Kalua Pork

Earlier this week I asked for your help on Facebook.  I wanted to know what kind of recipes you wanted to see on the blog.

One answer that came across more than once was quick and easy recipes, especially for those crazy nights when the kids all have something going on.  Crock pot recipes was another request.

Today’s recipe fits those two requests perfectly.  In fact, it is a recipe that I can’t believe I have never shared before.  I guess it’s because it is one of those recipes that you think everybody already has.  In fact with only a few ingredients I am not even sure this qualifies as a recipe.  It is that easy!!!

Kahlua Pork

After I made in twice in the last month and my daughter made it for her college dinner group I figured  I ought to share it here on the blog.

Kalua Pork is a traditional Hawaiian dish that is usually cooked underground and often served at a luau but it can easily become Pork Carnitas too if you need it to be.  Last week, Tessa came home from school about 4 p.m. and informed me that she and her friend Rachel needed to cook a Mexican meal that night for their Spanish 4 class (yes, it had to be that night).

Kahlua Pork

Well, fortunately for them I had a big pot of Kalua Pork/Pork Carnitas already made.  They made some homemade flour tortillas, salsa, Mexican rice and some unfried fried ice cream and we had a pretty amazing Mexican meal in about an hour and a half!


It really doesn’t get any easier than Kalua Pork – really!  I buy the most inexpensive cut of pork I can find, usually the pork carnitas from Winco.  The only other things you need are a little salt, water and some liquid smoke.

All of that goes into a big heavy pot or your crock pot and then you let it cook away!  My only word of caution is, don’t leave your hot pot holder in the oven when you put the pot in the oven.

A few weeks ago I was making a big pot of kalua pork for the cast party for Hairspray.  I popped it in the oven in the morning and then headed out to run errands for the day.  Fortunately for me, my mother in law stayed behind and she got thirsty.  When she headed into the kitchen to get a drink of water she noticed that the inside of my oven was on fire!  Being the smart, level headed woman she is (she’s a nurse and knows how to stay calm in crisis situations) she put the fire out and removed the hot pot holder!!  Thank heavens.  Way to impress the mother in law!!

Fortunately for me kalua pork has a nice smoky flavor from that liquid smoke so the added real smoke didn’t hurt anything!!

After your pork is cooked you just shred it up with a fork and serve it over rice.  I also bought a bottle of Hawaiian style teriyaki sauce for those who wanted to a little extra flavor but the pork is totally flavorful enough all on its own.

Any left over pork would be great in a quesadilla, burrito, taco or on a salad.

Kalua Pork can be cooked in the oven or in the crockpot.  I cooked mine in the oven (next time I think I better try the crockpot to avoid any more fires) at 350 for about 5-6 hours.  A crockpot on high cooks at about 300 degrees so 6-7 hours in the crockpot on high should be about the same.  If you want to stretch out the cooking time you could cook it on low (equiv. to 200 degrees) for about 16 hours but I have seen some recipes that call for 16-20 hours on low.     When the meat is tender and easily shredded with a fork it is ready.

This can easily be cooked ahead of time also and then just reheated for dinner.

Kahlua Pork

Kalua Pork
  • 6 lbs. pork carnitas, shoulder or butt roast (you want a cut of meat that has fat on it)
  • 1 Tbsp. Liquid Smoke (near the BBQ sauce)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C water (do not need if using a crockpot)
  1. Place meat in crockpot or pan and sprinkle with salt, patting it into the meat.
  2. Pour liquid smoke over pork and then add the water around the pork.
  3. If cooking in the oven cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.
  4. In the oven at 350, cook for about 5-6 hours.
  5. In a crock pot on high cook for about 6-7 hours and in a crockpot on low cook for 12-16 hours. Shred with a fork when tender and falling apart. Serve over rice.

Leigh Anne
Hi – I’m Leigh Anne! I have been a homebased mom for 30 years since my first baby boy was born! I love working with women and helping to inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams while still maintaining motherhood and family as their number one priority. I blog about everything I enjoy – creating treats and meals in my kitchen, spending time in my garden, entertaining and party planning, reading, self improvement and tips and ideas on style and fashion.
Leigh Anne
Leigh Anne

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  1. kelly says

    the only thing your missing is the cabbage, here in hawaii kalua pork is always served with cabbage!
    one time i put some rubbermaid containers in the oven b/c i had a mess from taking cupcakes to preschool and my husbands grandma was coming over so i just stashed the dirty containers in the oven. you got it! forgot about them, turned the oven on for dinner to preheat and had smoking, melting plastic everywhere!!!
    thank goodness your motherin law was there!!!!!!

    • says

      Kelly, Do they serve it with plain cabbage or do they put something on it?? Yikes on the plastic in the oven. I am so grateful my mother in law was there..

  2. Jeni Margetts says

    I’m trying this today. I only have about 2 1/2 lbs of pork, but while 4 of us live here, it’s not often that more than 2 are home at a time. And leftovers don’t always do well. (if the natives like this, I can make more next time…) I had a bit of bacon grease left from earlier, so I added about a tablespoon of that for flavor in addition to the liquid smoke. I also added some granulated garlic. At our house, if its not dessert, its got garlic in it! Can’t wait!

  3. Heather says

    I’m making this tomorrow and could only find a 3.5 lb cut of pork shoulder. I was planning on doing the slow low cook in the crock pot. How many hours do you think it would cut down to? 8 or 12?

  4. says

    When I cooked a smaller amount I did it in my oven and cooked it for about 3 hours instead of 5 or 6. If you are doing it on low in your crockpot it would probably be about half I am guessing but I’d check it as it cooked so it doesn’t dry out.

  5. says

    The kalua and cabbage is not called kalua. That’s just pork and cabbage. Leigh is right, kalua is served at luau’s and served with either poi or rice.

  6. Angie says

    I am making this for dinner tomorrow night and can’t wait! The salsa looks wonderful as well. Have you posted a salsa recipe before? We LOVE all your recipes at our house. Thanks!!

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