Hawaii is a multicultural melting pot and has a long history with sugarcane and pineapple. Sweets of Hawaii are wonderful tropical treats and take many forms: baked goods, frozen, candy, and more.
- Mochi: a Japanese treat made of pounded sticky rice.
- Li hing mui: a red powder that is sweet, sour, and salty. The main ingredient is dried plum Delicious sprinkled on fruit, you will also see it as a glass rimmer for cocktails.
- Azuki beans: a small red bean grown in China and Thailand that is cooked down to sweetness and added to desserts such as shave ice or ice cream.
- Malasadas: this Portuguese Mardi Gras treat is fried yeast dough similar to beignet or a doughnut. It is coated with sugar and can also have a filling.
- Shave ice: a frozen treat of Japanese origin where a large block of ice is shaved to make a snow-like consistency. Syrups made from fruits are poured over the ice. Sometimes shave ice is eaten with azuki beans or ice cream and condensed milk.
- Haupia: a coconut pudding made with coconut milk, sugar, and arrowroot.
Here’s my top sweets in Hawaii along with recommended places I want to try.
Sweets of Hawaii map
Top sweets of Hawaii
- Coco puffs from Liliha Bakery are amazing, if you love chocolate and coconut. It’s a puff of pastry filled with chocolate custard. The topping is similar to German chocolate cake filling (cooked cream, eggs, sugar, and butter) and is full of coconut. Liliha Bakery has two locations in Honolulu.
- Shave ice can be found in many spots and folks are fierce about their favorite. This refreshing, icy treat is so perfect after a tropical day. My favorite syrup is POG, with passion fruit (lilikoi), orange, and guava syrup. You can explore different spots and different syrups and combinations. I recommend Island Snow in Kailua and Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa.
- Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu is famous for malasadas. At Leonard’s, the malasadas come dusted with sugar, cinnamon sugar, or li hing mui (dried powdered plums). You can also get them with a creamy filling, custard, chocolate, haupia (coconut), or the flavor of the month.
- Ted’s chocolate haupia pie is a wonderful treat if you are on the North Shore of Oahu. Ted’s Bakery has lots of offerings and I enjoy eating pie outside and watching the surfers go by.
- Big Island Candies, Hilo, Hawaii has super shortbread cookies and chocolates. My favorite is chocolate macadamia nut rocky road.
- Honolulu Cookie Company with multiple locations on Oahu and Maui has lots of shortbread flavors, some dipped in chocolate.
- Malie Kai Chocolates (Honolulu) uses only Hawaiian grown cacao. Many bars are single origin chocolate. They also include local coffee and tangerine in some flavors.
Recommendations I want to try
- Mochi at Two Ladies Kitchen, Hilo, Hawaii
- Ice cream from Pink’s Creamery, Hanalei, Kauai
- Sweet and savory pies at The Right Slice, Lihue, Kauai
- Pies with macadamia,chocolate, and pineapple from Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, Lahaina, Maui
- Cream puffs, donuts, and malasadas at T Komoda Store and Bakery, Makawao, Maui
- Macarons including matcha, lilikoi, and guava from La Tour Café, Honolulu and Pearl City
- Cheesecake at Otto Cake, Kaimuki, Honolulu
- Flavored marshmallows and pastries from Short n Sweet bakery market café, Hilo, Hawaii,
Resource links for sweets of Hawaii
- 10 must try sweets in Honolulu from Serious Eats
- Sweet treats in Honolulu from Honolulu magazine
- 18 Hawaii foods to make your mainland friends try when they visit from Hawaii magazine
- Hawaiian shave ice from Best of Oahu
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