Pressure Cooker Kalua Pork

Smokey tender, juicy shredded pork served over rice is a Hawaiian luau favorite. I’ve transformed a popular slow cooker recipe requiring a 16 hour cooking time to a pressure cooker recipe that is on the table in less than 2 hours.

Kālua, which means “to cook in an underground oven” is often confused with Kahlúa, which is a coffee-flavored liqueur. No, there this is no liquer in a Kalua Pork recipe.

The traditional Hawaiian Kālua Pork is a long process that involves wrapping a pig in banana leaves and burying it in a fire pit lined with stones where it smokes for hours until it’s tender and juicy. Of course, for most of us, that’s not very practical.

One of my daughter’s favorite meals is Kalua Pork. I don’t know if Kalua Pork is as popular across the U.S. as it is in Utah, or if it’s particularly popular in Utah because of the large Polynesian population here.

My daughter asked me to convert her recipe, which requires 16 hours cooking in the slow cooker to a pressure cooker recipe so we could have it for dinner. I found lots of similar Kalua Pork recipes on the net, including one Rachel, La Fuji Mama, posted that was featured on Oprah.

Pork Shoulder is an inexpensive cut of meat and Kalua pork is often served at church parties and family get togethers. My family loved this pressure cooker version of Kalua pork. I hope you’ll give this easy, delicious recipe a try.

Making Kalua Pork in an Instant Pot

An Instant Pot is one of the most popular brands of electric pressure cookers. They are easy to use and your Instant Pot can help you create this delicious Kalua Pork!

Pressure Cooker Kalua Pork

Pressure Cooker Kalua Pork


  • 4 lb Pork Shoulder (Pork Butt) roast, cut in two pieces
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Hickory Liquid Smoke (I used Wright's)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt (or Hawaiian salt)


Select Browning and add oil to the cooking pot. When hot, brown pork roast on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Brown each half of the roast separately. Remove to a platter when browned.

Turn pressure cooker off and add water and liquid smoke to the cooking pot. Add browned roasts and any accumulated juices to the pot. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the pork roasts.

Select High Pressure and set timer for 90 minutes. When beep sounds, use a natural pressure release to release pressure (approximately 20 minutes). When valve drops carefully remove lid.

Remove the meat from the pressure cooker and shred with two forks (discard excess fat as you shredded). Add some of the juices from the pressure cooker to moisten the meat. (I used a fat separator to remove fat from the juices.)