Hawaii’s Tastiest Sweet Treats

WARNING: You may want to have a napkin nearby as we review these mouthwatering sweets.

If you like sweets, you’ll find some onolicious ones in Hawaii! From easy to find to off the beaten path, here’s my list of Hawaii’s tastiest sweet treats:

1. Coco Puffs from Liliha Bakery in Honolulu, Oahu
When I took my first bite of a Coco Puff, instinctively I said, “Mmmmmm…..mmmmm!” This puffed pastry treat is  filled with a buttery, creamy chocolate pudding and topped off with a coconut and vanilla topping. How good are Liliha’s Coco Puffs? Well, here’s what one reader wrote in the comments of my Liliha Coco Puff post.

All I can say is WOW – stumbled across this post before going to spend a week in Oahu and it was more than worth the $50 round trip cab ride from Waikiki just to taste one of those amazing coco puffs!! Of course, I couldn’t just stop at one and after buying a box to go I was left licking the wrappers after the last one was eaten. Thank you so much for this recommendation!!

2. Maui Gold Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Pineapple Grill on Maui
Pineapple from Hawaii is delicious, but Pineapple Grill in Kapalua takes this fruit to a whole new level in their signature dessert. As if the cake wasn’t delicious enough, they top it with Roselani macadamia nut ice cream, toasted coconut and a caramel sauce. This restaurant is no longer open to the pubic and only hosts private events.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Pineapple Grill

3. Shave Ice
If you need to cool down after a day at the beach or a hike, a Hawaiian shave ice will refresh you. Shave ice is similar to a snow cone but with ice that’s very finely shaved making it soft and smooth. You then have a choice of flavorings that add the sweetness. You can find shave ice all over Hawaii. A few of our favorite shave ice joints are:

Matsumoto in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore – This shave ice place is the most famous.

Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice on Kapahulu Avenue by Waikiki on Oahu.

– Aloha Island Shave Ice on the Hana Highway in Paia on Maui

Waiola Shave Ice

4. Malasadas
Portuguese immigrants introduced this doughnut-like pastry to Hawaii. Malasadas are filled with a variety of creamy fruit-flavored centers, as well as chocolate and vanilla fillings.  The best way to have a malasada is to  purchase it while it’s still warm and eat it right away. You can find malasadas in most Hawaii bakeries. Freshly made malasadas are also popular at  Hawaii’s farmers markets. Three of the more famous places to try a malasada are:

Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Avenue by Waikiki on Oahu

– T. Komoda Store & Bakery on Baldwin Avenue in Makawao on Maui

– Tex Drive-In off Highway 19 near Honokaa on Hawaii’s Big Island

5. Happy Cakes on Oahu
As I said in my Happy Cakes post, this cake lives up to its name. This golden moist cake bursts with the iconic flavors of Hawaii – pineapple, macadamia nuts and coconut. Need I say more? There’s a chocolate version, too.  You can pick up a Happy Cake at a variety of locations that I describe in my Happy Cakes post or you can order them online.

Hawaiian Happy Cake

6. Hula Pie
If you go into any of the TS Hawaii Restaurants (for example, any of the Duke’s restaurants) save room a slice of Hula Pie. This generously-sized (e.g. sharable) pie is made of macadamia nut ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and more macadamia nuts.

7. Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie from Ted’s Bakery on Oahu’s North Shore
I must thank a Go Visit Hawaii reader, Janet Rivera, for telling me about Ted’s Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie. I had been to Ted’s Bakery a number of times for breakfast or lunch, but somehow missed that chocolaty, coconuty, creamy goodness up until last year. If you’re stopping into Ted’s with a large group, purchase an entire pie to share, otherwise I recommend purchasing the a slice that’s individually packaged.

8. Mochi
How does one describe mochi? It’s a soft Japanese rice cake usually filled with ice cream. I realize that description doesn’t exactly sound delicious, but you’ve got to trust me on this one. You can find mochi in grocery stores and bakeries around Hawaii.

9. Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
No list of Hawaii’s best sweet treats be complete without chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Though they’re not too difficult to find on the US Mainland, you certainly can’t find the variety that Hawaii offers. See my post on where to find macadamia nut farms in Hawaii. Most farms have a shop where you can sample all sorts of macadamia goodness. My favorite kind is the milk chocolate toffee covered macadamia nut. They’re delish!

Free Samples at Hamakua Mac Nut Visitors Center

Did your favorite sweet treat make the list? What’s your favorite sweet snack or dessert in Hawaii? Where did you try it?

  1. On our last trip I hoofed it from Waikiki to Leonard’s for malasadas. I had no idea it was that far of a walk, but had fun looking in some shops on Kapaphulu St. It was a hot day so I jumped on The Bus for the trip back to our hotel in Waikiki, almost ran up to our room to share the malasadas with my husband. He is so lucky! I could have eaten them before I got back to the hotel.

    1. I know what you mean Angeline…I’m going next week and Leonard’s will be my first stop. I had considered walking from Waikiki, but now you’ve changed my mind … I’ll grab the car and drive there…and eat Malasadas all the way back to the beach! Aloha

  2. Some of my choices were in your list. I tried the Hula Pie at Dukes in Wailiki and had the shave ice at Matsumotos on the North Shore. I also got a shave ice at Diamond Head- a great treat after walking up to the lookout-really refreshing on a warm day! There’s also a nice rest stop going to Hana at Aunt Sandy’s on the Ke’anae Pebinsula that serves a good shave ice (and fresh banana bread, too!) And we stopped at the
    Komoda Bakery on Maui to pick up malasadas for breakfast after seeing the sunrise on Haleakala.
    For one shirt trip to Hawaii, my brother and his wife packed a great deal into it- sights and tastes, for that I’m so thankful. I can’t wait for my return trip!

  3. I have my list ready for my next visit. I am not going to ask my Dr. about how much sugar in a day I can safely have. Ha ha! I definately have some new things to try.
    I do have to say I didn’t love the mochi balls tho. They were kind of weird.
    Ted’s Bakery is the best. I make a pretty good version of Choc haupia pie. It suffices til we can make it back for the real thing!
    My top three want to try are malasadas, coco puffs and the Happy Cake!
    Great post Sheila!

  4. After discovering the Honolulu Cookie Company just down the road from our hotel, we went in every single night (no joke!) It would be embarrassing to admit how much money we spent on their delicious shortbread cookies. My very favorite was the white chocolate dipped coconut. If you have not tried them, you need to. You won’t be disappointed!

  5. Under macadamia nuts, you provide a link…Tropical Farms on O’ahu is a family business run by my husband’s ohana. They take great pride in the macadamia nuts they sell, offer many flavorings, even some delicious coffee…and if you go for a visit, you can also see where 50 First Dates, Lost, Fantasy Island, and other iconic scenes were filmed!!

  6. On Oahu, there is a bakery called Ani’s. They sell chocolate haupia pies and other delicious goodies to local stores, including Sam’s Club. But you really should go to the bakery itself, located in a warehouse district of Aiea just off the freeway, and get the Sweet Potato Haupia pie. It is made with Okinawan purple sweet potato, has a layer of coconut pudding (haupia) on the top, and a wonderful macadamia shortbread crust that makes it really special. You can’t order just a slice, but will have to buy the whole pie – and you won’t be sorry! It is a favorite among the locals.

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