Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

January 5, 2013

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.

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
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.

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Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

  • Author: Ono Kine Grindz
  • Total Time: 6 hours, 50 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x


This is Hawaii’s version of the sweet potato pie combining beautiful purple Okinawan sweet potatoes and a luscious coconut haupia pudding. It is modified slightly from Ono Kine Grindz.



For the crust

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter

1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/2 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

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the haupia layer

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 cup lukewarm water

2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk


For the crust

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add chopped macadamia nuts and mix well.

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

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time.

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.

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

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add water and stir until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

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).

Let cool slightly, then pour over Okinawan sweet potato mixture. Refrigerate until firm, about 4-5 hours, overnight is best.

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.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Inactive Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Pies, Desserts
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian-American


  • Calories: 285.12
  • Sugar: 18.28 g.
  • Sodium: 38.09 mg.
  • Fat: 18.14 g.
  • Saturated Fat: 10.25 g.
  • Carbohydrates: 30.08 g.
  • Fiber: 1.26 g.
  • Protein: 2.48 g.
  • Cholesterol: 33.57 g.

Keywords: Okinawan sweet potato, haupia, macadamia nuts

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