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Quick cooking Hawaiian style kalua turkey and cabbage in a pressure cooker

Liquid smoke, Hawaiian salt, fresh cracked black pepper, organic vegetable broth (ignore the doggie snack container in the back). Fresh turkey breast, cabbage and onions.
Liquid smoke, Hawaiian salt, fresh cracked black pepper, organic vegetable broth (ignore the doggie snack container in the back). Fresh turkey breast, cabbage and onions.Monica Lehua

This is a simple and fast way of making an island favorite recipe of kalua turkey and cabbage. Usually when you attend a Hawaiian luau (party) there are all the island favorites including fish, poi, laulau and kalua pig. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian method of cooking in an imu also known as an underground oven. Pig or pork was traditionally used however with the health conscious, in order to reduce some of the fat, many are making kalua turkey with whole turkeys or in this case turkey breast.

Kalua Turkey and Cabbage
Kalua Turkey and CabbageMonica Lehua

This dish has a few ingredients and lots of flavor, it tastes just like it came out of an imu. So instead of digging a pit in your back yard, you can make this dish anywhere in the world in your oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker. This recipe is specific for cooking in a pressure cooker and only takes an hour to cook which is amazing since the original method in the imu usually cooks overnight, but then again it’s also cooking the entire pig which could be a couple hundred pounds.


  • 3 lbs of fresh turkey breast
  • 2 tablespoons Hawaiian salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 caps full – liquid smoke (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 medium head cabbage – shredded
  • 2 medium sweet onions – sliced
  • Fresh cracked pepper


  1. Place a few cut slits in the skin side of the turkey breast, rub the Hawaiian salt into both sides of the turkey breast
  2. Place the turkey into the pressure cooker, skin side up, pour broth and liquid smoke on turkey. Cover the pot and secure lid.
  3. Turn digital pressure cooker on high and set for 60 minutes. (Follow directions for the type/brand of your pressure cooker, if it is not a digital pressure cooker be sure to follow directions so that the turkey is cooked in pressure for one hour.)
  4. Slice cabbage and onions and set aside.
  5. When the turkey is done, let the pressure out per the instructions of your pressure cooker manufacture. Allow the turkey to cook, don’t try to shred the turkey when it’s hot, the pressure may still be under the skin and may spray hot liquid on you. Separate the turkey meat and the liquid. Skim the top of the liquid and keep liquid on the side. Taste the liquid for saltiness, you don’t want it too salty as you’ll add some of the liquid back in later.
  6. Once the turkey is cooled, remove the skin and bones. Take 2 forks and shred the turkey meat into strips about 2 inches long.
  7. In the pressure cooker, place a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and sauté the onions for 3 minutes, then add the cabbage and cook a total of 10 minutes until onions and cabbage are soft and wilted. You may add the cooking liquid to the vegetables as needed to continue sautéing. Now, add the shredded turkey, fresh cracked pepper to taste and more of the cooking liquid to the mixture. This dish should be moist not soupy. Serve with hot medium grain sticky rice and enjoy.