Kalua Pig with Cabbage Recipe

Updated 30 October 2009
Originally posted 13 June 2007

This recipe for Hawaiian Kalua Pig with Cabbage calls for simply roasting a pork shoulder in an oven bag. No heavy lifting involved

Kalua Pig with Cabbage

Kalua Pig with Cabbage!

When Annie and I got married in Hawaii, one of my groomsmen made kalua pig for the big banquet after the wedding. Real kalua pig, cooked in an imu in his backyard the night before the wedding. Instead of coming to my bachelor party, the guy stayed up late to tend to the pig. That was a special wedding meal!

We don’t have a pit in our backyard in San Jose but we still like to enjoy Hawaiian-style kalua pig and cabbage every now and then. For our Ultimate Hawaiian Backyard Lu’au, we made our kalua pig the night before. We shredded the pork and reserved the juices from the bag too cook the cabbage on the day of the lu’au.

Recipe for Kalua Pig with Cabbage


1, 5lb pork shoulder
2 Tbsp Hawaiian sea salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 slices ginger
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 heads cabbage (or more), chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 325*F.
2. Place the pork shoulder in an oven roasting bag.
3. Add all the ingredients to the bag and massage it in to the shoulder.

Seasoning Kalua Pig

4. Seal the bag and place it in a roasting pan. Cut a few holes in the top of the roasting bag to allow steam to escape.
5. Pour some water into the pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the pan.
6. Insert a remote probe thermometer through one of the holes in the bag and into the center of the pork shoulder. Set the target temperature for 195*F.
7. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the shoulder reaches the target temperature.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the pork to cool.
9. Remove the pork from the oven bag, but reserve the juices from the bag in a stock pot. Refrigerate the stock.

Kalua Pig jus

10. Shred the pork shoulder using a couple of forks. The pork should shred fairly easily, but you can also chop up some of the tougher chunks.

Shredding Kalua Pig

11. The next day, you will find that the fat from the pork juices has risen to the top of the juices and congealed. You can now easily remove all the fat.

Kalua Pig fat

12. Bring about half of the reserved juices to a simmer in a large pot or saucepan. Add half the chopped cabbage and cook the cabbage down until softened, then add half the shredded pork.

Cooking Kalua Pig with Cabbage

13. Mix well until the pork has been heated through. Empty the kalua pig and cabbage into a serving tray and cook the remaining stock, cabbage and pork.

Tray of Kalua Pig and Cabbage


Aloha, Nate

Hawaiian Lu’au Recipes:

Lomi Lomi Salmon Recipe

Ahi Limu Poke Recipe

Huli Chicken Recipe

Chocolate Haupia Pie Recipe

Mochi Ice Cream from Bubbies (Honolulu)

30 thoughts on “Kalua Pig with Cabbage Recipe”

  1. >Step #11 is only for those with iron clad self control. With the intoxicating aromas filling the house, there's no way we'd be able to wait until the *next day* to eat this! Was this part of the revision, or did I just ignore the original instructions?? =)

    I've tried Nate & Annie's recipe several times with great results. I appreciate this recipe because it is far less salty than versions found in restaurants/markets, while still maintaining good flavor. Mm-mm good!

  2. >Your Kalua Pig with Cabbage looks so delicious! I'm sorry, I'm not so familiar with pork shoulder is the 5 lbs. bone-in or without? Thanks.

  3. >@J – You can cook the cabbage right away in the juices. The refrigeration step is to make it easier to remove the fat.

    @Ram – We use bone-in shoulder.

  4. >That has got to be the world's best groomsman. Man,cooking you suckling pork and staying up all night to do it. That's friendship! 😉

  5. >Hello, Foodbuzz friends! 🙂 I'm so happy to finally visit your beautiful blog! I am SO excited to try this recipe – thank you for explaining it so perfectly with all the awesome photos!

  6. >@Carolyn – yes, he was and is a good friend.

    @Mrs L – 3-4 hours. But times vary from roast to roast so that's why I recommend a probe thermometer.

    @Astra – thank you! Be sure and let us know the results!

    @FCfD – thanks!

  7. >This looks delicious but I haven't got a baking bag nor oven thermometer… Will just have to indulge virtually.

  8. >@Blessed Homemaker – I suppose you could just wrap the pork in foil, then plastic wrap, then more foil, to keep the moisture in.

    For those without a probe thermometer, the cooking time should be around 3.5 hrs.

  9. I was missing Hawaii at Thanksgiving, so made a mini luau the following Sunday after reading this recipe and thinking ” hey, I have a baking bag left over from making the turkey!”. We just had a small Thanksgiving with the in-laws, so I made a feast for our friends. Kalua pig, poke, shoyu chicken (baked/braised, sorry Nate blizzard outside ruled out smoking), chicken long rice, manapua and spam musbi. Should have made kalbi, but really want to be able to cook it over kiawe grill.

    Thanks for the “recipes from the dorm”, my mother was not a cook and I never thought to ask for recipes from our friends growing up.

    Can’t wait to try more of your recipes, just wish I could get curry and lime leaves here.

      1. Here is Montana, not far from “Ponderosa Pines” I’m told, remember the ads from when we were kids? I’ve lived here for 15 years and still haven’t found their “perfect location, not far from schools, shopping and skiing.”
        The stores have increased their “Asian” sections quite a bit since I moved here, but still pretty limited. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen growing up – not that my mother was a very good cook, but the local kine food is what I am most homesick for (thank goodness for “Aunties” that kept me well fed), so your step by step photos really help.

  10. I made this last 4th of July using your ingredients, but, I wrapped it in banana leaves and used a slow cooker for 6 hrs. It was such a hit that I’m doing it again this 4th. Loved the idea of chilling the juices and removing the fat. Making it a day before was a real time saver also.


    Tony and Elaine

  11. This was so ono. I use to make it different. I feed alot of people and they loved it so much. This is how is should be done. Much thanks.

      1. thank you for your quick response to my question about no hawaiian salt , I will look for coarse sea salt at our commisary or super walmart n etc., I an anxious to try n make kalua pig at home , I have found a recipe that takes only 4 hours to roast the pork butt , Thank you ( mahalo ) for the reply !!

        1. thank you for your quick response about florida not having hawaiin salt !, I will shop n look for sea salt , I am anxious to try this recipe on kalua pig in the oven , thank you again !

  12. hi nate i have a question i have a friend and shes hawaiian and she makes it all the time.. is there any way to cook the cabbage and pork all together at 1 time??? ( she wont tell me how to make it) lol

    1. Hi Josh,

      thanks for your question.

      I don’t recommend cooking the pork and the cabbage at the same time. The cabbage will be overcooked by the time the pork is ready.

  13. I went to a Hawaiian BBQ joint in Texas with a friend, she is from Hawaii, first time I ever tried this and fell on love with it. They however served with with rice, and the cabbage and pork, any ideas on how to cook the rice????

    1. Hi Sherry,

      Like most Asians, we would use a rice cooker.

      If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can use a pot. I believe it’s a 2:1 water to rice ratio. Bring the water to boil in a saucepan, add the washed rice, lower to a simmer and cover. Wait about 20 minutes. The rice should be fluffy, not gummy, and most of the water should have boiled off.

      Or you could go to an Asian restaurant and take home some rice 😉

  14. Could I do this in a slow cooker? Might be good for my daughter’s luau birthday, but I don’t know anyone who’d be willing to leave their oven on all night in the middle of summer (myself included lol)

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