Hawaiian Kalua Pork Shoulder

Shredded pork butt is served on a banana leaf.
This recipe is sponsored by Slap Yo' Daddy

This Hawaiian Kalua pork shoulder is dry marinated, smoked, and finished with a pineapple mopping liquid, infusing it with flavor. Once cooked, you can shred the pork and use it in any number of ways. Serve it piled on buns with lettuce and fresh herbs, over cooked rice, or next to a bowl of macaroni salad.

Traditionally, Kalua pork is smoked in an underground pit for a large luau (a Hawaiian party to celebrate an event). In lieu of a pit, this recipe uses a smoker, which is much easier to prepare. To add even more smoky flavor, both mesquite wood and a touch of liquid smoke are used in the cooking process.

You can use either bone-in or boneless pork shoulder for this recipe. Some cooks think that keeping the bone in adds a bit more flavor to the meat. Either way, you’ll end up with a succulent smoked shredded pork with the brightness and sweetness of pineapple.

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A piece of smoked pork butt lying on a banana leaf is being topped by crushed pineapple.
The cooking process is finished with a pineapple-based mopping liquid to infuse the pork with sweetness.
Shredded pork, fresh cilantro, and lettuce leaves are piled on a small bun resting on a black plate.
You can serve the shredded pork as is, or pile it on a slider bun or serve over steamed rice.
A piece of smoked pork butt sits on a grill grate.
The pork is smoked low and slow, then transferred to a banana leaf and topped with mopping sauce to finish.
Piles of salt, garlic granules, and rub sit on blue and white plate next to a raw pork butt.
The pork butt is first coated in a dry rub, left to marinate, then smoked.
A large banana leaf is folded over, with a bit of crushed pineapple spilling out.
The smoked pork is finished by wrapping it in a banana leaf with pineapple mopping liquid.
Shredded pork butt is served on a banana leaf.
You can eat the shredded pork as is, pile it on slider buns, or serve it with macaroni salad.

Hawaiian Kalua Pork Shoulder Recipe

This recipe is sponsored by Slap Yo’ Daddy.
Shredded pork butt is served on a banana leaf.
This Hawaiian Kalua pork shoulder is dry marinated, smoked, and finished with a pineapple mopping liquid, infusing it with flavor.
Preparation 30 minutes
Cook 4 hours
Ready in 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8
CourseMain Dish


Mopping Liquid

  • 1/4 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 (13-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons apple or pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)

Pork Shoulder


  • smoker
  • plastic wrap
  • foil
  • 2 chunks mesquite wood


Mopping Liquid

  • Combine the brown sugar, crushed pineapple, melted butter, fruit juice, and liquid smoke in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pork Shoulder

  • Create a pork rub by combining the chicken powder, all-purpose rub, and coarse Hawaiian salt.
  • Sprinkle a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce to wet the pork butt so the rub will stick and be tacky. Apply a generous layer of the pork rub all over the butt.
  • Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Preheat a kettle style BBQ to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C) using briquettes with a hot zone and a cool zone for indirect smoking.
  • Remove the meat from the fridge and discard the plastic wrap.
  • Place the butt on the grate on the cool side of the BBQ and adjust the damper vents to maintain 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).
  • Add to the BBQ a tennis-sized chunk of mesquite wood. Add another after 30 minutes. (Two chunks are enough.)
  • Smoke until the crust forms on the pork butt and it passes the scratch test. For a 7-pound (3kg) butt, it should take 4 to 6 hours to reach this stage.
    Scratch Test: If you gently scratch the surface of the meat, the rub should not come off on your fingernail.
  • Spray with water using a plastic spray bottle every 30 minutes starting at the 3-hour mark.
  • Lay out aluminum foil on a counter. Place the banana leaves on the foil.
  • Remove the pork butt and place it on the banana leaves. Add the mopping liquid and return to the smoker. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pork butt from the smoker, let cool enough to handle, then shred the meat.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 90kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 0.5gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 915mgPotassium: 51mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 225IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 31mgIron: 1mg

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