Traditional Luau Kalua Pork & Summer Crock Pot Cooking

This weekend I’m going to a birthday party. The invitation indicates a luau theme, so I plan to take my really easy, but delicious, Kalua Pork that I make in a crock pot.

Summer crock pot cooking is absolutely great since you don’t need to turn on the oven. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with baking or roasting during the summer (if your oven is well insulated). But baking or roasting during the summer just seems wrong when you can do many of the same recipes and get good results with summer crock pot cooking.

Like making Kalua Pork.  This dish is not to be confused with the delicious coffee liqueur called Kahlua that comes from Mexico. Instead, Kalua Pork is a traditional Hawaiian dish typically featuring a whole pig slow-cooked for many hours in a deep pit using hot coals, banana leaves and burlap.

So instead of digging a hole in your back yard and cooking a whole pig, you can happily use your crock pot and a smaller pork roast. The small space of the crock pot acts much like the snug back yard pit: moisture is kept inside the lid to slowly steam-cook the meat.  The only real difference in summer crock pot cooking and pit cooking is that you don’t need to party around the pit all night tending to the roasting pig.

Here is a good Kalua Pork recipe made in the crock pot that you can try (or include in your family cookbook) next time you have a luau or potluck:

Kalua Pork in a Crock Pot

6-8 pounds boneless pork butt roast (Allow 4-6 ounces cooked per serving)
1-1/2 Tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt (Adjust to 1 Tablespoon if you want it less salty)
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke flavoring (Plus a half Tablespoon after pork is shredded)
2 whole washed & unpeeled bananas

Pierce pork roast all over with a fork. Rub salt, then liquid smoke over the meat. Add meat to a large crock pot. Place the unpeeled bananas in the crock pot on either side of the roast. Cover, and cook on a low setting for 15-20* hours. Check occasionally and turn the roast half way through. When the meat falls apart, remove it from the crock pot and shred with a fork.  Remove the bananas and discard them (they were only meant to impart a special flavor). Set aside the drippings and add these to moisten the shredded meat, if needed. Taste meat and mix in additional liquid smoke to impart a smoky flavor.

* You can cook the meat on a higher setting for a shorter time as long as the meat doesn’t dry out. If your crock pot tends to cook fast, add ¼ cup water to ensure no burning.

Back to the upcoming luau.  Along with the Kalua Pork (that will be served from the crock pot), I also plan to take along some King’s Hawaiian Bread® so party-goers can make Kalua Pork sandwiches. King’s Hawaiian Bread® now has mini-rolls, and they just introduced sliced sandwich bread (which I may take instead if I can find it in my local store).

Easy, delicious, and no sweat Kalua Pork. That’s what summer crock pot cooking is all about.

Aloha & happy cookbooking,


About Erin Miller

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  1. Started cooking the kalua crock pot pork last night and the kitchen smells wonderful….can not wait to have it for dinner……. do you suggest a sauce to serve it with

  2. Thanks for the bannana tip to substitute the bannana leaf flavor. I feel stupid for not thinking of it myself. You might find it helpful to know your local florist might already have or at least be able to order tea leaves for you. I don’t know where you live but I live in Elko NV. If my florist has them, I’m sure yours can get you some. Enjoy!

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