If you’re a fan of the iconic plate lunch, you won’t want to miss these Melty Kalua Pork Sandwiches. This mouth-watering twist on a classic will transport you straight to the islands!
My husband and I loved plate lunches long before we ever went to Hawaii, thanks to a local restaurant serving up authentic island food.
Once we to the islands, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making a traditional plate lunch for a family reunion meal.
We had leftover kalua pork the next day and my husband turned it into a sandwich. He topped it with cheese and the delicious sauce and it tasted so amazing, I knew I had to share the recipe with all of you!
This recipe works because it’s:
- A great use of leftovers. If you’re like us and have some leftover meat and sauce after making a traditional plate lunch, you can make these sandwiches with just a few additional ingredients.
- Full of authentic flavors! The delicious pork, sauce, and cabbage are key elements of the Hawaiian meal.
- A unique twist on a classic. If you love plate lunches and are looking for something a little different, these sandwiches are for you!
Pat a 4-6 pound pork shoulder dry with paper towels and then pierce all over using a fork.
Place the pork in your slow cooker and pour 1 Tablespoon of liquid smoke and 2-3 teaspoons of Himalayan pink salt over the pork.
Cover and cook for 8-12 hours on low, or until the pork is cooked through.
Remove the pork from the slow cooker and all but 1 cup of liquid. Shred the pork and return to the slow cooker on the warm setting or keep in an airtight container until you’re ready to make the sandwiches.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray a 13″ x 18″ baking sheet.
Once the meat is ready, slice 6 hoagie buns in half. Add 4-6 ounces of kalua pork to each hoagie and top with 2 slices of provolone cheese.
Place the open hoagies on the prepared baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees until the cheese has melted.
Drizzle the sandwiches with katsu sauce, top with shredded cabbage, and serve.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
You can choose to toast the sandwiches or not! If you do toast them in the oven, the bread will be crispy, so you may need more sauce to soften it up.
If you don’t want to use your oven, you can also use a toaster oven.
And if you want melted cheese without toasted bread you can add a bit of meat to a frying pan and top with the slices of cheese. Cover with a lid and heat over low heat until the cheese has melted. Then slide the meat onto the hoagie bun.
Substitute a different cheese if you don’t like provolone. Swiss or Colby Jack would also taste great on this sandwich!
You can use red Hawaiian salt if you can find it, but Himalayan Pink Salt works too and is more readily available.
Try adding some pineapple rings on top of the cheese for a delicious sweet element!
More Like This
Looking for more delicious sandwiches? You’ll love these!
- Hawaiian Turkey Burgers
- Mozzarella Stuffed Burgers
- Turkey Sandwiches with Special Sauce
- Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps
- Grape and Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches
What To Serve With Kalua Pork Sandwiches
Wondering what to serve with this recipe? It always helps when someone else makes the meal plan for you! Here are a few of our favorites side dishes to pair with these kalua pork sandwiches:
- Authentic Mac Salad
- Potato Chips
- Sliced pineapple
- Cowboy Baked Beans
- Potato Salad
- Meyer Lemonade
- POG juice
No you won’t need to add any liquid to your pork when you put it in the slow cooker. Because there is a good amount of fat and water in the pork cut, it will create liquid as it cooks and steams in the slow cooker.
Kalua pork is not the same as pulled pork. Kalua pork is only seasoned with liquid smoke and salt while pulled pork is seasoned with BBQ sauce and other spices. Pulled pork originates from the Southern U.S. while Kalua pork originates from Hawaii.
Katsu sauce is a Japanese-style barbeque sauce with ingredients like Worcestershire, soy sauce, sugar, and ketchup.
We like to get our Katsu sauce from Mo Bettah’s, but you can find it bottled and sold in most local grocery stores.
Melty Kalua Pork Sandwiches
- 4-6 pound pork shoulder
- 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
- 2-3 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
Kalua Pork Sandwiches
- 6 hoagie buns
- 36 ounces kalua pork
- 12 slices provolone cheese
- 1 cup katsu sauce
- 3 cups shredded cabbage
- Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towels and then pierce all over using a fork.
- Place the pork in slow cooker and pour liquid smoke and Himalayan pink salt over the pork.
- Cover and cook for 8-12 hours on low, or until the pork is cooked through.
- Remove the pork from the slow cooker and all but 1 cup of liquid. Shred the pork and return to the slow cooker on the warm setting or keep in an airtight container until you're ready to make the sandwiches.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray a 13" x 18" baking sheet.
- Once the meat is ready, slice hoagie buns in half. Add 4-6 ounces of kalua pork to each hoagie and top with 2 slices of provolone cheese.
- Place the open hoagies on the prepared baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees until the cheese has melted. (You may need to toast the sandwiches in batches if all of the hoagies don't fit on the baking sheet.)
- Drizzle the sandwiches with katsu sauce, top with shredded cabbage, and serve.