Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwiches

5 from 8 votes
15 Comments

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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 bun, these sandwiches are hearty and flavorful!

Close up of a Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwich

Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Kalua Pork is a staple in Hawaii and when I lived there I ate it all the time! This recipe tastes just like the luau pork at the Polynesian Cultural Center! But instead of smoking the meat or in a pit, this tender, smoky pork gets cooked to perfection in the Crock Pot. My family loves it piled high on a soft bun with crisp homemade coleslaw. But you could also just serve the meat over rice. It’s 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 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 and get all juicy and tender. Delicious!

Suggestions and Substitutions for Pulled Pork Sandwiches

  • This tender, tangy pork comes together with just a few ingredients! All you need is a good pork roast, salt, liquid smoke, water and Ti leaves.
  • Kosher salt is best for this recipe. The larger grains of salt help break down the meat and make it more tender.
  • Liquid smoke can be found at any regular grocery store. I got mine at Walmart.
  • If you don’t have Ti leaves, that’s okay! This recipe totally works without them; they just bring a cool Hawaiian element to the dish. But it tastes just as delicious without.
  • To serve Kalua pork as a main dish, serve it with some soy sauce, coconut rice and a side of coleslaw.
  • For pulled pork sandwiches, layer on a hamburger bun with your favorite barbecue sauce and top with crunchy slaw.
  • It’s also delicious over nachos, tacos, salads and wraps.
Kalua Pork on a plate

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!

Close up of a Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwich

How to make Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Close up of a Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwich

Kalua Pork / Pulled Pork Sandwiches

5 from 8 votes
Kalua Pork Pulled Pork Sandwich is bursting with sweet and tangy flavors. Tender shredded pork topped with crunchy slaw on a soft bun, these sandwiches are hearty and flavorful!

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 10 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Crock Pot Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 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.)

Instructions

  • Line bottom of crock pot with 2 ti leaves (if you have them). 
  • Rub pork generously with salt, pour on liquid smoke then 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).

Video

Notes

Nutrition does not include bun or toppings.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 332kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 41gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 978mgPotassium: 668mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 13mgIron: 2.3mg

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About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My family loves Kalua Pig. I make mine with Hawaiian Salt and TI Leaf. I don’t use liquid smoke. I also prefer to cook mine in the oven at 215-225 degrees F. for 10-12 hours depending on how big it is.
    Leftovers I fry up some cabbage and place the pork in it to steam with some of the juices and serve over rice. So ONO!

  2. 5 stars
    I threw this into the slow cooker last night. Eyeballed the amounts of sea salt and liquid smoke (poked the pork full of holes, rubbed in the liquid smoke, then rubbed in the salt), skipped the water (I swear it’s not necessary ~ the pork will give off a large amount of liquid), and put an unpeeled banana on top of the roast. I’ll cook it on low for 20 hours or so, shred it, defat the liquid, and throw it all back in the slow cooker for another hour. So ono! I’ve been making kalua pork this way for years. I’m so glad this recipe was posted ~ it’s one of my all-time favorite recipes!

    1. Great tips! I love the idea of putting a banana in there with it! I will DEFINITELY try that next time!

  3. 5 stars
    just found your site and going through it…it rocks!

    Here’s a tip for those that don’t have ti leaves…you can put a banana peel (under or on top of the pork) in the crock pot and it gives it that “island/local flavor”. I promise it doesn’t taste like banana.

    1. eRiCa,
      Do I need to put the banana peel in the crock pot with the yellow or white side up before adding the pork? Next question should put on bottom only, top only, or both. Thanks for your help.

      1. I haven’t added banana peel before. One of the commenters said she puts an unpeeled banana on the top. That is what I will try next for sure!

  4. 5 stars
    I have family from Hawaii and they Pick the leaves from their tree wash and dry them. Then they stick them in the freezer and they still work out great. This is a great tip!