Haupia Recipe

Haupia Cut Into Squares

The Spruce Eats / Morgan Baker

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Cool and Chill: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 16 squares

Haupia pudding has just four simple ingredients: coconut milk, whole milk, sugar, and cornstarch. What may sound simple is actually one of the more interesting desserts around. Haupia was originally developed in Hawaii. It boasts the subtle sweetness and tropical flavor of coconut. Edible flowers adorn the top as an ode to the islands and all their beauty.

Haupia is traditional at Hawaiian luaus and potlucks as a cool refreshing snack to break from the heat and humidity of the islands. Since the 1940s, it's been known as a popular topping to white cake and used to celebrate all occasions. As for the meaning of haupia, "hau" means cool, signaling the cool and refreshing flavor of coconut. "Pia" is the Hawaiian word for arrowroot, which is the ingredient traditionally used for thickening this pudding.

If you can’t find edible flowers to top your haupia, you can use dried flowers like lavender or hibiscus or you can leave it plain.

"This was an easy to make pudding or custard that you can cut into bite-sized treats! Although I didn't try it, I think this would work really well in silicone molds if you want to make some unique shapes. The recipe is very straightforward and family-friendly." —Tracy Wilk

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 cup cold water

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • Edible flowers, for topping

  • Cooking spray, or coconut oil, for the pan

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for haupia

    The Spruce / Morgan Baker

  2. In a medium bowl, add the water and cornstarch and mix well until smooth.

    Cornstarch and water mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Morgan Baker

  3. In a medium saucepan, add the coconut milk, milk, and sugar. Turn the burner to medium-high and whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, about 12 minutes. Once boiling, bring the heat down to medium-low, keeping the mixture at a low simmer. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture while whisking constantly. Continue cooking and whisking until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

    Milk and sugar mixture in a saucepan with a whisk

    The Spruce / Morgan Baker

  4. Transfer the mixture to an 8x8-inch baking dish greased with cooking spray or coconut oil.

    Greased baking dish

    The Spruce / Morgan Baker

  5. Allow the mixture to cool for about 20 minutes then transfer to the fridge to continue cooling and setting for at least 2 hours.

    Haupia added to baking dish

    The Spruce / Morgan Baker

  6. Remove from the fridge and slice. Top with edible flowers and serve chilled.

    Haupia sliced with flowers

    The Spruce / Morgan Baker

Recipe Variations

  • If you'd like to go the traditional route, swap the cornstarch for an equal amount of arrowroot powder.
  • Another alternative is to use agar agar. For that method, use half the amount of agar agar as you would use cornstarch, or 1/4 cup.

How to Store

You’ll want to store the haupia in the refrigerator as it may melt if you keep it in the warm kitchen. Covered tightly, it will keep for five days in the refrigerator.