It’s summertime, and many of you will be planning outdoor picnics or maybe even a Hawaiian luau? If you want to plan a luau, you definitely have to make my favorite Hawaiian dessert known as haupia, which is a form of coconut pudding.

I say you have to make it because 1) it’s super easy to make using my recipe and 2) there really are very few traditional Hawaiian desserts, people may just serve pineapple for the Hawaiian theme but haupia cut up into cubes are always found at the luau table.

Living on the mainland, I’ve craved haupia over the years. Problem is, I hadn’t been able to perfect the recipe to create that perfect creamy coconut pudding but with the firmness of Jello. The haupia I love eating whenever I go home to Hawaii always have that creaminess but firmness so you can eat it in cubes. Most haupia recipes keep to core ingredients, which is typically coconut, water and cornstarch (to thicken instead of gelatin).

Finally after some experimentation, I can now make haupia that reminds me of home. And now you can make it as an accompaniment for that warm-weather dining because the cooling flavor of the coconut pudding will just take you to the islands. My recipe uses coconut cream for that extra richness and adds milk instead of water, just for that added pure white color. The patient technique comes into play too, because you want to get the right thickness on the stove top. It’s kind of like making custard.

When I recently made haupia, I had to serve it up in my very own Hawaiian plate, which is made up of two scoops of rice, some lomi lomi salmon, and the main entree of kalua pork (or salted pulled pork). You can go with my easy oven-made kalua pork recipe here. Finish it with the haupia and it’s ono-licious time! Enjoy!

The finished dish

The finished dish

Haupia Recipe
Makes four servings

2 cups coconut cream
1/2 cup sugar*
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk

Pour coconut cream, milk and sugar into a medium pot or saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved (about two minutes).

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with about 6 to 7 tablespoon of cold water. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved, creating a cornstarch slurry. This makes it easier to pour the cornstarch into the coconut mixture. (Warning: This may seem like mixing cement, but power through or add a bit more water to dissolve the cornstarch.)

With your coconut mixture still on medium heat, slowly stir in the cornstarch slurry (add the entire thing). Then slowly cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut mixture thickens like pudding. It’ll begin watery and then the cornstarch will “activate” and you’ll start to see clumping. Stirring vigorously in the beginning will help break down the lumpy cornstarch. Stir and cook until the mixture feels silky and you can scrape your finger across the back of a wooden spoon covered with haupia and the streak stays. On my stove top on medium heat, it took me about 8 to 10 minutes for the haupia to get the right thickness and smooth texture. (You want a pudding like consistency.)

Remove haupia from the heat. Let cool a bit and then pour into 8X8 heat-proof glass square container. (Optional: You can make individual servings by pouring haupia into ramekins.) Let haupia cool completely before refrigerating. Leave in refrigerator until haupia firms up, about 4 hours or overnight is best. When ready to serve, cut into 1-inch cubes and serve cold.

*My version of haupia isn’t as sweet because I figure the coconut cream will already be a bit sweet. If you like your haupia on the sweeter side, you can increase the sugar by a 1/4 cup for a total of 3/4 cup sugar.

Cubes of haupia anchor my Hawaiian plate of kalua pork and lomi lomi salmon

Cubes of haupia anchor my Hawaiian plate of kalua pork and lomi lomi salmon


15 Responses to Haupia Recipe: It’s Hawaiian Coconut Pudding

  1. hungry dog says:

    Nice. I’ve recently come around to coconut so maybe I will try this. Your kalua pork looks exactly like mine (which I made over the weekend). But where’s the mac salad, Ben? That’s the best part of the plate lunch. πŸ™‚

    • Ben Ben says:

      I’m not a coconut person either because of the chalky texture of the actual coconut flesh. But I love the taste of coconut flavor, so enjoy haupia and haupia cake! Oh, and most Hawaiian plates I’ve had back home in Hawaii don’t serve it with mac salad. I think because they’re trying to be traditional. So hmmm, maybe I should have had poi instead of rice. πŸ™‚

  2. Cindy Harris says:

    That looks yummy and a lot like what I know as “aga aga” which is almond jelly, I think?

    Where do you buy coconut cream? That’s different from coconut milk, right?

    Great job!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Thanks Cindy! Yeah, this does remind me of almond jelly. I know what you’re talking about because I ate a lot of almond jelly growing up in a Chinese household. I think I ate so much of it that I’m bored of it now. But making that is different because that you do use gelatin or agar agar to thicken it. Here we use cornstarch.

      I buy coconut cream in the can from Asian grocery stores here. I’ve also seen in in frozen sections too. Typically anywhere that’ll have Thai cooking would sell both coconut milk and coconut cream.

  3. Karen Tran says:

    I tried this last night and it turned out well even though I only had coconut milk. I used 3 cups (1 can plus a leftover bit from another recipe) and reduced it down to 2 cups. As I was cooking and stirring the pudding as it thickened, clumps started to form and I freaked out. I took it off the heat and whisked it like crazy until it was smooth again. In retrospect I should have continued to cook it a bit more as the final pudding had a slight uncooked flour taste to it. The texture was more pot de creme than cube-able but it was still good and everyone finished their portions! Thanks for the recipe – this one is a keeper.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Karen, sounds like you’re starting your summer off right! πŸ™‚ I wonder if maybe you needed to cook the mixture a bit more, that way the cornstarch would thicken even more and not be as pot de creme. And yes, there’s a lot of vigorous stirring once the cornstarch kicks in and lumps up, but it smoothens out with the stirring. You might also have needed to refrigerate it longer. I think starting with coconut milk probably is more liquid than cream, but still, I’m sure it tasted good! πŸ™‚

  4. Carolyn Jung says:

    You know how Mama’s Fish House on Maui is one of my fave restaurants? Beyond the great seafood and service, I adore how they present to you little squares of haupia as a parting gift. Better than chocolate truffles. πŸ˜‰

    • Ben Ben says:

      What? Didn’t the haupia have to be eaten right away then? Seems like it would be hard to give it away to take home when it needs to be refrigerated, unless they made some different kind of haupia.

  5. Row says:

    Love the presentation of the haupia in the coconut shell! This would be a great dessert to bring to potluck dinners. I’ll have to make this and the kalua pork soon. πŸ™‚

  6. Bob Roberts says:

    When I was in Hawaii several years ago I enjoyed Haupia at a Luau. I had half a day to get ready for an Hawaiian Theme Party so I bought the listed ingredients and followed the instructions. When I got to the part about “In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with about 2 tablespoon of cold water. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved, creating a cornstarch slurry.” I knew I was in trouble. “about 2 tablespoon of cold water” in “1/2 cup cornstarch” does not make “a cornstarch slurry”. Things went down hill from here and I ended up out of time, out of money, and empty handed for the party. I had to throw out the “starchy tasting” loose coconut pudding which had no where near the firmness of Haupia after sitting in the refrigerator for over four hours.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Hi Bob, sorry it didn’t work out for you. The idea with making a “slurry” is to basically dissolve the cornstarch so you can easily pour it into the cooking pot of coconut cream, etc. So if 2 tablespoon is not enough to get it mixed, then add a bit more water. I just didn’t want people to add so much water that thins the cornstarch. But you need the 1/2 cup of cornstarch to make sure the haupia gets thick. Slow cooking it helps cook out the cornstarch taste. You might have quit too early.

  7. Danielle says:

    Hi! My mum in law gave me some coconut cream today and I’ve been wanting to make Haupia for months. Thanks to your recipe, I made it for the first time and it was awesome! Thanks!!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Thanks, I’m glad it worked out for you Danielle. I was thinking I need to make some haupia again! Thanks for visiting!

  8. Kristin says:

    Thank you for this! The recipes I’ve tried with coconut milk just don’t turn out how I expect them to. Will be trying this with your Mac salad recipe tomorrow… Looking forward to it! My husband is from Honolulu so I’ve got a tough critic!

  9. Lisa says:

    I tried this recipe because it used coconut cream instead of milk, and I had all of these lovely cans of Trader Joe’s coconut cream. I had the same experience as others, it was very thick and too ceamy, and just never set up. I think it might be the addition of the dairy milk, as well as the fact that coconut cream already contains a thickening agent. Otherwise the recipe is identical to my mom’s (which just uses all coconut milk and no water/slurry) which sets up fine.