Skip to Content

Kulolo Recipe

This kulolo recipe is a traditional Hawaiian dessert that is made with taro, coconut, and brown sugar.

What Is Kulolo?

Kulolo are small balls of dough that are fried in oil until they turn golden brown.

They can then be dipped into an egg wash or drizzled with honey before being eaten as a snack.

The word “kulolo” comes from the Polynesian language where it means “to eat.”

The name was given to these small round cakes because they were often used for eating during social gatherings.

In Hawaii, there are two types of kulolo:

  • Sweet Kulolo – These sweet kulolo use white flour, vanilla extract, baking powder, eggs, milk, butter, and sometimes almond extract.
  • Savory Kulolo – This type uses whole wheat flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, parsley, cayenne pepper, and chili sauce.

There are also different varieties of kulolo depending on how they are cooked:

  • Fried – A batter is poured over the top of the cake and baked to form layers.
  • Baked – A batter is mixed with ground meat, fish, vegetables, and seasonings and rolled out onto a tray lined with parchment paper or foil. Then the mixture is covered with another piece of paper, which is folded over twice, then placed into a preheated oven. When done, the kulolo are removed and served immediately.
  • Sautéed – Oil is heated up and then spread evenly across the bottom of a pan. Once hot, the ingredients are added and stirred constantly while cooking. After about five minutes, the kulolo are ready to serve.


  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon yeast
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour (or other gluten-free flour)
  • ⅓ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ⅔ cup grated raw potato
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the sweet variety:

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅜ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ginger

How Is Kulolo Made?

Kulolo is prepared using taro roots cooked until tender.

The root vegetable is then grated into small pieces for use as an ingredient in this sweet treat.

Coconut milk is used to prepare the batter and is poured over the shredded taro before it is baked.

The addition of brown sugar helps to create a caramelized flavor while baking.

Once cooled, you can serve kulolo plain or topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

What Are The Ingredients In Kulolo?

The following list of ingredients includes everything you need for this tasty dish.

  • 1 cup shredded taro root (also known as yam)
  • ½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar


You can use fresh or dried taro for your kulolo recipe.

If using the latter, soak them first in hot water until soft enough to mash easily.

Then rinse and drain before proceeding.


Use only unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes in this dish.

The flavor won’t be as good if you use sweetened coconut flakes because they have added sugars.


Be sure to use either white or brown sugar in this recipe.

You don’t want any other type.

White sugar has no color, so it would not look very attractive on top of this dish.

Vanilla Extract

If you do decide to use vanilla extract instead of vanilla powder, add ¼ teaspoon of the liquid into each cup of boiling water while stirring constantly.

Wait 2 minutes then remove from heat and stir well again.

Add ½ cup of cold water to the mixture and let sit for 1 minute.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer set over another bowl.

Set aside.

How Long Does It Take To Make Kulolo?

Kulolo takes about an hour or two to prepare, depending on how much you want to spend on ingredients.

That’s because it requires quite a few steps before it can finally be eaten.

First, the root vegetables must be peeled and sliced into small pieces.

Then they need to be soaked overnight in water to remove their bitterness and soften them up.

The next day, the vegetable matter needs to be cooked down until it becomes soft enough for the batter to stick together.

The final step is to mix everything together and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177C) for 30-40 minutes.

If you want to go ahead and skip this last step, you can just eat kulolo straight out of the oven! You may also find that your kulolo turns out differently if you use different types of taro instead of purple ones.

Purple taro has a higher starch content than other varieties so when baked, it tends to become more dense.

What Is The History Of Kulolo?

Kulolo is a very old dish from Hawaii.

In fact, it has been around for centuries.

Native Hawaiians first started making this sweet treat in the 17th century when they were enslaved on other islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The original recipe was created out of necessity as food became scarce due to raids by foreign raiders.

The people had no choice but to adapt their own recipes to suit their new lifestyle.

After being freed from slavery, native Hawaiians continued to serve these treats at special occasions like weddings or religious ceremonies.

Kulolo can also be served during social gatherings or even holiday celebrations.

Today, you can find many different flavors of kulolo including pineapple, mango, banana, strawberry, and chocolate.

You may not know how to cook any of them though, since most are simply frozen desserts.

But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your favorite kulolo flavor without having to bake or cook anything!

How Popular Is Kulolo?

Kulolo has been around for over 100 years and it’s still very popular in Hawaii today! The recipe was created during the late 1800s when white settlers came into contact with the Hawaiians who had cultivated this dish since their arrival from Polynesia.

Kulolo recipes have evolved throughout the generations as people adapted to using local ingredients like pineapple, macadamia nuts, mangoes, and even sweet potatoes.

In fact, there are so many different versions of kulolo out there, you can literally find one for every taste.

Some versions include more or less sugar depending on your preference while others use more exotic ingredients such as dried mango and vanilla bean paste.

The first time I tried making kulolo was at my parents house where they served me the original version which included canned coconut milk and evaporated cane juice.

My mom said she remembered eating the pudding-like mixture as a child growing up in Hawaii and now wanted to share her family’s recipe with us.

She also told me about how much fun it was to play in the garden (I think I saw her gardening once but don’t remember) and pick fresh coconuts off trees.

So, it seemed fitting for me to try my hand at creating this childhood classic.

What Are Some Variations Of Kulolo?

Kulolo is one of the most common desserts in Hawaii.

There are many different ways to prepare this dish but each version has its own unique flavor and taste.

If you’re interested in making your own kulolo at home then here are some recipes for you!

  • Kulolo Cake Recipe – The cake itself is very simple and quick to put together. You just need to soak the taro root overnight before using it as the base for the cake.
  • Coconut Kulolo – Coconut kulolo is similar to the original kulolo but instead of adding brown sugar into the mix, you add shredded coconut.
  • Lomi Lomi Kulolo – A lomi lomi kulolo is made from pineapple, bananas, and lemons which gives it a tangy and sour taste.

What Are Some Dishes That Kulolo Can Be Served With?

Kulolo is usually eaten as an after dinner snack or dessert but it also makes a great breakfast dish.

Some cooks like to serve this dish at special occasions such as birthdays or holidays.

The best thing about eating kulolo is you don’t have to worry about getting sick from the food since kulolo is made using safe ingredients.

You may want to try these other recipes for your next meal:

How to Make Kulolo


(7-8 cups) cooked Taro Root (cooked in water)

(1 cup) shredded dried coconut

(½ cup) granulated white sugar

¼ teaspoon salt


In large pot, boil 2 ½ gallons of water until it boils.

Add the taro root then reduce the heat.

Cook on medium low until soft enough to easily cut through with a knife.

Remove taro root from the hot water and let cool completely before cutting into small pieces.

Add the coconut, sugar, and salt to the warm water and stir together well.

Pour the mixture over the cooled taro roots and mix in evenly.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the kulolo on top of the paper, covering it completely.

Place another piece of parchment paper over the kulolo and place a heavy object on the top piece of paper.

Let sit overnight so that the kulolo hardens.

When ready to eat, peel off the top layer of parchment paper and enjoy!

What Are Some Tips For Making Kulolo?

Kulolo recipes vary from region to region, but they usually include three main ingredients: taro (also known as yam), coconut milk, and brown sugar.

The most important step in this recipe is cooking your taro root until it becomes tender before adding any other ingredients.

You should also take care when cutting up your taro roots.

You want them to have smooth edges so that there aren’t any sharp points where bacteria could grow.

If you don’t cut them properly, you may end up getting sick or even dying if your immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off an infection.

Once you’ve cooked your taro roots, pour about half of a cup of water over them and let them soak overnight.

Then drain out the excess liquid and put the rest of the water back on top of the taro roots.

Cook them again for another hour while stirring occasionally so that they cook evenly.

When they’re done, add a little more water so that they’ll remain moist throughout the next steps of the recipe.

Next, peel the outer skin of the taro roots and then grate them into a bowl using a grater attachment on your food processor.

Set aside.

In a separate saucepan, place the remaining ingredients except for the heavy cream and bring everything to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool down completely.

Then transfer the cooled mixture into a blender along with the strained taro root pieces.

Blend together until creamy and fluffy.

Add the heavy cream slowly after blending, one tablespoon at a time.

Continue blending until desired consistency has been reached.

Pour kulolo batter into individual serving bowls, cover each bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1-3 hours before serving.

How Would You Describe The Taste Of Kulolo?

When I was growing up in Hawaii, my family always had it on special occasions like birthdays or holidays.

The flavor is sweet and nutty and has a slight crunch from the taro skin.

You can also buy it at most grocery stores now as well as restaurants.

My favorite part about this dish is when your eyes water because it’s so good!

Kulolo Recipe

This kulolo recipe is a traditional Hawaiian dessert that is made with taro, coconut, and brown sugar.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Kulolo Recipe
Servings: 4
Calories: 268kcal


  • 2 cups taro grated
  • 3/4 cups raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk


  • Sauté in the Instant Pot.
  • Use foil to line an 8-inch cake pan that is 2 inches deep. This will fit exactly in the 6 quart Instant Pot that I have. Make sure the pan you choose fits your Instant Pot. Place aside.
  • Add the kalo, sugar, and coconut milk to a sizable bowl. Stir thoroughly to mix.
  • Mixture should be poured into the pan. Use foil to tightly enclose.
  • Water, 1 cup, to the Instant Pot. Place the cake pan in the Instant Pot after the trivet. You can roll a piece of foil to raise the cake pan if you don’t have a trivet.
  • Put the lid on, then begin sealing. 150 minutes of manual high pressure cooking. Permit the pressure to drop naturally.
  • Let the food chill overnight. Serve after cutting into pieces. Enjoy!



Calories: 268kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 403mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Follow me