Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

Updated September 2021

One of my favorite desserts when I'm home is made from Okinawan sweet potatoes, macadamia nuts, and coconut milk. With the exception of the sweet potatoes, all the ingredients are pretty easy to get on the mainland but it's something I really only associate with Hawaii and have only made once in Boston. The nice thing about this pie is it's not too sweet but very satisfying.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie

Preparing the sweet potatoes

The recipe starts with Okinawan sweet potatoes which are readily found in super markets and farmers' markets in Hawaii. They have a light skin and a flesh that ranges from pale to deep purple. When cooked they are drier and tighter than orange yams and sweet potatoes. For this recipe the potatoes can be baked or boiled, just like regular potatoes, before they are whipped. I use a ricer to create a smoother texture.

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
Okinawan sweet potatoes

Making the crust

The base of the dessert is a pretty straight-forward baked shortbread crust with macadamia nuts. My sister doesn't have a pastry blender so we cut the butter in the old fashioned way - with two butter knives. (I'll be sure to remedy that situation the next time I'm home.)

Cutting in the butter by hand

Assembling the pie

After the crust is baked it's topped with the sweet potato layer - a mixture of the riced sweet potatoes, butter, eggs, milk, and a few other ingredients. While the sweet potato layer baked I made the haupia - a coconut pudding made with coconut milk, sugar, water, and cornstarch to thicken. After letting the dish cool for a bit, I poured the warm haupia for the final layer and then put it into the refrigerator to set overnight.

This rustic dessert is perfect to take to a potluck. It can be topped with a dollop of whipped cream but that's just gilding the lily and not necessary.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie

okinawan sweet potato, haupia, macadamia nuts
Yield: 24
Author: Ono Kine Grindz
Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

modified slightly from
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 60 MinInactive time: 5 H & 30 MTotal time: 6 H & 49 M


For the crust:
  • 1½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • ⅛ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped*
For the Okinawan sweet potato layer:
  • 2 cups Okinawan sweet potatoes, cooked and whipped
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
For the haupia layer:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk


For the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add chopped macadamia nuts and mix well.
  3. Press lightly into a 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 12-17 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
For the Okinawan sweet potato layer:
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time.
  2. Next, fold in whipped Okinawan sweet potatoes. Then, add in milk, vanilla and salt. Continue to mix until well combined. Mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Pour onto crust and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
For the haupia layer:
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add water and stir until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.
  2. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat coconut milk on low until warmed through. Slowly add in sugar/cornstarch/water mixture, stirring constantly until coconut milk mixture is thickened like a thick pudding (about 5-7 minutes).
  3. Let cool slightly, then pour over Okinawan sweet potato mixture. Refrigerate until firm, about 4-5 hours, overnight is best.
  4. Cut into squares and enjoy!


If someone in your family is allergic to nuts you may substitute any shortbread recipe for the crust.

Instead of whipping the Okinawan sweet potatoes, they may be mashed for a more "chunky" texture. I prefer them whipped. The texture is smooth, light and fluffy. Whipping gives this a "melt-in-your-mouth" feel.

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Nutritional information calculated using The Recipes Generator

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(Update: December 18, 2013)
Of all the posts on my blog, this one is one of the most popular. I worry that one day the recipe link might not be available so I'm including it here. Full attribution to 'Ono Kine Grindz for the recipe.


  1. Best dessert I have ever had. My wife grew up on Oahu and I have visited the islands over 20 times. Many years back my father in law made this pie from scratch and I was hooked after the first bite. If you are on Oahu, go to Ani's Bakery in Aiea. You won't regret it.

  2. That looks absolutely amazing. Purple sweet potato is also very high in antioxidants.

  3. This is the way this dessert is supposed to taste! Thank you for the recipe.. and to reiterate the previous comment by “anonymous”, go to Ani’s bakery-theirs tastes exactly like this and the macadamia shortbread crust is a must.

  4. I have been in search for this recipe since visiting Kauai! I’m pinning immediately and daydreaming about when I can actually make some. Thanks a million for posting!! I feel the search is ended finally...

  5. Really was a hit at thanksgiving! Perfect 10 recipe that everyone enjoyed!


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