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kalua pork on a sheet pan

Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork Recipe

Inspired by the traditional imu cooked pork, we are slowly smoking a pork shoulder, seasoned with Hawaiian Pink Salt, and wrapped in banana leaves, then slowly smoked until pull apart tender.
Course Entree
Cuisine American, barbecue, Hawaiian
Keyword hawaiian pork, kahlua pork, kalua pig, kalua pork, kalua pork recipe
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 8 hours
Resting Time 1 hour
Servings 8 people
Calories 358kcal
Cost $40.00


  • 4 banana leaves (You can source these at your local specialty grocery store)


  • 7 pound pork shoulder (Bone-in or boneless work)
  • ¼ cup Hawaiian Pink Salt Alternatively you can use Himalayan salt. But be sure the crystals are larger.


  • Prepare Smoker: Prepare the smoker at 275 degrees Fahrenheit, using oak or a fruit wood. Remove the wrapped pork shoulder from the refrigerator as the smoker comes to temp.
  • Smoke: When the smoker comes to temperature, place the wrapped pork shoulder on the smoker and insert a good digital thermometer to monitor the cooking temperature, like the Thermoworks Smoke or Smoke X unit.
  • Smoke for 9 hours: Continue smoking until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, use an instant read thermometer like the Thermapen One and test the temperature in a few places. Ideally when using the instant read thermometer it should feel like your inserting the point into room temperature butter. That is when the shoulder is done. This can range from 190 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit or after cooked about 8 hours.
  • Rest: When it reaches the correct temperature and texture, remove from the smoker and then let it rest for 30 minutes. Cut away the leaves and discard. Then using your favorite pork pulling tool and shred. As you shred, discard any excess fat, bone, and cartilage.


Preparing the Kalua Pork: 
  1. The evening before cooking, trim excess fat and any glands off the pork shoulder. Leave ¼ of the fat cap on the top of the shoulder. Liberally season with the salt.
  2. Lay out the banana leaves in a cross pattern and place the pork shoulder in the center. Then carefully wrap the shoulder. We like to wrap one side, and then wrap the other and then tie it down tightly. Ideally the entire shoulder is wrapped and not exposed.
  3. Then store in the refrigerator overnight so the salt dry brines the pork.


Calories: 358kcal | Protein: 47g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 3721mg | Potassium: 826mg | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 3mg