Slow-Cooker Kalua Pork

Jaye Fong
by Jaye Fong
6 servings
8 hr 15 min

I was looking for ways to use up more of the banana leaves I bought.

Kalua Pork is a Hawaiian dish made by building an imu, which is an underground oven. A pit is dug and wood and stones are heated. Once the stones are ready, vegetation is piled on top, followed by food, a covering, and it is finally buried in dirt!

Since I didn't have that awesome set up, I attempted an at-home take. I boiled the banana leaves and wrapped the pork, marinated with only smoked salt, inside. Then set it on low in the slow cooler for 8 hours. The result is a very tender pulled pork!

I hope to try the authentic version one day to give it the reverence it deserves. We enjoyed the pork alongside pan grilled sweet potato, zucchini, and salad with homemade ginger carrot dressing.

Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 8 Hours Total time: 8 hr 15 min
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  • 4-6 lb pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 3 tbsp smoked salt
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1/2 package (1-2 sheets) banana leaves

Boil the banana leaves for 15 minutes and drain.
Wash and pat dry the pork.
Line the slow cooker with the banana leaves, such that you have enough to fold on top of the pork to envelop it.
Place the pork ontop of the leaves in the slow cooker.
If using liquid smoke, pierce the pork and pour the liquid evenly over the roast.
Coat the pork evenly with salt.
Cover the top of the pork with the banana leaves.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and set on low for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, remove the pork into a large bowl or high walled plate.
Shred the pork with two forks and serve or return the pork to the slow cooker to keep warm.
Serve with bbq sauce and awesome sides! Enjoy.
  • BANANA LEAVES - The banana leaves do not impart a ton of flavor, but they are quite fragrant! You can find them in an Asian grocery store in the freezer or cooler section. Defrost them and boil them to sterilize before using. Discard the banana leaves after using. DO NOT EAT THE LEAVES.
  • LIQUID SMOKE - I did not have liquid smoke so I only used smoked salt. It didn't impart as much flavor as I imagine using liquid smoke would be, so while this is optional, it is highly recommended you find and use liquid smoke!
  • LOW VS HIGH - I always like cooking on low for the slow cooker as much as possible since it results in a supremely tender, fall of the bone texture. If you are pressed for time, you can set yours on high for 6 hours.
  • SMOKING - If you have a BBQ or a smoker, you can definitely use those methods over the slow cooker. The slow cooker is just easier since you can prep it and walk away.
  • SIDES - Great sides to have with this dish are grilled veggies, macaroni salad, cabbage, pineapple, rice, and more!
Jaye Fong
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  • Lillian Ching Lillian Ching on Jul 09, 2023

    I am just wondering why do you have to boil the banana leaves? In Hawaii when they make kalua pig, or if they decide to wrap fish in it, they never boil the leaves.

    • Jaye Fong Jaye Fong on Jul 09, 2023

      I boil the leaves to sterilize them, removing any excess grime or bacteria. My groceries never offer fresh leaves, only frozen, so I imagine in Hawaii where they are able to get fresh leaves, they may need to just wash and dry them.