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Malasadas: Hawaii's Irresistible Donut Delight


A trip to Hawaii is incomplete without a taste of the island's most beloved pastry: the Malasada. These soft, pillowy donuts, originally from Portugal, have become a staple in Hawaiian cuisine, enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike. With their golden, crispy exterior, fluffy interior, and dusting of sugar, Malasadas are undeniably addictive. In this article, we'll explore the history of Malasadas in Hawaii, and walk you through the steps to create your own taste of paradise at home.

The History of Malasadas in Hawaii

Malasadas arrived in Hawaii with Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century. These laborers came to work on sugar plantations, bringing their culinary traditions with them. Malasadas quickly gained popularity among the Hawaiian population, blending seamlessly with the islands' melting pot of cultures. Today, Malasadas are a beloved treat and can be found at bakeries and food trucks across the state, with various fillings like custard, haupia (coconut), and guava.


To make Malasadas at home, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar, for coating


  1. Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the warmed milk and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the active dry yeast over the milk and sugar mixture, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes foamy.

  2. Beat the eggs: In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until smooth. Add the beaten eggs and melted butter to the yeast mixture, stirring until well combined.

  3. Combine dry ingredients: In another large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until a soft, sticky dough forms.

  4. Knead the dough: Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for about 5 minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and the surface.

  5. Let the dough rise: Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, covering it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

  6. Shape the Malasadas: Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness, then use a round cookie cutter or a glass to cut out circles. Place the dough circles onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a cloth, and let them rise for an additional 30 minutes.

  7. Heat the oil: In a heavy-bottomed pot or deep-fryer, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350°F (175°C). Ensure the oil is deep enough to allow the Malasadas to float without touching the bottom of the pot.

  8. Fry the Malasadas: Carefully lower the dough circles into the hot oil, frying 2-3 at a time to avoid overcrowding. Fry the Malasadas for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Use a slotted spoon or a spider strainer to remove the Malasadas from the oil and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

  1. Coat the Malasadas: While the Malasadas are still warm, roll them in granulated sugar or cinnamon sugar, ensuring they are evenly coated.

  2. Serve and enjoy: Malasadas are best served warm, fresh from the fryer. Enjoy them plain or, for an extra touch of indulgence, fill them with your favorite custard, fruit jam, or tropical curd.

Variations and Tips

  • To create filled Malasadas, use a piping bag fitted with a long, thin filling tip to inject the desired filling into the center of the donut. Be sure to do this after coating the Malasadas with sugar.
  • For a lighter, airier Malasada, allow the dough to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes after shaping.
  • If you prefer a Malasada with a slightly tangy flavor, substitute buttermilk for the whole milk in the recipe.
  • Get creative with your sugar coatings by experimenting with different flavors, such as a mix of sugar and finely grated citrus zest or a blend of sugar and ground spices like nutmeg or cardamom.


Malasadas are a delightful addition to Hawaii's rich culinary tapestry, offering a taste of island life that is both comforting and indulgent. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can bring a piece of Hawaii's paradise to your own kitchen, satisfying your cravings for a tropical escape. Perfect for special occasions, family gatherings, or simply indulging your sweet tooth, these irresistible donuts are sure to become a favorite in your home. Happy frying and Aloha!