Leonard’s Malasadas: Donuts that Will Make You Drool!

By Mark Wiens 23 Comments

Malasadas in Honolulu

That’s right.

Grab a bib or towel, because what you’re about to see is drool worthy (and you don’t have to be ashamed).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not that big of a sweets fan.

Apart from a few things, I’ll normally only indulge in sweets in order to celebrate the occasional birthday, or if I need to be social in random circumstances (OK, I can be a social dessert eater too)!

That being said… I could probably eat an entire box of warm malasadas in Honolulu – and not even realize it.

Peeking into the box of Leonard's...
Peeking into the box of Leonard's…

The light pink box with the signature light blue Leonard’s logo is tantalizing even before breaking the seal and lifting the lid.

The first peek into the box releases a sweet pastry scent so aromatic that it has the power to knock you on the couch and force you into a dreamy drooling daze before even digging in.

A box of malasadas in Honolulu, Hawaii
A box of malasadas in Honolulu, Hawaii

Leonard’s Bakery, having been around since 1952, has a secret recipe for malasadas that has beat out all other competition – it’s the go-to malasada in Honolulu.

One box from Leonard’s malasadas comes stuffed with a dozen of the little guys neatly packed and looking ever so attractive to the stomach.

At this point, the aroma coming from the box mixed with the visual pleasure is a force so strong you’ll find them irresistible.

Malasadas Honolulu
Leonard's Malasadas

What are Malasadas?

You may be wondering by now what exactly is a malasada? Is it like any normal donut?

A malasada in its purest form is a Portuguese donut made with balls of dough, deep fried and dusted with sugar.

Unlike regular donuts, there’s no hole in the middle of a malasada. What this means is that a malasada remains gooey, moist, and outrageously fluffy on the inside.

Original malasadas in Honolulu, Hawaii are made plain, but now there exists a wide variety of malasadas that are filled with all kinds of pudding like creams. If you’re going to get the stuffed kind, I’d recommend Haupia (coconut pudding).

Malasadas Honolulu
Neatly arranged malasadas from Leonard's Bakery, Honolulu, Hawaii

The food scene in Hawaii is a a world contender because people have brought the best tasting things from around the world to the little islands where flavors can only be improved. In Hawaii you’ll find delicious Chinese dishes, classy Japanese food and even a few Portuguese favorites like malasadas.

So how did these special Portuguese donuts become so popular in Honolulu, Hawaii?

Portuguese have played a long history in Hawaii, coming to the islands to work on plantations. Just like they brought egg tarts to Macau, they brought malasadas with them to Hawaii where they were welcomed graciously into Hawaiian cuisine.

So while they aren’t quite as homegrown Hawaii as the iconic SPAM Musubi, malasadas are pretty famous in Honolulu and throughout Hawaii.

The best donut you may ever have!
The best donut you may ever have!

Grabbing a malasada is like touching a delicate pillow of memory foam where your fingers are left indented into the pastry.

Hawaiian Malasadas
The gooiest, doughiest thing you'll ever eat!

Word’s cannot describe the sensation of sinking your teeth into a malasada, it’s something so good it’s barely fathomable. You may even think you’re dreaming.

After a few bites you’ll realize the box of Leonoard’s malasadas is your reality and it’s a valid reason to celebrate and be ecstatic!

The next time you visit Honolulu, be sure to drop into Leonard’s Bakery to get a box or two of Hawaii’s original malasadas.

Leonard’s Bakery (Malasadas)
Website: http://www.leonardshawaii.com/
Address: 933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii
Phone: 808-737-5591
Hours: 5:30 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday and 6 am – 10 pm Friday and Saturday

23 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Donald Tiller

    3 years ago

    In the 60’s & 70’s I lived in Hawaii, next to Kapiolani Park, just 3 blocks from Leonard’s Bakery. So you know I was eating malasadas every week, sometimes twice a week.
    The smell of these puffy little jewels is unforgettable! Hot?…yes. Gooey yet light…yes. Sugar coated & irresistible… absolutely.
    Rarely did the box ever reach home with more than a couple left for everyone else 😋 Oh YEAH!!

  • Tracy ulrich

    9 years ago

    We love your malasadas was wondering derived g if you share your recipe for doing them at home as we live on the mainland and can’t enjoy them but every other year, thank you

    • Chris Costa

      8 years ago

      For those looking for a good malasada recipe, here’s a really good recipe that is a damn good approximation of the Leonard’s plain sugar malasada. This recipe comes from my great-grandmother, who predates Leonard’s recipe. For the newer filled ones, you’re on your own. My GGma and GMa only made the traditional ones. Anyway, don’t use any oil but just plain vegetable oil. Wesson oil was her favorite.


      1 package yeast (1 Tbsp)
      1 teaspoon sugar
      1/4 cup warm water

      6 cups flour
      1/2 cup granulated sugar
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/4 cup melted sweet cream butter
      1 cup water
      1 cup evaporated milk (unsweetened)
      6 eggs

      1 quart vegetable oil (to cook)
      extra granulated sugar

      Dissolve yeast, sugar and water and set aside. Beat eggs. Measure flour into mixing bowl and add salt. Make a well in the flour, pour yeast mixture, eggs and other ingredients. Beat in circular motion until the dough is soft. Cover, let raise until double. Turn dough over but do not punch down. Cover and let raise again. Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and drop dough by teaspoon full into oil and cook until brown turning or flipping to cook evenly. Shake immediately in brown paper bag with extra sugar to coat. Best when hot.

      Note: If the malasadas have a tendency to come out with the center still doughy, turn the heat down on the oil which will allow them to cook longer.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thanks a a lot for sharing Chris!

  • ciki

    12 years ago

    gooey, moist, and outrageously fluffy on the inside.. whoa! forget the hole, i am sold on the Malasada! LOL

  • Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    12 years ago

    Shame on you!

  • Colleen

    12 years ago


    I gained 3 pounds reading this article. = )


  • 2Summers

    12 years ago

    You weren’t lying about the drool. I am so frustrated that I can’t have one of these (or 10) right now.

  • johnbidwell

    12 years ago

    I can’t say I ever ran into these while I was in Hawaii and now I regret it! They look delicious!

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      You’ve got to check this place out next time you’re in Honolulu!

  • Dean

    12 years ago

    Well I’m sold. They look delicious!

  • Caroline Eubanks

    12 years ago

    I could eat the whole box of sugar malasadas! I went to Leonard’s three times in my week in Honolulu.

    • Mark Wiens

      12 years ago

      Ahh, cool to hear that Caroline! They are so good!