Sweetbread aroma sparks childhood memories at Punalu’u Bake Shop in Na’alehu, Hawaii

The menu items in this post were provided by Punalu’u Bake Shop but the opinions expressed here are my own. 

The aroma of baked goods like breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, etc. evoke memories of being in the kitchen as a child while your mom and/or grandma baked sweet delicious delights. Punalu’u Sweetbread brings back memories of my grandpa. He would load up the kitchen with my favorite foods to welcome me back home every summer – pupu rockets, Meadow Gold Guava Nectar, and Punalu’u sweetbread.

As history goes, Hawaiian sweetbread originated from sweetbread recipes of Portuguese sugar plantation workers in the 19th century. Punalu’u Bake Shop’s recipe is an adapted family recipe once prepared at a resort in Punalu’u (Ka’u District on the Big Island of Hawaii). In the 1970s, it became an instant hit with visitors and kama’aina. The Punalu’u Bake Shop opened in 1991 with on-site bakery and visitor center. Perfect stop to/from Volcanoes National Park and just down the road from the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach where you can view the Honu (Hawaii Green Sea Turtle)! You can also find their sweetbreads at most local markets like KTA Super Stores and Sack N’ Save (Foodland).

  • Fun fact: Punalu’u Bake Shop is the southernmost bakery in the United States.


My mom had never been to Punalu’u Bake Shop before. She was so impressed by the facilities and variety of baked goods made on-site. We got a tour of the bakery and see how the sweetbread is baked and fresh malasadas coming out of the hot oil. You can get a total “foodie sweet high” just from the aroma of the freshly baked sweetbreads and malasadas. So ono!

Inside the visitor center, you can grab freshly baked malasadas and a hot cup of Ka’u coffee. You can also purchase “omiyage” or gifts for your friends/family back home ranging from souvenirs to packaged baked goods. Too many choices! I wanted to take everything home. You can also grab some freshly baked items from the display case like malasadas, pastries, and desserts.

Here is a taste of some of Punalu’u Bake Shop’s tasty delights:

Haupia Filled Malasadas ($1.69) are malasadas (Portuguese donut) filled with soft cubes haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding). If you love haupia as much as I do, it is just to die for! It is not a creamy filling like a custard but more like a cross between a pudding and gelatin. It has a creamy flavor from the coconut and is just sweet enough. The malasadas are spongy texture with a beautiful golden-brown exterior. Rating: 5/5

Bread Pudding ($1.89) is made with their traditional Hawaiian sweetbread and raisins. It is not too sweet and has a custardy texture with coconut and raisin flavor. Great way of using up extra bread at the bakery! Rating: 5/5

Taro Malasadas ($1.19) has a spongy texture with a beautiful lavender color from the taro. The purple contrasts nicely with the golden-brown exterior. The malasadas have a mild taro flavor. Rating: 5/5

Lilikoi Glazed Malasadas ($1.39) are just amazing! The glaze is sweet and tart and full of lilikoi flavor. It works great with malasadas like the perfect glazed donut. This beats out maple as my favorite glaze! The lilikoi is very fragrant and unmistakable. Rating: 5/5

Pineapple Filled Malasadas ($1.69) are light and not too sweet. This is a great choice if you are looking for tropical flavor that is not overly sweet. Hawaii’s version of the jelly-filled donut but with flavors of aloha! Rating: 5/5

If you are on the Big Island as a visitor or kama’aina, Punalu’u Bake Shop is a great place to stop and relax with the sweetness of aloha!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Punalu’u Bake Shop
Route 11
Na’alehu, HI 96772
+1.866.366.3501 or +1.808.929.7343
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Parking: Free parking in lot
Seating: Exterior

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