This is the best bacon-wrapped Kalua Pork on or off the mainland. Delicious, smoky Hawaiian barbeque that makes a perfect family dinner or backyard get-together. Each succulent bite reminds you of crashing waves, an island breeze, and a perfect sunset.
Barbeque is incredible. The slow-cooking, smoky, all-day melding of flavors over low heat, creating legendary meals. There’s truly nothing quite like the taste of salted meat combined with anticipation.
Places like Texas, Kansas City, and Memphis have been arguing for generations about who makes the best barbeque. But if we’re being honest, you gotta include Hawaii in that conversation. Hawaiians have been practicing and perfecting their barbeque technique known as Kalua for 1,500 years!
Kalua refers to the method of cooking, which is in an underground oven. The heat, steam, and slow cooking time create perfectly tender and flavorful pulled pork that even today is the center of Hawaiian feasts.
But how do you improve perfection? WITH BACON! Wrapping the meat before cooking allows the bacon to hug the pork, imparting its smoky, bacony, perfect flavors.
This is the BEST Hawaiian Kalua pig recipe ever. All the incredible flavor of an authentic luau without the hassle of burying and cooking an entire pig in your yard. Some might call that H.O.A-friendly. We just call it ono (Hawaiian for delicious).
This bacon-wrapped Kalua pork needs only 5 ingredients – pork, garlic, bacon, Hawaiian sea salt, and liquid smoke. Check out the photo below to see all the ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE KALUA PORK
Rinse the pork and pat it dry.
Trim off any large pieces of fat and discard. Next, use a knife to poke holes over the entire outside of the meat. Tuck pieces of garlic in the holes.
If your pork needs help holding its shape, use baker’s twine and tie that piggy up.
Sprinkle meat with 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke (if you choose), and then rub the Hawaiian sea salt into the meat.
Lastly, take your bacon strips and wrap them around your pork roast.
You are now ready to place your meat into the crockpot. Cook on low for 12 hours.
If after 12 hours your bacon isn’t as crisp as you’d like, transfer the pork to a baking dish and put it under your oven’s broiler for a few minutes to crisp it up.
Guess what…the time has come! Transfer the pork from the crockpot to a large plate or serving platter. Remove and discard the twine. Take the bacon off, sneak a few bites, then crumble the rest back into the cooked pork. Time to start shredding!
With a fork in each hand, shred the meat, discarding any fatty pieces along the way. Serve your perfectly prepared Kalua Pork, over rice, veggies, or on a bun with a splash of sweet barbeque sauce. Nanea!
CAN I MAKE THIS RECIPE WITH AN INSTANT POT?
I realize the idea of using an Instant Pot seems to contradict any recipe that calls for slow, all-day cooking. But if you’re short on time, this can actually work. While not exactly “instant,” you can still shave about 10 hours off your cooking time using an Instant Pot. All things considered, that’s wikiwiki (fast).
Instant Pot Version
Using the same ingredients as the slow cooker recipe…
- Place your pork on a washable cutting board, and cut several small slits in the meat. Tuck your garlic in the slits.
- Sprinkle liquid smoke over the meat.
- Rub salt all over pork until the entire surface is covered with salt and liquid smoke.
- Set your Instant Pot to saute’ mode, and cook bacon in the inner pot (it looks like a silver bucket) until it just starts to brown.
- Remove bacon, and wrap the strips around the pork. They won’t be long enough to reach all the way around. Just cover the surface that’s facing up, and wrap the bacon down each side as far as it will go.
- Switch to pressure mode. Place the prepared pork in the Instant Pot, then pour 1/3 cup of water around the sides – being careful not to wash off the salt. Cover and seal. Pressure cook for 90 minutes.
- Once the pork has finished do a natural pressure release for 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a bowl.
- Meanwhile, use two forks to shred the pork.
- To serve, place cabbage wedges on the bottom of a serving platter and spoon pork over the top. Drizzle with some of the juice left in the instant pot if desired.
CAN YOU FREEZE KALUA PORK?
Yes, but freeze before you cook it. In other words, do all your prep and seasoning, then transfer the meat to a freezer safe bag and freeze. The day before you cook it, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw completely (while still in the bag) in your fridge. You’re now ready to cook.
WHAT CAN I SERVE WITH KALUA PORK ?
To go full Hawaiian, serve with macaroni salad, rice, and fresh pineapple. Or make it mainland style, by substituting mac & cheese, and piling the pork on a soft bun.
WHAT KIND OF PORK SHOULD I USE?
For starters, opt for bone-in, which makes your meat juicier. Also, you’re left with a wonderfully seasoned bone you can use when cooking beans or making soup. If space is tight in your slow cooker, you may want to go with boneless.
If you’re here for the flavor, it’s all about da’ butt! Here’s my recommended order of preference when buying meat for Kalua Pork:
- Pork Butt (bone-in). Also known as Boston Butt.
- Pork Butt (boneless).
- Pork Shoulder (bone-in). Also known as Picnic Shoulder or Picnic Roast.
- Pork Shoulder (boneless).
HOW MUCH MEAT SHOULD I GET FOR EACH PERSON?
When buying pork, the rule of thumb is 2/3 of a pound of raw pork per person. Here’s a quick conversion chart:
- 1 person: 2/3 pound
- 2 people: 1 1/3 pounds
- 3 people: 2 pounds
- 4 people: 2 2/3 pounds
- 5 people: 3 1/3 pounds
- 6 people: 4 pounds
- 7 people: 4 2/3 pounds
- 8 people: 5 1/3 pounds
- 9 people: 6 pounds
- 10 people: 6 2/3 pounds
Remember, this is for 1 meal only. Spoiler alert: You’ll want leftovers. Whatever number you come up with, double it. Just make sure your crockpot is big enough to handle the amount of meat you buy! If you’re not in the mood to deal with fractions at the grocery store, you can always round up (2 pounds, 3 pounds, 4 pounds, etc.).
IS PORK BUTT ACTUALLY A PIG’S BUTT?
Nope, but it’s still fun to say!
Pork butt, otherwise known as Boston Butt, is located on the pig’s back, above the front legs.
PRO TIPS/RECIPE NOTES
When it comes to salting the pig, there’s not a tool in your kitchen that does a better job than your own hands. Don’t be shy – get in there and massage your way to authentic Hawaiian flavor! If you can’t bring yourself to handle raw meat, pick up a box of disposable food handler’s gloves and keep your paws clean while applying the salt.
The quantity of salt is small, but a little goes a long way. Avoid the temptation to add more. Those with an overactive salt tooth can always sprinkle on more seasonings at the table.
I list liquid smoke as optional – here’s why. Not everyone has the same taste tolerance for the flavor of smoke. You might be fine with just the smoky flavors imparted from the bacon wrap. Or you might like a little extra spike of smoke. No one knows your family’s taste preferences better than you!
WHAT OTHER PORK DISHES CAN YOU MAKE?
- Prepare these Slow Cooker Boneless Pork Ribs
- Make these tasty Pulled Pork Sliders
- Cook up some Instant Pot Pork Chili Verde
- Bring in some island flavor with this Caribbean Pork Roast Freezer Meal
- Make these Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops
The next time you make this Bacon Wrapped Kalua Pork, I would love to see it! Snap a picture and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #happymoneysaver and tagging me @happymoneysaver!
Bacon-Wrapped Kalua Pork
- 3.5-5 lbs pork butt also known as Boston Butt. I prefer bone-in.
- 6-8 slices uncooked bacon
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tbsp pink Hawaiian sea salt white sea salt works, too
- 1 tbsp liquid hickory smoke optional
- Rinse the pork and pat it dry.
- Trim off any large pieces of fat and discard. Next, use a knife to poke holes over the entire outside of the meat. Tuck pieces of garlic in the holes.
- If your pork needs help holding its shape, use baker’s twine and tie that piggy up.
- Sprinkle meat with 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke (if you choose), and then rub the Hawaiian sea salt into the meat.
- Lastly, take your bacon strips and wrap them around your pork roast. You are now ready to place your meat into the crock pot. Cook on low for 12 hours.
- If after 12 hours your bacon isn’t as crisp as you’d like, transfer the pork to a baking dish and put it under your oven’s broiler for a few minutes to crisp it up.
- Transfer the pork from the crock pot to a large plate or serving platter. Remove and discard the twine. Take the bacon off, sneak a few bites, then crumble the rest back into the cooked pork. Time to start shredding!
- With a fork in each hand, shred the meat, discarding any fatty pieces along the way. Serve your perfectly prepared Kalua Pork, over rice, veggies, or on a bun with a splash of sweet barbeque sauce. Nanea!
This recipe was first posted on December 27, 2016, but has been updated with new photos and better-detailed instructions and tips on January 7th, 2022.