Instant Pot Kalua Pork

Amber Bracegirdle | Bluebonnet Baker

With a melt-in-your-mouth texture, this Hawaiian inspired dish tastes just like you're at a luau. Best of all, it needs just 15 minutes of preparation time!

Are you looking for a simple dish that's full of flavor?

This Instant Pot Kalua Pork is a one-pot wonder that can be served at a dinner party or even a quick mid-week meal. Your diners will never guess how easy this recipe was to make, as the pork is so beautifully flavored and tender that it melts in your mouth.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Photo

This recipe originates from Hawaii and ‘kalua’ refers to the way in which the pork is cooked.

Kalua is a traditional way of cooking in Hawaii and makes use of an underground oven, referred to as an imu.

When cooking in this way, leafy greens or banana leaves are used to smother the food, maintaining even heating and retaining the meat’s moisture. Soil is then packed on top so that no steam escapes. The meat cooks this way for several hours like and is then shredded and served.

This recipe isn’t quite so traditional (or time-consuming) as it uses an Instant Pot to keep things quick and easy. The good news is that cooking it in the Instant Pot doesn't cause the dish to lose  any of its amazing flavor!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Picture

A simple meal with few ingredients

While you may think this dish require a pantry full of spices to create, you’d be surprised to find out that the key is the Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt.

This salt is made from purified sea water that is blended with Hawaiian red volcanic clay - also known as ‘aleaa’ - which give it its depth of color.

If you are unable to find this salt (it is available on Amazon!) you can substitute equal parts of Himalayan salt. Himalayan salt is the result of ocean water that has dried up inland and become trapped due to tectonic shifts underwater - this residue is the salt itself.

When seasoning your pork, ensure that you cut slivers into the meat so that you can press chunks of garlic into them, which helps flavor it from the inside out. We recommend rolling the garlic chunks in the salt before pressing them into the meat!

You can serve this recipe as it is, or in tortillas or a sub-roll. Alternatively, serve it with fluffy white rice or creamy mashed potatoes!


Instant Pot Kalua Pork

      6 Servings


  • 5 pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 7 cloves Garlics, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Hawaiian Alaea Red Sea Salt
  • 2 slices Smoked Bacon, thick cut
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1 medium head Green Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
  • 1 pound Baby Carrots, cut in half (optional)


  1. Cut the pork shoulder into 3 equal pieces. Cut slits in several places on each piece of pork and push garlic chunks into them.
  2. Season each piece of pork thoroughly on both sides with the red sea salt. 
  3. Wrap a thick piece of bacon around each piece of pork. If you are using liquid smoke instead, drizzle over the pork pieces.
  4. Place the pork pieces into the pot, put the lid on and set the steam release knob to the ‘sealing’ position.
  5. Select the pressure cook/manual button and set the timer for 90 minutes. 
  6. Once the pork has cooked for 90 minutes, allow the pot to naturally release pressure (about 20 minutes or so), or wait for 10 minutes and then manually release remaining pressure.
  7. Transfer the pork to large bowl. Skim the fat from the remaining juices in the pot and discard. 
  8. Add cabbage and carrot (if using) to the remaining juices in the pot, add the lid and set the pot to ‘sealing’ and add 3 minutes to the timer.
  9. While the cabbage is cooking, shred the pork using two forks and cover until the cabbage is done.
  10. Once the vegetables have finished cooking, do a quick release of pressure and transfer the veggies to a large serving bowl. Place the pork on top of the cabbage and carrots.
  11. Adjust the seasoning of the remaining liquid in the pot, adding more salt if needed, then drizzle generously over the pork and cabbage. 
Simply Happy Foodie
Recipe Yields:
6 to 12 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Amber Bracegirdle
Source: Simply Happy Foodie
Recipe Yields: 6 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 140 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 385
Calories 786

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g
  Saturated Fat 17g
Sodium 384mg
Total Carbohydrate 15g
  Dietary Fiber 5g
  Sugars 9g
Protein 69g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Amber Bracegirdle

About Amber

Amber is a native Texan, born to a family of fabulous cooks. She shares her love of all things Tex-Mex and Southern both on her blog, Bluebonnet Baker, and here on Food Fanatic. She heavily endorses the use of the contraction "y'all".

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