Easy Hawaiian Luau Party

Mix up some pineapple drops and dig into our finger-food version (no whole pig necessary)

Amy Machnak
1 /6 Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Char siu–glazed Pork and Pineapple Buns

Char siu ― Chinese-style barbecued pork ― is popular throughout the Islands. We’ve used its sweet, tangy glaze on pork tenderloin and pineapple, and then tucked both into Hawaiian sweet rolls.

Recipe: Char siu–glazed Pork and Pineapple Buns

Buy Hawaiian
Pineapple ― Hawaiian pineapples are the Smooth Cayenne variety, which are sweeter than the Red Spanish type from Central and South America because they’re picked when ripe. Spot Hawaiian pineapples by their large size, smooth-edged leaves, and deep yellow color.

2 /6 Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Pineapple Drops

Tangy and sweet, this drink pairs well with our luau, but is also good sipped solo. You’ll need 6 cocktail skewers.

Recipe: Pineapple Drops

3 /6 Thayer allyson Gowdy

Papaya and Avocado Salads with Hawaiian Vanilla Vinaigrette

These delicately floral, fruity salads are built on individual lettuce leaves, making them easy to pick up and eat.

Recipe: Papaya and Avocado Salads with Hawaiian Vanilla Vinaigrette

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Papaya ― Small and pear-shaped, with finely grained yellow-orange flesh, the Hawaiian papaya is delicious and fragrant, and can be used to tenderize meat. Ripen the fruit at room temperature until skin is mostly yellow and flesh “gives” a little when squeezed.

Vanilla Bean ― Hawaii’s tropical weather transforms its vanilla blossoms into the most aromatic beans in the world. The high price stems from the fact that every vanilla orchid must be pollinated by hand on the one day each year when the flower opens.

4 /6 Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Caramelized Maui Onion Dip

Make this addictive dip at least an hour ahead of time to let the flavors develop ― and serve with enough potato chips to scoop up every last bit.

Recipe: Caramelized Maui Onion Dip

Buy Hawaiian Maui Onion ― Grown in rich volcanic soil on the island for which it’s named, the juicy, golden yellow Maui onion is sweeter and less pungent than a regular onion because of its lower sulfur content. However, Maui onions must be used quickly; they don’t keep as well as regular onions. Stores typically label Maui onions by name.

5 /6 Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Coconut Lime Shrimp Skewers

A squeeze of lime adds zing and toasted coconut contributes crunch to this easy make-ahead crowd-pleaser. You’ll need at least 24 wooden skewers (6 in.).

Recipe: Coconut Lime Shrimp Skewers

6 /6 Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Chocolate Liliko'i Parfaits

Liliko'i (as the Hawaiians call passion fruit) is extremely tart. It tastes wonderful with sweet, rich brownies ― decadent but surprisingly refreshing.

Recipe: Chocolate Liliko'i Parfaits

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Passion Fruit ― (Hawaiian name: liliko‘i) Brought to Hawaii from Australia in 1880, this egg-shaped, purple or yellow pod (wrinkled when ripe) yields an intensely flavorful tart-sweet yellow pulp filled with tiny edible seeds. The pulp can be eaten fresh or used to make sauces, preserves, and ice cream.