Kalua Pig and onions, close up 1
Now that the weather is cooling down from the 90’s this past week to the mid 70’s today, it seems like a good time to welcome fall by making some kalua pig (or kalua pork for the slightly more refined).

Of course the best way to make kalua pig is in a traditional imu, but most convenient is in the oven or crockpot.

I used to feel that the oven baked version was much better than the crockpot version, because to me the bottom of the roast that touched the crockpot always seemed to be a little hard and dry.
Rack of onions in crockpot
That is, until I made some kalua pig on a rack of sliced onions in the crockpot.

Somehow lifting the roast off the bottom seems to result extra tender and juicy kalua pig, not to mention the deliciously soft onion rings which have cooked in the meat juices.
Pork Butt Roast on rack of onions in crockpot
It is important to underseason the meat, or the onions will get too salty and you won’t be able to eat them.

About 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or 1 tsp. coarse sea salt per pound of meat seems to work well. My current favorite salt is Kiawe Smoked Garlic Hawaiian Sea Salt from the Aloha Spice Company.

Score the top of the pork butt roast and sprinkle the salt only on the top. Follow with 1-2 T. liquid smoke.
Kalua Pig and onions, top view
For a 3-1/2 lb. roast: cook on high for 6 hours, or on low for 10-12 hours. (One thing to remember is that the longer the meat cooks the saltier it gets.)

Remove roast and onions. Cool meat slightly before shredding. Spoon off any fat from the meat juices.

Return shredded pork into the meat juices. Taste the meat and add more salt if you think it’s needed. Though untraditional, we like to add a touch of shoyu if it needs to be saltier.

Cooking the pork with the onions will result in more juices, but I think keeping the meat in the resulting juices helps to keep the meat — well, juicier.

Kalua Pig and onions, close up 2
Then separate those soft, yummy onion rings over the top and serve.

Mmm… a scoop of rice and some sauteed cabbage or cabbage salad and you’re good to go, then the next day you can eat the leftovers in some soft Pa’i’ai tortillas.


Crock Pot Kalua Pig on a Rack of Onions
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: varies
  • 3-1/2 lb. pork butt roast
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into ¾" thick slices
  • 1 T. fine sea salt or 1-1/2 T. coarse sea salt
  • 1-2 T. liquid smoke
  1. Keep onion rings intact in their cut slices. Line the bottom of the crockpot with the cut slices.
  2. Place pork butt roast on top of the onion slices. Score the top of the meat and sprinkle the top only with the salt, then the liquid smoke.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10-12 hours, until meat is very tender.
  4. Remove meat and onions from the pot. Cool slightly, then shred meat with two forks.
  5. Skim off any fat from the meat juices. Return meat into the juices and mix in. Taste the meat and add more salt if needed. Separate onion rings and place over the top.