We have many different types of donuts in Hawaii. Traditional American donuts are not as popular, but we love poi donuts, mochi donuts, malasadas, andagi, and much more!
Donuts in Hawaii
Whether you spell it donuts or doughnuts...all you needs to know is that we have great ones in Hawaii!
Want to know something interesting? Hawaii has many great donuts, but we aren't that interested in "regular" donuts, like the old fashioned donut shops you find across the mainland US. Because Hawaii's culture is so distinct and Asian leaning, the other types of donuts (like malasadas and andagi) are much more popular
Here's where to find the best donuts in Hawaii ^_^
Poi Donuts from Uncle Lani's Poi Mochi
Poi is important in Hawaii...as are poi doughnuts! Poi is made from steamed, pounded taro root and as is the primary starch in traditional Hawaiian cuisine. There's been a sort of resurgence and renewed interest in poi from the younger generation (this is a really good thing), and I love seeing poi in so many desserts now.
All types of poi donuts can be found in Hawaii:
Uncle Lani's Poi Mochi (Oahu)
These poi mochi donuts come as bite size orbs. They are hot, drizzled with a sugar glaze and super delicious! Crisp exterior, chewy inside, and just enough of the poi taste. So good!! They're located in Kapolei (about 45-minute drive from downtown Honolulu), and it's worth the drive.
Kamehameha Bakery (Oahu)
Poi glazed donuts are the main offering at the famous Kamehameha Bakery. They look more like malasadas (no hole, one big puffy ball) as opposed to traditional donuts. It's covered in a crackly glaze and bright purple poi color inside.
Liliha Bakery (Oahu)
Liliha makes poi-mochi donuts...it's like two in one! They're shaped like rings (lots of mochi donuts are shaped like this) with eight pull apart pieces and have a sugar glaze drizzled on top. More about mochi donuts at the bottom of this post.
Malasadas, oh man! We could devote an entire post to malasadas alone...actually, we have! Heheheh ^_^
Malasadas came to Hawaii via the Portuguese. They are egg, yeast-based donuts, rolled in sugar. Traditionally no hole in the middle (with the exception of the Punahou Carnival version). Malasadas are one of the most iconic Hawaii food items! We LOVE malasadas in Hawaii. Here's where to get the best malasadas:
Leonard's Bakery (Oahu)
The iconic Hawaii malasada spot. A must for any Hawaii visitor. You can get them rolled in plain sugar or any number of flavored sugars. You can also get them stuffed with any number of fillings ranging from haupia to dobash/chocolate. Fried to order, as all great malasadas should be. Full Leonard's Bakery post here.
Punahou Carnival (Oahu)
Available just the first weekend of each February, Punahou Carnival malasadas are alone worth flying to Hawaii for. The malasada booth is staffed entirely by volunteers who make thousands of malasadas over carnival weekend. They put a hole in the middle and fry them real dark so that it's pretty crisp on the outside. Inside is all eggy soft and wild...wow! They roll them in a sugar-cinnamon-nutmeg mix. I go crazy for these. Full Punahou Carnival post here.
Pipeline Bakeshop and Creamery (Oahu)
Owner of Pipeline worked at Leonard's for many years, but Pipeline has their own distinct version of the malasada. They're fried to order and dusted with your choice of the sugar (I like the li hing mui sugar). You can also get malasada bread pudding and malasada ice cream, and even malafrozada (which is malasada dough wrapped around a scoop of ice cream and deep fried.
Penny's Malasadas (Oahu)
Look for the hot pink truck in the parking lot of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Penny's is a newcomer to the malasda scene but already winning the hearts and votes of many. It's beautifully light with a perfectly golden exterior, hits all the ideal malasada points.
Note: I don't think there's such thing as a "best" malasada in Hawaii because everyone does it slightly different. It's ok to love them all. I love that Leonard's is eggy, that Penny's is so light, that Pipeline has this great heft to it, and that Punahou puts a hole in the middle so that you have extra of that exterior crisp goodness. They are all winners.
Donuts at Donut Dynamite
As noted at the top of this post, we don't have many old fashioned donut shops but there are a few great places that make "regular" donuts:
Donut Dynamite (Maui)
Always a must stop when in Maui. Donut Dynamite is famous for brioche donuts. I especially love the brown butter, miso honey, lilikoi creme and Molokai sweet potato-poi flavors. Bonus: they also make hot malasadas!
Holey Grail Donuts (Oahu)
This donut shop is originally from Kauai but they just opened an Oahu location in 2020. These donuts are made from taro! They steam and pound the taro (same process for making poi). The taro is combined with wheat flour to create the donut dough. The flavors change weekly. Donuts are fried to order (in coconut oil) so you always get a hot donut...definitely devour it on the spot! These are cake donuts with a crisp exterior and fluffy interior. The classic with honey and sea salt is great, as are all the seasonal/fun flavors. Pictured above is one each of the strawberry-green tea, Kauai chocolate and cacao nibs, maple and smoked coconut, and poppyseed and kumquats donuts.
PURVÉ Donut Stop (Oahu)
Located right across the street from Ala Moana Center, PURVÉ is known for fun flavor combinations like haupia with macadamia nuts and chocolate-banana, and lemon glaze with li hing mui. They are are all cake donuts, made hot throughout the day.
Andagi is an Okinawan donut. We have lots of Okinawan influences throughout all parts of Hawaii culture, it was only natural that Hawaii embraced and adopted the Okinawan donuts as our own.
Andagi are about the size of ping pong balls, deep-fried, no hole in the middle. No icing or sugar dusting. They are dense (more like a cake donut than a yeast donut), with a crisp, craggy exterior (the best part). Here's where to find andagi:
Teruya’s Andagi (Oahu)
They fry fresh batches in the morning, best to call before you go to ensure a hot batch. Unlike regular yeast donuts, andagi should only ever be eaten hot, hot, hot. Full Teruya's Andagi post here.
Da Andagi Guy (Oahu)
Da Andagi Guy is hard to locate, but updates his Instagram once in a while. It's worth seeking him out! He's most regularly set up in front of the Waipahu location of Don Quijote market. He's also at many local bon dance events during the June-August season.
Ube and green tea mochi donuts at MoDo Hawaii
Mochi donuts are getting trendy on the mainland but we've been eating mochi donuts in Hawaii for years! We love mochi everything in Hawaii, so it makes sense that we were the ones to first popularize mochi donuts. Here's where to find mochi donuts in Hawaii:
Poi mochi donut from Liliha Bakery
Liliha Bakery (Oahu)
Liliha has three locations in Honolulu, and all locations offer both green tea mochi donuts and poi mochi donuts (mentioned at the top of this post).
MoDo Hawaii (Oahu)
Located inside Mitsuwa Marketplace in Waikiki, MoDo donuts makes ring shaped mochi donuts in a ton of different flavors (think lilikoi, green tea, earl grey, black sesame, espresso, and much more).
Brug Bakery (Oahu)
Brug has multiple locations in Honolulu (including Kahala Mall, Ala Moana Center, and in Manoa Valley). They're a Japanese bakery, and make some of the best mochi donuts (plus mochi bread and other mochi pastries!) in Hawaii.