Haupia Cake Recipe

Haupia Cake or Hawaiian Pudding Cake is a traditional Hawaiian coconut pudding cake that is made with coconut milk.  This dessert is often found at luaus and other local gatherings in Hawaii.  The pudding is usually made firm enough, so that after it has set, it can be cut into small squares and eaten with your hands.  Although technically considered a pudding, the consistency of Haupia closely resembles a gelatin dessert and is usually served in blocks like gelatin.  Since World War II it has become popular as a topping for white cakes, especially at wedding cakes.  This version is used as a filling for a cake. For best results, make the cake the day before you plan to serve it (or even several days).

Recipe and photo are courtesy of Diane Rodriguez of Pleasanton, CA.  Diane says, “This version of Haupia Cake is based on the 1995 Oahu County 4-H Food Show cookbook recipe.”


Haupia Cake


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Haupia Cake - Hawaiian Pudding Cake Recipe:
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
18 mins
Total Time
48 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Keyword: Haupia Cake Recipe, Hawaiian Pudding Cake Recipe
Servings: 1 large cake
Haupia Cake:
  • 1 (18-ounce) package white cake mix 
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup frozen coconut milk, thawed*
  • 2/3 cup water
Haupia Filling:
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups frozen coconut milk, thawed*
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Topping:
Haupia Cake Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to temperature suggested on the cake box.  Grease and flour three (3) 9-inch cake pans.

  2. Prepare the cake mix using the egg whites, coconut milk ,and water instead of the ingredients called for on the cake mix box.  Pour the batter into the three (3) prepared cake pans.

  3. Bake for approximately 18 minutes.  The cake is done when the sides shrink back slightly from the side of the pan, and when the top springs back when lightly pressed with fingertips, or when a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove the cake pans and place on wire cooling racks.

  4. Prepare Haupia Filling (see recipe below).

  5. Assemble Cake:  Put one of the cake layers on a cake plate so that the bottom of the cake (flat side) is on top.  Place strips of waxed paper around the bottom of the cake layer to protect the cake plate from spills and keep it clean.  Spread just under 1/2 the Haupia Filling on top of the layer.  Place the cake dish in the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes to firm up the filling.

  6. After the 15 minutes, remove the cake plate from the refrigerator and place the 2nd layer of cake on top, again so the bottom of the cake (flat side) is on top.  Spread most of the remaining 1/2 of the Haupia Filling on top of the 2nd layer.  Then place the last (3rd) layer, rounded side up, on top of the filling.  Use the last bit of filling to smooth between any gaps in the layers along the sides of the cake.  Place the cake back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before frosting.

  7. Prepare Whipped Cream Topping (see recipe below).

  8. Using a metal spatula, spread the prepared Whipped Cream Topping over the top and sides of the cake.  Sprinkle the flaked or shredded coconut over the top.  Carefully remove the pieces of waxed paper.

  9. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.

  10. Makes one (1) large cake.

Haupia Filling Instructions:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water; set aside and let sit for a few minutes.

  2. In a large saucepan over low heat (cook over low heat to avoid curdling), add the coconut milk, sugar, and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  When the sugar is dissolved, add the cornstarch/water mixture. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil.  NOTE: If you do not stir constantly, the mixture will burn at the bottom of the pan.  Let boil, stirring constantly, for approximately 1 minutes or until the Haupia becomes thick.  Remove from the stove and stir every few minutes as the mixture cools.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the vanilla extract and allow to cool.  NOTE: It is best to refrigerate the haupia until it is somewhat thick, but still spreadable; otherwise it can goop up when you try to spread it on the layers.

Whipped Cream Topping Instructions:
  1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the cream until it is slightly thickened.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract; beat until the cream is whipped and forms peaks.

Recipe Notes

* Use only thawed frozen coconut milk - not canned coconut milk, cream of coconut, or coconut juice.  Coconut milk can be found in plastic 12-ounce or 16-ounce pouches or in 12-ounce frozen cans in the freezer section of most Asian supermarkets.


Hawaiian Recipes    Historical Cakes    Pudding Cakes    White Cakes   

Comments and Reviews

5 Responses to “Haupia Cake Recipe”

  1. Amanda

    Hello, I’m wondering where you find this frozen coconut milk you mentioned? I’ve been to two different huge Asian grocery stores in Seattle and everyone looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask if they carry it. Not sure how easy it is to find if these two stores have no clue what it is. I think I’m going to have to use coconut milk from the can and hope it works just as well. I’m so curious about it though! What does it even look like? Thanks.

    • karalee

      We make this all the time and use canned coconut milk found in any grocery store. It will turn out fine. I hope you enjoy the cake.

  2. Anna

    When they say “Asian grocery” they may mean a grocer for Pacific Islanders. Before more recent immigrants, the first ‘Asians’ in many cities were from the Pacific Islands and Philippines.

  3. Jennifer

    Everyone loved this cake recipe. I did substitute the frozen coconut milk for 2/3 amount canned coconut milk and 1/3 coconut water mixed.

  4. Lien

    Can this be made into a cake sheet? Thank you for any reply! 🙂


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