Hawaiian cuisine reflects the rich history and culture of the islands. They’re bright, fresh, and full of flavors! In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best Hawaiian appetizers, and you’ll surely be drooling when you’re done.
Hawaii is a fusion of different cultures, including Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Filipino, and Polynesian. This is why you can sometimes feel these countries’ flavors in most of their dishes.
Moreover, you can prepare these dishes in your home and enjoy their yummy and mouthwatering flavors. Now, let’s quickly get into it, shall we?
1. Pupu Chicken Wings
The size, shape, and versatility of chicken wings make them a fantastic finger meal. With the help of this Hawaiian recipe, chicken wings are given a strong flavor that is equally garlicky, sticky, sweet, and sour.
In addition, if you have an air fryer, you can use it to make these wings instead of deep-frying them as is the norm.
2. Huli Huli Chicken
Huli Huli Chicken is the sister of Pupu Chicken since they use similar ingredients and are both Hawaiian appetizers. The inclusion of ginger and pineapple in the recipe is the most significant difference.
In this meal, the chicken parts are grilled rather than fried, like in Pupus. Although the recipe uses chicken thighs, you can substitute any other chicken part you like!
3. Hawaiian Cheese Ball
This is no doubt one of the best Hawaiian appetizers. You can serve it with different crackers, chips, and other finger snacks.
However, in some versions of this recipe, bacon bits are used in place of the ham, and in others, there is no meat at all. In the center of the serving platter, form a ball, and place your crackers and chips all around it.
4. Crab Wontons
This rich appetizer combines regional seafood with thin, crisp wrappers and is known as a Rangoon in various parts of the world.
The recipe asks for imitation crab meat, but if you can only find actual crab meat, you can use it instead.
Just make an effort to stay away from canned crab meat, which tends to taste somewhat tinny and fishy. Also, you can pair these with a side of your preferred sweet or hot sauce.
5. Pork Hash
This one is for you if you enjoy dumplings! Many Hawaiian appetizers are influenced by Chinese cuisine, including this one.
This flavorful, crunchy, and fresh steamed dumpling is made with pork, shrimp, green onions, and water chestnuts.
Furthermore, to give the dumplings a crunchy bottom, you may pan-fry them before steaming them.
6. Beef Poke
This meal substitutes seared beef for raw tuna and combines it with additional poke bowl ingredients like tomato, papaya, cilantro, and lime.
Also, to make this meal more interesting, you can include extra items like avocados, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, and some finely chopped chilies.
7. Coconut Shrimp
Here is another island-inspired recipe for shrimp that you must try!
Add panko breadcrumbs and flaked coconut to each shrimp, and you’ll get a crispy coating with a taste of the tropics. Also, you can pair this with some tartar sauce or sweet chili sauce on the side.
8. Pa’i’a Biscuits & Crackers
You can’t name the best Hawaiian appetizers without including this cracker. This cracker goes well with your kamaboko dip.
You get truly authentic Hawaiian flavors when you pair these crackers with other Hawaiian dishes because they were made using traditional Hawaiian pounded taro.
Moreover, you can purchase pa’i’ai online in the form of blocks or loaves that you must cut to use.
9. Kamaboko Dip
This dip goes really well with crackers if you enjoy them as appetizers. Kamaboko dip contains dashi powder, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and fish cakes. You can customize this creamy mixture to your preferences.
Consider using chives for freshness, sour cream for extra sour notes, or even imitation crab meat for a more seafood taste. If you don’t want to serve crackers, you may also serve this dip with crudites.
10. Pohole Salad
Hawaii’s Maui island is home to the fern plant known as pohole. If you don’t have access to this vegetable, you can substitute broccolini, haricot vert, or asparagus.
Also, try to find rice wine vinegar, dried shrimp, and dried cuttlefish in Asian markets nearby to preserve the tropical tastes of this salad.
With each bite of this appetizer, you get a combination of flavors that are fresh, crisp, tart, salty, and sweet.
11. Seared Ahi Salad
This dish is among the best Hawaiian appetizers. Ahi is a type of tuna that is popular in Hawaii.
It’s a type of tuna with a lot of fat, which makes it great for many dishes that call for raw or seared food.
In addition, this particular recipe makes use of the fat content to give you various textures and flavors in each grilled, steak-sized piece. You can serve this as the perfect beginning for any dinner when accompanied by a crisp salad!
12. Spam Musubi
This a popular island treat and also among the cuisines that draw inspiration from Japan. It is a sushi-like treat made with spam, rice, and nori.
You can line the spam can with plastic wrap and use it to make the rice base of the musubi, which will make it simpler to mold. In addition, you can serve it as a meal, a snack, or an appetizer!
13. Lomi Lomi Salmon
Here’s a raw fish recipe made with salmon you’ll enjoy! The best salmon to use for this recipe is wild salmon rather than farmed salmon, but any fresh fish you can get locally will do.
In addition, you can make one fantastic appetizer with some tomatoes, a sweet onion, and a pinch of pepper.
14. Shoyu Ahi Poke
This fish dish is popular in Hawaii. It’s their interpretation of Japanese sashimi, and if you can get fresh tuna, you should try making this dish.
When making tuna poke, only use tuna fit for sushi. You can try the spicy version, which uses a creamy sriracha and mayonnaise sauce if you’re looking for something different.
15. Hawaiian Meatballs
Hawaiian meatballs come with a sweet and spicy Polynesian pineapple sauce and are a tasty combination of both. And they’re simple to prepare!
Simply form little meatballs from seasoned ground beef, bake them until brown, and then cover them in the soy, honey, and pineapple sauce. Prepackaged meatballs are a good option if you’re in a hurry.
16. Hawaiian Pizza Sliders
For the best Hawaiian appetizers, try this pizza slider. Besides, nothing appeals to a crowd more than a platter of sliders.
You’ll be a star at the next backyard BBQ if you pass along a plate of these delicious pizza rolls. Besides, they are smaller versions of the traditional Hawaiian pizza, made with delicious ham and juicy pieces of fresh pineapple.
17. Hawaiian Salsa
You’ll start daydreaming of tropical vacations with just one bite of this bright salsa. Besides, this delicious dip has a summery flavor thanks to the ripe fruit, fresh herbs, and sweet vegetables.
It contains a balanced combination of bell peppers, tomatoes, deliciously sweet mangoes, and fragrant cilantro. In addition, if you’re serving a large group, pour it inside a pineapple that has been hollowed out for a dish.
18. Hawaiian Burger Bites
These burger bites are among the best Hawaiian appetizers and are always party-ready. The soft, floury crescent dough is used to make the base, which is then baked till golden.
Then a sweet glaze is applied, and little meatballs are placed on top. These will vanish if you add a chunk of fresh pineapple right before serving because everyone loves it!
19. Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites
Nothing is more appropriate for your upcoming celebration than these bacon bites, which are spicy, sweet, and salty.
You won’t believe how easy they are to make, but they really do only take a few minutes to put together. Simply wrap a piece of pineapple in a strip of bacon, then coat it with brown sugar and a little spicy sauce.
20. Grilled Ham and Pineapple Kabobs
Are you looking for the best Hawaiian appetizers for your next event? Try this yummy dish. Thick slices of ham and chunks of sweet, syrupy pineapple are skewered and grilled to perfection, increasing the sweetness and saltiness of both.
Don’t overlook the crucial step of marinating the ham in a soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar glaze beforehand since it will make the ham even tangier!
This list of the best Hawaiian appetizers shows that the island is truly a melting pot of cultures. So, to make your next gathering truly festive and wonderful, serve any of these dishes alongside Hawaiian main courses and desserts. Thanks for reading!