Hawaiian pulled pork: 3-ingredient magic

By Joe Stumpe | December 1, 2021

If this is the year you finally make it to Hawaii for the holidays, kudos to you. If not, you can bring a bit of island fun to get-togethers right here with super-easy Hawaiian pulled pork.

The main part of this recipe calls for just three ingredients — pork shoulder or butt, salt and liquid smoke. I like to serve the resulting pulled pork on Hawaiian rolls with pineapple-infused barbecue sauce, but the pork is deliciously juicy on its own.

If possible, use pink Himalayan salt or Hawaiian sea salt in this recipe. The former is widely available and not cost prohibitive in the quantity you’ll need. I can’t explain exactly why it’s better than table salt in this recipe, but in my experience it is. Coarse kosher salt is an acceptable substitute. The pulled pork is supposed to be salty and smoky, though not overly so.

The pork can be made in an Instant Pot in about an hour, in a traditional pot in about twice that time or left to cook all day in a slow cooker. 

For the barbecue sauce, King’s Hawaiian and Sweet Baby Ray’s both makes a pineapple-flavored barbecue sauce, or you can make your by adding pineapple chunk, crushed pineapple or pineapple juice to another favorite store-bought sauce. 



Hawaiian Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder, about 4-5 lbs.

Salt, 1 teaspoon per pound of meat

Liquid smoke, 1 teaspoon per pound or meat

Barbecue sauce, if using

Hawaiian rolls or buns


Cut meat into 2-inch chunks, discarding excess surface fat. Place in a bowl, sprinkle the pieces with salt and liquid smoke and stir with your hands or a spoon to combine well.

Place meat in a pot with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 2 hours or until meat easily shreds with a fork. If using an Instant Pot, use the stew setting.

Remove meat from pot and shred, reserving the cooking liquid. Add cooking liquid to meat for juicier pork, and serve with Hawaiian barbecue sauce and buns if desired.