Haupia is a type of Hawaiian pudding that’s naturally gluten free and vegan. The coconut milk-based pudding is served cold and is so thick that it’s sliced into squares rather than eaten in a bowl. Haupia is mildly sweet, creamy, bouncy, and coconutty. It makes a refreshing dessert or palate cleanser.

The name haupia comes from the Hawaiian words hau meaning cool and pia meaning arrowroot. Surprisingly, neither arrowroot nor coconut are native to Hawaii. Both were brought to the Hawaiian islands by Polynesians hundreds of years ago. Haupia was born long after both foods had been integrated into Hawaiian culture. It became popular to serve at luaus after World War II. These days, you’ll find Haupia in all sorts of desserts in Hawaii, from McDonald’s fried pies to mochi.


Image from Irene Kredenets via Unsplash

The basic ingredients in haupia are full fat coconut milk, starch, and sugar. The traditional starch used to make haupia is arrowroot. However, cornstarch is more often used these days because it’s easier to find and cheaper. Agar-agar is another starch that can be used, if you want to make a lighter, bouncier version of haupia with less carbs. There are slight textural differences between each starch choice, and ratios will vary, depending on which you use.

It’s worth noting that some modernized recipes include milk or gelatine! So if you’re vegan or have a dairy allergy, definitely ask about the ingredients before you eat haupia made by someone else. Of course, if you have any sort of food sensitivity, it’s always best practice to double-check, even if the recipe doesn’t traditionally include any ingredients you’re allergic to.

Haupia is a perfect entry-level recipe for anyone that’s intimidated by dessert-making. If you can make pudding, you can make haupia! Below you’ll find links to recipes for traditional haupia, as well as some spinoffs that introduce other flavors to the mix. We’ve also included a section for shelf-stable haupia mixes, to make it even easier.

Buy Gluten Free Haupia Mixes

Most haupia mixes contain sodium caseinate, so you’ll want to go the traditional route if you can’t have dairy. Also, if you live in Hawaii, you can probably find haupia mixes at a cheaper price point in your local store. Always worth checking!

Gluten Free Haupia Recipes

Haupia is a great make-ahead option for summer dessert, because you can customize it endlessly and serve it straight from the refrigerator. Any leftovers can also be used as a topping for fruit or other desserts.


Rose coconut pudding bites from Flours and Frostings


Pineapple haupia from Jessica in the Kitchen

* Title image courtesy of Vegetarian Times.

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