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Instant Pot Kalua Pig with Cabbage

This traditional Hawaiian dish has been simplified for the modern kitchen using an Instant Pot, allowing you to enjoy the rich flavors of kalua pig and cabbage without the hassle of digging an imu (underground oven).


  • 3 to 4 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt, boneless
  • 1 tbsp. liquid smoke
  • 2-3 tsp. Hawaiian sea salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 head cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp. soy sauce for additional flavor


  1. Preparation: Start by trimming any excess fat from the pork shoulder or butt. Cut the pork into 2-inch chunks for even cooking.
  2. Marinate: In a mixing bowl, toss the pork chunks with Hawaiian sea salt and liquid smoke. Ensure that each piece is well-coated. Let it marinate for about 30 minutes to an hour, allowing the flavors to penetrate.
  3. Cooking the Pork: Pour the water or chicken broth into the Instant Pot. Add the marinated pork chunks.
  4. Pressure Cook: Close the lid of the Instant Pot. Set it to ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ mode and adjust the time to 75 minutes on ‘High’. Once done, let the pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes, then use the quick release method to let out any remaining pressure.
  5. Adding the Cabbage: Once the pressure is fully released, open the lid and add the roughly chopped cabbage to the pot. Stir to combine it with the pork. Replace the lid and set the Instant Pot to ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ again, but this time for just 3-5 minutes on ‘High’. Allow a natural pressure release for 5 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  6. Serve: Once done, open the pot, and if there’s excess liquid, you can set the Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ mode and cook off some of the liquid or simply drain it. Gently shred the pork using two forks, mixing it with the cabbage. Adjust seasoning if necessary, adding soy sauce or more salt to taste.
  7. Serve & Enjoy: Transfer the kalua pig and cabbage to a serving dish and serve alongside steamed white rice or poi.


  • Kalua pig traditionally gets its unique flavor from being cooked underground. The liquid smoke in this recipe helps to replicate that smoky taste.
  • Adjust salt and seasoning as per personal preference. Some like their kalua pig more on the saltier side, while others might prefer a lighter touch.
  • The cabbage adds a lovely crunch and lightness to the rich, tender pork, making it a wholesome dish.

This Instant Pot version of kalua pig and cabbage is a nod to traditional Hawaiian cooking, but with the convenience of modern technology. Perfect for when you’re craving a taste of the islands but don’t have all day to cook. Enjoy the flavors of Hawai’i in the comfort of your home!

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