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Instant Pot Kalua Pork

Instant Pot Kalua Pork is a way to enjoy this succulent, flavorful slow cooked shredded pork in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook the traditional recipe.

High angle shot of a plate of instant pot kalua pork with pineapple and rice. The instant pot is in the background.

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Kalua Pork is a traditional Hawaiian dish of slow-cooked pork shoulder that is fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s  perfect served over rice or in sliders or tacos. But who has the time or patience to slow cook pork for 12 hours?

That’s where the Instant Pot comes in! This amazing kitchen appliance makes Kalua Pork in a fraction of the time, and it’s just as delicious.

What is Kalua Pork?

Kalua Pork, or Kalua Pig, is a dish that originated in Hawaii, where it traditionally involves a whole pig cooked in an underground oven, or “imu,” for hours until the meat is tender and flavorful.

In the traditional Hawaiian Kalua Pork recipe, you fill the pig with hot stones, wrap the pork in banana leaves lower it into the underground oven, and then roast for up to 12 hours. 

This greatly simplified version is made with pork shoulder that is seasoned with salt and liquid smoke, then slow-cooked until it falls apart. The result is a smoky, salty, and savory pork that is the perfect filling for tacos, sliders, or served with rice.

Hi angle shot of a plate of kalua pork and rice.

Why You’ll Love It

Authentic Hawaiian Kalua Pork is a time-honored and well-loved dish. Cooking Kalua Pork in the Instant Pot, or any electric pressure cooker, is a game-changer, making it accessible to regular home cooks who don’t have 12 or more hours to babysit a pork roasting in an underground oven. Here’s why you’ll love this recipe:

  • It’s quick! Rather than braising the pork for many, many hours, you can pressure cook it to tender perfection in just 90 minutes or so.
  • It has limited ingredients! This Kalua Pork recipe uses only ingredients (plus water).
  • It’s versatile! There are so many different ways to enjoy this shredded pork. Serve it over rice, toss it with noodles, pile it onto slider buns, load it into tacos or burritos, use it to top nachos, add it to scrambled eggs—the list goes on and on.
  • It’s tender and juicy! Pressure cooking seals in all the moisture while making the meat super tender.
  • No babysitting! When you cook Kalua Pork on the stovetop or in the oven, you need to check on it frequently. Using the Instant Pot eliminates the need for constant monitoring.
  • Easy cleanup! The Instant Pot keeps all the juices and spatter contained within the pot, so cleanup is easy.

Whether you’re looking for a new way to enjoy Kalua Pork or you’re new to the dish, the Instant Pot is the perfect tool for making this Hawaiian classic. So, give it a try and enjoy a taste of the islands from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make the recipe.

Ingredients You need to Make This Recipe

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Kalua Pork is one of those classic dishes that is sublime in its simplicity. You only need a handful of ingredients to make easy Kalua Pork at home. Here’s what you need:

  • Olive oil: You’ll use oil to sear the pork, sealing in the flavor and juices. You can use any oil you like, I just happen to always have olive oil on hand so that’s what I use.
  • Pork shoulder roast (boneless ): Pork shoulder is also called pork butt, Boston butt, or sometimes picnic roast (there are slight differences between these cuts, but any of them will work here). It’s a cut of pork that benefits from low and slow cooking, like roasting or braising. This makes it perfect for cooking in a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or crock pot. I use a boneless pork roast in this recipe, but you can use bone in pork, too. Just add about 25 percent to the weight. The cooking time will remain the same.
  • Liquid smoke: This is essentially the steamy residue of smoking wood, condensed into a liquid form. It comes in various flavors like mesquite or hickory and you can find it alongside BBQ sauces in the supermarket. The thing to remember with liquid smoke is that a little goes a long way.
  • Kosher salt: I always use kosher salt in my cooking because it is additive free so it has a nice, clean flavor. You can use any additive-free salt you like, especially Hawaiian sea salt if you have it.

How to Make Pressure Cooker Kalua Pork

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Making traditional Hawaiian Kalua Pig is out of reach for most people. But making Kalua Pork in the Instant Pot is incredibly simple. It’s not exactly the same as traditional Kalua Pork, but the result is a tender, juicy, and flavorful Kalua Pork that will become a staple in your household. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Heat some oil in the Instant Pot on sauté.
  2. Place the pork in the pot and cook it on all sides to brown the pork. 
  3. Remove the pork, transferring it to a plate.
  4. Add the water to the pot and, using a wooden spoon, scrape any seared meat remnants from the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add the liquid smoke to the Instant Pot and return the browned pork to the pot. Salt the top of the pork.
  6. Seal the lid and pressure valve. Pressure cook the pork and then, when the pork is done cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes or so, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  7. Remove the pork from the Instant Pot onto a cutting board and let the pork rest for at least 10 minutes.
  8. Use two forks to shred the pork.
  9. Serve the pork as desired. 
Low angle shot of a plate of Instant Pot kalua pork.

What to Serve It With

Like just about any pulled pork, there are so many great ways to serve shredded Kalua Pork. I like to serve it with steamed rice or Coconut Rice. If you want to go full Hawaiian, add a fried egg and some macaroni salad.

Kalua Pork also makes a great filling for wraps or sliders. I like to stuff it into Homemade Pita Bread with shredded lettuce or cabbage or Coleslaw and a glug or two of BBQ sauce or a spicy gochujang sauce. There are so many ways to make Kalua Pork sandwiches.

It’s also great as a taco filling. Pile it into homemade Corn Tortillas with  some Mango Habanero Salsa. Or make burritos with Mexican Black Beans, homemade Flour Tortillas, and Salsa Verde.

Substitute Kalua Pork for chorizo in Chilaquiles or pile the pork onto nachos.

If you love meaty pork dishes, try this pulled pork recipe.

The Final Word

Kalua Pork is a delicious and versatile dish that can be made in a fraction of the time with the Instant Pot. This amazing kitchen appliance allows you to make a dish that is traditionally slow-cooked for 12 or more hours in under 2 hours.

close up shot of shredded kalua pork.

Instant Pot Kalua Pork

Robin Donovan
Kalua Pork is a traditional Hawaiian dish of slow-cooked pork shoulder that is fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s  perfect served over rice or in sliders or tacos. This Instant Pot Version is much quicker and easier to make than the traditional whole pig roast in a pit!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Time to build and relese pressure 20 minutes
Course Main Course, Main Dish Recipes
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 6 people
Calories 341 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds pork butt or pork shoulder boneless
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or Hawaiian salt
  • 2/3 cup water


  • Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add the oil.
  • Once the Instant Pot gets hot, place the pork into the Instant Pot. Sear all the sides of the pork until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Once seared, remove the pork and set aside.
  • Add the water to the pot and turn the Instant Pot off. Using a wooden spatula, scrape any seared meat remnants to prevent a burn notice.
  • Add the liquid smoke and return the pork to the Instant Pot. Salt the top of the pork.
  • Seal the lid and pressure valve. Pressure cook on high pressure for 90 minutes.
  • When the pork is finished cooking, let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 15 minutes then quick release any remaining pressure.
  • Remove the pork from the Instant Pot onto a cutting board and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
  • Using two forks, shredd the pork.
  • Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


You can store Kalua Pork in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


Calories: 341kcalProtein: 42gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 548mgPotassium: 769mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 3mg
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By on February 11th, 2023


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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