Hawaiian Haupia

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Hawaiian Haupia recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Haupia is a sweet coconut cream custard that can be served as firm as jello or softer and more scoop-able like pudding.

Commonly served at luaus and Hawaiian restaurants, this treat caught my eye and I couldn’t resist making it along with our Huli Huli Chicken and Cilantro Lime Pineapple Rice.

My kids flipped over this dessert and requested that I make it again as soon as possible.

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Feel free to stack a couple of the pieces. One little square is not enough!

Hawaiian Haupia

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Hawaiian Haupia

4 from 3 votes
Recipe adapted from and with thanks to OnoKineGrindz, Polynesian Culture Center and Food.com
Servings: 18 -16 servings


  • 1 13 ounce can Thai coconut milk (do not use a lowfat variety)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6-8 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: toasted coconut for topping
  • * adjust the cornstarch according to how firm you want the haupia to be. I preferred it just barely slice-able and more pudding-like as pictured however, my boys loved it a bit more firm like jello.


  • Combine the sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and stir again. Cook over medium low heat until thickened. This will take between 10-15 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to pull away from the pan. Pour into an 8" square pan and cover with lid or saran wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, 8-24 hours. Slice into squares and top with toasted coconut before serving. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Monet says

    What a unique and beautiful dessert! Those creamy bites look so delicious. Thank you for whetting my appetite (perfect timing too…I"m about to eat lunch!) I hope you have a fabulous week!

  2. Anonymous says

    Can I use this for a substitute in coconut cream pie, I wonder if I use the haupia for the coconut cream part of the pie?

  3. jean says

    thank you! the recipe will be cheaper to make than the boxed version I just did.
    However, I add turmeric and black pepper, in order to have these double as joint-pain-busters5 stars

  4. C says

    Hello, my haupia went into my pan nice and smooth, but when I checked it a few hours later had a lot of ripples and was not smooth anymore. What did I do wrong?

  5. Colie says

    I’m not entirely sure if I did something wrong or what, but the texture and taste was not good. I did the lesser amount for the cornstarch and I still think it was too much. It was more like a jellied consistency and really unpleasant.2 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      That’s very strange and I’m sorry to hear that you did not care for it. Haupia is somewhat jellied in that it will work like jello or pudding and be firm enough to slice after chilling.

  6. Gail says

    So I tried this recipe twice; whisked with the exact amount of cornstarch and the other one with more tbsp of cornstarch. Both times, the Haupia was not sliceable firm like jello. It came out more like a “custard” instead. And yes, I refrigerated it even overnight. I’m sad because I really like Haupia but I cannot seem to have any luck in making it correctly. Any suggestions you may have… Thank you.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Gail. Did you by chance change or substitute any of the ingredients? I’ve only used Thai brand coconut milk, all milks are not equal in this situation.

  7. Laura says

    May I ask for your advice? My haupia turned out gloopy like pudding, and I’d like it to be more firm so it can hold its shape.

    Having consulted a number of different recipes, including this one (thank you!), I used 6 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, and made a slurry with the 3/4 cup water which sat out for about 5 minutes. I heated up the 13.5 oz full fat coconut milk and 5 tablespoons sugar, and once it began to simmer, added the slurry. The mixture immediately thickened. Not sure what to do, how long to cook, what is supposed to change about the mixture’s texture etc during the cooking .. What I did was cooked for 5 minutes, constantly stirring this one big glop. I kept checking the consistency: it made long strings as it dripped off the fork. After 5 minutes, removed from heat, poured in pan, and refrigerated overnight.

    So, any suggestions of what to do differently in order to get that firmer structure would be appreciated. Different places I’ve read say to cook arrowroot minimally, others say you can cook it longer. Perhaps corn starch instead is the answer? If it’s possible to get it right with arrowroot, I’d like to try it. Perhaps more arrowroot is needed? Does it ever get beyond that gloop state and into that divine dessert realm?

    Thank you for your time and help. Be well!5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Laura, mine is usually soft, but as you can see, it’s sliceable. I typically cook it for 10-15 minutes, as listed in the recipe. I’ve only made it with arrowroot, but it should work perfectly with cornstarch too.

  8. Rose says

    My nephew’s girlfriend is Hawaiian. I asked her what her favorite kind of cake is because her birthday is coming up. He said haupia cake. I had never heard of it so I searched and found your recipe. I would like to make it a consistency to put between cake layers and frost the cake. How much cornstarch would I use? This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it!

    • Mary Younkin says

      What a thoughtful thing to do for her, you are so sweet Rose. The photos you see result from making it how it is written. I would bump it up by 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to start. The ingredient list is pretty small and this is a straightforward recipe to make so I would definitely do a test run and see if it turns out how you want first before you have to make the cake, just to be safe.