A malasada is a pastry treat in Hawaii, similar to a donut without a hole. It is very popular and best eaten while still warm. You may find malasadas in bakeries, coffee carts or even as a dessert in restaurants.

1. Malasadas came to Hawaii from Portugal with plantation workers in the late 1800’s. Portuguese families had their own recipes. While popular any time, malasadas were traditionally associated with Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). Reportedly, they were first sold commercially in 1952 at Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s is still a popular stop for visitors who want an authentic malasada, along with Champion Malasadas. However, they are sold many other places, including school fund-raisers and carnivals. The malasada booth is always in demand at the annual Punahou Carnival in February. One bread store I pass regularly puts a sign in the window when the malasadas are done so we know to stop in.

2. Malasadas are generally about the size of a lemon — larger than a donut hole but not quite as large as a donut. They are deep-fried and have the same light texture as a donut. Usually they are not glazed but are rolled in sugar or cinnamon sugar. Traditional malasadas did not have fillings, but Champion now offers two kinds of filled malasadas: custard-filled malasadas topped with powdered sugar or chocolate-pudding-filled malasadas topped with a chocolate glaze. Leonard’s sells a “malasada puff” that comes with custard, haupia or dobash filling. It is more like a filled donut but not quite as sweet because it is not glazed. They are also featuring special fillings that change every two months, such as macadamia, lilikoi, mango, guava, pineapple and banana. Sounds like a treat that belongs in Hawaii, doesn’t it?

3. The malasada is gone in step three, happily consumed with wonderful Hawaii hot chocolate or coffee! One further note. The malasada is often compared with another popular pastry in Hawaii, the andagi, which originated in Okinawa. While a malasada has the texture of a donut, an andagi is more like a deep-fried cupcake. You really should try them both so you can make the comparison for yourself.


  1. Your post made me so hungry Cindy!  Oooh I love malasadas, and Leonard's are the best!  They have a cart that sells them in the Waikele shopping area. Filled ones too! 

  2. There is a very big difference (and two camps of fans on each side) between Leonard's Bakery malassada and Champion Bakery malassada — and that is: Leonard's uses a traditional motherland Portuguese recipe and Champion uses a Macauan recipe.  Remember, Macau (now part of China) was a longtime settlement of mainland Portugal and so the culture took root among the Chinese residents and their fellow Macauans of Portuguese decent.
    Leonard's is lighter, more airy and lends itself to the more lard-based recipe of mainland Portugal, while Champion's is a more "eggy" batter, which presumably, was because original recipes had to be retooled to fit the available tastes and ingredients of what was then the very far east.  Leonard's malassada is mostly white on the inside; Champion's malassada is yellow.
    But as I said, both with very loyal followings, each camp with different ideas about which malassada is better.
    Don't get me started on the spelling, either! Enjoy!

  3. Thanks so much for the info on the difference between Champion Bakery and Leonard's Bakery malasadas. To be honest, I usually just eat whatever anyone brings into the office. Now, I realize I must investigate further with a taste test!

  4. Oooh I already know all about Malasadas, I thought the three easy steps were going to be how to MAKE some like Leondard's, for those of us stuck on da Mainland…especially on the East Coast! 🙁

  5. Alohakarina, Malasadas aren't hard to make. I have a recipe, that my friends loved!  I'll gladly share it with you, just let me know and give me time to find it.  

  6. I would love to get the recipe for the malasadas with hupia filling.
    Don Herron,
    Melbourne, Florida

  7. Champion is hands down the best as the baker that put Leonard’s on the map quit and started Champion Bakery.

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