Kalua Pig for #SundaySupper

Classic Hawaiian style pulled pork.
Kalua Pig with Hawaiian-Style BBQ Sauce

Kalua Pig with Hawaiian-Style BBQ Sauce

by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

I’m still waiting for the warm weather of Spring to arrive and stay put.

Boston Butt
Boston Butt

We bought pepper plants today and still will have to coddle them indoors in a small greenhouse area to keep them safe. Other warm weather loving plants for the garden are going to have to wait. And while we wait, my mind wanders to the sunny tropical shores of Hawaii.

Alaea Salt, Black Pepper and Banana Leaves
Alaea Salt, Black Pepper and Banana Leaves

This Sunday, as part of a group of bloggers who post fun-themed recipes as a group in the Sunday Supper Movement on the same day, we are all dreaming of tropic shores collectively.

Pork with Rub
Pork with Rub

And for my selection, I wanted to try Kalua Pig, a Hawaiian style pork recipe usually roasted in an open pit (Also called a “lua”) (from ka•lua to cook in a pit). So if you were wondering, this roast pork dish has nothing to do with kahlua at all, which is a coffee flavored liqueur. And in fact, lua forms part of the more commonly known word “luau” which we all know as the fabulous shindig of barbecues that Hawaiians specialize.

Pork ready to wrap
Pork ready to wrap

Traditionally, these pits are dug into the ground and lined with heated volcanic rocks and pork (sometimes whole suckling pig, but for home use we chose to do a pork roast Boston butt). The pork is wrapped in banana and taro leaves and other island vegetation and roasted at a slow temperature for a very long time.

Pork wrapped in banana leaves
Pork wrapped in banana leaves

The pork itself is simply seasoned with a type of coarse Hawaiian pink salt called alaea. You can find that at specialty stores or buy it on the internet. It has a complex flavor and is not quite as salty as other salt types, so it can’t be substituted for on an equal basis (cut back on normal coarse salt).

Cooked pork in banana leaves
Cooked pork in banana leaves

I cooked this pork roast in an electric smoker with burning wood chips, If you can find them, I have seen orange smoking chips available, but you may be limited on choice. Choose fruity ones over types such as mesquite or hickory. I also used fresh banana leaves (you might be able to find those frozen as well) tied with twine (I had nothing else, but it worked well.) If you can’t find banana leaves at all, you can use foil by itself or baste the meat with a mop of pineapple juice, but some of the flavor won’t be there, since the banana does impart that. I did see a recipe for kalua pork somewhere that asked users to supplement with a banana (the fruit). I don’t recommend that. The bananas don’t taste like banana leaves and it isn’t why the leaves are used anyway. They are there to keep the meat moist.

Unwrapping Pork
Unwrapping Pork

After the pork is cooked and has time to rest and cool down somewhat, the fat is trimmed away and the meat is shredded as you would any type of pulled pork. You can do this with your fingers, shred it with two forks, or chop it with meat cleavers.

Resting the pork
Resting the pork

I have mixed up a tempting Hawaiian style barbecue sauce to go with my pork, and it is delicious spooned over the meat on a warm bun. You can even add a little coleslaw to your bbq sandwich if you prefer. I like mine without slaw, but sometimes serve it on the side. Hawaiian baked beans also make a good side dish. In my case I served it with pineapple chunks and home made poi (mashed taro root) which I made in a nontraditional style with flavorings I felt improved that side dish greatly (I’ll post it soon!)

Shredded Pork
Shredded Pork

I do hope you enjoy this and scroll down further in the post to see a full listing of SSM tropical recipes for this week which you should be able to enjoy in the spirit of aloha.

Until next time-

Kalua Pig with Hawaiian-Style BBQ Sauce for #SundaySupper

Kalua Pig

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 6-8hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Kalua Pig with Hawaiian-Style BBQ Sauce

  • 1 (5-pound) pork shoulder Boston butt roast
  • 3 fresh banana leaves (or if frozen, thawed)
  • 2 tablespoons coarse Pink Hawaiian Alaea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • kitchen twine
  • aluminum foil

Other optional ingredients:

  • Hawaiian style barbecue sauce (see recipe below)
  • sandwich buns
  • cole slaw (may I recommend poppyseed slaw?)
  • orange or other fruit flavored smoking chips


  1. Allow roast to come to room temperature.
  2. Rub roast on all sides with a mixture of alaea pink salt and cracked black pepper.
  3. Wrap roast in banana leaves and secure with twine.
  4. Wrap banana leaf-wrapped roast in foil and puncture with a fork all over to make many vent holes (this keeps the banana leaves from drying out and burning).
  5. Roast at 275ºF. in a smoker, oven, or grill with indirect heat until temperature reaches 185ºF., and allow meat to rest and the internal temperature rise to 190ºF.
  6. When meat is cool enough to handle, trim fat and shred meat.
  7. Serve meat on buns with Hawaiian style bbq sauce, if desired.

from the kitchen of palatablepastime.com

Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce
Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce

Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce
Yield: 1 cup

Multiply this out for however much you want to make, makes one cup. Since I make my sauces fresh, I don’t like too much leftover.


  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon Aloha brand Hawaiian soy sauce or dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (hickory)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce (optional)

Cook’s note: Hawaiian brands of soy sauce are generally sweeter; use Hawaiian or dark sweet soy sauce or supplement ordinary soy sauce or tamari with a little brown sugar to taste)


  1. Mix together ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until mixture reduces to one cup, about 20-25 minutes total.

from the kitchen of palatablepastime.com

Kalua Pig

You might also like:

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

No-Mayo Slaw with Poppyseed Dressing

Hawaiian Brown Sugar Glazed Ham

Sunday Supper Movement

Tropical Recipes!

Celebrating recipes that remind of us the warm trade wind breezes of the tropics.

As part of the Sunday Supper Movement, I and a host of other food bloggers are pleased to present to you some of our favorite tropical recipes to enjoy and prepare for you and your families and friends while enjoying the warmer weather and perhaps the spirit of aloha.

Special thanks to Marlene of Nosh My Way with Cindy of Cindy’s Recipes and Writings for graciously hosting this event and working so hard to make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. It’s a big group and a ton of work to keep all together! Thanks so much.

And now on to the recipes! Check out as many recipes as you would like and be sure to pin those to have for later.
Tidbits and Pupus



Condiments and Sauces


Main Event

Delectable Delights

Tropical Foods and Drinks Sunday Supper

Wine Pairings

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


  1. Soni says:

    Oh my!I love everything about this recipe!The banana leaves must give so much flavor and that bbq sauce looks to die for!!Will be making this for sure🙂


    • Thanks! We were just over in Milford last week trying to look at some antiques but got there a bit late. I love antique and retro kitchen things and that town has a few shops I want to check out! Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Pingback: The Tastiest Cilantro Margarita { #SundaySupper} | An Appealing Plan

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