Best Hawaiian Cookbooks

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In the enchanting realm of Hawaiian cuisine, where the scent of tropical blooms mingles with the sizzle of a fresh catch on the grill, food is not just sustenance. It’s a celebration. Hawaiians turn meals into festivities, weaving tradition, community, and the spirit of aloha into every dish. Whether you’re craving classics like the comfort food masterpiece loco moco topping rice with a patty, fried egg, and brown gravy, street food like spam musubi, fusion cuisine like the irresistible barbecue huli huli chicken, or gourmet delights like macadamia nut-crusted mahi-mahi, the following cookbooks have you covered. We have all the best Hawaiian cookbooks reviewed, including vegetarian and vegan options and a range of select print-only editions. 

Key Takeaways

Top 10 Best Hawaiian Cookbooks

From books that showcase the sublime simplicity of Hawaii’s flavorful cuisine to award-winning takes on traditional food that are out of this world, these top ten best Hawaiian cookbooks have recipes suited to all tastes, skill levels, and culinary purposes. 

Cook Real Hawai’i: A Cookbook by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder

  • Total Pages: 302
  • Total Recipes: 100
  • Recipes Preview: Huli Huli Chicken, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Haupia Dipping Sauce
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Pan Sushi Dynamite
  • Affordability: Moderate

Cook Real Hawai’i: A Cookbook is a brilliant and beautiful guide to the flavors and local methodology of the Hawaiian Islands that has been named one of the best cookbooks of the year, an accolade whose merit soon becomes apparent. Before one gets to the crave-able recipes, it supplies a dedicated introduction, a heartfelt look at the author’s own journey to becoming a traditionally focused chef, a history of Hawaii, and a guide on how to use the cookbook itself. The guide teaches exactly how Hawaiian dishes are best served, the root of spelling variations found within, and where to procure the more exotic ingredients.

The reader is given a clear understanding of how Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Filipino culinary practices influenced Hawaiian cuisine. All the recipes are local favorites that one would commonly find in the Aloha state, which includes all the classic Hawaiian street food one could hope for. It’s a fantastic blend of high-end gourmet food, authentic in traditional flavor and process, and uncomplicated everyday dishes that just about anyone will be able to perfect in a snap. Well, with the author’s brilliant guidance specifically geared for those outside of the country. From the pictures that instantly transport one to the Paradise of the Pacific through their idyllic nature,  Cook Real Hawai’i couldn’t be better.

About The Author: Author, chef, two-time “Top Chef” finalist, show “Fan Favorite,” and owner of the top-rated restaurant “Tin Roof,” Sheldon Simeon is famous for his masterful expression of Hawaiian flavors. Garrett Snyder, an award-winning writer and editor from California, co-authored “Cook Real Hawai’i,” which was named one of the ten best cookbooks of the year by The New Yorker. 

Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i [A Cookbook] by Alana Kysar

  • Total Pages: 228
  • Total Recipes: 85
  • Recipes Preview: Loco Moco, Char Siu Pork, Cone Sushi
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Takuan
  • Affordability: Moderate

If you are looking for a cookbook that helps you understand the cultural evolution of food and cooking practices within The Pineapple State, Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i may be the guide you need. It’s one of the most vibrant Hawaiian cookbooks in circulation, with a layout, color photographs, and thoughtful arrangement that captivates and engages the reader to the point of being engrossed. Introductions are brief and grant just enough context to understand the dish’s place in society and the reasoning behind the ingredients used. Every recipe has an accompanying photo. 

The author leaves nothing ambiguous, which makes Aloha Kitchen perfect for beginners. However, experienced chefs will be happy to know that the core meal composition is so authentic and well-balanced that there are countless recipes that are sure to inspire. While a gem in every other way, the only part of this cookbook that’s been criticized is its use of Spam. The questionable inclusion is a favorite across Hawaii, and no matter what one’s personal opinion is, there’s no doubt that even these recipes are elevated modern comfort food of the highest caliber. This is the quality of results to expect across the board. The dishes featured are so good that one could easily see them being served in a restaurant. 

About The Author: Hawaian-born Alana Kysar is an author and the famous blogger behind “Fix Feast Flair .”From her studio in Maui, Kysar shares the insights she’s acquired as a member of a food-loving family. The recipe developer, photographer, traveler, and current LA resident is growing in popularity thanks to sharing dishes inspired by her Japanese-American heritage.

Easy Hawaiian Cookbook: 70 Simple Recipes for a Taste of the Islands by Chef Philip ‘Ippy’ Aiona

  • Total Pages: 191
  • Total Recipes: 70
  • Recipes Preview: Spicy Ahi Poké Bowls, Teriyaki Barbecue Beef, Kalau Pig
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Boiled Peanuts
  • Affordability: High

Easy Hawaiian Cookbook: 70 Simple Recipes for a Taste of the Islands is the product of a beloved celebrity chef famous for his masterful command of Hawaiian cuisine. As a product of a superstar from the Big Island of Hawaii, it’s a book filled with recipes that locals will know and love, as well as iconic creations from the author’s famous restaurant. Expect restaurant-quality recipes with streamlined instructions that make each creation approachable by cooks of all skill levels. What makes this cookbook a true asset is the tips and tricks that are hard to pick up anywhere else other than in a traditional Hawaiian kitchen. 

Not only does one learn the core foundation of all of Hawaii’s most loved meals, but you gain practical insight that guarantees perfection every time. With the Easy Hawaiian Cookbook at your side, you’ll always have a reference to help grasp terminology, cooking methodology, and the place and purpose of common pantry staples. Concise but spellbinding storytelling accompanies each recipe, giving the reader a taste of Hawaii before the food even reaches their plate. It’s tastefully done, too, with just enough detail given to never obscure the focus – tasty, elevated Hawaiian food and how to cook it. 

About The Author: Born and raised on the Big Island, Chef Ippy Aiona seamlessly blends Italian-American and Native Hawaiian influences into award-winning culinary artistry. His journey began in family-run establishments — his father’s Hawaiian Plate Lunch shop and his mother’s Italian restaurant. Graduating at the pinnacle of his class from Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Ippy, at 23, emerged as a finalist on “Food Network Star,” subsequently earning a spot on Forbes’ “30 under 30.” His inventive, culturally rich cuisine shines at The Koa Table & Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ in Waikoloa.

Best of the Best from Hawaii Cookbook: Selected Recipes from Hawaii’s Favorite Cookbooks by Gwen McKee

  • Total Pages: 286
  • Total Recipes: 300+
  • Recipes Preview: Coconut Macadamia Nut Crisps, Huli Huli Chicken, Lomi Lomi Salmon
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Poi
  • Affordability: High

Best of the Best from Hawaii Cookbook: Selected Recipes is, as the name suggests, a curated collection of some of the best Hawaiian recipes ever to be found in circulation. There’s a distinct feeling of home attached and yesteryear to the Best of the Best from Hawaii Cookbook, and as one would hope, this homeliness translates to the meals. It’s amazing home-cooked food that will likely conjure up nostalgia for any of the Hawaiian diaspora. Even though the recipes are short in their nature, none can be faulted for clarity, completeness, or authentic flavor.

Potential readers should note that there are only a few scattered photographs, and they are in black and white, depicting an age past as it was lived in Hawaii. This sure does add to the charm of the book, but they don’t aid cooking at all. There are facts about Hawaii placed every here and there but it’s page-to-page recipes and concise instructions throughout. There’s even a brief look at how to throw a traditional luau and plan a luau menu. If you like to-the-point cookbooks, this may be the ideal option for you. 

About The Author: Gwen McKee, co-founder of Quail Ridge Press, stands out with over 90 published books, most often collaborating with co-editor Barbara Moseley. Renowned as “The Cookbook Lady” on QVC, Gwen extends her creative talents to photography, specializing in live events and natural light portraits. Based in Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit, she authored the celebrated “Best of the Best from Texas,” showcasing her commitment to preserving regional culinary traditions.

Roy’s Fish and Seafood: Recipes from the Pacific Rim by Roy Yamaguchi

  • Total Pages: 248
  • Total Recipes: 100
  • Recipes Preview: Crab and Potato-Crusted Ono, Spicy Tempura Shrimp, Grilled Mahi-Mahi With Bamboo, Edamame, And Turmeric Rice
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Pan-Seared Butterfish With Coconut Luau Leaf Sauce And Kalua Pork Miso
  • Affordability: Moderate

Readers can expect one of the best discourses on seafood available to modern chefs and foodies from Roy’s Fish and Seafood: Recipes from the Pacific Rim. Its Hawaiian seafood preparation perfected and defined into clear instructions that couldn’t be easier to follow. Expect approachable techniques and recipes with a select degree of finesse that’s sure to impart skills, insight, and inspiration to experienced chefs as well. The book is centered around twenty-five core types of seafood commonly found in the Pacific Basin. Every dish is restaurant quality, and the preparation information imparts wisdom that’s almost impossible to find outside of a professional Hawaiian kitchen. 

If you’re a seafood lover or want to hone your seafood prep skills, Roy’s Fish and Seafood is a must-see. It’s true fusion food and not an eager attempt like most cooks and cookbooks make. Most of the recipes call for quite a couple of ingredients that’ll have you hitting up an Asian market (check out our review of SayWeee.com – they’re excellent), but the flavor produced will have you dying to try out the name dish. Every last effort and expenditure is worth it when following the inspired Hawaiian recipes within.  

About The Author: Renowned Japanese-American chef Roy Yamaguchi, a pivotal figure in the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, captivates diners with his innovative blend of California-French-Japanese flavors. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Yamaguchi’s culinary prowess earned him the prestigious James Beard “Best Pacific Northwest Chef” Award in 1993. As the founder of 30 “Roy’s Restaurants” and concepts like “Tavern by Roy Yamaguchi,” he continues to shape the gastronomic landscape with fresh, island-inspired creations.

The ‘Ohana Grill Cookbook: Easy and Delicious Hawaii-Inspired Recipes from BBQ Chicken to Kalbi Short Ribs by Dawn Sakamoto Paiva

  • Total Pages: 114
  • Total Recipes: 50+
  • Recipes Preview: Grilled Garlic Shrimp, Kalbi Short Ribs, Grilled Mahi Mahi
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Kalua Pork Quesadillas
  • Affordability: Low

In the vibrant pages of The ‘Ohana Grill Cookbook, the recipes not only reflect their Hawaiian roots but also embrace mainland influences. The resourceful glossary and pantry list make even less common ingredients accessible, and the detailed Resources section aids in tracking down Hawaiian ingredients on and off the islands. The recipes are easy to follow, and the food photography is stunning, making this cookbook a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. If you want to learn how to grill Hawaiian style, this is the quintessential guide. 

It’s all the best recipes from the islands, with several dishes that have been adapted from out-of-print Hawaiin cookbooks, thereby adding a layer of cultural preservation. Each recipe is a true culinary treasure. Catering to meat lovers while offering abundant options for pescatarians and vegetarians, it is a cookbook that emphasizes adaptations and substitutions for various diets and food allergies. This enticing cookbook is also filled with colorful images, classic film stills, and iconic movie quotes, making it a fun and engaging read for fans of the film, foodies, and cooks alike. 

About The Author: Boasting two decades in publishing, Dawn Sakamoto Paiva is a seasoned professional with a focus on sales, marketing, and project management. Hailing from Windward O’ahu, she earned an English degree from an Ohio liberal arts college. Paiva’s blog, Sugar + Shake, won the “Best Hawai’i Features Blog” in its inaugural year. 

The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook: Home Cooking from Maui Kindle Edition by Beverly Gannon & Bonnie Friedman

  • Total Pages: 226
  • Total Recipes: 100+
  • Recipes Preview: Mixed Grill Of Hawaiian Snapper With Chardonnay Sauce, Ancho Chile-Marinated Uku With Corn Salsa And Ginger Cream, Shrimp And Scallop Stir-Fry With Pineapple Fried Rice
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Sesame-Crusted Mahi-mahi With Coconut-Curry Cabbage And Rum-Baked Bananas 
  • Affordability: High

The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook: Home Cooking from Maui is the definitive Hawaiian cookbook for those who value simplicity. Don’t confuse elegance and boldly fused-but-simple recipe composition with plain food, for the elegant dishes featured within embody the rustic sophistication associated with the Island of Aloha. While the instructions are easy to follow, expect extravagant dishes that are sure to have you hunting down more than a few select ingredients. Those who follow the recipes exactly will be rewarded with some of the best flavors Hawaii has to offer. 

Everything from the sauces to grilled items epitomizes the best of Pacific Rim island-style cooking, while the variety presents everything from gourmet spreads meant for many to everyday grab-and-go food. Anyone familiar with the physical store in Maui will snap up The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook, and if you don’t yet know it, you’ll soon come to understand what makes it such a landmark. There are barely any pictures, but the wit and light storytelling give a feel for what to expect, and the recipes couldn’t be better. 

About The Authors: Renowned chef and restaurateur Beverly Gannon is a key figure in the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, credited with shaping the culinary landscape. Owner of Maui’s landmark Hali’imaile General Store, she’s also an accomplished cookbook author. Collaborating with Gannon, Bonnie Friedman is an adept writer and editor. Beyond her literary pursuits, Friedman is the owner of Grapevine Productions, a PR company established in 1988.

The Poké Cookbook: The Freshest Way to Eat Fish by Martha Cheng

  • Total Pages: 45
  • Total Recipes: 92
  • Recipes Preview: Bhelpuri Shrimp, Shoyu Ahi, Kimchi-Cauli Rice
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Furikake Popcorn
  • Affordability: Low

The Poké Cookbook: The Freshest Way to Eat Fish is a short but brilliant cookbook featuring classic poké, contemporary variations, bases, bowls, and other local-style side dishes. The devoted focus on poké translates to a collection of some of the best recipes found anywhere. This is a cookbook that clearly shows just how delicious, simple, and endlessly customizable poké actually is. It captures the spirit of aloha in every word and picture, clearly reflecting the sense that the delicious recipes featured are meant to be shared.

If you enjoy raw fish to any degree, then don’t think twice about The Poke Cookbook. From storage and preparation to stocking a poké-ready pantry, this book has it all. Despite being jam-packed with knowledge like the perfect thickness for slicing and the like, it’s the inspiring recipes that make this book a winner. The balance of classic and modern dishes is great, and the poké recipes within will wow even the most discerning foodies. There’s even vegetable poké, which aren’t truly poké but are nonetheless wonderfully innovative and packed with flavor.  

About The Author: Based in Honolulu, Martha Cheng is a prolific food writer and editor with a rich culinary background. Her articles grace prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal, Eater, and Hawaii Business. Cheng, who holds degrees in Computer Science and English from Wellesley College, has notably served as the food editor for both Honolulu Magazine and the Honolulu Weekly.

Lilo and Stitch: The Official Cookbook: 50 Recipes to Make for Your ‘Ohana by Tim Rita

  • Total Pages: 119
  • Total Recipes: 50+
  • Recipes Preview: Lomi Salmon, Stitched Popcorn, The One Time Lilo And Stitch Made Poké
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Pelekai Sweet and Sour Pork
  • Affordability: Moderate

Readers of all ages are sure to fall in love with the way that Lilo and Stitch: The Official Cookbook weaves together storytelling from the show and Hawaiian food, and the recipes featured are out of this world. Each recipe is accompanied by a quote from the film, as well as a brief explanation of its cultural significance. The recipes themselves are easy to follow and use authentically Hawaiian ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores, with ample substitutions offered as well. Whether you’re a fan of the film or simply looking to explore new flavors and dishes from The Aloha State, this cookbook is sure to delight you. 

This colorful cookbook is divided into five sections, each one highlighting a different aspect of Hawaiian cuisine. The first section, “Aloha Breakfast,” features recipes for classic Hawaiian breakfast dishes like Loco Moco and Spam Musubi. “Pupus and Snacks” follows and offers up tasty treats like Ahi Poké and Kalua Pork Sliders. “Main Dishes” includes recipes for hearty meals like Huli Huli Chicken and Lau Lau. “Sides and Salads” provides a variety of delicious accompaniments like Macaroni Salad and Sweet Potato Fries. Finally, the fifth section, “Desserts,” offers up sweet treats like Haupia and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. 

About The Author: Tim Rita, a celebrated award-winning bartender hailing from Oahu, Hawaii, is not only a maestro behind the bar but also a popular food writer. With a passion for blending flavors, Rita infuses his mixology skills with culinary inspiration. Raised in Hawaii and boasting nearly two decades in hospitality, Rita’s accolades include representing Hawaii in the Bombay Sapphire “World’s Most Imaginative Bartender Competition” and being named one of Beverage Media Group’s “10 Bartenders to Watch in 2014.”

Hawaiian Baking Cookbook: Exploring the Tasty Authentic 350+ Cake, Bread, Pizza, Tacos, Pies & More Hawaiian Delicious Recipes by Margaret M. Crotts

  • Total Pages: 535
  • Total Recipes: 350+
  • Recipes Preview: Punalu’u Sweet Bread, Kalua Pork Tacos, Lilikoi Cheesecake
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Taro Rolls
  • Affordability: Very High

If you bake at all, there’s every reason to pick up a copy of the recently released Hawaiian Baking Cookbook. It’s a bumper collection of recipes that reflect the full array of Hawaii’s culinary influences. This also means fresh, vibrant recipes for everything from pizza and tacos to cakes, pies, and breads. There are even baked meat and vegetable dishes like casseroles. Just about every baked item that one can think of has its tropical counterpart listed, and most, if not all, of the flavors remain authentic. You’ll have to look long and hard to find another recipe collection that’s as comprehensive, regardless of which nation’s cuisine is being observed. 

After brief Hawaiian baking advice, the Hawaiian Baking Cookbook dives into the recipes. Expect straight-to-the-point instructions and ingredient lists without any introductions. It’s a recipe book alone, and a great one at that in terms of meal quality, but one major fault is its lack of a contents page and categories. With no chaptering, one is left at the mercy of the index, while digital readers do have search at their disposal. Knowing what to look for will take becoming familiar with the book manually, though. With this considered, it’s still one of the best selections of baking recipes in circulation, and many feature innovative ideas that are sure to inspire avid cooks. 

About The Author: As a relatively newly published author, Margaret M. Crotts clearly showcases her devotion to Hawaiian cuisine and specialization in baked goods and is sure to begin steadily drawing a following. 

Best Vegetarian & Vegan Cookbooks

Elevate your culinary capabilities with the best of both worlds—Hawaiian flavors and plant-based delights. Our list of the best vegetarian and vegan Hawaiian cookbooks is a celebration of the lush ingredients and innovative recipes that make meatless dining an art in the Pacific paradise.

Hawaii A Vegan Paradise: Over 120 Plant-Based Recipes from the Islands by Lillian Cumic

  • Total Pages: 258
  • Total Recipes: 120+
  • Recipes Preview: Roasted ‘Ulu Fries, Crabless Cakes With Blue Cheese Dip, Hawaii Five Pho
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Sunny-Side Up Vegan Eggs
  • Affordability: Low

Between breakfasts, appetizers, bowls, salads & salad dressings, Hawaii’s comfort food, plate fillers (vegetable & grain side-dishes), desserts & sweets, and drinks, there’s a full range of Hawaiian-inspired vegan recipes available to choose from. All of the recipes are based on classic island favorites, and most will be enjoyed as equal or greater counterparts to the original meals. The quality of publishing is both colorful and vibrant and thoughtfully laid out. All the information a beginner to plant-based eating could ever need is ready right when you need it. 

From a guide to working with tofu to how to eat according to color, Hawaii A Vegan Paradise offers more than a selection of sumptuous recipes. It’s a well-rounded guide to veganism that arms the reader with a collection of amazing meals and the know-how to piece together endless more of their own. It’s recipes that are so good that kids and fussy eaters will be devouring the dishes featured, and many are so good that you’d never be able to tell that they don’t include meat like their original traditional Hawaiian counterparts. 

About The Author: Lillian Cumic, known as “The Queen of Green Cuisine Hawai’i,” is a seasoned vegan chef, cooking instructor, and cookbook author from Sydney, Australia. With over two decades of expertise, she crafted plant-based recipes in Sendai, Japan, for 30 years before moving to Honolulu.

Vegetarian Nights: Fresh from Hawaii by Bonnie Mandoe

  • Total Pages: 224
  • Total Recipes: Unspecified
  • Recipes Preview: Indonesian Tempeh, Banana Chutney, Ten-Minute Mushroom Stroganoff
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Green Chile Pesto
  • Affordability: Low

Vegetarian Nights: Fresh from Hawaii is filled with recipes that each have the wow factor. It’s elevated Aloha cuisine at its very best, and even the simplest dishes are memorable. Despite being a fairly old cookbook, which also means that there aren’t any pictures, the recipes are pure gold and remain current to this day. Simple ingredients are combined in exciting new ways, with a good helping of Hawaiian flair ramping up the creativity and complexity. All of the adaptations of island staples are elevated but approachable and examples of cuisine that’d make any true Hawaiian local proud. It’s vegetarian dishes that manage to pull off totally healthy recipe composition while remaining authentic in taste, texture, and appearance.

The tips that one picks up are akin to family secrets generally only passed on generationally and will thus benefit many meals to come across all styles, not only Hawaiian. For example, very few books discuss working with textured vegetable protein, even though it’s a highly versatile ingredient. Vegetarian Nights manages to remain inclusive, showcasing the full range of cultural influences that honed the food and culinary customs of Hawaii. For restaurant-quality food made at home that one would expect to find in the finest establishments in Maui, look no further than this timeless cookbook. Unfortunately, it’s print-only. 

About The Author: Bonnie Mandoe is an author and fine artist based in Hawaii. When not writing or painting for herself, Bonnie conducts weekly painting sessions at the local Senior Center and plans to host multi-day workshops using Water Mixable oils, her preferred environmentally friendly medium.

The Maui Vegetarian: Cooking With Aloha by Brian Igarta

  • Total Pages: 156
  • Total Recipes: Unspecified
  • Recipes Preview: Fettucini In Saffron Cream, Corn Tamale Pie, Oriental Shumai
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Chinese Steamed Buns
  • Affordability: Moderate

The Maui Vegetarian, without a doubt, contains some of the tastiest recipes you’ll ever try, regardless of your dietary preferences. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, we strongly suggest treating yourself to any of the recipes in this book. It’s a long-standing favorite, and all the recipes are soy-free, although many feature gluten. Not every meal has an accompanying image, but the ones that are there seem to be placed exactly when you need them. Just about every dish that requires a visual aid to reach perfection has a picture ready to help. 

From foundational recipes like a mother sauce that will likely form the basis for the sauces you make from that point onward to simple snacks to whip together in a jiffy and exotic, elaborate dishes requiring panning and care, The Maui Vegetarian has it all. Between appetizers, soups and curries, entrees, pasta and noodles, vegetables, seasonings and sauces, salad dressings and cheese, breakfast, and a chapter dedicated to delights, which includes sweets, drinks, and desserts, a complete range of Hawaii’s favorites are covered. 

About The Author: Brian Igarta, renowned as “The Maui Vegetarian Chef,” brings over two decades of expertise to plant-based cuisine. Collaborating with gourmet chef Crystal DuBoyce, Brian conducts enlightening cooking classes, showcasing plant-based recipes that promote health and detoxification. Dive into their instructional sessions on YouTube for a flavorful journey into nutritious and cleansing culinary practices and to get a better idea of what to expect from his cookbook. 

Best Print Only Hawaiian Cookbooks

Each one of these print-only Hawaiian cookbooks holds a distinct charm that’s as rich as the islands’ culinary heritage. In the age of digital everything, these tangible treasures transport you to the heart of Hawaii, offering not just recipes but also a sensory journey into the flavors, traditions, and stories that define the vibrancy of Hawaiian cuisine. 

Alan Wong’s New Wave Luau: Recipes from Honolulu’s Award-Winning Chef [A Cookbook] by Alan Wong & John Harrison

  • Total Pages: 224
  • Total Recipes: Unspecified
  • Recipes Preview: Miso-crusted butterfish with Soy-Lime Butter Sauce, Twice-Cooked Short Ribs with Five-Spice Salt, Ginger-Crusted Onaga with Lobster Nage
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Coconut-Macadamia Nut Crusted Lamb Chops with Red Curry Lilikoi Sauce
  • Affordability: Low

For those accustomed to the finer aspects of gastronomy, Alan Wong’s New Wave Luau is a masterpiece. It’s a cookbook from one of Hawaii’s most influential chefs and a grand showcase of all the best Pacific Rim cooking has to offer. Expect gourmet cooking made easy from this best-selling cookbook filled with food photography. You’ll most definitely need to track down a few ingredients, but after sampling any of the recipes, you’ll soon be craving another island-style food adventure. Also, while most meals are comprised of several individual components, like all the dishes featured will be fresh but familiar, expect to find some rather unusual but amazing creations as well. 

The author’s perspective on cooking is a unique fusion of classic luau cuisine and modern Western flair. Don’t expect traditional meals even though regional ingredients are used. It’s a signature style that has come to define elevated Hawaiian food and a fantastic foundation to begin exploring the dishes loved by all Kamaʻāina (locals). Alan Wong’s New Wave Luau is a symphony of flavors, textures, and presentations that reflect the sophistication of Honolulu’s award-winning dining scene while at the same time making fine-dining dishes approachable by the home cook. 

About The Author: Alan Wong, a celebrated chef in Hawaii, merges Pacific Rim styles with Western culinary techniques, crafting a unique culinary experience. Trained under André Soltner in New York, Wong opened his Honolulu restaurant, earning the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Regional Chef for the Pacific Northwest” in 1996. John Harrison, a respected food writer, collaborated with Wong to create one of the world’s most vibrant cookbooks.

The Blue Tomato: The Inspirations Behind the Cuisine of Alan Wong by Alan Wong & Arnold Hiura

  • Total Pages: 284
  • Total Recipes: 200+
  • Recipes Preview: Red Onion Butter, Unagi Roulade, Wagyu-Wrapped Ahi
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Coconut-Macadamia Nut Crusted Lamb Chops with Red Curry Lilikoi Sauce
  • Affordability: Very Low

The Blue Tomato: The Inspirations Behind the Cuisine of Alan Wong is a must-see for anyone who values striking food photography, high-end elegant food, or premiere publication appropriate of the most attractive coffee table centerpiece. One can almost smell the tantalizing aromatics and indulgent medley of luxury ingredients fusing into goodness as one pages through this cookbook. Just like all the author’s other highly stylistic publications, this is a collection of recipes that’s a true showcase of the fun and creativity embodied by contemporary Hawaiian cuisine.

The two hundred individual recipes featured make up a part of seventy core dishes. In this way, one learns how to prepare and serve food, just like in Hawaii’s best restaurants. The reader also gains a clear concept of the creative process of one of the most iconic figures ever to shape Hawaiian cuisine. This includes unique takes on menu planning and how and why to fuse certain flavors. There’s nothing quite like it. The insight and jaw-dropping recipes within The Blue Tomato supply some of the best know-how cooks can find while remaining forever an endless source of inspiration.

About The Author: Alan Wong is regarded as one of the best chefs in Hawaii and a leader in America’s farm-to-table movement. He won the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Regional Chef for the Pacific Northwest in 1996. Wong collaborated with Arnold Hiura, who is the executive director of the Hawaii Japanese Center in Hilo, the owner-operator of MBFT Media, and a former editor of The Hawai’i Herald, to create this stunning cookbook. 

Sam Choy’s Island Flavors by Sam Choy

  • Total Pages: 352
  • Total Recipes: 200+
  • Recipes Preview: Crab-and-Shrimp Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms with Mango Bearnaise Sauce, Honomalino Lamb with Satay Sauce and Pineapple Coconut Yum Yum Steamed Mahi-mahi Laulau
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Lasagna-Style Hibachi Tofu Salad
  • Affordability: Moderate

As a book written by a culinary superstar and icon of Hawaiian pop culture, both locally and overseas, Sam Choy’s Island Flavors has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, after even a quick glance at its insight and recipes, it becomes clear that expectations are exceeded. While traditional in ingredient composition, this is a cookbook that is strikingly modern in its general approach. The author’s signature style soon becomes apparent through dishes that come out perfect every time despite seemingly unusual components and pairings. 

Classical recipes and dishes inspired by foundational Hawaiian cuisine are there but are balanced out by multicultural creations that show the author’s own Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and European influences. Seafood is especially well-covered, with a huge selection of swordfish and marlin meals featured. Meals for every occasion and atmosphere, delicious island-style sauces and marinades, drinks, and baked goods are all featured. Recipe intros are concise but heartfelt, conjuring up immediate interest before the ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions follow. No expense or extreme is spared as Sam Choy’s Island Flavors strives to infuse as much flavor into its food as possible. All Asian influences and many Western twists are featured. 

About The Author: Renowned as a Pacific Rim cuisine trailblazer, Sam Choy Sr. is more than a celebrated chef; he’s Hawaii’s culinary ambassador. A graduate of Kapiolani Community College’s Culinary Arts program, he played a pivotal role in popularizing Hawaii’s regional cuisine. In 2004, his restaurant Sam Choy’s Kaloko was honored by the James Beard Foundation. With a magnetic presence on Food Network shows and a cherished friendship with Emeril Lagasse, Choy’s influence spans both the culinary and entertainment realms.

Hawaii’s Community Cookbook: Treasured Recipes from Community Cookbooks Across the Islands by Various Contributors (Mutual Publishing)

  • Total Pages: 512
  • Total Recipes: 600+
  • Recipes Preview: Mochiko Chicken, Pulehu Ribs, Beef Tomato
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Chicken Hekka
  • Affordability: Moderate

Hawaii’s Community Cookbook: Treasured Recipes from Community Cookbooks Across the Islands is a mammoth collection of delightful recipes that have been passed down through generations of Hawaiian families. The book is a compilation of recipes from fifty community cookbooks, each reflecting the unique culinary traditions of Hawaii’s diverse communities. From old-fashioned recipes like popovers and made-from-scratch bread and biscuits to neighborhood favorites and street food, this is a cookbook that has something for everyone. 

There are quick meals, mains, salads, vegetable dishes, pupu or Hawaiian appetizers, and desserts. Everything necessary to enjoy an island-style luau is contained within. Readers will learn exactly how to best capture and express flavors of island ingredients like ulu (breadfruit) and ohelo berries. The recipes are easy to follow, but there are only a few photos. It’s quite a feat to fit so many outstandingly fresh dishes into one representation of the Paradise of the Pacific. Lucky owners will turn to it frequently for guidance and inspiration. 

About The Author: Mutual Publishing is a well-established local publisher in Hawaii with a history dating back to 1974. Mutual Publishing has been a significant contributor to the literary landscape of Hawaii for nearly 50 years. Mutual’s anthology of recipes was selected from fifty community cookbooks, and the best recipes contributed by schools, businesses, churches, civil associations, hospitals, and many other lead local organizations. 

A Taste of Aloha: A Collection of Recipes from the Junior League of Honolulu by Inc. The Junior League of Honolulu

  • Total Pages: 374
  • Total Recipes: 250+
  • Recipes Preview: Wiki Wiki Chicken In A Bag, Zucchini Custard, Oahu Ginger Snaps
  • The Best Recipe We Wanted To Try: Baked Kumu
  • Affordability: High

It’s best to see A Taste of Aloha: A Collection of Recipes from the Junior League of Honolulu as what could be the definitive encyclopedia on Hawaiian cuisine. There are ample recipes for all mealtimes, with every classic one could hope to include in an authentic Hawaiian luau. They’re short and free from elaborate explanations, and there’s no storytelling, but the practical wisdom instilled through nothing but excellent recipes is simply the best. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s a sumptuous recipe that’s sure to conjure up the essence of the Fiftieth State.

Shortly after its release and for many years, A Taste of Aloha was the go-to cookbook that every Hawaiian household would have ready to reference. Owning a copy now imparts years of wisdom while placing some of the best cookie-cutter recipes for classics. It’s a book that’s stood the test of time, and the recipes, tips, and techniques remain current and exciting. Whether you’re totally new to the food of Hawaii or are used to sharing meals with your ʻohana, this is a great cookbook to have in your collection. 

About The Authors: The Junior League of Honolulu consists of devoted women aspiring to advance women’s leadership for significant community impact through volunteer action, collaboration, and training. Serving as a force of transformational female leaders, the organization has positively influenced Honolulu for nearly a century. For more details about their impactful work and history, visit www.juniorleagueofhonolulu.org.

Frequently Asked Questions – Best Hawaiian Cookbooks

Have you been left wondering anything about the best Hawaiian cookbooks or cuisine from The Aloha State? We may have the answers you’re looking for here. 

What Is The Most Famous Food In Hawaii?

Hawaii boasts a diverse culinary landscape featuring iconic dishes. Poké, a traditional Hawaiian delicacy, blends fresh raw fish or seafood with finely chopped vegetables and herbs. Malasadas, originating from Portuguese laborers, are sweet yeast-leavened doughnuts. Loco Moco, a comfort food staple, layers sticky rice with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and rich gravy. Haupia, a coconut milk-based dessert, completes the ensemble. Notably, Kalua pig involves slow-roasting a seasoned pig in an underground oven, imparting a smoky flavor, while laulau is a traditional dish made by wrapping meat, often pork, in taro leaves and cooking it to perfection. We suggest giving either our island-inspired simple ahi poke or easy watermelon poké bowl a try for a taste of Hawaii and flavors that pop. 

What Are Hawaiian Ingredients?

Hawaiian cuisine boasts distinctive ingredients. Taro, a starchy root crop, takes the spotlight in dishes such as poi and laulau. Sweet potatoes, or ‘uala, add their richness to stews and salads. Breadfruit, known as ‘ulu, is a traditional staple present in laulau and poké. Limpets, or Ia (sea snails), make notable appearances in various Hawaiian dishes. Alaea sea salt, enriched with volcanic clay, imparts a unique flavor to dishes like kalua pig, pipikaula, and poké. Essential ingredients like coconut, pineapple, macadamia nuts, and Hawaiian basil (Turio) also reflect the islands’ culinary richness. Aside from ingredients, the imu, an underground oven, plays a crucial role in preparing kalua pig. 

What Is A Traditional Hawaiian Meal?

The quintessential Hawaiian plate lunch, rooted in the 1880s, is a hearty ensemble featuring a scoop or two of rice (often chicken long rice), a protein like teriyaki beef, kalua pig, laulau (pork wrapped in taro leave) or chicken katsu, and haupia (coconut pudding) or another dessert. At times, a salad like macaroni salad takes the place of the dessert. What began as the affordable take-to-work lunch of Hawaiian plantation workers has today become an iconic and integral part of the state’s food culture. Island-inspired plate lunches can be found at local eateries, food trucks, and restaurants across Hawaii and the world. In addition to plate native Hawaiian dishes, many other popular multicultural offerings exist. Many of the aforementioned plantation workers were immigrants from other countries such as Japan, China, the Philippines, Korea, and Portugal, and as such, they all brought with them various dishes from their homelands.


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