What Are the Different Types of Hawaiian Desserts?

Lauren Romano

There are several different types of Hawaiian desserts ranging from mango cheesecake to macadamia squares. Cakes typically have at least one type of fruit included in the recipe. Quite a few pie recipes are also made with at least one fruit ingredient. Cookies are an option for those who want an on-the-go dessert. Pudding is ideal for those craving something sweet and creamy.

Guava pulp and nectar is used in a guava spice cake.
Guava pulp and nectar is used in a guava spice cake.

Fruit is a big part of Hawaiian desserts, especially in many cake recipes. Guava spice cake includes guava nectar and pulp as well as other ingredients and a variety of spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Pineapple upside down cake requires putting pineapple rings on the bottom of the pan during prep, but after baking, the cake is removed by flipping the pan over so the pineapple is showing on the top; a cherry is placed in the center of each ring. Some of the other necessary ingredients are brown sugar, butter and eggs. Mango cheesecake, which is one of the richer cake recipes, involves using mango puree and mango slices as well as cream cheese, sour cream and eggs among other ingredients.

Pineapple is often featured in Hawaiian desserts.
Pineapple is often featured in Hawaiian desserts.

Some pie recipes include using two ingredients that Hawaii is known for — coconut and macadamia nuts. Coconut meringue pie usually involves making three separate recipes: a different one for the filling, pie crust and meringue. Many of the ingredients, such as eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla extract, are likely already in the kitchen. Macadamia nut cream pie is one of the Hawaiian desserts that requires only a handful of ingredients, some of which are macaroon coconut, almond extract and butter.

Coconut is often used in Hawaiian desserts.
Coconut is often used in Hawaiian desserts.

Cookies are one of the Hawaiian desserts that can get thrown in a bag and taken on the go. Coconut macadamia squares are a bar style cookie that involves using ingredients such as macadamia nuts, cinnamon, coffee powder and flaked coconut. A recipe for Hawaiian coconut shortbread cookies requires only a handful of ingredients including flaked coconut, powdered sugar and vanilla. Many of the ingredients in a recipe for Hawaiian tea cookies, such as sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour, are easily found and usually on hand.

Pudding is a dessert option for those who are craving something sweet and creamy. Haupia, also known as Hawaiian coconut pudding, is one of the many Hawaiian desserts that involves using coconut in some form; in this case, coconut milk is one of the necessary ingredients. Hawaiian banana pudding is another option, one which involves using crushed pineapples, cherries, coconut and bananas among other ingredients. Hawaiian white chocolate chip bread pudding is a rich dessert that includes ingredients such as heavy cream, eggs and toasted pecans.

Coconut meringue pie is topped with meringue instead of a pie crust.
Coconut meringue pie is topped with meringue instead of a pie crust.

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Discussion Comments


Mochi is a popular Hawaiian dessert too right? I've had Japanese mochi countless times before. The Hawaiian version is a little different. The shapes are different and the ingredients vary a little bit too.


@ddljohn-- You must be referring to Pani Popo. It really is a wonderful sweet bread.

Did you get the chance to try some Hawaiian cakes like Hawaiian wedding cake and guava cake? I'm particularly a fan of guava cake. It may sound strange but it's far better than one would expect. If not, you can always make them at home too.

Coconut cakes are good too but I like coconut Haupia a little more. This is a type of firm coconut pudding. It can be sliced easily. The best part is that it's both gluten and dairy free. I have many friends who don't eat one or the other, so this is a safe dessert that everyone will eat and enjoy.


Hawaiian desserts are very delicious. My favorite when I visited were the Hawaiian sweet breads. These sweet breads are fluffy but not too sweet. They have an amazing aroma, probably because many of the recipes involve coconut milk. Coconut and pineapples are both heavily used in Hawaiian desserts. I won't even get started with Hawaiian fruit dip which is amazing.

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