Three ingredients and an Instant Pot are all you need. Kalua pork Instant pot is so flavorful everyone you feed will come back for seconds. Maybe even thirds. Savory, succulent, and a little smoky, this is the pork you didn’t know your party was missing.
This dish takes me back. The first time I ever ate kalua pork was at a luau on my senior trip in high school. It was love at first bite and my plate was empty before I knew it. I went back for seconds. Then a third helping. That’s the level of delicious we’re talking about here.
Pork shoulder is great. This recipe is especially delicious because…Are you ready?
You mix the pork fat into the shredded meat for ultimate flavor. Now that’s a party.
You’re gonna want another bite.
If I had my choice of any meat dish, be it for a luau or my last meal, this would be it. Serve topped with Himalayan salt (and plenty of friends.) Enjoy! – Linds x
- Pork shoulder or pork butt (i.e. Boston butt). These cuts of meat are extremely similar, so you can use either. Boston butt has a more marbling, so we typically prefer the flavor, but find it harder to find.
- Liquid smoke – use mesquite or hickory, whichever you prefer.
- Fine-grain red Hawaiian sea salt (alaea) or coarse kosher salt – For more traditional opt for red Hawaiian sea salt, which can be found on Amazon. This specialty salt is ground with red volcanic clay, which adds loads of minerals and gives it a red color. It contains less sodium than table salt, which is why I recommend fine-grain red Hawaiian salt or COARSE grain kosher salt. Feel free to use this conversion chart for other swaps.
- Cabbage is optional, but we love it as a side!
Not a Fan of Liquid Smoke?
When making kalua pork instant pot liquid smoke is a staple to give the pork its traditional smokey flavor. Historically (and today at most Hawaiian luau ceremonies) kalua pig is roasted in an imu, which is a large dirt pit lined with kindling and stones. The pig is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked low and slow.
All that to say, you can leave out the liquid smoke, but the dish will taste very different!
First and foremost, be sure to toss the cooked kalua pork instant pot in additional cooking liquid before reheating it. We like to serve it over a bed of white rice, coconut rice, or cauliflower rice.
Other Cooking Methods?
There are a few ways to cook this dish, however, I love that this instant pot kalua pork recipe cooks safely and in a fraction of the time, especially when compared to the kalua pork crock pot!
- Pressure cooker: Cover and heat pressure cooker over high heat until you reach high pressure. Then reduce heat to low, maintaining high pressure for 75 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from heat and allow pressure to naturally release – this should take about 20 minutes.
- Slow Cooker: Cook on low heat for 8-12 hours. Check after 8, we want this to be fall-apart tender. If it’s not ready, check every hour until 12.
Storing + Reheating Tips
Store leftovers in the fridge, making sure to save and separately store the cooking liquid! When you’re ready to reheat, pour additional liquid over the top and toss to coat. You can also pan-fry your kalua pork instant pot for crispy leftovers! I like to do this in bacon grease in a skillet — avocado or veggie oil will also do.
Psst – This Freezes Well!
Store leftovers in a super airtight container (I like a resealable baggie with all the air removed for this) and in the freezer. Be sure to include cooking liquid.
More Pork Recipes
- Colorado Green Chili
- Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Bacon Butter
- Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin
Kalua Pork Instant PotPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 4-6 pounds pork shoulder or butt (note 1)
- 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
- 2-3 teaspoons fine grain red Hawaiian sea salt or coarse Kosher salt (note 2 + 3 + 4)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cabbage cored + cut into 6 wedges
- Rinse pork (4-6 pounds) and pat completely dry with paper towels. Carefully stab pork all over, either with a fork or the tip of a knife.
- Measure your salt, (see note 3) you'll use 1 teaspoon of fine grained salt per 2 pounds of meat. Pour liquid smoke (1 tablespoon) over the pork, followed by an even sprinkle of sea salt (2-3 teaspoons).
- Place trivet in the instant pot, and pour water (1 cup) in. Place meat on the trivet. Cover the instant pot with your lid and make sure the pressure release valve is set to "seal". Select high pressure, and cook the pork for 90 minutes.
- Once done cooking, turn the pressure release valve to "venting" to naturally release the pressure, this should take about 20 minutes. Once the pin drops, carefully remove the lid. Check that the pork is incredibly tender -- it should easily fall apart with a fork. If not, you can cook it for 5-10 more minutes until it gets there.
- Remove pork to a large bowl.
- Place cabbage (1) in the instant pot, and seal with the lid. Make sure the pressure release valve is set to "seal". Cook on high pressure for 2-5 minutes (2 for smaller, 5 for a larger head of cabbage). Once done cooking, turn pressure release valve to venting. When the pin drops, remove the lid.
- While the cabbage is cooking and once the pork is cool enough to handle, shred using 2 forks.
- Pour the cooking liquid into a liquid measuring cup, then pour some over the meat, and toss to coat -- the meat should look juicy! (Psst - Be sure to save this liquid, you'll want to toss your reheated leftovers in it before reheating.) Taste and adjust salt level to your liking (see note 4, I usually add an additional teaspoon of salt here) Serve with steamed cabbage, and enjoy!
Fans Also Made These Low Carb Recipes:
- Pork shoulder vs. butt - you can use either here. Pork butt is typically more marbled but shoulder is also delicious
- Red Hawaiian sea salt can be found on Amazon. The best replacement for this is coarse Kosher salt, as Hawaiian sea salt is lower in sodium by (typically) 10-15%.
- Amount of salt - use 1 teaspoon of fine grained salt per 2 pounds of meat. So, for 4 pounds use 2, for 5 pounds, use 2 1/2, and for 6 pounds use 3.
- Salt to finish - I typically like to add more salt to our kalua pig, at the end, once it's been shredded and tossed in the cooking liquid. I usually add at least 1 additional teaspoon. To air on the side of not over salting your meat, I suggest starting with the salt rec above and increasing on the finish to your taste.