Kalua Pork Torta with Pineapple Salsa Recipe: A Slow-Cooker Recipe

by Sandy on April 13, 2012

Kalua Pork Sandwich with Pineapple Salsa

Don’t worry, Mom.  There is no Kahlua in Kalua Pork. It’s just the name of the delicious Hawaiian slow cooked pulled pork dish that is wrapped in ti leaves then, roasted underground on hot rocks and served at every luau I have ever been to.  And you don’t have to worry, either.  I’m not going to ask you to dig up the backyard and roast a giant pig just to make this sandwich.  All you have to do is take out your slow cooker and plug it in.  Really.  It’s that easy.

Kalua Pork is a springtime favorite around here.  I’m not quite sure why, maybe it’s the memories of college Spring Fling Carnivals or my husband’s Fiji Islander frat parties or even recent anniversary trips to Hawaii that make this such a fun dish.  What ever the reason, you’ll find my slow cooker working over time to produce mountains of Kalua Pork.  I usually make several batches and freeze them in small portions that are the perfect size to use in every dish from enchiladas and tacos to BBQ sandwiches.

So, grab your little umbrellas and put on your flip-flops, you are going to need them, because this is the easiest dish you will ever make.

Slow-Cooker Kalua Pork Sandwich with Pineapple Salsa
First step, dust off the old crock pot.  Ooops, I mean slow cooker and, if you wish, line it with frozen ti leaves or banana leaves.  They are a nice touch and add a little flavor but, this step is totally optional.  I only go to that step if I am hosting a big party or catering a fancy one for someone else. They are usually in the freezer or produce sections of your grocery store.  If your store doesn’t carry them, you can get banana leaves at your local Latin market. Use the extra leaves to decorate the serving trays and tables.

Step two, rub the pork with sea salt or kosher salt and put it in the slow cooker. Pierce the surface of the pork with a large carving fork. Pour in the tablespoon or so of liquid smoke and pat it into the pork.

Final step, place the lid on the slow cooker and plug it in.

Yep, that’s it.  Roast the pork over night on low and in the morning, you will wake up to the perfect pulled pork dish.  Serve the Kalua Pork as is with rice and shredded cabbage (Hawaiian style) or transform it into carnitas, bbq, green chile, you name it.  Don’t worry about the liquid smoke ruining your dishes, there is only a tiny bit and it only enhances the pork without being an obvious flavor.
I like to serve the Kalua Pork on a big, soft torta bun with pineapple salsa and a little bit of pineapple bbq sauce. I know, bbq sauce is not very Hawaiian but, hey, this is a southwest blog.
Kalua Pork Sandwich with Pineapple Salsa Recipe-a Slow Cooker Recipe!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Kalua Pork Torta Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This easy slow-cooker Kalua Pork with Pineapple Salsa makes the perfect torta. Cook extra pork to freeze for other dishes like enchiladas, tacos or green chile.
Serves: 10 to 12
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder (boneless)
  • 1½ tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1½ tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 fresh pineapple, small dice (1/4 inch)
  • 1 red bell pepper, fine dice (1/8 inch)
  • 1 jalapeno, fine dice (1/8 inch)
  • ¼ small red onion, fine dice (1/8 inch)
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves, minced
  • 2 cups bbq sauce (your favorite brand)
  • 12 ounces pineapple chunks
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and chopped
  • 10 to 12 Torta buns or soft Kaiser Rolls
  • 1 head Lettuce or Napa Cabbage
  1. Cut excess fat from pork, rub with salt and place in a slow-cooker. Pierce with a carving fork. Pour liquid smoke over pork and pat into the pork.
  2. Cover the slow-cooker and cook pork on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Prepare the salsa by tossing the pineapple, red bell pepper, jalapeno, red onion and cilantro together. Refrigerate until serving.
  4. Combine bbq sauce, pineapple and habanero together in a food processor or blender. Pulse until well blended and smooth. Heat in a small sauce pan and set aside.
  5. To serve, warm the buns. Place a layer of cabbage on the bottom bun. Top with Kalua pork and pineapple salsa. Drizzle with bbq sauce.

These Kalua Pork Tortas are great for a picnic or an evening on the patio.  Give them a try and let me know how you like them.

Please feel free to share this recipe on twitter and be sure to  subscribe for future recipes delivered right to your inbox.

—posted by Sandy



Here are some great looking recipes that are just waiting for your leftover Kalua Pork:

Asian Lettuce Wraps by Kalyn’s Kitchen

Pork Carnitas Tacos by Everyday Southwest

Cuban Pulled Pork Sliders by Confections of a Foodie Bride

Pulled Pork Enchilada Casserole by Hogwash

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara @ Barbara Bakes April 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

I like how you spiced up Kalua Pork. It looks like summer to me.


Kate April 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

Ok, those pictures are so delicious! Even for a vegetarian!


Sandy April 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Hi Kate! I’m so happy you stopped by! Im going to have to do a vegetarian dish for you right away. Maybe a Graduation Day cupcake :)
Say “Hey” to Neil for me.


Carol April 17, 2012 at 9:13 am

Thank goodness! The title had me worried for a minute. I can’t wait to taste this scrumptions-looking delight.


Toby @ Plate Fodder April 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I swear! slow cooked pork is just about the best thing since sliced bread! We’re planning on pit cooking a big pig this summer and I can’t wait! love the spice blend you used.


Sandy April 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

You are pit roasting a WHOLE pig?! Awesome! You’ve got to stop back by an d leave a comment about the event. We will definitely link to your website and spread the word.


Kevin (Closet Cooking) April 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm

These sandwiches would be really tasty!


Sandy April 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Kevin, These really do make a great sandwich. I hope you give them a try and let me know what you think.


Susan Bewley@Budget Earth April 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

Wow! I’m normally not a pork fan but I may have to try it. This sounds absolutely heavenly! I will have to see if I can find a store around here that sells liquid smoke.

Budget Earth – Baked Acorn Squash Recipe


Sandy April 25, 2012 at 11:42 am

Bev, This is a dish that will win you over to pork. You can added so many great flavors like salsas or use the pork in any of you favorite dishes like bbq sandwiches or enchiladas. You can find liquid smoke in any grocery store. I think it’s by the spices and flavorings. If not, be sure to ask for it. It is a very common ingredient.


Deborah April 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

That looks so good – especially with that salsa!!


Sandy April 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

Hi Deborah, Thanks for stopping by. This really is a great recipe, especially for busy mom’s like you. This is one of my sons’ many favorites.


Susan Marshall VA April 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

I made these last night for my husband and they were absolutely wonderful. He even went back for seconds, minus the bun. These would be great for a party as everything can be done ahead of time and it makes so much. This was my first recipe to try from EverydaySouthwest.com and it was a success! I look forward to trying another one from your site very soon. Thanks!


Sandy April 25, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi Susan! I’m so glad you and your family liked this recipe. It’s a great one for our hot summer days.
Thanks for letting us know about it, we love any feedback from our foodie friends.


Dori aka Malibu Kitchen April 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Wow this looks amazingly good! Love your recipes and pictures.


Sandy April 30, 2012 at 12:40 am

Dori, Thanks for stopping by our blog. I look forward to sharing recipes with you.


LindaK April 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

I made this last week, and it was so simple, and so…..INCREDIBLY delicious. This is such a great party dish. I couldn’t find ti or banana leaves but would love to try it with them. Thank you for such a delicious recipe……I’m already planning on making it for a send off party for friends who are going to Hawaii. LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT (could you tell?)


Sandy April 30, 2012 at 12:38 am

Linda, I’m so happy you liked the recipe! It is a great party dish that will let you enjoy your own party. Have fun.


judy February 22, 2013 at 3:40 am

Do you remove the skin off the pork shoulder before cooking it? How long does the prepared pork last in the fridge? I want to make it in advance for a party.


Sandy February 22, 2013 at 11:46 am

The skin on my pork shoulder had already been removed so, yes, I would remove the skin and maybe some (but not all) of the fat. That would depend on how much fat is on the shoulder, of course. You do want to leave some for that great “pork-y” flavor.
I think it is totally fine to cook the pork one or two days ahead of time.
Have fun at your party!


judy February 22, 2013 at 3:41 am

Also, can you make the pineapple BBQ sauce in advance? Do you think it would be ok if I made it a couple days in advance to using it?


Sandy February 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

Hi Judy,
Yes, making the BBQ sauce ahead is perfectly ok and a great idea!


Leigh Anne Wilkes @YourHomebasedMom January 10, 2014 at 8:56 am

This looks delicious! Take me away to Hawaii!!


Sandy January 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Thanks, Leigh Anne! I love this “Hawaii at home” recipe. It’s a family favorite.


Melanie LaDue January 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

This looks delicious Sandra…and slow cooker? Yes please!

Melanie :)


Sandy January 16, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Hi Melanie, Thanks for stopping by and yes! More slow cooker recipes to come!


Bethany January 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

This looks so yummy!


Sandy January 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Thanks, Bethany! Yummy AND easy!


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