Crockpot Kalua
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Kalua pig in a more traditional imu

Today’s recipe was inspired by my recent trip to Hawaii and one of the mainstay dishes typically served for plate lunches, kalua pig. The term kalua means “to cook in an underground oven”, which is how the traditional dish is made. Since that method is neither practical nor possible for me, I made the following adaptation in the slow cooker. Be forewarned, this takes a while but is soooo worth it!


  • 1 pork butt roast (recipe is based on 4-5 lbs, but modify based on what your crockpot can hold)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1.5 Tbsp Hawaiian sea salt (I used kosher salt, you just want large granules)
  • 2 Tbsp Wright’s liquid smoke (hickory flavor)*
  • 2 bags of Trader Joe’s shredded green cabbage


  1. Start with a good pork butt roast (also called pork shoulder), hopefully with a good fat cap. Pierce the roast several times on all surfaces with a knife or carving fork.
  2. Rub the salt and liquid smoke into the roast, covering all sides.
  3. Place the roast into the crockpot, with the fat cap facing down.
  4. Wash the two bananas thoroughly, slice them lengthwise and place them on top of the roast. (Yes, you leave the bananas inside the skin.)
  5. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 8-9 hours.
  6. After 8-9 hours, flip the roast over keeping the bananas on top. Cook for another 8-9 hours.
  7. After the 2nd 8-9 hour session, remove and discard the bananas. Remove the roast and place aside. Add both bags of cabbage to the juices in the crockpot.
  8. The fat cap should easily pull off the roast at this time. Discard the fat cap — or give your dog/cat a treat they’ll love. Then, shred the roast which should easily pull apart at this time.
  9. Return the roast to the crockpot with the cabbage and stir well. Let cook an additional 2 hours, then serve.

Be forewarned, that while this is cooking your home will smell like a truck filled with bacon crashed into your living room. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — unless you’re already hungry!

* – I specifically recommend the brand of liquid smoke that I do because it’s the only one I found without any crappy extra ingredients. It’s really a simple process, hickory smoke is condensed and passed through water. You may see some websites talking about liquid smoke as a potential carcinogen, but I find the concerns overblown. If you eat BBQ, you already are going to get the same potential carcinogens from cooking over a burning substance. Additionally, arguing whether one is “more paleo” than the other is just retarded, as long as you aren’t getting a liquid smoke that has sugars and other junk added.

WOD 1.6.11

Make Up Day

15 Responses to “Crockpot Kalua”

January 6, 2011 at 8:03 AM

Looks amazing Marcus. So, Jenna and I have been searching for an acceptable primal substitute to fill our pizza addiction. I think this was the 4th recipe we tried, and it is AMAZING. Enough that we think we can avoid pizza on our cheat day.

couple things;

It’s a youtube video, I can’t find scribed

it literally looks like pancake batter, don’t be alarmed

i added salt in addition to his “pizza trinity” or whatever he calls it.

Marcus, please, please don’t tell us that flax meal is no good. We will cry. We were going to ask you but decided that it can’t be too bad to have 1/3 cup twice a month.

Hope everyone is well!


January 6, 2011 at 8:08 AM

Please excuse my grammatical errors, I was distracted. My office shares a wall with the gym at the hotel and there is gentleman in there that is grunting and moaning and screaming. What crazy hotel WOD is he doing you ask? He appears to be circuit training the elliptical and curls. I am absolutely not joking…

January 6, 2011 at 8:16 AM

I had a sneak peak at this post and actually tried the recipe yesterday… but substituted chicken, not a big pork eater. Even so it was fantastic, and I loved the way the house smelt. Love my new crockpot and can’t wait to try more!

January 6, 2011 at 8:47 AM


January 6, 2011 at 9:01 AM

@Drew – While I can’t see the video at work, I think I found a transcribed version. It shows crust ingredients of eggs, coconut flour, coconut milk and flax meal. Is that the one? If so, it looks perfectly fine. And don’t worry, flax meal in moderation is definitely not bad. If this recipe gets you over your weekly pizza craving it’s much better than most of the “gluten-free” pizza offerings on the market, as those have sugar and refined grain flours added. Keep in mind I said weekly, if you make it nightly you might not be as happy with results. I’ll have to try this one out for myself, thanks!

January 6, 2011 at 9:10 AM

That is the one. And no, not nightly!! But I did think about it last night which was only a day after we made it. It’s amazing!!

January 6, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Can I come to your house for dinner? I would pay good $ to eat all the recipes you post since I can’t cook. And don’t own a crockpot.

January 6, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Marcus, I’m going to try this one next week!

Drew, RE: Work Environment….ha ha ha ha ha!
That pizza recipe is next on the list.

January 6, 2011 at 11:38 AM

OMG this sounds delicious! I can’t wait to make it!

@Drew – we will definitely be trying this. I had real pizza while I was home over Christmas and forgot how much I LOVE it. I have been craving pizza ever since, but hopefully this will prevent me from going off the deep end.

January 6, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Thanks a lot Drew for opening the paleo pandoras box! I guess we need to have a primal pizza party…

@becky… Sorry…

MIchael H
January 6, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Bonello’s Pizza next to El Camino College. The bomb!

@Drew maybe you can get them to purchase some Xfit equipment for the hotel gym! That would be awesome!

January 6, 2011 at 1:57 PM


Nick and I are having people over this Sunday to watch the playoff games. Nick is going to make ribs and we will be making our own paleo rib rub and bbq sauce. The first game starts at 10a, people are more than welcome to watch the game with us but we figure no one would be up and moving at that time. The ribs should be ready before the next game at 1:30p (GO PACK!!!) so be sure you’re there before the game starts for ribs fresh of the grill! We’ll probably have other snacks, but feel free to bring your own (paleo or not) if you’d like! :) Email me or text me if you can come so we know how much food to get. (if you need Holley’s contact info, txt Ruth or it’ll be on the board in the gym). I LOVE PLAYOFF SEASON!!!

January 6, 2011 at 3:05 PM

i’m finally gonna be trying (very slowly) to get into this paleo stuff. this sounds like an easy start… haha

January 6, 2011 at 8:35 PM

@James, woohoo! See our job is to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Wish this recipe made it into the holiday cookbook! By the way, there are a few copies left, so pick up our holiday gift to you guys at the gym!

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