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Kalua Pork and Cabbage

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Kalua Pork and Cabbage is a popular Hawaiian dish. Think of it as braised cabbage with shredded pork. So juicy and savory! This 3-ingredient recipe is simple to prepare and onolicious with rice.

Kalua pork and cabbage in a bowl
Kalua Pork and Cabbage

Kalua Pork and Cabbage

We love kalua pork and cabbage in Hawaii!

Whether you call this dish kalua pork cabbage, kalua pork with cabbage, kalua pork and cabbage, or kalua pig and cabbage (this is what locals call it), just know that it is delicious and easy to make.

All you need are 3 ingredients and 1 pot.

You know about kalua pork right? Kalua pork is a classic Hawaiian dish. Think of it as Hawaii's version of pulled pork, but even tastier!

Kalua pork is traditionally made by roasting a whole pig underground. But you can also make kalua pork at home in the oven or using an Instant Pot / pressure cooker (we have recipes for both methods in this post).

Kalua pork and cabbage takes kalua pork one step further and combines the kalua pork with cabbage. The cabbage is braised, soaking up all the savory pork drippings and becomes super tender and soft. The whole dish is mouthwatering juicy and amazing with rice.

My ideal kalua pork and cabbage is super juicy and has a 1:1 ratio of kalua pork and cabbage. I love how the cabbage soaks up all the drippings, fat, and flavor. The kalua pork, shredded and smoky, is prominent but doesn't overwhelm. Spoon generously over rice, and the juices drip down into the bowl...wowowowow.

A dish of Kalua pork and cabbage from Helena's Hawaiian Food.
Kalua pork and cabbage from Helena's Hawaiian Food

Kalua Pork and Cabbage in Hawaii

Before making kalua pork and cabbage at home, it's useful to understand how we eat this dish in Hawaii.

You'll find kalua pork and cabbage on the menu of all Hawaiian restaurants. It is usually listed alongside kalua pork on the menu...so you can decide if you want "just" kalua pork or kalua pork and cabbage. When given the option, I'll always pick the latter!

When it comes to dining out, the kalua pork and cabbage from Helena's Hawaiian Food is my all-time favorite. (Though nothing beats making it at home ^_^).

Kalua pork and cabbage is never served alone. At plate lunch spots, it's usually served as part of a larger plate with rice and local-style macaroni salad.

At Hawaiian spots, kalua pig and cabbage either comes as part of a plate or set menu. Or when ordering a la carte, you usually order several types of dishes (see this Helena's Hawaiian Food for an example) to create a complete meal.

Nothing goes better with kalua pig and cabbage than rice, poi, luau stew and opihi...maybe even lau lau if you're super hungry!

Ingredients for Kalua Pork and Cabbage: kalua pork, cabbage, and kalua pork drippings/juices (or chicken broth)
Ingredients for Kalua Pork and Cabbage: kalua pork, cabbage, and kalua pork drippings/juices (or chicken broth)

Ingredients

Green Cabbage
Just a big head of plain green cabbage.

Kalua Pork
Two easy ways to get kalua pork!

  1. Purchase kalua pork from a market in Hawaii. Kalua pork is sold at most local supermarkets (even at Costco Hawaii) and restaurants (like Helena's Hawaiian Food and Yama's Fish Market). Note: kalua pork freezes well and is easy to bring to the mainland from Hawaii. I often packed frozen kalua pork to take back to college in NYC.
  2. Our preferred option! Make kalua pork home using our easy 3-Ingredient Kalua Pork recipe. You can make it in the oven or Instant Pot / pressure cooker.

Kalua Pork Drippings or Chicken Broth
If you make our kalua pork recipe, you'll end up with a good amount (about 2 cups) of kalua pork drippings/juices. It is SO delicious. Hot and savory, full of flavor. Use those drippings/juices for this recipe.

If you're using pre-made kalua pork, just use chicken broth for this recipe. It will be onolicious either way!

Cabbage and kalua pork in a saucepan to make Kalua Pork and Cabbage
Making Kalua Pork and Cabbage

Method

Making kalua pork and cabbage is pretty straightforward. All you need is on big saucepan.

Cut the cabbage into big squares (you can also make wide strips, whichever you prefer). Pile all the cabbage into the saucepan.

Top the cabbage with the kalua pork (which can be at any temperature, it doesn't matter). Pour in the kalua pork drippings/juices or chicken broth.

Cooking down the kalua pork and cabbage in a saucepan with kalua pork drippings/juices
Cooking down the cabbage till it's nice and soft

Place the lid on the saucepan, turn the heat to high and cook till the liquid boils.

Turn the head to medium. Cook until the cabbage is tender and steamy. Remove the lid. Stir and cook a few more minutes, until the cabbage is as soft as you like it.

Note: some people like the cabbage on the slightly more crunchy side, some people like it super soft. We are in the super soft camp. I love the cabbage all melt-in-your-mouth style with kalua pork, man so good!

Ready to eat. Always with rice ^_^

Kalua pork and cabbage in the saucepan, ready to eat

Questions and Tips

How long does this dish keep?

3-4 days in the refrigerator, in a sealed container.

How to reheat this dish?

Just microwave in 30-second intervals until hot. You can also steam it.

How to eat this dish?

Eat it with rice!

What to pair with this dish?

Kalua Pork and Cabbage pairs well with many traditional Hawaiian dishes. Serve this dish alongside:
- Luau stew
- Lau Lau
Chicken long rice
- Poi (either with, or instead of rice)
- Lomi lomi salmon
- For dessert? Haupia or Kulolo!

Kalua Pork and Cabbage Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

Kalua pork and cabbage in a bowl

Kalua Pork and Cabbage

Yield: Dinner for 3-4

Kalua Pork and Cabbage is a popular Hawaiian dish. Think of it as braised cabbage with shredded pork. So juicy and savory! Simple to prepare and onolicious with rice.

Ingredients

Instructions

    1. Cut the green cabbage into big squares (about 2-inch squares). Place all the cabbage into a saucepan. Top with the kalua pork and the kalua pork drippings or chicken broth.
    2. Place the lid on the pan. Turn the heat to high and cook till the liquid boils.
    3. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 5 minutes until the cabbage is tender and steamy.
    4. Remove the lid. Stir and cook for a few more minutes (until the cabbage is as soft as you like it).
    5. Remove from heat and eat! With rice, ideally.
Kalua Pork over a bowl of rice
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