Make a Hawaiian Luau-Themed Dinner with These 7 Recipes

Have your summer dinner plans stalled? If you’re in need of some inspiration for a party, potluck, or just want to make Wednesday night a little more interesting, let the flavors of a Hawaiian luau be your guide. From appetizers to dessert, we’ve got seven recipes that will add coconut, pineapple, and plenty of Hawaiian flavor to your dinner this evening.

Source: iStock

1. Coconut Lime Shrimp Skewers

Start your Hawaiian-themed dinner with these coconut lime shrimp skewers from Sunset. Flavored with flakes of coconut, it’s an easy appetizer inspired by the islands that will serve 12.


  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
  • 2 pounds large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh lime wedges for squeezing
  • ½ cup toasted, sweetened shredded coconut

Directions: In a medium bowl, combine ginger, garlic, lime zest and juice, and coconut milk. Add shrimp, tossing to coat, and chill, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Meanwhile, soak skewers in water. Prepare a grill for high heat (450 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit). Push 2 or 3 shrimp onto each skewer in a “C” shape (through each end); cook, turning once, until flesh has just turned pink and is slightly charred, about 3 minutes on each side. Arrange skewers on a serving platter and sprinkle evenly with salt, a squeeze of lime juice, and coconut. Serve with extra lime wedges on the side.

Source: iStock

2. Hawaiian-Style Pork Ribs

You could serve Saveur’s Hawaiian-style ribs as either a main or starter, depending on portion size. Coated in a sweet soy sauce marinade, the ribs yield around 4 to 6 servings.


  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 pounds pork baby back ribs
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions: Whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, garlic, ginger, and ¼ cup water in a large bowl. Add the ribs and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to coat.

Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove ribs from marinade and arrange, curved side up, on a rack set over a rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the marinade in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.

Using tongs, flip ribs, and cook, basting frequently with the reduced marinade, until the ribs are browned, glazed, and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer ribs to a platter and garnish with scallions.

Source: iStock

3. Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

Take your Hawaiian luau outside and grill with this chicken recipe from Taste of Home. It calls for chicken thighs, but if you have boneless chicken breasts, you could grill those instead. Adjust the marinade as needed.


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup sherry or chicken broth
  • 2½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger-root
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 24 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 5 pounds)

Directions: In a small bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Reserve 1 to ⅓ cups for basting; cover and refrigerate. Divide remaining marinade between two large resealable plastic bags. Add 12 chicken thighs to each; seal bags and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink; baste occasionally with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes.

Source: iStock

4. Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad, Hawaii Magazine explains, is a popular choice on lunch plates across the islands, and provided this recipe excerpted from Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands by Arnold Hiura. Hiura says that the Hawaiian version is all about the mayonnaise, and his basic macaroni potato salad has room for any extra ingredients you’d like. It serves 8.


  • ½ pound uncooked macaroni
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs
  • 3 red potatoes, cooked and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed and drained

Directions: Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. In a small bowl, mash yolks and chill. Chop egg whites; put into a large bowl with macaroni and potatoes. Stir in salt and vinegar; chill overnight. Add egg yolks and remaining ingredients; gently mix into macaroni mixture. Chill.

Source: Thinkstock

5. Hawaiian Fried Rice

Filled with ham, pineapple, and spices, the Hawaiian fried rice from Taking On Magazines is going to be a dish that makes an impact on your table. Eggs and bell pepper increase the heartiness of the recipe, which serves 4.


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped ham
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice, cold
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (½-inch dice) pineapple pieces

Directions: Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha in a bowl and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add ham, bell pepper, scallion whites, and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to plate.

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add rice and cook, breaking up clumps with spoon, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Push rice to one side of skillet; add remaining 1 teaspoon peanut oil to empty side of skillet. Add eggs to oiled side of skillet and cook, stirring, until set, about 30 seconds. Stir eggs and ham mixture into rice. Stir soy sauce mixture into rice until thoroughly combined.

Off heat, stir in pineapple and scallion greens. Serve.

Source: iStock

6. Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Known for pineapples as much as coconuts, when your sweet tooth needs a taste of the islands, make this pineapple upside-down cake from Gourmet, via Epicurious. Baked in a skillet, the cake serves 8.


  • ½ medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar


  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make the topping. Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

For the batter, sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.

Source: iStock

7. Mai Tai

There are multiple ways to make a Mai Tai, from the original recipe, which does not call for pineapple or orange juice, to any of the many modern iterations. Chow reports that the original calls for orgeat, and if you can find it, you can make that recipe. For anyone seeking a juice-based version, you can follow this recipe from


  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounces) jigger spiced rum
  • ½ (1.5 fluid ounces) jigger coconut-flavored rum
  • 1 teaspoon grenadine syrup
  • 3 fluid ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 fluid ounces orange juice
  • 1 cup ice cubes

Directions: In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the spiced rum, coconut rum, grenadine, pineapple juice, and orange juice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice.

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