Instant Pot Kalua Pork—this Hawaiian style pork is easy to prepare, with only 4 ingredients and a hands off cooking method. And it tastes amazing! It will soon become a family favorite.
Instant Pot Kalua Pork
Each week in 2020 I’m sharing a recipe inspired by one of the 50 states. So far I’ve covered Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, Minnesota, Colorado and Idaho. Today’s recipe is inspired by the Aloha state: Hawaii.
I think most of us can agree that Hawaii is one of the most desirable states to visit in the United States. With its tropical climate, gorgeous beaches, diverse natural scenery and active volcanoes Hawaii has plenty to boast. And what about the food in Hawaii? Uh, yum.
Today’s recipe is inspired by Hawaii’s luau pork (kalua pork) that is traditionally cooked in an underground oven called an Imu. The process of cooking a pig in an Imu is quite intense. You dig a 2-4 foot deep pit, fill it with kindling and rock and light it on fire. After several hours the kindling turns to coal and tropical leaves are placed on top of the coals. Then the pig is placed on top of the leaves. Leaves cover the top of the pig and the dirt that was dug out earlier is used to cover up the hole to keep the heat in. The pig is cooked for at least 8 hours.
I’m pretty sure if I sent my kids or husband out to the backyard to dig a hole that was 4-6 feet deep they would revolt within the first 10 minutes. Plus it’s winter here and I don’t want to go outside to cook. Not to mention that we don’t have any tropical leaves to surround the pork with. This method, although quite fascinating, is just not going to happen around here.
Enter the Instant Pot (or slow cooker) with it’s magical powers! A beautiful kitchen appliance that can turn tough meats to tender in less than 2 hours from start of prep to end of shredding.
You’ll need just 4 ingredients for this recipe:
- Chicken broth — for flavor and to bring the pot to pressure
- Red Hawaiian sea salt* — to season the meat. You can buy this online or some grocery stores carry it. I have also used pink himalayan sea salt which can be found at most grocery stores (including the bulk bins at Winco).
- Liquid smoke — to add that smoky flavor. Found in my grocery store next to the barbecue sauces. For this recipe I prefer hickory or mesquite flavored liquid smoke. (I use this in my slow cooker bacon mac and cheese recipe).
- Pork — Use pork shoulder (also known as boston butt or pork butt). I have also used a pork picnic roast and pork blade.
Start off by trimming excess fast off of the pork. It will need some fat on there but you don’t want it swimming in the fat. Then poke the pork with a fork about 8 times. Rub the salt all over the pork and then place it in the Instant Pot with some broth. Pour the liquid smoke over the meat, cover the pot and you’re set! I like to cook by boneless pork shoulder about 20-25 minutes per inch of thickness. So if you have a huge pork shoulder it will take longer than a smaller cut. I also like to use 1 tsp of the Hawaiian sea salt per pound of the meat.
You may be thinking that this recipe is so simple, with such few ingredients that it is not going to be great. I promise it is really so tasty! My daughter just had some leftovers for lunch and said, “Mom! You need to make this more often. It is so good.” We served ours with Instant Pot coconut rice (recipe coming soon) and fresh pineapple. It was a truly delicious meal!
Try these other Instant Pot pork recipes…
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This Hawaiian style pork is easy to prepare, with only 4 ingredients and a hands off cooking method. And it tastes amazing! It will soon become a family favorite.
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Pork shoulder (see note)
- 1 tsp red Hawaiian sea salt per pound of meat
- 1 tsp hickory or mesquite flavored liquid smoke per pound of meat
- Pour the broth into the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Trim off excess fat of the pork shoulder. Poke the pork shoulder 6-8 times with a fork. Rub the sea salt all over the pork. Place the pork inside the Instant pot. Dump the liquid smoke over the top of the pork.
- Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure the valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 20 minutes per inch of thickness of the meat, so if your pork shoulder is 4 inches thick at the thickest park you’d set the time to 80 minutes.
- When the time is up allow for a full natural pressure release* (about 20 more minutes). Remove the lid when the pin drops.
- Place the meat on a large cutting board and shred. I like to use gloved hands and just do this part with my fingers. Others use forks, shredding claws, or even a hand mixer.
- Pour the liquid from the pot into a separate container like a glass measuring cup. Add the shredded pork back into the Instant Pot. Pour some of the liquid over the top so that keeps the pork from drying out.
Pork: For pulled pork, the standard rule of thumb is one-third to one-half pound of meat per person. When cooked and shredded, pork shoulder will lose around 30 percent of its weight. Use pork shoulder (also known as boston butt or pork butt). I have also used a pork picnic roast and pork blade.
Slow Cooker instructions–follow instructions 1 and 2. Cover the pot and cook on low (if using the Instant Pot slow cooker function then cook on “more”) for 8-12 hours (depending on how big the pork shoulder is and your individual slow cooker. If it’s not tender, it’s not done). Then follow instructions 5 and 6.
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*.
Red Hawaiian sea salt*–You can buy this online or some grocery stores carry it. I have also used pink himalayan sea salt which can be found at most grocery stores (including the bulk bins at Winco).
Liquid smoke — to add that smoky flavor. Found in my grocery store next to the barbecue sauces. For this recipe I prefer hickory or mesquite flavored liquid smoke.
- Category: Pork
- Method: Instant Pot
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.