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Instant Pot Kalua Pork

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This easy-to-follow Instant Pot Kalua Pork recipe combines the convenience of the Instant Pot with the rich, smoky flavor of slow-cooked, shredded pork, reminiscent of an authentic luau.

You will not be required you to dig a deep pit in your back yard, fill it with wood and lava rocks, cover it with dirt and banana leaves, and wait for 16 hours until a whole pig is thoroughly cooked the traditional way! 

For even more delicious pressure cooker recipes, check out the Instant Pot Recipes page.

A bowl of shredded Instant Pot Kalua Pork with cabbage.

I’m sure the fire department, the city council, and your neighbors are relieved to know this as well. LOL. In reality, this family favorite takes ten minutes of prep work, and then ninety minutes of hands free pressure cooking to create traditional Hawaiian kalua pork!

If you have ever been to a Hawaiian Luau, you have probably tried this traditional Hawaiian dish. It is a staple on the islands, and rightfully so. It is tender, juicy, and totally delicious!

You will also find traditional kalua pork served as a main dish in just about every restaurant and for special occasions along side some sticky white rice, Hawaiian Potato-Mac Salad, and tuna poke.

Looking down on a plate of shredded Kalua Pork surrounded by mounds of sticky rice, Hawaiian potato salad and poke.

Dat is one ono lunch brah!

What you’ll need

  • Boneless pork shoulder roast or pork butt – This cut of meat is well-marbled, which means it has a good amount of fat distributed throughout the meat. The fat content contributes to the rich and succulent flavor of the pork during the cooking process.
  • Alaea Red Hawaiian sea salt and smoked paprika – Adds an earthy smokiness to the kalua pork. For even more smokey flavor add one teaspoon of liquid smoke.
  • Cup of water – A pressure cooker needs water to build steam and keep the pork moist and tender.
  • Head of green cabbage – Adds a mild, slightly sweet flavor that complements the rich and smoky taste of the luau pork.
  • An electric pressure cooker

Check out the printable recipe card below for the complete recipe and detailed instructions.

How to make Instant Pot Kalua Pork

Remove the bone from pork butt/shoulder and cut pork into large pieces.

Pork butt roast with circle showing bone.

The bones are different sizes in each butt roast, but run top to bottom. This is an 8 pound pork butt/shoulder that became 5 pounds of pork chunks once the bone and the huge fat cap on the backside were removed.

Mix the Alaea sea salt and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.

Hawaiian red sea salt and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Sprinkle Hawaiian salt mixture over the pork and rub in to thoroughly coat.

Pork pieces seasoned with smoked sea salt mixture on a cutting board.

Place pork into the Instant Pot liner and add water.

Seasoned pork pieces stacked  in an Instant pot liner.

Secure the lid, select Manual/Pressure Cook and adjust time to 90 minutes on high pressure.

Instant Pot set for 90 minutes with circles around high pressure and manual settings.

When the pot beeps, push the cancel/keep warm button and natural release the pressure.

After the pressure is released move the pork to a bowl. Cover to keep warm.

Kalua Pork broken apart in a large bowl.

Add the sliced cabbage to the juices in the Instant Pot, stir with a wooden spoon to coat.

Cabbage inside the pressure cooker liner.

Select Manual and adjust time to 3 minutes. When the pot beeps, quick release the pressure.

Add the cabbage to the pork and stir to combine.

Instant Pot shredded Kalua pork sandwich with rice and Hawaiian potato mac salad on the side.

O-M-G this easy kalua pork recipe is crazy delicious, and the house smells amazing!! Serve with “two scoops” sticky rice and Hawaiian potato salad for a traditional plate lunch, or add a bun to make a kalua pork sandwich.


Why are you not using liquid smoke?

I lived in Iowa when this post was written and the only brand of liquid smoke sold at the grocery store had strange ingredients. I chose to create my own smokey flavor using smoked paprika, and it worked perfectly.
I now have this Liquid Smoke in the cabinet, but still prefer the smoked paprika in this recipe. Substitute 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke for the smoked paprika if you prefer.

Do I have to use Hawaiian sea salt?

Hawiian Alaea Red Sea Salt is the traditional salt to used to make traditional kalua pig. Substitute kosher salt or any course sea salt that you have on hand.

Which Instant Pot did you use to create this recipe?

This is the totally awesome 6-quart Instant Pot that I have…and love…and use it to create all of my recipes.

How easy is it to shred the pork?

It is so simple, I did not need to do anything special shred the pork, the tender meat fell apart on it’s own!

Is Kalua Pork Whole30 and Paleo compliant?

Yes! This luau pork by itself is Whole30, Keto, and Paleo. The Hawaiian Macaroni Salad and Hamburger Buns shown above are not. Sorry, but I wanted to show a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch.

How do I make sticky rice?

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup cup of sushi rice, stir. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

More delicious Hawaiian food recipes

Kalua literally means “to cook in an underground oven”, so using an Instant Pot is technically breaking with tradition…but who wants to sit around for 16 hours waiting for lunch?

The traditional ingredients are being used, so hopefully that is enough to keep the tiki gods happy.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!
Tag @cookingwithcurls on Instagram & Facebook and leave a ⭐️⭐⭐⭐⭐ review below!


A bowl of shredded Instant Pot Kalua Pork with cabbage.

Instant Pot Kalua Pork

Now you can make this tender and juicy Hawaiian Instant Pot Kalua Pork with cabbage at home, no imu (underground pit) required!
4.91 from 10 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pork, Hawaiian, paleo, whole30, instant pot, recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Pressure Release: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 403kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson


  • 6-quart Pressure Cooker


  • 5 pounds pork butt bone removed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Red Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or substitute liquid smoke if preferred
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 head green cabbage cut into wedges


  • Remove the bone from pork butt/shoulder and cut pork into large chunks.
  • Mix the Alaea sea salt and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle salt mixture over the pork and rub in to thoroughly coat.
  • Place pork into the Instant Pot liner and add water.
  • Secure the lid, select Manual and adjust time to 90 minutes. *it will take 15 to 20 minutes for the pressure cooker to build pressure and start cooking*
  • When Instant Pot beeps, push the cancel/keep warm button and allow pressure to release naturally.
  • When the pressure is released move the pork to a bowl. Cover to keep warm.
  • Add the cabbage wedges to the juices in the Instant Pot, stir to coat.
  • Select Manual and adjust time to 3 minutes on high pressure.
  • When the pot beeps, release the pressure manually.
  • Add the cabbage to the pork and stir to combine.
  • Serve on hamburger buns with rice and Hawaiian potato mac salad on the side.


  • Red Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt is the traditional salt to use.  Substitute any course salt that you have on hand.
  • I did not shred the pork, it fell apart on it’s own…oh ya!
  • The Kalua Pork is Whole30 and Paleo, the Hawaiian Potato Salad and Hamburger Buns are not. 
  • To make sticky rice: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup cup of sushi rice, stir. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes
  • 8 Servings is the minimum, you could easily serve 10 maybe even 12 depending on how you are serving it and how many are children.


Calories: 403kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 170mg | Sodium: 1078mg | Potassium: 1159mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 235IU | Vitamin C: 41.6mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 4mg

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  1. Kalua Pork looks and sounds fantastic! Love all the accompaniments also! I have an electric pressure cooker (not an instant pot) that I just love to use. It certainly makes life easier by allowing such a quick cooking time! Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe! Blessings, Janet

  2. Just wanted you to know that I featured this as part of a weeknight meal ideas round up from ideas from the create link inspire party. Thanks for joining in on the party with us! Looking forward to trying this recipe!

  3. Great recipe, followed it exactly and came out delicious. My 13 year old son loved it and ate all of the leftovers. We also lived in Hawaii for 3 years, so this kalua pork tastes just like the one in the luau’s that’s been cooking in the ground for 16 hours. Question, if I double this recipe, would I have to double the water and also double the cooking time?

    1. Thank you Cristina. You would not need to double the liquid and I “believe” that the cooking time remains the same. The time is based on thickness of the meat, not total weight. If it isn’t cooked enough, you may need to put the lid back on and add more time. I would love to know how it turns out!! 🙂

  4. I was really happy to find such a delicious recipe. I, also do not like liquid smoke and was happy to find a recipe that worked around this ingredient. I used a salt rub from Hawaii (contained a little ginger, garlic and pepper flakes). I also served it with a side of Zucchini Hawaiian Slaw. A friendly work around the pasta and it was amazing! Thanks for posting.

  5. Hi, I’m new to the instant pot and just wondering when you add the cup of water, do you put it in with the meat or in the other pot? Also, when you say a liner, I’m assuming you mean the smaller pot to the current size you are using, right? Sorry for the questions, I’m just new to this. Thanks.

  6. I apologize for my previous questions, guess I should of looked at the pictures above and read those instructions instead of going straight to the recipe first.

  7. 5 stars
    Absolutely, positively, the BEST instant pot pork recipe I’ve made!! Huuuuuge hit @ our house! The only thing I did differently was use Himalayan salt.. as I couldn’t find the Hawaiian. Loved this so much.. I just had to take a container over to my folk’s.. which they also loved!! Thank You!! 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Very moist and great flavor! I used a 2 pound pork shoulder rubbed with Hawaiian salt and liquid smoke (I didn’t have paprika or cabbage). I cooked on high pressure for one hour and 20 minutes with natural release. I will definitely make again and try with smoked paprika and cabbage. 🙂

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