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Hawaiian Haupia (coconut pudding)

Hawaiian haupia is fresh and simple. A favorite at Hawaiian luaus and potlucks, this basic recipe is easy and quick to make. Only four ingredients!

A while ago, I posted a recipe for chocolate haupia pie. I figured it’s about time that I post a basic haupia recipe.

Haupia squares on a banana leaf

Haupia really is simple. It’s just a few ingredients, and it comes together quickly. No special equipment, no special ingredients. Simple simple simple.

Holding a haupia square with a bite taken out of it.

I personally like mine in pie form, because… well, there’s chocolate in it. But I will say, sometimes it’s better to just eat it plain, because it’s so refreshing!

My husband loves haupia. When I asked him for a bit more info on what traditional haupia should be like, he said, well… it should be firm enough that you can pick it up and eat it.

Whisking haupia in a small saucepan.

I then asked my sister in law how she eats hers. Well, she said, I think the authentic way is to have it closer to a custard, and you eat it with a spoon!

So, my husband is born and raised in Hawaii, as is my sister in law. But, I trust her more, heh heh.

She looked into it a little more for me and told me authentic Hawaiian haupia should probably be somewhere in between custard and jelly like squares.

Cutting haupia into squares on a cutting board.

Well, my husband likes his in Jelly like squares, so that’s what I’ve decided to share with you today. It’s also easier to eat, because you can just pick it up and eat it.

If you want it to be softer, the solution is easy. Just add a little less cornstarch! You can play with the amount, maybe starting at 4 tablespoons instead of 5. Totally customizable to your tastes!

Top down view of haupia squares on a banana leaf

Next time you’re feeling like you need a little tropical kick in your life, give this haupia a try!

By the way, my all time most visited post is another popular Hawaiian treat- Butter Mochi! Give both a try! Watch the video for 5 of my other desserts that I guarantee you’ll love.

Hawaiian haupia is fresh and simple. A favorite at Hawaiian luaus and potlucks, this basic recipe is easy and quick to make. Only four ingredients!

70 thoughts on “Hawaiian Haupia (coconut pudding)”

  1. I’m here on the islands I remember when I was little my mom had us grate the coconut. What I also do is put ground coffee in triple layers of cheese cloth tie it then put it in the coconut milk letting it sit till the color that I like it to be. This too is ono….

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  2. 5 stars
    I recently made this dish and my sister sprinkled granola on top of it before I chilled it in the fridge. It turned out pretty well. I recommend.

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  3. 5 stars
    Tried the recipe because it was the simplest I found. I live in Hawaii & and love Haupia, but never made it. I did add a tsp of vanilla extract though. It came out perfectly the first try. It was very Ono!!

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  4. Mine set perfectly, but nobody likes it because it wasn’t sweet. Can I add more sugar or maybe sweetened milk?

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    • You can add more sugar. It will change the texture a bit but I’m sure it will be tasty! You can also add vanilla extract to enhance the flavor.

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  5. 4 stars
    Made this a couple of times now. Both times I couldn’t wait for it to set up so I had to pour a bit into a cup for myself so I could have some while the rest set! Really good. I added a pinch of salt as well as some coconut essence and vanilla essense.. thanks for a great simple yet delish recipe!

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  6. 5 stars
    I made the recipe and it worked fantastically.. I then experimented and made Chocolate Haupia by adding 3 Tablespoons of Cocoa powder, and tree additional table spoons of sugar (makings a total of 8 tablespoons sugar) and a dash of salt but I followed the recipie exactly except for that and the chocolate Haupia was as great as the regular haupia…

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  7. 5 stars
    I was searching my pantry for ingredients to make brownies and found a can of coconut milk. Since I didn’t have all the ingredients to make fudge brownies, I searched for dessert recipes using coconut milk, and I came across your post. YAY!
    I love Hawaii and my time there is so memorable! I don’t remember ever eating haupia, so I was super excited to try this dessert!
    It was easy to make and incorporated beautifully, At the very end of cooking and right before pouring into the pan, I added some shredded coconut. So, so good! It’s light, refreshing, and slightly sweet. I think I could eat the whole pan! 🙂 So glad I did not have the ingredients to make the brownies and found your recipe instead.

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  8. 5 stars
    Fantastic and soooo easy! I was looking for a delicious and satisfying vegan dessert recipe and this is it! I have made it twice in 1 week as it was so popular with my coconut-loving family. Did a single batch 1st and reduced the sugar to 4 tbsp bec we don’t like stuff overly sweet, but I added 3 kinds of coconut bits and shreds for some texture and added flavor, and it was awesome. 2nd time around I doubled the recipe and for some reason it started to firm up way more quickly than the single batch so I cut the heat off early and it was definitely still nice and firm for squares. Yay! I have a new go-to!

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  9. I have a friend who is native Hawaiian she made this for me. It’s amazing. Your recipe is the closest to what she made. Thanks for posting it!
    Aloha!

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  10. I tried making this, but when I was who kin gyn it it thickened up and got clumpy after like two minutes instead of ten. My stove is gas and runs pretty hot, could that have been it? Or do I need to mix the cornstarch and the water a bit better before adding to the coconut milk?

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  11. I’m going to try with mango and some spice like ginger cookie spice and cinnamon sprinkled on top. Think I can add some small chunks after it has reached it’s correct cooking time. Also a small slice on top.

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  12. Hi! I tried this recipe for the first time and it turned out really well I’m 12 years old and I absolutely love baking and cooking I was born and raised until I was a toddler in Hawaii ive always wanted to try making haupia by myself considering I’ve never made haupia and I realized I had some unsweetened coconut milk in my pantry so I decided why not make haupia! I also let it sit for an hour and 30 minutes instead bc I couldn’t wait to try it but overall it was great

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  13. Hi! I tried this recipe tonight and it unfortunately did not go well. I used the exact measurements the recipe asks for, but used “lite” coconut milk. Could this have affected the consistency? I stirred and stirred and stirred and it never thickened! I was there for a good half hour before giving up.

    Reply
    • That could very well be the problem! If the lite version has less of the thick creamy layer at the top when you open the can, then it will have a thinner overall consistency and could affect the final product. I personally use Thai Kitchen brand organic canned coconut milk.

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  14. 5 stars
    My boyfriend is Hawaiian, and he’s mentioned how his grandmother would make this dessert when he was growing up. I thought it would be nice to make it for him so this looked like the best recipe. He said the other Haupia he’s had is sweeter than this but we both agree that this is still really good!!! We don’t like overly sweet things so really… it’s perfect! It tastes light and satisfies that sweet tooth of ours!

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  15. I would love to try this and saw through the comments about using cornstarch or gelatin. Has anyone tried gluccomanan? I’ve read it can be interchangeable with cornstarch and gelatin.

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  16. 5 stars
    I love most all recipes with coconut cream or milk!!! I’m not a sweets person, more of a savory, but I tried this a few years ago and because it wasn’t sickening sweet – I liked it. Do you think I could substitute raw unfiltered honey in lieu of sugar?

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  17. I learned to make haupia as well as many luau dishes, lomi lomi salmon , laulau , from my husbands’s Hawaiian Auntue.
    We used Mendoncas coconut milk, cornstarch and sugar, but Thai Kitchen works well.
    She taught me to stir until the fat begins to melt.-glistens.

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  18. 4 stars
    I will double it next time. My husband was born and raised in Hawaii as well. I have made this many times from scratch . Or I cheated with the packet. It turned out great.

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  19. When I initially refrigerate it do I have to cover it with plastic wrap? Also does it matter if the 8 x 8 container is made of metal or glass?

    Reply
    • The coconut milk marketed for drinking is quite a different consistency and makeup and will most likely not work. Sorry!

      Reply
  20. This is my first time making it and it came out good so I think I’m going to make it every time we have a cookout or a gathering I love it my brother’s going to love it thanks for the recipe I am going to enjoy it

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  21. Hello and Thank you. I can not find arrowroot close by. Do you think I could substitute Coconut flour or if not maybe almond flour in place of the cornstarch or gelatin?

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    • unfortunately those flours don’t have the same properties that cornstarch has, so it wouldn’t set up in the same way.

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  22. Do you tbink i could use coconut cream instead of the milk and the sugar? It would have thevsweetness and tge coconut flavor as well.

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    • The coconut cream I’ve seen is unsweetened, so it wouldn’t make the dish sweet enough. I’m not sure about sweetened coconut cream as I’ve never used it.

      Reply
  23. Hi! I love haupia but I dont have any corn starch at home and was wondering if there was anything I could substitute for it? I do have mochiko (rice flour) if that’s a possibility

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    • Aloha, ik it’s been a while so you probably don’t need think info but incase anyone else does. You can use cornstarch, gelatin, agar agar or arrowroot. There’s probably a few other things but those are the ones I’ve heard of.

      Reply
  24. Someone just told me about this recipe BUT it’s all the same except No sugar or water but with evaporated milk… thoughts?

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  25. 5 stars
    Made these today for an international event I was attending. It got two thumbs up from the Hawaiians! Super easy to make and transport. I cut into bite size pieces and distributed into Dixie cups for serving. I have to say I had no idea what you meant about it starting to glaze and the consistency comment until I got to that ten minute mark. Then I noticed when I would whisk it, rather than coming up with the whisk, it wanted to stay with the rest if that makes sense. I cooked it a few minutes longer because I doubled it. Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • We had this desert at a Hawaiian restaurant and they served it with raspberry and chocolate syrup in a nice design, topped with a raspberry. I imagine you could just use chocolate syrup.

      Reply
  26. 5 stars
    If I want it to be a bit chewy, can I add a little bit of tapioca starch? Like 3 tablespoon of corn starch and 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch?

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  27. 5 stars
    So my first batch didn’t set properly and is more like a pudding then Jello. Any ideas on how to still serve it? I still want to try and use it at the potluck as it still tastes delicious. But what suggestions might you have to finish it off so it looks more appealing?!

    Reply
    • Hey Monica, it should be good for a few days at least, if you cover it tightly with plastic wrap! I had mine in there for a week and it was starting to get a little less than fresh but still edible, haha.

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    • 5 stars
      Hey Monica, I learned from my tutu to add a pinch of salt at the beginning of simmering. It will help keep the haupia from spoiling when left out on the dessert line at a party or during a long travel if not stored in a cooler. Glad to see people making and enjoying our local desserts!! Aloha

      Reply
    • Hey there, sorry to hear that! If it’s still runny, that probably means you didn’t cook it quite long enough. Unfortunately, the best option would probably be to just start from scratch. Also, just wanted to be sure that you used canned coconut milk, not the drink kinds that are in cartons.

      Reply
    • That would give it a more “jelly” texture, so I would say it wouldn’t be as authentic, but I think it would still be yummy!

      Reply
      • 4 stars
        When I was a kid in Hawaii (over 55 years ago) Haupia was made with agar agar. So I think that gelatin would be more authentic, so long as you used lots of gelatin. (Agar Agar makes a chewier pudding than the ordinary meat-based gelatin sold.)

        Reply
    • It is so funny that you ask that. I have made countless haupia recipes that use cornstarch following everything down to the very letter and I always get custardy consistency. Not at all like the haupia I was promised. But I’ve noticed after I moved nothing I usually make comes out right. I can’t seem to make a frybread dough properly with baking powder here and the suggestion has been made for the drier climate and small changes in altitude. So I’ve worked around it and agar agar works great for haupia.

      Reply

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