Hawaiian Foods to Try

10 Hawaiian Flavors you absolutely MUST TRY

Share this article

Sharing is caring!

10 popular hawaii foods you must try
10 popular hawaii foods you must try


Hawaii isn’t just a paradise for its stunning beaches and lush landscapes; it’s also a haven for unique and delectable flavors that reflect the rich cultural tapestry of the islands.  I’m going to take you on a  mouthwatering journey through 10 popular Hawaiian flavors you must try!

From taro to pineapple, each flavor tells a story of tradition, innovation, and the love that locals have for their island cuisine.

10 Popular Hawaiian Flavors you must try

1. Taro or Poi

Taro is the essence of Hawaiian comfort food, and poi is its humble yet revered form. Locals cherish poi for its connection to their ancestral roots. But it’s originates in Southeast Asia and India. It is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated plants. Its journey to Hawaii was intertwined with the Polynesian migration, as it became an essential food source for the early settlers. The taste is a  subtle, earthy flavor with a gluey texture that complements dishes like lau lau and kalua pork.

Foods Featuring Taro in Hawaii:

  1. Poi: Poi is perhaps the most iconic use of taro in Hawaiian luau plates. This is the Hawaiian equivalent to rice. This traditional staple is made by steaming and mashing the taro root, resulting in a smooth gluey consistency.  Taste it with Hawaiian food at Hawaiian restaurants like Helenas Hawaiian Food or Highway Inn. Experience poi’s magic at Uncle Lani’s poi donuts, offering delightful glazed deep-fried donuts..
  2. Taro Chips: I love taro chips . Thinly sliced and crisped to perfection, taro chips offer a unique and satisfying snack but not always a cheap one! This ubiquitous item can be found  at Costco and in the chips section of convenience and grocery stories like CVS, Longs and Times Supermarket or Safeway. Virtually everywhere.
  3. Taro Desserts: Taro’s creamy texture and mild flavor it is becoming an ingredient for desserts. From taro ice cream to taro mochi, the possibilities are endless. Visit the Waiahole Poi Factory on your drive to Kualoa Ranch- their line is always long.
  4. Taro Bread and Pastries: Discover the comfort of taro-infused bread and pastries, where the rich root vegetable enhances the texture and taste of baked goods.
    uncle lanis poi donuts
    uncle lanis poi donuts

2. Lilikoi

Lilikoi’s journey traces back to South America, where it is believed to have originated. The fruit’s name, passion fruit, is rooted in its distinctive flower, which was thought to symbolize the Passion of Christ due to its unique structure. From South America, lilikoi made its way to Hawaii, flourishing in the tropical climate. Lilikoi has a warm, citrusy, and a tangy sweetness; it’s very versatile and can be paired with several flavors.

Foods Featuring Lilikoi in Hawaii:

  1. Lilikoi Juice: Start your day with a refreshing glass of lilikoi juice. Hawaiian Sun drinks and products have a Passion fruit/lilikoi flavor juice and cookies. They are found in grocery stores.
  2. Lilikoi Cheesecake: Indulge in the creamy goodness of lilikoi cheesecake. The combination of the rich cheesecake and the tart lilikoi flavor is a match made in dessert heaven.
  3. Lilikoi Butter: Lilikoi butter is becoming increasing popular at local Farmer’s Markets. You can enjoy it on  toast, scones, or as a topping on your pancakes.

3. Guava:

 Guava is believed to have originated in Central America and Mexico. It was introduced by early Polynesian settlers and later embraced by Asian immigrants. Today, guava flourishes in Hawaii’s tropical climate, and its sweet, fragrant essence has become an essential part of the local culinary scene. A burst of sweet and tangy notes, reminiscent of a Hawaiian sunrise. With its tropical sweetness, guava is a beloved island flavor that pairs well with various dishes and beverages.

Foods Featuring Guava in Hawaii:

  1. Guava Jam and Jelly at Farmer’s Markets: Guava’s luscious flavor shines in the form of jams and jellies and you’ll find locals mixing their own concoctions and selling them at Farmer’s Markets.
  2. Guava Chiffon Cake & Cheesecake: Guava chiffon cake is light and airy with a touch of tang. Cheesecake with a guava twist is one of my favorites. The creamy richness of cheesecake pairs beautifully with guava’s tropical flair. Someitmes you’ll find them sold at Safeway or at Anna Miller’s restaurant.
  3. Guava Malasadas: Indulge in the fusion of Portuguese and Hawaiian flavors with guava-filled malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery. These delectable pastries offer a delightful blend of textures and tastes.
  4. Guava Drinks: Hawaiian Sun products has a Hawaiian guava drink and cookies is one of their popular flavors. You’ll find them on the shelves of many grocery stores and supermarkets.
    Photo by: Adelia Rosalinda

4. Haupia

Haupia’s creamy and coconutty goodness is a cherished local dessert, often gracing the tables of Hawaiian luaus. Made from coconut milk and arrowroot or cornstarch, haupia is a simple treat that offered a taste of the islands. Its smooth and creamy texture made it a popular choice for luaus and celebrations.

Foods Featuring Haupia in Hawaii:

  1. Ted’s Haupia Pies on the North Shore:  Experience the ultimate comfort in a slice of haupia pie. Combining the creaminess of haupia with a buttery pie crust and sometimes accompanied by chocolate, it’s a treat that captures the essence of island indulgence.
  2. Haupia Cake: Dive into layers of haupia-infused cake, where the coconut milk goodness is beautifully layered between moist cake layers. Haupia cake is a local favorite; a slice of paradise in every bite.
  3. Haupia Malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery: A fusion of flavors, haupia-filled malasadas (Portuguese donuts) at Leonards Bakery offers a delightful contrast between the fluffy pastry and the rich haupia filling.
  4. Haupia Ice Cream: Cool down with the velvety goodness of haupia ice cream. The creamy coconut base carries the distinct flavor of haupia, creating a refreshing and indulgent dessert
Hawaiian plate lunch Must try hawaii foods
Hawaiian plate lunch ©christinekaaloa

5. Ube

Ube, also known as purple yam has its roots in the Philippines. This starchy tuber boasts a distinctive purple hue and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor. A staple ingredient in Filipino cuisine, ube is celebrated for its captivating purple hue and unique taste. A subtly sweet, nutty, and slightly earthy profile, perfect for both desserts and snacks.

Foods Featuring Ube in Hawaii: Ube’s enchanting color and enchanting flavor have sparked a culinary revolution in Hawaii, inspiring a range of mouthwatering products. Here are some popular treats where you can relish the magic of ube in the islands:

  1. Ube Cakes and Pastries: Indulge in the lusciousness of ube-infused cakes, cupcakes, cookies and pastries that deliver the nutty essence of ube in every nibble. Seafood city in Waipahu is a Filipino grocery store with Ube desserts.
  2. Shaved Ice Syrup: Transform your shaved ice experience with ube syrup, creating a unique twist on this Hawaiian favorite. The vibrant color and flavor add a tropical burst to your dessert.
  3. Ube Pies and Tarts: Delight in the richness of ube in pie and tart forms. The buttery crust beautifully complements the velvety ube filling.
  4. Fun Desserts at Farmer’s Markets: Explore imaginative desserts like ube-flavored macarons, ice cream, and even pancakes. Ube’s versatility knows no bounds!

6. Li Hing

The name “li hing” is derived from the Chinese words “li” meaning plum and “hing” meaning powder. Originally, li hing referred to a type of dried plum preserved with salt and licorice. This Chinese delicacy made its way to Hawaii in the 19th century through Chinese immigrants. Over time, li hing evolved to refer to the red powder made from drying, grinding, and salting the seeds of the plum. This distinct powder is the essence of li hing’s unique sweet, sour, and salty profile.The taste is a delightful combination of sweet, tangy, and salty, elevating everything it touches.

Foods Featuring Li Hing in Hawaii: Li hing’s irresistible blend of flavors has become a staple in Hawaiian cuisine, lending its delightful twist to a variety of snacks and treats. Here are some popular products where you can experience the magic of li hing in Hawaii:

  1. Li Hing Gummy Bears: A true island favorite, these chewy gummy bears are coated in li hing powder, creating a sweet-sour-salty sensation that’s hard to resist. You’ll find them at local convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Longs Drugs, and CVS.
  2. Shaved Ice: Cool down with a tropical treat by adding li hing powder to your shaved ice.
  3. Fresh Cut Fruits: Sprinkle li hing powder on fresh-cut fruits like pineapple, mango, and watermelon. The sweet and salty contrast elevates the natural sweetness of the fruits. So yum!
  4. Margarita Drinks: Quench your thirst with a li hing-infused margarita. The powder adds a unique zing to the drink, making it a favorite among those looking for a tangy twist.
  5. Candy and Snacks: Li hing finds its way into a variety of candies and snacks, including dried fruits, licorice, and even popcorn. Its versatility knows no bounds!
    li hing boba smoothie
    li hing boba smoothie

7. Mango

Mango traces its origins back to South Asia, specifically India and Myanmar. This tropical fruit has been cultivated for thousands of years but in the Hawaiian Islands, many families have mango trees and some locals pickle and dry it as a treasured snack.

Foods Featuring Mango in Hawaii:

  1. Fresh Mangoes: Enjoy the pure essence of mango by indulging in fresh, ripe mangoes. The islands’ warm climate provides the perfect environment for mango trees to thrive and bear fruit bursting with flavor.
  2. Mango Shaved Ice: Dive into a refreshing treat with mango-flavored shaved ice. The natural sweetness of mango complements the icy coolness, creating a perfect balance.
  3. Dried Mangoes: Experience the taste of sunshine with dried mangoes. These chewy treats capture the essence of ripe mangoes and make for a convenient and portable snack.
  4. Mango Smoothies: Quench your thirst with a tropical mango smoothie. Blended with ice and other fresh ingredients, mango smoothies offer a delightful burst of flavor.
  5. Mango Sweets: From mango-flavored cakes and pastries to mango-infused desserts, mango is a warm and comforting sweet flavor.
    Mango Photo by: liwanchun

8. Macadamia Nut

Macadamia nuts are native to the rainforests of eastern Australia. Indigenous peoples have enjoyed these nuts for centuries. The nuts made their way to Hawaii in the late 19th century, where they found a hospitable climate and eventually gained recognition as a treasured Hawaiian treat.

Foods Featuring Macadamia Nuts in Hawaii:

  1. Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts: Indulge in the perfect combination of sweetness and crunch with chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. The silky chocolate coating complements the nut’s buttery texture. Take them home as a souvenir gift for family and friends.
  2. Macadamia Nut Brittle: Macadamia nut brittle is a caramelized treat with macadamia nuts in it.
  3. Macadamia Nut Ice Cream: Chunks of macadamia nuts add a delightful and warm, nutty crunch to this tropical-flavored treat.
  4. Macadamia Nut Coffee: Savor the fusion of flavors with macadamia nut-flavored coffee- you’ll find it a lot at 7 Eleven stores and the nutty flavor adds warmth to the roast, making it a good way to wake up in the morning.
  5. Macadamia Nut Cookies: I love macadamia nut cookies! Like Macadamia nut chocolates and brittle, the  nut’s buttery richness adds a unique dimension to the classic cookie.

9. Lychee

Lychee finds its origins in Southern China. It came to Hawaii through Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. It’s not my favorite flavor because it’s a very light sweet and gelatin like consistency, but many love the flavor.

Foods Featuring Lychee in Hawaii:

  1. Fresh Lychee:  Locals like to give each other bags of homegrown lychee from their tree. Peel away the rough skin to reveal the translucent flesh and enjoy the juicy sweetness.
  2. Lychee Sorbet: Lychee sorbet is a delicate flavor but cool and satisfying.
  3. Lychee Cocktails:  From lychee martinis to tropical concoctions, the fruit’s unique taste adds a touch of exoticism.
    Photo by:: Steve Buissinne, Pixabay

10. Pineapple

Pineapple is believed to have originated in South America, particularly in the region of present-day Paraguay and southern Brazil.  The islands’ warm climate and fertile soil proved to be the perfect environment for pineapple cultivation.

Specific Products Featuring Pineapple in Hawaii:

  1. Fresh Pineapple: Savor the pure essence of pineapple by indulging in freshly cut slices. A taste of paradise.
  2. Pineapple Juice: Quench your thirst with the refreshing tanginess of pineapple juice.
  3. Dole whip: In the older days, you’d find pineapple fields spread out from Schofield Barracks to the North Shore.  Today, it is no longer but you can still tour  Dole Cannery and pick up their pineapple sorbet at Dole Cannery. Dole whip has gotten to be a popular dessert, especially for tourists.
  4. Pineapple Smoothies: Start your day with a tropical boost by enjoying pineapple-infused smoothies. The fruit’s vibrant flavor enhances the creaminess of the blend.


Travel Resources for your Hawaii trip

Go Oahu: All Inclusive Pass –  1-7 day discount book with 34 attractions
Booking.com – Hotel bookings. No cancellation fees
Safety Wing – affordable travel insurance with COVID & quarantine coverage
NordVPN – Online security and the ability to watch Netflix. Use “grrrltraveler” for 70% off 3-year plan + 1 month free
Klook – Book tours in Hawaii and Asia
Get your Guide – book tours in Hawaii


Oahu’s Scenic Drives: Driving Hawaii’s Southeast Coast Route
4 Breathtaking Hiking Views on Oahu (for Lazy People)

Hawaii Trip Planning Resources

You May Also Like

©GRRRLTRAVELER LLC 2021  All Rights Limited.