Malasadas (Plain or Haupia Filled)

4.89 from 9 votes

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Transport yourself to the Hawaiian islands with these soft, puffy, sugary clouds of goodness known as “malasadas”

Haupia filled malasadas

What Are Malasadas?

Malasadas are basically Hawaii’s version of a yeast doughnut. Even though malasadas have Portuguese origins (specifically the Azores and Madeira regions) and could be considered more of a Portuguese dessert, they have become widely popular in Hawaii, which is where I was introduced to them. They don’t have a hole and more often than not, they are served plain with no filling. Instead of being glazed, they are dusted with sugar. It’s like eating a puffy, fried, sugary cloud. SO GOOD.

Sugar dusted malasadas

Where To Find Malasadas

The most popular place in Hawaii to find malasadas is Leonard’s Bakery on Oahu. However, it’s not the only place to find them. You can find them on different islands including Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. You can find them in restaurants or bakeries. When I lived in Hawaii there was a malasada food truck that would come around every once in a while and park across the street from where I lived. Also, the bakery that I worked at in Hawaii would make them every once in a while. Have I mentioned I worked at a bakery in Hawaii? It was the best job ever… even if it did make me gain the Hawaii 5-0. Totally worth it.

Malasadas stacked on a plate

Filled Malasadas

Malasada being filled with cream haupia filling

If you have been to Leanard’s Bakery in Hawaii, you know about the haupia filled malasadas. They are PERFECTION. If you are wanting to make a haupia custard from scratch, I have included the recipe below (AND a cheater version to make it even easier). However, you can fill your malasadas with any kind of custard, pudding, cream, or even guava or fruit filling, just make sure it’s thick enough to pipe into the malasada (you don’t want a thin, runny filling).

Malasada filled with haupia

Malasada Day

A popular time to eat malasadas in on “Malasada Day”, which is the day before Ash Wednesday, aka “Fat Tuesday… aka “Mardi Gras”. Instead of celebrating with beignets and beads, celebrate the Hawaiian way and load up with all your favorite kinds of malasadas!

Tips For Making Malasadas

  • If your yeast doesn’t foam, your yeast is probably bad/non-active and the recipe won’t work.Your dough won’t rise. It’s easier to throw it out and start over than to try and make it work with non-active yeast.
  • If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can mix with an electric mixer in a large bowl. When the dough starts getting too thick to mix with the hand mixer, remove from bowl and knead on a floured surface.
  • To fry your malasadas, consistent heating is key. I used an electric fondue pot so I could set the temp to 350 and it automatically regulated (I actually like using this more than my deep fryer, it’s WAY easier to clean) . If you don’t have a way to set the temperature or are heating the oil on your stove, I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to keep the temperature right at 350.
  • Roll your malasadas in the cinnamon sugar as soon as you are able to handle them without getting burned. Don’t let them cool too much or the sugar won’t stick as well.
  • The haupia custard from scratch is SO GOOD but can also be a little intense and inconsistent. If you want to make things extra easy, you can totally cheat and just use instant coconutpudding or white chocolatepudding with a little coconut extract.
  • Serve them the day you make them. Like any fried dessert, these taste best the day of. Nothing beats a warm malasada served minutes after being taken out of the fryer!
malasadas being rolled in sugar

More Hawaii Inspired Desserts

malasadas on a plate showing haupia filling

Malasadas (Plain or Haupia Filled)

4.89 from 9 votes
Transport yourself to the Hawaiian islands with these soft, puffy, sugary clouds of goodness known as "malasadas"
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Rising Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Bread, Dessert
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 16



Haupia Filling (Optional):


  • Heat the milk in a glass liquid measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute. In the bowl of a stand mixer*, combine the hot milk with the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir lightly, and let sit until the mixture is foamy*, about 5 minutes (*see "tips" above).
    ingredients for malasadas
  • Using the dough hook and beat the eggs, butter, ¼ cup sugar and salt into the yeast mixture. Add half of the flour (2 cups plus ¼ cup), and mix until combined, then mix in the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It's ok if it is still a little tacky (see picture above). Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is still too sticky.
    dough in a stand mixer
  • Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray (so the dough won't stick to it if it rises a lot). Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
    large dough ball for malasadas
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and cut into 16 equal pieces. Take each piece and pinch into a ball shape being careful not to overwork. Once it's nice and round, pat each piece between your hands, flattening it out a little so it looks like a fat disc. Optional: Place each dough piece on a 4" square of parchment paper, this will make it easier to handle gently and put in the oil after they rise. Cover dough pieces with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they puff up, about 45 minutes.
    malasada dough balls on parchments paper, ready to rise
  • About 10 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, heat oil to 350-degrees in a deep fryer or Dutch oven (I actually used my electirc fondue pot and it worked perfectly). Carefully add the malasadas to the oil, a few at a time. Be careful not to crowd them. When the bottoms are deep golden, after 45 seconds to a minute, use a metal slotted spoon or wooden chopstick to flip; cook until they’re deep golden all over.
    malasadas being fried and turned over with chopsticks
  • Use a slotted spoon or oil strainer to carefully remove malasadas to a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels.
    fried malasadas on paper towels
  • Once the malasadas are cool enough to handle (but still very warm), roll in sugar until well coated and set aside. Serve immediately.
    malasadas being rolled in sugar

For Haupia Filled Malasadas:

  • Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat until hot but not boiling. While milk heats, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl until smooth. SLOWLY add 1 cup hot coconut milk mixture to yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Slowly add remaining milk, still whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut extract. Cover and chill 3-4 hours until cold and thick.
    haupia custard filling being made for malasadas
  • Place haupia filling in a piping bag. Poke a hole into each malasada with the back of a chopstick (or a dowel). Place tip of the bag into the hole and fill until full. Serve immediately.
    malasada being filled with haupia custard


  • If you don't feel like going through the process to make the filling from scratch, just use a package of instant coconut pudding and use ½ cup less milk than what the package reccomends (or just add milk until you reach the consistency you want). Use 2-3 packages to fill all 16 doughnuts.
    Malasadas stacked showing cream filling on the inside

Nutrition Information

Calories: 294kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 205mgPotassium: 34mgFiber: 1gSugar: 61gVitamin A: 213IUCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. Thank you for sharing…this looks delicious! Can you tell me how long the haupia cream filling can be stored in the fridge?

  2. 5 stars
    For the haupia filling it says milk. Is it both the coconut milk and whole milk together in a pot To heat up?

  3. I made this few times, only that I bake them instead of frying because I don’t like that greasy taste to them. I know it may not be anymore authentic but this recipe always comes out great to me. No filling needed, just roll them in cinnamon sugar. And even so much better when they’re freshly baked. I bake them at 350 degrees F until they turn golden brown, about 15 mins., I basically just eye them really. THANK YOU for this recipe!

  4. Malasadas are actually Portuguese. There’s a large Portuguese population in Hawaii though, so that’s probably how they got there. My vovó (grandma) used to make them with my mom when she was little. Can’t wait to try your recipe and see if they are how she remembers them.

  5. 5 stars
    So – not sure what I’m doing wrong but I’ve made these three times now. I can’t seem to get them to cook through – or so people keep telling me. Even after cooking them for 1:30 on each side they don’t seem to be completely done in the middle – I even tried making them smaller – so I got 20 out of the recipe instead of the 16. I don’t fill them. My coworker tried them also and had the same problem. They are delicious though IMO! He was worried about them not being done so don’t thing he ate them. Any thoughts?

    1. Hmmm… this is a good question. It could be that they haven’t risen enough. You want them to rise enough so they are very airy in the middle. They are probably too dense in the middle before you are frying. Make sure they are big and puffy before dropping them in the oil. You may need to put them on a heating pad or somewhere extra warm to rise and that they don’t deflate while putting them in the oil (sometimes that happens to me). That is my best guess. Also, is your oil hot enough when frying? Are they getting a deep golden brown on each side?

      1. Thanks! That’s a good point. I live in Vermont so “room temperature” might be 65 deg this time of year.… not 80/85 deg. like it is in Hawaii. I never do feel like they rise that much. Next time I make them I’ll give them more time to rise and maybe I’ll increase the space temp first or do a heating pad as you suggest.

        I am using a deep fryer which seems to maintain 350 deg. – I verify that with a digital thermometer – sometimes it even gets a little higher then 350. They are definitely getting golden brown. At about 1:30 per side I was starting to see a couple black spots. My coworker claimed that if he fried his as long as I did that they would’ve been completely black.

        1. 5 stars
          Update – yup that was totally the problem! This time I turned my oven up to 170 deg (min) then turned it back off – then put the dough in the oven to rise with a bowl of water under it. What a difference that made! No problems with cooking them through at 50 seconds a side! Thanks for the help! Now my only problem is self control (I ate half of them in a single day by myself😳)

  6. We just returned home from Hawaii, (my 2nd trip, fiancé’s 1st). I introduced him to Malasadas while we were there. Sadly on the big island, no Leonards Bakery. But the KTA super store in Hilo had a nice bakery counter with pretty good made that day malasadas. (not as good as fresh from Leonards). There was a hot malasada truck on the side of the road, and we wish so much we had stopped to get them but didn’t have cash on us at the time. We swore we’d get some on our way out of Hawaii… the KTA store in Waimea didn’t have any good quality ones, so we thought we’d stop at the store in Hilo before the airport.. stupid us.. bakery’s of course close down around 5pm so we completely missed them. A week in Hawaii and we only got to eat 1 each. SO here I am, hoping i can recreate it at home. Wish me luck, i’ll come back to rate the recipe after i’ve created it. I am hopeful.

    1. Good luck! I think you will love this recipe. I’m so sorry you weren’t able to get more during your time in Hawaii!

      1. 4 stars
        It’s a decent recipe, Definitely a tasty confection. But I’m still on the hunt for the perfect malasada recreation though. I found this to be a bit heavy/dense in the dough. Not as light and fluffy as Leonard’s. Other recipes call for less flour, less eggs, or more flour more eggs, or different kinds of milk like evaporated, or combination of milk. The search is not easy to find the best recipe. Other recipes only call for 1 hr of proof time before making the dough balls. Yours has us making the dough balls then letting them rise again. The 5 minutes yeasting did nothing and i threw out the milk sugar yeast mix thinking it was bad yeast like in your notes. Only to read the packet and it says 10 minutes.. So i did a 1/4 c hot milk with the sugar and yeast and let it it sit for the 10 minutes. Other recipes say to scald the milk, it helps create the light fluffiness of the malasadas they say. Not sure what temp to scald the milk, but the microwave didn’t cut it. It took nearly 3 hours for the dough to double in size, not sure what was up with that, not room tempy enough maybe? I ended up having to warm my oven and place the bowl in there for a bit. 4 stars for being a really good pastry, but not quite the copy cat of the ones i love from Hawaii.

        The Haupia custard filling is delicious. This is a take away recipe for me as i think i can use this as a base for my fruit tarts, or in general, any custard filling i could need. But i’m still on the hunt for the kind of Haupia filling i know and love from the island. Which is white and more of a cream flavor. I will be trying some other recipes to see how they compare.

        This is the fun in creating something new. Research, prep, execution, taste, adjust, research, prep, execution. Its so hard for me not to deviate on a new recipe but i’ve learned many times, when making something new, always follow the damn recipe before making alterations. 🙂 Thanks for being a great starting platform.

    1. They are similar to Paczki’s like Paczki’s are similar to Donuts. Most people would say that Paczki’s are unique compared to a donut yes? Paczki’s are heavier, more dense. I do not care for Paczki’s. They are too heavy, dense and solid, and leave me feeling yucky after i eat just half a one. I’ve never liked them, even fresh. I’m not the biggest fan of donuts either 1 or 2 and i’m good, unless really good quality/fresh or fall time orchard pumpkin cinnamon donut. Now Malasadas while similar in craft and make are quite unique in their own way. Softer, fluffier, lighter. Malasadas are in a class of their own. I can devour an entire box by myself if you let me. They are my most favorite treat when i visit Hawaii. I can’t wait to try this recipe to see how it holds up to the ones i get from Leonard’s Bakery.

  7. 5 stars
    These came out perfect. Just like being in Hawaii, well other than the beautiful beaches and warm weather. I love how light and fluffy they are.

  8. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! These turned out to be the best donuts we’ve made at home. They may be the best we’ve had, period. Don’t miss out!

  9. 5 stars
    My mouth is watering just looking at your photos. I’m super excited about making this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try!!

  10. We just discovered malasadas this spring. SO GOOD! If you ever come across Clark’s food truck, they make amazing malasadas here in Davis County, Utah. I’m excited to try an at-home version. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Can you make the dough ahead and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to cook and serve?

      1. We haven’t tried that, so I can’t say. But let us know how it turns out if you do try it!