Slow Cooker Kalua Pork with Cabbage

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Kalua Pork with Cabbage is an easy slow-cooker meal with delicious smoky pork and tender cabbage. This dish is protein-packed, easy to make, and absolutely delicious. Serve it on its own or alongside a bowl of warm rice.


I don’t know about you, but I think Sundays were made for slow-cooker recipes. If you’re looking for a new one to try, you can’t go wrong with this recipe for Kalua Pork with Cabbage. Made simply with pork tenderloin, olive oil, garlic, and cabbage, this tasty dish is packed with bold, smoky flavors that you won’t be able to get enough of.

Kalua pork is a traditional Hawaiian dish that typically consists of pork shoulder that is seasoned with salt, wrapped in leaves, and stored underground for 16 hours. However, if you don’t have an entire day to spare, you can instead use your handy dandy slow cooker to get the job done.

This slow cooker pork recipe is wildly flavorful and only requires 5 minutes of prep time. No matter what I’ve got going on, I can always spare 5 minutes. All you have to do is rub the pork with olive oil, salt, and liquid smoke, then toss it into the slow cooker and let it do its thing. It couldn’t be easier!

Once ready, you will have a delicious and tender pulled pork dish that is perfect to enjoy over a bowl of rice or greens, stuffed into sandwiches, or on its own for a low-carb meal. The incredible flavors and tender texture guarantee to convince your dinner guests that you worked a whole lot harder in the kitchen than you did.

Looking for more tasty slow cooker pork recipes? Don't miss this Mexican Cochinita Pibil.

Kalua pork cooked in the slow cooker with green cabbage served in a bowl with Hawaiian salt on the side.

Key Ingredients

To make this delicious pulled pork dish, you will need the following key ingredients:

  • Pork tenderloin: I recommend using a boneless roast with a leaner cut, which will keep the calories and fat content low, but feel free to use any cut you like. If you decide to use a bigger roast, simply adjust the liquid smoke, salt, and olive oil amount accordingly. Traditionally pork but or pork shoulder is used.
  • Cabbage: This veggie is a fresh and hearty compliment to the smoky flavor of the pork. It’s perfect for soaking up all of the delicious, juicy flavor.
  • Liquid smoke: This is the key to achieving that delicious, smoky flavor at home. You can typically find it in the spice aisle of your local grocery store.
  • Salt: A good sprinkle of salt goes a long way in enhancing the flavor of this pulled pork dish. If you want to follow the traditional Kalua pork route, try using Hawaiian sea salt.

Recipe Tips

Here are some of my top tips for bringing this Kalua pork recipe to life:

  • Cut your pork roast into smaller chunks before throwing it into the pot. This will make your life a lot easier later when it comes time to shred the meat.
  • When you’re all finished, there will be lots of delicious juices left in the pot. For a little extra oomph, I like moving the pork to a bowl and drizzling it with a half cup of juice to maximize on the flavor.
  • For even more flavor, try swapping out the water for chicken or vegetable broth. If you take this route, make sure to reduce the added salt.
  • Don’t like cabbage? No problem! Kalua pork tastes great on its own, or you could try substituting another vegetable. I recommend onions, bell peppers, or snap peas.

How to Serve Kalua Pork

Traditional Kalua pork is often part of a larger meal or plate and is frequently served with rice and macaroni salad. However, if you’re looking for a little more inspiration, here are some of my recommendations on how to serve this dish:

  • With stir-fried veggies. Stir-fried veggies like broccoli, onions, carrots, and bell peppers are the perfect side-dish for Kalua pork. Not only do veggies add tons of nutrients, but soy sauce adds to the smoky flavor of the pork. To complete the dish, throw a fried egg on top.
  • With potato salad. For more of a barbecue feel, try serving this dish with creamy potato salad. The smokiness of this pork goes great with classic picnic fare.
  • As sandwiches. Take inspiration from this Slow Cooker Chorizo Spiced Pork and serve it this Kalua pork into pita bread or tortillas topped with homemade slaw. It is the perfect way to turn this delicious pulled pork into an easy, grab-and-go lunch.
  • With sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes make for a delicious and nutritious side dish. I recommend tossing them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasting them for about 30 minutes.
  • Over salad. This savory pulled pork is a great way to add flavorful protein to a simple salad like this Easy Cucumber Salad or this Honey Lime Kale and Quinoa Salad.

Hawaiian pork with cabbage, liquid smoke, and Hawaiian sea salt in a ceramic bowl with fresh cilantro leaves.

How to Store Leftover Slow Cooker Pork

Kalua pork is a great dish to store and enjoy later. Not only do the leftovers taste amazing when served hot or cold, but this savory pulled pork is perfect in lunch sandwiches, grain bowls, and salads. Simply seal the leftovers in an airtight storage bag or container, then store them in one of two ways:

  • In the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
  • In the freezer for up to 3 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this delicious Kalua pork dish

Not only is pork a lean source of protein, but it’s packed with tons of essential vitamins and minerals. However, the key here is to stick with lean pork, as fattier roasts tend to dilute their nutritional value with lots of saturated fat and sodium.

Although this traditional Hawaiian dish is originally made with pork, you can absolutely swap it out for chicken breast or flank steak. Either of these meats would make for a delicious pork-free rendition of this delicious Hawaiian-inspired dish.

Yes! To make this dish in an Instant Pot, brown the pork and season it with salt. Then, add your water or broth and liquid smoke, then add the pork and cook on high pressure for about 45 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Kalua pork tenderloin shredded in a bowl with green cabbage and cilantro.
The Recipe
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Slow Cooker Kalua Pork with Cabbage

COOK TIME: 8 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 8 Hours, 10 Min
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  • 2.67 lbs. lean pork tenderloin
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp. salt (or more, Hawaiian is best)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 garlic cloves (whole and unpeeled, optional)
  • 6 cups green cabbage, cut into 2 inch chunks

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Rub the pork all over with the olive oil, salt, and liquid smoke. Pour the water (broth) in the slow cooker and place the pork on top.

Pork tenderloin being coated with liquid smoke, salt, and olive oil.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Add the cabbage in the last 2 hours of cooking. Shred pork with two forks before serving.

Kalua pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with cabbage,
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup (189g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 210
Calories from Fat 61
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 98mg
Sodium 975mg
Total Carbohydrate 4g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 33g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


* Traditionally you would use a Hawaiian sea salt.
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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Slow Cooker Kalua Pork with Cabbage
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Krissy Yeager
March 21, 2020 - 13:46
Add a Rating:
Fantastic and so easy...
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Rosa Romero
February 23, 2019 - 07:50
What would you recommend as a side dish for this recipe?
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Jen A
July 6, 2021 - 13:07
Hawaiian "sticky" rice (or plain white rice) with soy sauce and/or Hawaiian mac salad! :)
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October 23, 2021 - 14:03
A delicious side dish for this is Hawaiian sweet potato salad! Peal , dice, (bit size) sweet potatoes. Put in a plastic bag and flatten them out in the microwave, cook for 3 minutes. Turn bag over and cook again for 3 minutes or until potato chunks are just tender, NOT MUSHY! Cool while preparing 1/2 cup green pepper, red pepper, 1 can pineapple tidbits,(drained), save the juice. 1/2 cup cranberries, and 1/4 cup sweet onion. Mix all together with the cooled sweet potatoes. Dressing is: 1 Tblsp. Jerk seasoning, 4 Tblsp. Olive oil, 2 Tblsp. Lime juice,1/8 tsp. Salt, 1/2 tsp. Basil and juice from pineapple. Mix all well . Just one hour before serving add 5 oz. baby spinach or Kale. Toss all together and serve.ENJOY
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