Portuguese immigrants from Madeira and the Azores brought the malasada — a pillowy, typically square doughnut (without a hole) dusted with sugar — to Hawai’i in the 1870s, when they joined multi-ethnic plantation workforce. Now found on the dessert menu of gourmet restaurants as well as at roadside stands and bakeries, the malasada has taken on various local flavors, from fillings such as guava jelly and haupia (coconut pudding) to toppings like li hing mui sugar (a sweet, salty, tangy mix made from dried plums). It’s hard to eat just one. Here’s a list of our favorite places to indulge.
In true Hawaiian tradition, this bakery embraces the flavors of the coconut and the taro plant. Just try their haupia malasada and the poi glaze donut! The first, a decadently soft, fluffy ball of fried dough awash in the essence of coconut. The second, a glistening donut – perfectly formed – coated in poi glaze. Open Monday to Friday 2am to 4pm. Saturday & Sunday 3am to 4pm. facebook.com/kamehamehabakeryhawaii
Honoring their Portuguese roots, The Leonard’s family started making malasadas in 1952 and haven’t stopped. This cute storefront bakery is hard to miss on Kapahulu Avenue — and you shouldn’t miss out of their hot, sugar-coated treats. Open 5:30am to 8pm daily. leonardshawaii.com
This landmark bakery is where locals and visitors go when only oven-fresh will do. Other places sell baked items that are delivered in trucks and sit in glass cases all day. Not Liliha Bakery. Since Day One, their commitment has been to keep customers happy with fresh cakes and pastries straight from the ovens. Open Sunday to Thursday 7am to 8pm. Friday and Saturday 7am to 9pm. lilihabakery.com
Pipeline Bakeshop & Creamery
Quality is important to this bakery which is why they make everything from scratch in house. The malasadas are always made to order and served hot. The pastries are baked from scratch continuously throughout the day and our ice cream is made from scratch. They even pasteurize their own base in house, so they never serve any pre-made ice cream mixes.During Covid, closed Monday & Tuesday. Walk in orders or online orders, not taking phone orders at this time. Open Wednesday & Thursday 8am to 6pm. Friday, Saturday & Sunday 9am to 7pm. pipelinebakeshop.com