Hawaiian malasadas (Portuguese donuts)

Hawaiian malasadas from the famed Leonard’s Bakery in Hawaii – these fantastic Portuguese style donuts will make you want to visit the islands! Fill them with fruit jam or pastry cream for an even more authentic version!

“Why aren’t we in Hawaii?” That’s a question that constantly gets asked at my house. The answer I usually give is that we don’t have unlimited budget or a job out there. Sigh.

Despite not being in the Hawaiian islands right this moment (even though we did take a family trip there over spring break), I am happy that I can always bring the islands to my house. One of our favorite treats in Hawaii are malasadas. These are donuts that the Portuguese brought over there and are very popular among the locals.

The typical Hawaiian malasadas are filled. Some fillings include haupia (coconut), lilikoi (passionfruit), mango, guava and pineapple creams. We also like the typical vanilla pastry cream as well.

For my daughter’s birthday, she requested that I recreate some malasadas. I’ve made them before, and while they were good, my frying skills were still very bad at the time, so I was hoping that this attempt would go much better. I also tried a different recipe – one from Leonard’s, which is arguably the best malasada joint in all of the Hawaiian islands.

I am happy to report that these turned out much better than I expected. The malasadas were huge, crispy and fluffy. They definitely would have tasted better with a fruit filling, so I will aim to do that the next time. When I spoke with a malasada stand over in Maui over spring break, he told me that the trick to soft and fluffy malasadas was to make sure your liquid ingredients hit 110 degrees F exactly. I made sure to follow his tip this time and was happy to see that it worked.

I hope you enjoy these authentic malasadas. Feel free to fill them with fruit jam, pastry cream or leave them plain.

Hawaiian malasadas (Portuguese donuts)

Malasadas are a staple of the Hawaiian islands but came to them originally from the Portuguese. Bring these Hawaiian donuts home with you by making these yourself!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Idle time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Breakfast
Servings: 12
Author: Eva Bakes


  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • Canola oil for frying


  • Heat about half a cup of water to 115 degrees F (the temperature is very important so don’t skimp on this step). Take 2 Tablespoons of the heated water and combine it with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let it sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the yeast mixture, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, the melted butter, milk, half-and-half, and salt. Mix until everything is combined. Keep mixing until you achieve a smooth, pliable dough (it should be tacky but not too sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour; if it’s too dry, add a little bit of water). 
  • Transfer the dough to a large well-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 and 1/2 hours.
  • Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface into a 12″ square that is about 1/2″ thick. Cut the dough into 12 squares as best as you can. Place each square on a sheet of parchment paper and leave at least 1-2 inches in between so the dough can rise. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for another hour. It should double in size.
  • In a large, deep saucepan, heat about 2 inches of oil until it reaches 350 degrees F. Be careful not to over heat the oil or else your donuts will burn on the outsides while the insides are raw (trust me – I’ve made this mistake before).
  • While the oil is heating up, cut the parchment around each donut so they are now on individual sheets of square parchment. Once the oil is hot, take the individual parchment papers, flip them over into the hot oil and lift the parchment paper off the tops with tongs. Fry about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to allow the excess oil to drain. Toss with the remaining sugar and place on a plate to cool.
  • Malasadas are best eaten the day of and will start to lose their texture overnight. If you do keep them until the next day, store in an airtight container.


Source: Saveur


  1. April 2, 2019 / 11:36 am

    My mouth is watering, that looks so good.

    • evabakes
      April 3, 2019 / 1:51 am

      I hope you try them, Haley!

  2. Linda Szymoniak
    May 29, 2019 / 9:57 pm

    These remind me of Beignets, like you get in New Orleans (and I make at home). I’ll have to try this recipe.

    • evabakes
      May 30, 2019 / 7:51 pm

      Yes – they remind me of beignets too, except without the pound of powdered sugar on top. 🙂

  3. Tammy L Pilgrim
    January 11, 2020 / 10:58 am

    Filling a malasada is a relatively new endeavor. Old style malasadas were not filled. This trendy of filling malasadas began in the late 80s, early 90s. While filled malasadas are good, to get an authentic, old style malasada just put the granulated sugar on it, and call it good.

    • evabakes
      January 13, 2020 / 1:22 pm

      Ooh, I did not know that old style malasadas were plain. Regardless of how they are prepared, I am a huge fan of them! I wish we could get ANY malasadas around me – filled or not!

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