4.98 from 37 votes

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If you’re looking for a taste of Hawaii without the high cost of airfare, look no further than these sugary clouds of goodness known as “Malasadas.” When visiting Hawaii, these fluffy treats are a must-have, and now you can enjoy them right in your own home!

A close up of a malasada showing the coconut haupia filling inside

As soon as I took my first bite, I realized that this was no ordinary doughnut, they’re not overly sweetened, but the sugar does give them a unique taste and texture. These fried dough pieces are often eaten for breakfast with coffee and other tropical drinks or served with ice cream for dessert.

We’ve also collected some of our favorite Hawaiian-inspired desserts for you to try at home: Haupia, Chocolate Haupia Pie, Guava Cake, and Coconut Cream Pie

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.

A hand holding a malasada with a bite taken out of it to show fluffy texture

Where To Find Malasadas

The most popular place in Hawaii to find traditional 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.

Top view of sugar coated Malasadas on a plate

What are Malasadas Made Of?

The base recipes for malasadas is similar to a traditional doughnut. The only difference the the amounts of the ingredients. Here’s what you need:

A malasada being filled with coconut haupia filling using a piping bag

Haupia Filled Malasadas

If you have been to Leanard’s Bakery in Hawaii, you know about the haupia filled malasadas. They are PERFECTION. The haupia filling is made with a rich blend of coconut milk, eggs, sugar, and a thickening agent like cornstarch or arrowroot to create a smooth velvety custard that melts in your mouth. Its coconut flavor is perfectly balanced, not too sweet, and adds a delightful tropical twist to the fluffy malasadas. In my opinion, the haupia filling is a must! I have included the recipe below (AND a cheater version to make it even easier).

More Filling Ideas

Traditional haupia filling is my favorite, however, you can fill your malasadas with any kind of filling including custard, pudding, cream, or even guava or fruit. Just make sure it’s thick enough to pipe into the malasada (you don’t want a thin, runny filling).Here are some more filling ideas:

  1. Custard: Classic and velvety custard is a favorite filling for malasadas, giving them a rich and creamy center.
  2. Chocolate Ganache: Indulge your sweet tooth with a luscious chocolate ganache filling that pairs perfectly with the fluffy donut.
  3. Fruit Preserves: Add a burst of fruity goodness by filling malasadas with your favorite fruit preserves, like raspberry, strawberry, or apricot.
  4. Nutella: For all the Nutella lovers out there, this hazelnut chocolate spread makes a mouthwatering and addictive filling.
  5. Cookie butter: Because you can never go wrong with cookie butter as a filling!
  6. Dulce de Leche: The sweet caramel-like flavor of dulce de leche complements malasadas beautifully, creating a delectable treat.
  7. Lemon Curd: Zesty and tangy lemon curd provides a refreshing contrast to the sweet donut, making it a delightful choice. You can also use this lemon custard recipe as a filling. as.
  8. Coconut Cream: Transport your taste buds to the tropics with a tropical coconut cream filling. Just whip coconut cream together with whipping cream until you reach your desired consistency.
  9. Whipped Cream and Berries: Top your malasadas with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries for a light and fruity twist.

Remember, the filling possibilities are endless, so feel free to get creative and experiment with your favorite flavors to customize your malasadas to perfection!

Malasadas on a plate showing the coconut filling

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 coconut pudding or white chocolate pudding 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!

Comments and Tips From Our Readers

“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!” – EM

“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.” – Michael

Malasadas placed in a shallow dish of sugar to make the sugary coating

Frequently Asked Questions about Malasadas

Are malasadas and beignets the same?

They are similar but they are not the same. For starters, malasadas are bigger than beignets. They are more the size of a filled doughnut. Also, the origins of the two are different. Malasadas are also often filled. Beignets aren’t usually filled but they are often dipped in a sweet sauce or jam.

Are malasadas Hawaiian or Portuguese?

Malasadas are originally Portuguese. The word “malasadas” is a Portuguese word meaning “badly baked”. They were brought to Hawaii by Portuguese laborers and they quickly became a favorite treat of Hawaiians.

What is the difference between a malasada and a doughnut?

They are very similar, however malasada dough has a more egg-to-flour ratio making the dough more eggy in texture. The malasada dough also contains milk or cream.

Malasadas on a plate

Malasadas (Plain or Haupia Filled)

4.98 from 37 votes
Transport yourself to the Hawaiian islands with these soft, puffy, sugary clouds of goodness known as "malasadas"
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Bread, Dessert
Cuisine Hawaiian
Servings 16




Haupia Filling



  • Place the milk in a glass liquid measuring cup. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the hot milk with the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir lightly. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
    Ingredients to make Malasadas
  • Beat the remaining ¼ cup sugar, eggs, butter, and salt into the yeast mixture. Add half the flour 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 all right if it is still a little tacky. Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is still too sticky.
    Malasada 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.
    A large ball of dough to make Malasadas
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut into 16 equal pieces. Take each piece and pinch it into a ball shape, being careful not to overwork. Once they're 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-inch square of parchment paper. This will make it easier to handle them gently and put them 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.
    small dough balls to make Malasadas
  • About 10 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, heat oil to 350 degrees F. in a deep fryer or Dutch oven. Line a plate or cooling rack with paper towels, for draining. Set aside.
    Malasadas in an oil fryer
  • Carefully add the malasadas to the oil, a few at a time. Be careful not to crowd them. Cook 45-60 seconds, until the bottoms are deep golden.
  • Use a slotted spoon or oil strainer to carefully remove malasadas to a prepared plate or rack. Let cool for a few minutes.
    fried Malasadas just out of the fryer
  • Once the malasadas are cool enough to handle (but still very warm), roll in sugar until well coated and set aside. Serve immediately. (If you are going to fill the malasadas, allow them to cool completely before filling and serving.)
    Malasadas in sugar

Haupia Filling

  • Heat coconut milk and whole milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling.
    Coconut cream being poured into an egg mixture to make filling to Malasadas
  • While milk heats, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add hot milk to the yolk mixture, 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 for 3-4 hours until cold and thick.
  • Place haupia filling in a piping bag. Poke a hole into each malasada with the back of a chopstick or a dowel. Place the tip of the bag into the hole and fill until full. Serve immediately.
    A malasada being filled with a coconut cream filling

Cheater Filling

  • 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 recommends (or just add milk until you reach the consistency you want). Use 2-3 packages to fill all 16 doughnuts.
    Close up of a filled malasada


  • If your yeast doesn’t foam, your yeast is probably bad or nonactive. If that’s the case, your dough won’t rise and the recipe won’t work. It’s easier to throw it out and start over than to try and make it work with nonactive yeast. 
  • To fry your malsadas, consistent heating is key. If you are heating the oil on your stove, I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to keep the temperature right at 350 degrees F. 
  • 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 coconut pudding or white chocolate pudding with a little coconut extract. Use ½ cup less milk than what the package recommends, or just add milk until you reach the consistency you want. Use 2 or 3 packages to fill all 16 doughnuts. 

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 three beautiful 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.

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4.98 from 37 votes (24 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! Takes so much like Lenard’s bakery!!! Only thing I recommend is cooking for 1 1/2 minutes per side to have them be cooked all the way through. Besides that 10/10 recommend!

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! I followed the recipe and direction as listed and it turned out phenomenal! Thank you sooooo much for sharing this recipe. I truly enjoyed it and so did friends and family. I will be keeping this.

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