Malasadas are a must-try item when visiting Hawaii. But if you can’t make it there, make these homemade malasadas instead.

Homemade Portuguese doughnuts- Malasadas

What are Malasadas?

If you grew up in Hawaii, you know what a Malasada is. It’s a wonderful deep fried, rolled in sugar,  warm round and fluffy Portuguese doughnut *sigh*. Lucky for me, we used to live just down the street in Moi’ili’ili and would go to Leonard’s Bakery at least once a month. Ooohhh, the joy it would bring. Now that I’m here in California, I sure do miss those little round bundles of joy. Actually, I think I’ve pushed those memories out of my mind because I have no idea where to get them in California and it’s just agony! Ugh, to even think about it and not be able to eat any Malasadas kind of makes me depressed. I would’ve been fine with my selective memory loss, but it all came flooding back when I started searching the web for local Hawaii recipes. Then, those memories came back and my search for a decent substitute recipe began.

Now, keep in mind that I honestly don’t think I’ll ever find a recipe that will stack up to Leonard’s Bakery, but I can try to come pretty close. I mean, they’ve had years to perfect this golden standard of THE  Malasada recipe. Plus, I’ve tried many other copycat Leonard’s Bakery Malasada recipes and nothing came close. However, I think I may have found one that is pretty good from Cooking Hawaiian Style.

Before you start, I want to warn you that making Malasadas is a long and tedious process. So, I would highly recommend choosing a free day to do this or enlist some little helpers. If you’ve never made these before, I also recommend watching How to Make Portuguese Doughnuts  on Youtube so you can see the consistency of the dough. **I did not follow this recipe, but this video gives you a good idea of the dough consistency only**

Tips for Making Homemade Malasadas


Shape the doughnuts into flat 1.5-2 inch circles. Then, to ensure the inside of the doughnuts get cooked, pull the dough out towards the edges, leaving an indentation in the middle. 

Malasadas Cooking

When you start cooking the doughnuts, the middle will start to puff up and fill in the center. You can see how this happens in the picture.

Finished Malasadas

Once fried, place the doughnuts on some paper towels to drain off some of the oil and immediately roll them in sugar while they are still hot. If done when cold, the sugar won’t stick to the donuts.

How to Eat Homemade Malasadas

Malasadas are best eaten fresh and warm. Once fried, malasadas do not keep well and should be eaten on the same day you make them. If you must keep them for a day or so, reheat them in the microwave for 12-15 seconds and roll again in sugar or eat as-is.

How to Store Homemade Malasadas Dough

If you don’t want to fry all the dough in one day, it can be refrigerated. I tested this and was able to keep it for two days before the integrity of the recipe began to decline. Sorry, can’t tell you how many doughnuts this yields because my kids ate these faster than I was making them.

Update 2013 – Second Rise?

Uncooked malasadas

I tested what would happen if I let the malasada dough rise a second time. You can see in the image above, the dough with a second rise puffs up quite a bit. In comparison, the dough that didn’t rise for a second time is still flat.

For the second rise, I placed the shaped doughnuts onto a silpat mat sprayed with cooking oil. Then, I covered them with wax paper sprayed with cooking oil and let them rest for about an hour. Once the dough had risen for the second time, I fried them. The downside of a second rise is that I had to be careful not to deflate the dough from the second rise.
Cooked malasadas

This is what the inside of the doughnut looks like using the second rise. It came out nice and fluffy, but the question is… is a second rise necessary? Well, here are my thoughts. If you don’t want to fuss with a second rise, follow the original recipe. The dough will still puff up in the hot oil and make a nice round doughnut. A second rise will not change the flavor of the doughnut. However, it did make a slightly softer and fluffier inside, which is closer to the Leonard’s malasada. Either way, you’re going to get a great tasting treat.

If anyone has made additional changes to this recipe, I would love to have feedback.

Finished Malasadas

Homemade Malasadas

How to make malasadas or Portuguese doughnuts.


  • 1 Pkg. Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbs Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Water
  • 8 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Scalded Milk 
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, melted
  • 8 Eggs, beaten
  • Oil for frying


  1. Dissolve yeast and the 1 tablespoon of sugar in warm water.  
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Add milks, butter, eggs and yeast mixture. Beat thoroughly to form a soft, smooth dough.  Cover and let rise until doubled.  
  3. Heat oil to 350°F.  While the oil is heating up, shape dough into flat round discs, pulling the dough outwards and leaving a small indentation in the center. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully place the doughnuts into the oil and fry until browned.  Drain on absorbent paper towels, then shake in a bag with sugar while hot. Serve hot.


Is a second rise needed? If you’re in a rush, following the original recipe is fine. The dough will still puff up in the hot oil and make a nice round doughnut. A second rise will not change the flavor of the doughnut. However, it does make a softer and fluffier inside, which is closer to Leonard’s malasadas. Either way, you’re going to get a great tasting treat.

Update 10/23/2013 I've made this recipe a few more times and tweaked it a bit. First, I adjusted the original recipe from 2 cups scalded milk to 1 cup scalded milk and 1 cup evaporated milk because I like the flavor evaporated milk gives the doughnuts. I have also added 1 tsp. of vanilla, but it doesn't really seem to make a huge difference in taste. Second, I have allowed the dough to rise a second time after shaping it into the round flat doughnuts. This incorporates air into the dough and makes for a fluffy inside.

Update 6/11/2017 If you want to save time, skip shaping the dough into balls. You can punch down the dough after the first rise and let it rise again for another hour. Then just scoop out by large spoonful and drop directly into the hot oil. These will be more a free-form doughnuts, but will taste just as good.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Turned out great.
    Wondering if putting the dough in the fridge overnight would take the place of the second rise and produce the fluffier insides?

  2. do you let it rise in a big bowl,take it out then roll it in to a ball, smash it down,then wait till it rises again ,then fry it?

    1. Yes, I let it rise in a big bowl. I smash it down and then shape into smaller balls to fry. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to roll out all the balls, which lets the dough rise for a second time. Then, I fry the balls, starting with the first balls that I made. HTH.

  3. Hi, I tried to make this recipe for my grandma after she moved out of hawaii to make her feel more at home but I’m new to any kind baking or dough stuff. Mine ended up coming out more like a batter than a dough making it near impossible to form any tips to prevent this?

  4. Hello, I am planning on making this, this weekend. Do you know if it’s ok to make the dough the night before. shape and fry them in the morning?

  5. I have been working on making these all day I used a different recipe from another blog but it was similar to yours and they turned out like cookies they never puffed up. All of my ingredients were fresh my yeast was nice and frothy like it was supposed to be I did not deflate them and I handled them like a newborn baby I can’t figure out what happened any ideas?

    1. Either the yeast was not enough, or the temperature of your room was too low and the dough didn’t rise properly

  6. Thank you for the recipe. I went to Lenard’s Bakery when I was in Hawaii and yes there Malasadas were delisious. My grandmother use to make them when I was little. I will try this recipe. Thanks again.

  7. This looks so yummy. I wish I could say I have been to Hawaii but not yet. I bet my boys would love these! Thanks for sharing with #ThrowbackThursdaylinkup!