapple salsa or slaw, pickled onions, and jalapenos. Another option is to add it to a sandwich with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and BBQ sauce. You can also serve it as a main dish alongside roasted root vegetables or steamed green beans, or even over a bed of noodles with sesame oil and soy sauce.

When it comes to pairing this dish with drinks, I recommend keeping it simple, refreshing, and reminiscent of Hawaii. So why not try a Mai Tai or another tropical cocktail made with rum, pineapple juice, and coconut cream? If you’re looking for something non-alcoholic go for a fresh squeezed limeade, iced tea with lemon or cold brewed green tea.

Whatever your choice may be, the smoked pork will play nicely with most flavors while being savory enough to stand out on its own. Feel free to experiment and enjoy this authentic Hawaiian recipe in all its flavorsome glory.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating


 Smoked to perfection with a deliciously crispy crust - just like authentic Hawaiian Kalua pork.
Smoked to perfection with a deliciously crispy crust – just like authentic Hawaiian Kalua pork.


Now that you’ve made this delicious Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork, you may have some leftovers. Luckily, this dish stores and reheats very well, so you can enjoy it all week long. There are a few things to keep in mind, however, to ensure that your pork stays fresh and flavorful.

If you want to make this dish ahead of time, simply follow the recipe up until the point where you would shred the pork. Allow it to cool and transfer it to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Refrigerate for up to four days or freeze for up to 6 months.

To reheat your smoked pork, simply place it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30-second increments until heated through. Or you can place it in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently until warmed.

If you prefer to reheat in the oven, preheat your oven to 350°F. Add the smoked pork into an oven-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid or covered tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Heat for about 15-20 minutes or until hot throughout.

It’s important not to let your leftovers go to waste! Use any extra pork as a topping on pizzas or salads or try making delicious tacos with some fresh pineapple salsa.

Overall, there is no need to worry about wasting any of this smoked pork. It stores and reheats so well that it’s almost as if it tastes better the second (or third) time around!

Tips for Perfect Results


 This recipe will transport you to the beaches of Maui and make you feel like you are at a luau feast.
This recipe will transport you to the beaches of Maui and make you feel like you are at a luau feast.


To ensure that your Hawaiian-style smoked pork turns out just right, follow these helpful tips.

First, make sure to choose the right cut of pork. For this recipe, pork shoulder or pork butt trimmed of excess fat are great options. These cuts are ideal for slow cooking and will result in tender, juicy meat. If you can’t find these cuts, boneless pork loin can also work.

Next, don’t be afraid to use liquid smoke. While traditional Hawaiian-style kalua pork is slow cooked in an underground oven with banana leaves and bacon slices, using liquid smoke can give you a similar flavor profile without needing to dig a hole in your backyard. Just be careful not to use too much as it can overpower the other flavors.

Another important tip is to let the meat sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. This helps to ensure that it cooks evenly and results in a more tender meat.

In addition, make sure to properly season the meat with sea salt, brown sugar, and pepper before smoking or slow cooking. These ingredients help to create that sweet and smoky flavor that you’re looking for.

If you’re using a slow cooker or pressure cooker instead of a smoker, consider adding some pineapple juice or chunks during the cooking process. The sweetness of the pineapple pairs perfectly with the savory pork.

Finally, after smoking or slow cooking your pork, be sure to let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing or shredding. This allows the juices to distribute evenly and results in a more flavorful end product.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to experience the delicious flavors of Hawaiian-style smoked pork right in your own home.

Bottom Line

My fellow BBQ fans, it’s time to add a delicious and traditional Hawaiian dish to your recipe collection. The Kalua pork recipe is one that you won’t want to miss out on. With its succulent, tender pulled pork that is perfectly smoked with a Hawaiian twist, this dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Using only the highest quality ingredients such as brown sugar, kosher salt, and liquid smoke combined with the traditional method of slow cooking the pork, you’ll experience the Hawaiian flavors in every bite. This recipe is perfect for family gatherings or summer cookouts with friends that will leave everyone wanting more. And the best part? It’s versatile enough to use in tacos, sliders or even as a stand-alone dish.

Incorporating pineapple adds a fresh and tangy flavor to this dish while banana leaves can add an extra layer of fragrance to embrace the Hawaiian tradition. Whether you choose to make it with a slow cooker or Instant Pot, or even dig an underground oven like the traditional way back in Hawaii, this recipe can fit your lifestyle and level of cooking expertise.

So grab your apron and get ready to impress your friends and family with this delicious and authentic Hawaiian-style smoked pork that they won’t forget any time soon. Trust me, you’re going to love it!

Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork - Kalua Pork(Cook's Country)

Hawaiian-Style Smoked Pork - Kalua Pork(Cook's Country) Recipe

You’ll need 10 to 15 tea bags. If your pork butt comes with an elastic netting, remove it before you rub the pork with the tea. To eat Kalua Pork as the Hawaiians do, serve it with steamed rice, macaroni salad, and cabbage salad.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 1 pan
Calories 511.5 kcal


  • 3 tablespoons green tea
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 4 -5 lbs boneless pork butt, trimmed
  • 6 cups mesquite wood chips, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained


  • Combine tea, salt, sugar, and pepper in bowl. Pat pork dry with paper towels and rub with tea mixture. Wrap meat tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours. Place pork in pan and cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Poke about twenty 1/4-inch holes in foil. Using large sheet of heavy-duty foil, wrap 2 cups soaked chips into foil packet and cut several vent holes in top. Make 2 more packets with additional foil and remaining 4 cups chips.
  • For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter three-quarters full with charcoal briquettes (4 1/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour into steeply banked pile against side of grill. Place wood chip packets on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.
  • For a gas grill: Place wood chip packets over primary burner. Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature at 300 degrees.).
  • Place pan on cool part of grill. Cover (positioning lid vent over meat if using charcoal) and cook for 2 hours. During last 20 minutes of grilling, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Remove pan from grill. Cover pan tightly with new sheet of foil, transfer to oven, and bake until tender and fork inserted into meat meets no resistance, 2 to 3 hours. Let pork rest, covered, for 30 minutes. Unwrap and, when meat is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding fat. Strain contents of pan through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator. Let liquid settle, then return ¼ cup defatted pan juices to pork. Serve. (Pork can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.).



Serving: 232gCalories: 511.5kcalCarbohydrates: 2.1gProtein: 42.6gFat: 35.6gSaturated Fat: 12.3gCholesterol: 149.7mgSodium: 1301.7mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 1.7g
Keyword Hawaiian, Meat, Pork
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