What to Serve with Kalua Pork? – 12 Delicious Options

Published Categorized as Meat, Guide Tagged

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Pork is a delicious form of red meat that can be cooked and eaten in a wide variety of ways and often is the main focus and a multitude of dishes around the world. One option for which is the delicious Hawaiian dish known as kalua pork. As such, if you want to try out a kalua pork recipe then you may be wondering what it is like? Additionally, you may also be wondering what to serve with kalua pork?

Table of Contents

What Is Kalua Pork?

As mentioned above, kalua pork is a type of pork dish that originates in Hawaii. This is a regional take on the recipe of shredded or pulled pork that will be infused with some wonderfully delicious rich, smokey and earthy flavours. Additionally, whilst the textures will vary between cuts such as pork shoulder and pork, often shredded kalua pork is how it will be served.

Traditionally, when making kalua pork a whole pig will be cooked in the “kalua” style. This is a traditional Hawaiian dish method that involves the use of an underground oven that will be used to roast the pig until it is delicious browned pork.

As a result, kalua pig is a delicious recipe that will be the perfect centrepiece of a Hawaiian plate lunch. Of course, this can be done in a manner that is strictly traditional. However, Hawaiian kalua pork can also be prepared in other ways which produce similar delicious results.

Boneless | Smoked | Pork |Shoulder Butt | Sheyka | Pulaski Meat Products | 4 lb | Pack of 1

How To Make Kalua Pork?

One brilliant way to prepare some kalua pork without a large underground oven or by using a whole pig is to make some slow cooker kalua pork. This being down with either a pork butt or pork shoulder joint. In order to do so though, you will need to acquire some basic ingredients and follow a simple but effective method. With that in mind then, when you are planning to make some slow cooker kalua, you should adhere to the options found below:

Slow Cooker Kalua Ingredients

When planning to prepare some slow cooker kalua pork, you may be surprised to realise that the list of ingredients required for doing so is quite small and simple. As such, this recipe is one that will be easy and convenient to acquire the ingredients for whilst still being a delicious treat. With that in mind then, the following ingredients will be required in order to make your own kalua pork for approximately eight people:

  • Pork Roast: The literal meat of your dish will of course be a pork roasting joint. Naturally, with this being kalua pork, pork will of course be the centre of your dish with many different cuts being excellent choices. However, often the best options will be a pork shoulder or pork butt. Each of these being pork cuts that can be found around the leg but in slightly different areas. For this recipe, approximately four pounds of pork joint meat will be an excellent choice.
  • Liquid Smoke: Kalua pork is known for being distinctly smokey in flavour. However, it can be difficult to replicate this flavour within a slow cooker. As such, using liquid smoke is an easy and convenient way to add this extra flavour to your slow cooker variant of kalua pork. In particular, mesquite or hickory liquid smoke will typically be your best option as they will provide a flavour that is especially reminiscent of that found within traditionally made kalua pork. For this recipe, roughly half a tablespoon of liquid smoke will be needed to really infuse the pork with a noticeable and distinctly delicious smokey flavour.
  • Red Hawaiian Salt: Also known as alaea salt Hawaiian sea salt, is a type of salt that is mixed with volcanic clay that is rich in iron oxide. The result of which being that this type of salt provides any dish seasoned with it with delicious earthy flavours and aromas along with some mildly nutty notes. In order to ensure that your kalua pork will have roughly two teaspoons of this type of salt in order to incorporate these flavours into the pork. If you are unable to find then some pink Himalayan will make for an adequate substitute.

Slow Cooker Kalua Recipe

Once you have your ingredients assembled then it is now time to begin cooking your slow cooker kalua pork. Now, unlike the more traditional recipe, this is an incredibly simple process that only requires a slow cooker and a smaller joint of pork rather than a full pig. With that in mind then, to prepare some slow cooker kalua pork, you should adhere to the following methodology:

  1. Pierce the pork joint approximately ten to twelve times using a knife. When doing so, try to pierce the pork in a position that would be at the top of the joint.
  2. Combine the liquid smoke with roughly half a cup of water.
  3. Rub the liquid smoke mixture and the red Hawaiian salt into the pork point. In particular, ensure that both the salt and liquid smoke get into the previous piercing you have made.
  4. Place the pork joint into the slow cooker. When doing so, ensure that the side of the joint facing upwards is the one you have previously pierced.
  5. Cover the slow cooker with the lid. Following this slow cook the pork joint on the low power mode for approximately ten to twelve hours.
  6. Once the above time has elapsed, remove the joint from the slow cooker and begin to tear it with two forks. The result is some perfectly shredded pork.
  7. When shredded, place the cooked pork back into the slow cooker and allow it to soak up some of the excess juices.
  8. After roughly fifteen to twenty minutes, your kalua pork will be ready to serve.
  9. When serving, plate it up with some delicious sides and enjoy. For some ideas for what goes with kalua pork, look down below.
NOH Foods of Hawaii Kalua Pork Seasoning Salt, 4 Ounce (Pack of 6)

What Goes With Kalua Pork?

When it comes to deciding on what to serve with your kalua pork then it is important to understand what the dish itself is like. With that in mind then recognise that the primary flavours for kalua pork are deliciously rich, smokey and earthy along with being distinctly savoury in a uniquely porky way. Additionally, the kalua pork will also have a tender and flaky texture due to the slow cooking process that will wonderfully tenderise the meat.

With this in mind, you should seek outside options that are complementary to these aforementioned traits. As such you should seek out side dishes that can be used to accentuate the main whilst becoming the primary focus of the meal.

When doing so, this can be done by either complementing or contrasting the traits found within the side dishes with those that are already present within your main dish of kalua pork. The former option would involve doubling down on the traits already present within your kalua pork. Meanwhile, the latter option will bring more variety and layers to the overall dish.

What to Serve with Kalua Pork?

When you are planning to cook and serve some kalua pork, you need to figure out which sides you wish to serve alongside it. Now you may already have some great ideas for sides that you can serve with kalua pork. However, you may also have absolutely no idea what sides you should have with kalua pork. Fortunately though, like when deciding what to serve with pulled pork or what to serve with jerk chicken there is a wide assortment of options to choose from. Some great examples of which include:

  1. White Rice
  2. Coconut Rice
  3. Hawaiian Fried Rice
  4. Sandwiches/Sliders
  5. Tacos
  6. Macaroni Salad
  7. Frog Eye Salad
  8. Pesto Pasta Salad
  9. Sweet Potato Fries
  10. Cornbread Muffins
  11. Green Cabbage
  12. Grilled Pineapple

White Rice

When you are eating a deliciously flavourful main dish along the lines of kalua pork, one possible attitude to take with the sides is to keep things simple. With this in mind then, a great way to do so is to serve you kalua pork on a bed of white rice.

The beauty of doing this is that the rice will not greatly impact the flavour of the kalua pork. However, what they will do is provide a wonderful extra layer of fluffy texture. Meanwhile, the juices along with any sauces you elect to use with the kalua pork will soak into the rice providing more of that delicious flavour from the pork.

What to Serve with Kalua Pork? - 12 Delicious Options

Coconut Rice

In a similar vein to the aforementioned white rice, coconut rice is another great option for a mild side dish to serve with your kalua pork. Again this option allows you to enjoy the dominant flavours found within the kalua pork whilst also providing the fluffy texture and absorbent nature.

However, when you are serving kalua pork with coconut rice then you will find that it provides a delicious extra layer of flavour to the dish without overpowering those found in your main. Here, as the name suggests, the coconut rice will of course bring in some extra flavour notes over richness and creaminess to the dish in a delicate and subtle manner.

Hawaiian Fried Rice

On the other end of the spectrum though we have a variation on the egg fried rice recipe that originates in Asian cuisine. However, here this side dish recipe is something of a fusion dish that will be to take the classic fried rice and give it a Hawaiian spin.

This will be accomplished by following an egg fried rice recipe but incorporating ingredients such as pineapple pieces and bell peppers. The result of which being that this rice recipe will bring in some additional flavours that will contrast greatly with those found in the kalua pork. In particular, though, the crispy egg fried rice brings in some great textures along with some new flavours from the seasonings and sauces.

Additionally though, paring pork with sweet ingredients is a classic and tried and true combination. As such pineapple and kalua pork is a wonderful choice. In many Hawaiian fried rice pork is also commonly used as a key ingredient, although in this context that is unnecessary due to the pork contents of the main.


Perhaps one of the best ways to serve kalua pork is in the form of pulled pork sandwiches or between burger/slider buns. The reason for this is that eating kalua pork in this manner allows and easy for you to do so with your hands. Meanwhile, it will also allow any sauce used to be absorbed by the doughy bread whilst also bringing a springy soft texture and creating a more filling meal.

Of course, there are a wide assortment of buns/bread that will pair perfectly with your shredded kalua pork. That said though, brioche burger buns, will be an especially excellent choice to pair with this pork dish due to brioche bringing an extra buttery texture and honey sweetness to the overall meal.

Another benefit of this option though is that you can tailor the size to your appetite very easily. For example, when you’re in the mood for a smaller sandwich, sliders are perfect for providing something akin to a shredded kalua pork mini burger.

Additionally, when using bread/buns they also allow you to incorporate some other ingredients into the meal to make some particularly hearty meals. Some examples great of such ingredients include the addition of a burger or chicken patty, cheese, grilled pineapple, lettuce, other sauces or even bacon.

What to Serve with Kalua Pork? - 12 Delicious Options


In a similar vein to the aforementioned kalua pork sandwiches and sliders, another option for a handheld kalua pork meal option is to serve them in some tacos. Here though, instead of bringing in some of the doughy traits of bread the tacos will instead provide a deliciously crunchy texture to the meal.

In addition to this though there is also the subtle taste of corn that the taco shells will bring to the meal. These can each bring in some additional ingredients to the meal as well. Many of which can bring in some of the delicious sides found in a taco bar. Many of which will also pair perfectly well with your main dish of kalua pork.

Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a lovely and creamy pasta salad that is the perfect side addition to pair alongside your kalua pork. Some of the other side dishes found on this list will attempt to mirror the tastes and textures that are already found within the kalua pork.

However, this option will instead bring in some massive contrast to the taits found in pork by bringing in some added creaminess and a note of tanginess from the apple cider vinegar used within the macaroni salad. This distinct trait along with the tastes and texture of the macaroni pasta, peas, celery and sweet bell peppers all stand out and shine when eaten with some deliciously savoury kalua pork.

Additionally, bacon, lettuce, tomato and bread make for a truly fantastic partnership with pasta in the culinary world. Due to making for natural complements to each other when Kalua pork and macaroni pasta salad are eaten together they make for an iconic combination. Especially when you decide to make it Hawaiian mac salad with the inclusion of ingredients such a pineapple.

Betty Crocker Suddenly Pasta Salad Creamy Macaroni 6.5 oz (4 pack) (Creamy Macaroni, 6.5 oz)

Frog Eye Salad

Another type of pasta salad that will pair well with your kalua pork is the unusual option of some frog eye salad. Often containing pasta, pineapple, coconut, marshmallows, creamy custard, and whipped cream along with other types of fruits such as cherries or oranges this type of pasta makes for a great dessert option to have after your main kalua pork dish.

The beauty of this option is that with the flavours and textures of the kalua pork fresh on your tongue, they will contrast perfectly with those found in this type of pasta salad. In particular, the contrast between savoury pork and sweet fruit is truly delicious. Meanwhile, the cream and zesty fruit juices bring a refreshing air to the overall meal.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Whilst on the them of the pasta salads, a delicious pesto pasta salad is another delicious option which you can serve with your kalua pork. The beauty of this being that pesto pasta salad will incorporate an assortment of options that can bring in some extra contrasting flavours and textures which will each compliment your kalua pork perfectly.

At it’s core, this type of side dish is that they will mainly consist of some sort of spiralling pasta such as fusilli or rotini with a pesto sauce. Both of which will contrast texturally by providing springy and slightly doughy pasta along with creamy pesto. Meanwhile, the flavours of herbs and cheese found within the pesto will also contrast with those of your savoury kalua pork.

In addition though like with a lot of other pasta dishes this will have other ingredients. Each of which will help to make help to make the dish into more of salad then just a simple pasta dish. Some of the most popular options for this though will include nuts, peas, cherry or sun-dried tomatoes, goats cheese and olives.

Mantova Italian Mix Pesto, 6.5 Ounce

Sweet Potato Fries

As mentioned above sweet flavours are something that will contrast and perfectly pair with those of kalua pork. As such, with how french fries go well with many types of meat, sweet potato fries are a particularly wonderful option for pairing this savoury pork main such as kalua pork.

In addition to the syrupy sweet taste of sweet potato fries contrasting with kalua pork, other flavours found within them will also pair with your main. The earthy flavours and saltiness both found within the sweet potato fries will pair perfectly the pork by providing even more contrasting flavours to the dish.

Texture wise they will also bring some diversity to the meal. This works twofold by bringing in some fluffy potato textures along with a wonderfully distinctive crunch.

Cornbread Muffins

As you can likely imagine, cornbread muffins are of course a type of muffin that are made using cornbread mix. Of course, like with the aforementioned tacos, these will bring in the delicious flavours of corn. However, these will be paired with the softer and more doughy textures that are found in the aforementioned sandwiches/sliders.

Pork and cornbread are a fantastic combination of food types with the two often being paired for hearty meals. As such, kalua pork and cornbread muffins makes for a wonderful option to pair with one another. This being especially so when a few of other ingredients are incorporated into these muffins. Some examples of such being jalapenos, cheese and even fruit and veggies such as apples, onions and pineapples.

What to Serve with Kalua Pork? - 12 Delicious Options

Green Cabbage

A classic side option which you can pair with your kalua pork though is some cooked cabbage. Often this will be combined with the kalua pork as a part of a traditional Hawaiian plate, although it can alsoserve as distinct side dish. The beauty of which is that the finely shredded cabbage will bring some freshness and a delicate crunch to the meal.

When preparing some cooked cabbage to pair with your kalua pork there is a simple cabbage recipe you can follow to great results. To accomplish it, simply melt two two tablespoons of butter in a hot skillet and stir in one chopped head of lettuce for roughly thirteen and a half minutes. Whilst doing so add salt and black pepper to taste.

The result of this is a wonderful accompaniment to your kalua pork that will also pair perfectly with a wide variety of other side options. In particular, rice, tacos, slider and grilled pineapple will be perfect.

Grilled Pineapple

As has been mentioned above, grilled pineapple is an excellent option for pairing with your kalua pork. This being because it brings in some sweet and zesty flavours that make for a wonderful contrast with the savoury, salty, earthy and rich flavours. Meanwhile, the smokey flavours of both the kalua pork and the grilled pineapple would synergise together perfectly.

In addition, the rich flaky and tender pork will also contrast wonderfully with the firm yet slightly soft, juicy and pulpy texture of the pineapple. As such, the combination provides are brilliantly diverse mouthfeel to the meal.

As mentioned above, grilled pineapple can also be implemented into other side dishes. Some of which can be found above and include tacos, pasta salads or on burgers.

NOH Foods of Hawaii Kalua Pork Seasoning Salt, 4 Ounce (Pack of 6)

Answered: What to Serve with Kalua Pork?

Kalua pork is a delicious and wonderful shredded pork dish that originates from Hawaiian cuisine. This dish though is known for it’s wonderfully tender and shredded texture. Meanwhile, the flavours of it will be smokey, earthy, rich and of course savoury and meaty.

When it comes to pairing side dishes with this delicious main though, there are a wide assortment of side dishes that can be paired with kalua pork. Some traditional options of course include grilled pineapple, cooked cabbage or rice.

However, sliders and salads and many others also make some great options as do a multitude of other options. As such, if you have any other ideas for sides to pair with kalua pork, then why not try it out. After all, you may discover a Kalua pork side that is truly wonderful.

FAQ – What to Serve with Kalua Pork?

Why is it called Kalua pork?

Kalua is a Hawaiian term which means from the pit. This means that typically, the kalua pork will be cooked in an underground oven.

Does Kalua pork have alcohol?

Many people believe that kahlau alcohol will be sued in the process of making kalua pork. However, this is not the case as it kalua is simply a Hawaiian term which means from the pit.

By James Clarke

James is an enthusiastic home-cooking hobbyist (being very modest) his taste-buds are tuned for flavor profiles that will have you salivating at the thought of what's cooking. As an occasional author at Alice's Kitchen he brings his own unique style to his articles and entertainment through them. You can always check out what he's up to over on his social profiles linked below.