relle lum’s malassadas

Craig DeSilva
December 21, 2023

Portuguese immigrants introduced malassadas to Hawaii during the plantation era. Over the years, it’s become a popular pastry in the Islands. Locals and tourists wait in long lines at the bakery for this light, fluffy, sugary treat. This doughnut (sans hole) is particularly popular on Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday. But you can make it for your friends and family to enjoy year-round. 

Relle Lum, a nurse practitioner and accomplished cook on Maui, won a round on PBS’s The Great American Recipe competition after making malassadas. Here’s her recipe that went viral.  


  • 1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Vegetable oil

In a small bowl, add yeast, warm water heated to 115 F, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside and allow to sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add milk, evaporated milk, sugar, butter, and yeast mixture. Mix until well combined.

With the motor on low speed, add flour and salt. Mix dough until well combined and smooth.

Transfer to a lightly greased mixing bowl and cover with a towel. Place in a warm area and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Place dough on a floured surface and roll out to about 1-inch thick. Cut dough with a cookie cutter, cup, or anything round. Place dough rounds on a greased cookie sheet. Cover with a towel and allow to rest.

Place some sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a medium saucepan to 375 F over medium-high heat. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Drain malassadas on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet. When slightly cooled, place in the bowl with sugar and toss to coat.

Tips on storing
Malassadas are best eaten fresh. If you have leftovers, Lum suggests storing them in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two. When you’re ready to eat, simply reheat the malassadas in a microwave or toaster oven.

Make ahead
Lum says you can make the malassada dough in advance and freeze until you’re ready to cook them. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. It will keep for a few months. When you’re ready to use, defrost the dough at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

Recipes and more
Can’t get enough of Relle Lum’s cooking? Get more recipes on her blog Keeping it Relle. You’ll find recipes for local favorites, including seared ahi salad, Instant Pot chicken adobo, Hawaiian-style breakfast burrito, and homemade miso soup. You can rate recipes and leave your thoughts and comments about what works and what doesn’t for others to learn. Join the conversation with other home bakers and cooks.  

Follow Relle Lum on social media: InstagramFacebookPinterest.

Maui strong
In addition to being a great cook, Lum is a nurse practitioner who’s been caring for the health and well-being of Maui’s communities. Read how she contributed her skills as a cook and provider to help Maui wildfire survivors. 

Star quality
Lum made Hawaii proud as a contestant on the PBS series The Great American Recipe. In the winter 2024 issue of Island Scene magazine, read how Lum crushed it in the competition with other home cooks who were selected nationwide.

Photos courtesy Relle Lum.

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