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Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwich is bursting with sweet and tangy flavors. Tender, shredded pork topped with crunchy slaw on a soft roll, it’s a complete meal on a bun.
Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Kalua Pork is a staple in Hawaii and when I lived there I ate it all the time! This pulled pork recipe tastes just like the luau pork at the Polynesian Cultural Center! But instead of a smoker or smoking the meat or in a pit, this tender, smoky pork gets cooked to perfection in the Crock Pot or a Dutch oven. My family loves the meat pork mixture piled high on a soft bun with crisp homemade coleslaw. But you could also just serve it over rice. This pork is so flavorful, feeds a crowd and is really easy to prepare!
Easier than Roasting a Kalua Pig
If you’re in Hawaii, chances are your traditional island Kalua pig is cooked underground, or at the very least, in a pit in the ground, in an oven called in Imu. It takes hours for the coal to work its magic and steam the pig, but if you’ve ever had the chance to taste it, the meat is glorious! Worth all the extra digging and work. However, when I’m craving pulled pork sandwiches on the mainland, I opt for a pork roast or pork tenderloin in the slow cooker. Call me a cheater, I don’t care. This recipe makes it taste just like the island smoked pork and with just a fraction of the work. All you do is toss the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it simmer over medium-high heat and get all juicy and tender. Delicious!
Ingredients in Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwiches
The ingredients for this pork recipe are simple and easy to find. Here’s all you need for perfectly flavored smoked pork:
- Pork roast – you can use boneless pork shoulder, pork butt, a pork shoulder roast, whatever pork happens to be on sale or whatever you have on hand. For ease I like to use a cut of meat without bone.
- Kosher salt – the larger grains of sodium help break down the meat and make it more tender. You can use a mixture of salt and pepper if you like.
- Liquid smoke – you can find this in the condiment or spice aisle at most grocery stores.
- Ti leaves – this is completely optional. If ti leaves aren’t available or you don’t know what they are, just leave them out. They just add a cool local Hawaiian element to the dish.
Additional Flavors or Spices
Once you have the base to your pulled pork you can spice it up all sorts of ways! Here are some ideas to try:
- Add a few tablespoons of brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and a tsp each garlic powder and onion powder for a bolder flavor.
- Marinate the pork with a cup apple cider vinegar, your favorite bbq sauce, root beer or chicken broth.
- In a small bowl, mix in teaspoons each of garlic, paprika, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper and onion for a delicious spice rub.
- Top your sandwiches with bbq sauce, mustard or mayo.
How to Serve Kalua Pork
There are so many ways to serve up this delicious pork! Serve it on sandwiches for one meal, then try leftovers on nachos, tacos, salads and wraps. It’s delicious with diced apples in a slaw. Or serve it as a main dish with some soy sauce, coconut rice and a side of coleslaw. Wrap leftovers in aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.
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More Hawaiian Recipes
Pair these pulled pork sandwiches with a few of these delicious and authentic Hawaiian recipes and escape with the flavors of the islands anytime you want!
How to make Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Kalua Pork / Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Crock Pot Slow Cooker
- 3-4 pound pork roast
- 1-2 Tbsp Kosher salt
- 1/3 c. liquid smoke
- 1 c. water
- 4 ti leaves Washed (If ti leaves aren’t available or you don’t know what they are, no worries– it is still great without them -they just add a cool local Hawaiian element to the dish.)
- Line bottom of crock pot with 2 ti leaves (if you have them). Rub pork generously with salt, pour on liquid smoke.
- Place on ti leaves or in the crock pot. Add water. Fit remaining ti leaves (again, if you have them) around outer edge of crockpot.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until it will easily shred into juices (do not drain).
- Serve on buns with coleslaw.