Hawaiian Pizza: A Tropical Twist on Americana

When Hawaiian pizza started becoming a thing in the ‘60s, people thought the idea of pineapple on pizza was absurd. What’s absurd is NOT trying this amazing hybrid that brings a taste of the islands to America’s favorite go-to meal, pizza!

Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiians Make America Better

Whether you’ve been to Hawaii or not, you (and many other Americans) desire that island feel and taste here on the mainland. Lucky for us, Hawaiian influences have showing up on the mainland even before Hawaii joined the states in 1959.


The famously Hawaiian parties called luaus started in the early 1800s, when the religious laws of the islands were lifted. Traditionally, these Hawaiian parties roasted a kalua pig, served pao (taro root) poke (raw fish salad), and had hours of entertainment between hula dancers and ukulele musicians.

Feasting and entertainment is still what makes luau-themed parties a hit today. Although the costumes and menus have been modified. Today, guests go to a luau dressed in their favorite Hawaiian flower print shirts, hibiscus flowers in the hair, and flowered lei (usually of a synthetic material) around the neck. There are traditional guest appearances of hula dancers in grass skirts and coconut bras. Hula-hoops are often available for those who are still a kid a heart. While you may not see a whole roasted pig at a backyard luau themed party in the U.S., will most certainly see Hawaiian fusion foods like fish tacos, grilled shrimp kabobs, and grilled chicken teriyaki!

Tiki culture

Ancient Polynesians have also (loosely) influenced a popular craze in the U.S. known as Tiki culture. Americans generally can’t tell the difference between Tiki culture and Hawaiian, so both are grouped together to create a popular island-vibe at parties. Polynesian-style outdoor restaurants, clubs, and beach bars and huts, Tiki woodcarvings and tropical cocktails in coconut mugs started coming to America back in the 1930s.

Hawaiian fusion food

Hawaiian fusion is a style of cuisine that combines native island crops first used by the ancient Polynesians with foods brought to Hawaii by the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants. You’ll never find a dry dish served because Hawaiian-style foods are always sauced up. There are some really interesting food combos in Hawaiian fusion cuisine, but all of them require yummy sauces.

Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian Pizza Must-Haves

While it wasn’t the Hawaiians that created Hawaiian pizza, it was their sweet and savory saucy food combos that inspired the trend that has yet to fade. Being that is was actually two Canadian restaurant owners that made the first Hawaiian pizza, it is only fitting that one of the two main toppings is Canadian bacon. The star of the Hawaiian pizza is the quintessential fresh cut pineapple.

Other ingredients for Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian pizza also requires other staple pizza ingredients: dough for making crust, classic tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella cheese. There you have a perfect combination of sweet and salty, just how the Hawaiians like it.

Don’t forget what else the Hawaiians need on their food- sauce. Yes, we’re talking pizza so there is a tomato sauce base, but the kind of sauce Hawaiians crave on their foods is more along the lines of teriyaki. Make your pizza more official with authentic flavors. Drizzle sauces on or use it as a dip for the crust.

Variations of Hawaiian Pizza

Other variations of Hawaiian pizza can include additional toppings like onions, peppers, and mushrooms. You can also substitute the Canadian bacon for regular bacon, ham, or even spam- a very popular food in the Hawaiian islands. If you’re making your own pizza crust, check out this Hawaiian pizza recipe.

Another variation of Hawaiian pizza could even be with Hawaiian BBQ chicken instead of the classic tomato. Whatever you try, make sure it gives you that sweet and tangy island taste!

Hawaiian Pizza No-Nos

While you have some creative liberties with the toppings of Hawaiian pizza, there are a few things you’d better not budge on at the risk of ruining this amazing culinary hybrid. We have three rules when it comes to Hawaiian Pizza:

  1. Say no to sauce free pizza. A white pizza is an absolute no-no here.
  2. Never use frozen or canned toppings- Fresh ingredients only!
  3. Don’t order Hawaiian pizza from a generic chain pizzeria. They’re sure to use canned goods and bland sauces. You’re better off making your own.

Declare a Hawaiian Pizza night!

Now, get to chopping, grab some Hula sauce and a Mai tai, and prepare your own Hawaiian pizza. Make em’ personal size so you can experiment with lots of toppings (and lots of sauces). Your family will absolutely love your Hawaiian pizza buffet instead of the usual delivery.

If making your own pizza sounds like too much work, you should seek out an authentic Hawaiian chef to whip up a few mouthwatering pies, but whatever you do, don’t settle for less than the best when it comes to Hawaiian pizza!