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Instant Pot Kalua Pig

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Smoky, salty, juicy, tender pork pressure cooked and shredded to perfection. This Instant Pot kalua pig is so simple, anyone can make it.

instant pot kalua pig in a serving dish

There’s a special place in my heart for Hawaiian food and kalua pig is no exception. What used to take hours of cooking in an imu, can now be made in just about 2 hours in the comfort of your own home.

What is an imu?

An imu is an underground oven used to cook foods. It is a large hole dug in the ground. Wood is placed at the bottom of the pit and lit on fire. Stones are then placed on top of the wood. Once the wood completely burns the stones drop to the bottom of the pit and are now hot enough to cook the food. The food was then placed in the imu and covered with banana leaves and buried. This allowed large amounts of food to be cooked low and slow and creates an amazing flavor.

close up instant pot kalua pig

What is kālua pig?

Kālua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an imu. Pork was often placed in the imu, slow cooked, and then shredded. You bet you can find this at just about any lū’au show today.

Kalua pig is so delicious because it’s

  • Smoked flavor
  • Saltiness
  • Tender, shredded meat
kalua pig and rice on a black plate

What type of meat is used for this recipe?

Pork butt or pork shoulder are great choices.

What goes well with Instant Pot kalua pig?

  • Sticky white rice, bet you’d never have guess. Starting to see a trend here? Rice goes well with just about any local dish.
  • Good old poi
  • Steamed cabbage
  • Lomi salmon
  • Macaroni salad

Kalua pig also goes well in quesadillas, nachos, tacos, or served in a sandwich.

Don’t have an imu?

Hey neither do I, however I will add that my husband has been bugging me to put one in my backyard. For my baby first lū’au, my parents created an imu in our backyard. We shall see what becomes of this. But you’re in luck because now you can make this recipe in the comfort of your own home.

instant pot kalua pig

How to store kalua pig?

The beauty of this dish is you can make a large batch and freeze the extras for another day. Then simply toss in the microwave or on the stove to reheat. This will keep for a few months. You can store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

What’s in Instant Pot kalua pig?

Literally 3 ingredients.

  1. Pork butt
  2. Hawaiian salt
  3. Liquid smoke. I like to use kiawe (mesquite).

That’s it!

top down view of kalua pig in a serving dish

How to make Instant Pot kalua pig?

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  1. Place cubed pork but in Instant Pot.
  2. Add Hawaiian salt and liquid smoke. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup water.
  3. Close lid and place vent in sealing mode. Cook on manual high pressure for 90 minutes. Allow to natural pressure release, about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Shred pork with fork. Serve with your favorite side dish and ENJOY!
close up instant pot kalua pig

Instant Pot Kalua Pig

Relle Lum
Smoky, salty, juicy, tender pork pressure cooked and shredded to perfection. This Instant Pot kalua pig is so simple, anyone can make it.
4.26 from 35 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Instant Pot
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 2 pounds
Calories 305 kcal


  • 2 pounds pork butt cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Hawaiian salt
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: cabbage


  • Place pork butt in the Instant Pot.
  • Add Hawaiian salt and liquid smoke. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup of water.
  • Close lid and place vent to sealing mode.
  • Cook on manual high pressure for 90 minutes.
  • Allow to natural pressure release.
  • Once the pin has dropped, open the lid. Using two forks, shred the pork.
  • Optional: Roughly chop cabbage and add to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine. Allow residual heat to cook through the cabbage.


*If you like it a little more salty you can add more Hawaiian salt.


Serving: 1gCalories: 305kcalProtein: 26gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 345mg
Keyword Instant Pot, kalua, kalua pig, kalua pork, keto, kid friendly, pork recipes
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instant pot kalua pig

By on September 5th, 2019

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

More posts by this author.

25 thoughts on “Instant Pot Kalua Pig”

  1. I’m stunned that flavors like this come from a recipe with so few ingredients! I”m dusting off my IP and trying this ASAP! Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. This recipe was so easy to follow and need minimal ingredients! I can’t believe that it tasted just like it was cooked in an imu! Definitely a favorite for my family, and will be added to our dinner rotation! Thank you!!!

    • You can opt to cook it with the bone in (the cook time may need to be increased) or you can cut the meat off the bone first prior to cooking. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. My IP vent is either “seal” or “release”….no “steam” mode. There is a “steam” setting on the face. Is that what you mean?

  4. Aloha Relle,
    Thank you for all the great recipes on YouTube! I already made your pumpkin butter mochi and it was amazing! I just tried this one today and omg it is so ‘Ono! I had 10lbs pork butt bone-in and it didn’t all fit in the crock pot, so I decided to split it and do both ways. Crock pot’s still cooking and I’m pretty sure instant pot is the way to go, lol. Anyway, I wanted to ask, since I have so much and plan to freeze some, do you recommend mixing in the cabbage now, or toss in fresh when I plan to reheat? Mahalo!

    • Aloha Desiree. So great to hear. Thanks for sharing. You can freeze it either way, however I would say better to add the cabbage fresh when reheating. Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Hello, I can’t wait to try this! How would I adjust the cooking temp/time for using a Dutch oven in an oven? Thank you!

    • Aloha Monica. You can roast at 350F for 3-4hrs or more depending on the size and thickness of the meat or until tender and easily shreds with a fork.

  6. Mahalo for the simple recipe. I didn’t have to heat up my entire house with the oven and I could set it and forget it, with the instantpot. We didn’t have liquid smoke so we just used salt and water with the pork. Threw in some cabbage and lil bit shoyu. Was ono and so much cheaper than the premade ones.


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