Kalua pig is a go-to dish when you think of Hawaiian food. It’s smoky, salty, and ridiculously tender. Add a side of Hawaiian macaroni salad and a scoop of rice and it’s about as close to perfection as it comes.
When my husband and I went to Hawaii this past January, we had kalua pork multiple times. How could you not? Whether it was at a big luau with incredible musical and dancing performances, or at one of the many delicious authentic Hawaiian restaurants on the island, kalua pig just hits the spot.
A few weeks after returning home, and suffering through a miserably cold snow storm, we desperately wanted to be back in Hawaii. While that wasn’t really an option, finding a way to bring Hawaii home to us became our goal.
The thing is, authentic kalua pork is made in a very particular way, one that would be difficult for most of us to do. The traditional cooking method involves salting a whole pig and placing it in an underground pit oven that’s covered in banana leaves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an underground pit oven in my backyard, easy access to a whole pig, or a stack of banana leaves laying around.
So I turned to one of my favorite kitchen appliances: the trusty crockpot.
Believe it or not, you can make delicious, tender, smoky, salty kalua pig in your crockpot. And it only takes three ingredients. Seriously. Three.
- Pork roast
- Hawaiian alaea salt
- Liquid smoke
It really is that simple. The meat comes out incredibly tender and packed with flavor. And like so many crockpot meals, you toss the in the ingredients and go about your day and come back at night with a delicious meal waiting for you. How’s that for mahalo?
Alaea sea salt is easy to find when you’re in Hawaii, but you can also get it on Amazon. While not super cheap, it makes a big difference and if you love kalua pig it’s worth the spend.
Liquid smoke sounds like something that would be super complicated to use, but it’s thankfully not. It may be a little tough to find, but at my grocery store it was on the aisle with the other condiments, next to the barbecue sauces.
Here’s how you make homemade crockpot kalua pig:
- 3-4 lbs pork roast
- 1 Tbsp Hawaiian alaea salt
- 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
- Using a knife, poke multiple holes or slits in the pork all over.
- Rub the sea salt into the pork.
- Place the pork roast in the crockpot and pour the liquid smoke over the pork.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- When the roast is done cooking and is tender, use two forks to shred the pork.
- Serve with rice and mac salad.
Kalua pig is amazing on its own. But you start to get that whole Hawaiian experience at home when you add in some mac salad. Thankfully, this side is almost as easy to make as the pig itself.
Hawaiian Mac Salad Recipe
If you’re not familiar with Hawaiian mac salad, it’s pretty basic: elbow macaroni with shredded carrots and a mayo-based dressing. It’s often served slightly cold which contrasts well with the warm kalua pig and rice.
This mac salad isn’t packed with flavor. It’s honestly fairly straightforward. But that’s because it’s meant to be eaten with the kalua pig—even in the same bite—to balance out the flavors.
- 1lb elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups mayo
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the macaroni following package directions, and drain.
- Pour the drained macaroni into a large bowl and add in the apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine and allow to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sugar, milk, onion powder, and salt and pepper.
- Pour the mayo dressing over the cooled macaroni.
- Add the shredded carrot and stir to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
While the mac salad can be served room temperature, I personally like it a little colder. You may find when you take it out of the fridge that it’s a little dry. If so, add in a little more mayo and milk.
Even though this is a really basic mac salad, my youngest daughter is obsessed with it. She’d eat it every day if I let her.
Well, there you have it—kalua pig and mac salad you can make at home. Sure it’s not the same as enjoying that sweetly scented Hawaiian air and listening to ukulele music and the waves lapping the shore, but at least you can enjoy the delicious food at home and dream of your next trip to Hawaii.
P.S. If you’ve never been to Hawaii, I highly recommend it. I know everyone says that. I used to roll my eyes when I heard people rave about Hawaii, but it really is a special place. And the food is a big part of that.