Slow-Cooker Kalua Pork Sandwiches With Crispy Asian Slaw Recipe

Lightly smoky, forever-cooked pork is topped with sesame oil-spiked slaw and nestled into Hawaiian rolls. Jennifer Olvera

A taste of the islands is particularly welcome this time of year, and this dish offers it in spades. Typically, this traditional Hawaiian method involves cooking meat—whole pigs in particular—in an underground oven, but your run-of-the-mill slow cooker can provide a pretty decent approximation.

Pork, left to its own devices for an 18-hour cook, turns out tender, smoky, and salty—the perfect counterpoint to crunchy Asian slaw. When tucked into plush, sweet Hawai'ian rolls, you'll all but forget your winter doldrums.

Notes: Feel free to use pork shoulder in place of pork butt. It works great, too. If the slow-cooker seems dry when you flip the meat, add a bit more water. The pork can also be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 18 hrs
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • For the Pork:
  • 1 whole pork butt, 5 to 6 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • For the Slaw:
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package Hawaiian bread rolls


  1. For the Pork: Place pork in slow cooker and pierce all over with a fork. Rub with salt, liquid smoke, and soy sauce. Add water. Cover and cook on low for 18 hours, turning once.

  2. For the Slaw: Combine cabbage, onion, sesame oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to use, at least one hour and up to overnight.

  3. Remove pork from the slow cooker and shred meat. Mix with juices to moisten and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve pork tucked into rolls, topped with slaw.

Special equipment

Slow cooker