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Hawaiian Style Smoked Meat Recipe

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Hawaiian style smoked meat is a must try. Delicious bite sized pieces of marinated pork smoked to perfection and pan fried with sliced onions and guava jelly make for the perfect appetizer, plate lunch, or dinner.

close up of smoked meat on a plate

Smoked meat is a popular dish here in Hawai’i and everyone and their grandma has their own way of making it. Everything from sweet to salty, spicy to mild, and everything in between. A true delicacy in Hawai’i.

Hawaiian style smoked meat is generally made with pork. Here in Hawai’i we often say “smoke meat”. No need for the extra “d” at the end. Similar to the way we say shave ice vs shaved ice. 

Traditional smoked meat is made in a smokehouse. Pork is soaked in a marinade and then hung in the smokehouse and slowly smoked with wood like kiawe (mesquite) or guava. 

tongs picking up smoked meat

Growing up as a kid, we would make smoke meat in the smokehouses all the time, but I know not everyone has a smokehouse or access to one. But not to worry. This recipe can be made in a smoker grill, like this Traeger grill I have. You can also use this same recipe in a charcoal style grill with a lid.

The key to delicious smoked meat is the marinade. After all that flavor gets soaked into the meat and packs that punch.

Smoked meat marinade ingredients

  • Brown sugar. I like to use golden brown, but you can use light or dark as well. Dark brown sugar gives it a stronger molasses flavor.
  • Shoyu. Shoyu is a Japanese style soy sauce that can be found in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores. I like to use the low sodium one, but you can get the regular style as well. 
  • Garlic. A staple flavor in Hawaiian cuisine.
  • Ginger. Another staple flavor in Hawaiian cuisine.
smoked meat ingredients

What cut of pork is best for smoke meat?

I like to use pork butt here. It’s a cheaper cut of meat with a nice amount of fat to keep it juicy. This is the same cut that is used for kālua pig.

How to prepare pork for smoked meat?

While you can place the whole pork butt in the marinade, I find it best to pre-cut the meat into strips prior to soaking. This will allow maximum flavor penetration into most of the meat. Generally a strip of meat 2 inches x 2 inches x 8-10 inches works well. 

How long do you marinate?

Pork butt can be marinated anywhere from 4 hours up to 24 hours. I often leave it in the refrigerator overnight, about 6-8 hours.

smoked meat on the grill

What kind of wood is best for smoking pork?

Here in Hawai’i we often use kiawe, which is a type of mesquite. It has a slightly sweet aroma. Another popular wood is guava. Guava has a semi-sweet, subtle aroma. Both are excellent choices.

What temperature is used for smoking?

Consistent heat is important when smoking. 200F to 250F is an ideal range for smoking. 

How to monitor the temperature?

The Traeger grill comes with an electric temperature regulator and many of the charcoal type grills have a thermometer on the cover. The most accurate way to monitor temperature is to use a meat thermometer.

smoked meat close up on a cutting board

How long do you smoke pork?

Smoking time will depend on the thickness and the cut of meat. For pork butt in 2 inch strips at 200F it takes about 4 hours.

Is smoked meat cooked?

Typically most smoked meats are cooked when the smoking process is complete, however it is often reheated or cooked further prior to consumption.

Why does smoked meat turn pink?

The pink color comes from myoglobin or the proteins in the meat. This is broken down by the heat and gives it the classic smoke ring appearance.

smoked meat in a pan with sliced onions

How to store?

Once cooled, place pork in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. This will keep for 4-5 days.

Can you freeze smoked meat?

The great thing about this recipe is the ability to make a large batch and freeze for later. Place cooled pork in a zip top bag or airtight container and place in the freezer. This will keep for 3 months.

More grilling recipes

How to make Hawaiian style smoked meat?

  1. For the marinade: To a bowl add sugar, shoyu, garlic, and ginger. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  2. For the pork: Add the pork to a zip top bag or container. Pour in the marinade. Close the bag and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat smoker to 200F.
  4. Place the meat in the smoker and smoke for about 4 hours or until an internal temperature of 145F and the marinade is no longer wet.
  5. Remove pork from the smoker. Slice into bite sized pieces and pan fry with guava jelly and sliced onions. ENJOY!
close up of smoked meat on a plate

Smoked Meat Recipe

Yield: 2 pounds
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 15 minutes

Hawaiian style smoked meat is a must try. Delicious bite sized pieces of marinated pork smoked to perfection and pan fried with sliced onions and guava jelly make for the perfect appetizer, plate lunch, or dinner.

Ingredients

For the marinade

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup shoyu
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch ginger sliced

For the pork

  • 2 pounds pork butt sliced into strips, about 2 inches thick
  • 2 tablespoons guava jelly
  • 1 sweet onion

Instructions

  1. For the marinade: To a bowl add sugar, shoyu, garlic, and ginger. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  2. For the pork: Add the pork to a zip top bag or container. Pour in the marinade. Close the bag and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat smoker to 200F.
  4. Place the meat in the smoker and smoke for about 4 hours or until an internal temperature of 145F and the marinade is no longer wet.
  5. Remove pork from the smoker. Slice into bite sized pieces and pan fry with guava jelly and sliced onions. ENJOY!

Notes

*You can substitute pork shoulder or other cuts of pork if you prefer.

*If your smoker does not have a 200F setting, set to 180F or the closest temperature you can set.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 416Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 87mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 27g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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smoked meat pin

By on August 7th, 2021

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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