Home Desserts 15 Traditional Samoan Desserts

15 Traditional Samoan Desserts

Do you like desserts that are light, refreshing, and leave you feeling lively and happy? If so, Samoan desserts are probably right for you.

Samoan desserts are known for mixing the sweet with the savory and their frequent use of coconut and other tropical fruits.

Samoan Coconut and Caramel Cookies
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I love most Samoan dishes anyway, but the desserts are something truly special. They don’t bog you down and make you feel guilty and heavy after eating them. 

For this list of recipes, I’ve tried to select various dessert types to introduce you to the full spectrum of delicious goodies that come from the gorgeous Samoan Islands. 

1. Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls)

Pani popo, also known as Samoan coconut rolls, are immensely popular.

I started this list with them because they perfectly exemplify the Samoan tendency to serve sweet and savory desserts.

These are, in essence, dinner rolls, but because you’ll bake them in coconut milk, they’re delightfully sweet. They’re also light and fluffy, like tiny clouds.

You can serve them along with a meal or as after-dinner sweet treats. Just be sure you make enough because people will devour them.

2. Panikeke (Samoan Pancakes)

Samoan pancakes resemble hush puppies more than actual pancakes, but they’re sweet and airy. 

This recipe is for basic Samoan pancakes. However, you can tweak it with a ripe banana, coconut, almonds, or even a dash of cinnamon. 

You can serve them alone or with powdered sugar or syrup for dipping.

3. Boiled Taro With Coconut Milk

Unless you live on or frequently visit islands or other tropical locations, you may have never tried taro (sometimes called ‘kalo’). It’s a root vegetable grown in tropical areas.

Alone, it tastes similar to a sweet potato.

However, it’s one of those great foods that takes on the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with, so boiling and adding coconut milk to it gives it a mild sweetness.

When the salt hits your tongue at the end, it’s a perfect surprise. You won’t want to stop eating it. 

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4. Samoan Watermelon Drink

If you could pick up the Hawaiian islands, throw them in a blender, and pour it in a glass, it would taste like the Samoan watermelon drink.

It’s a cold, refreshing, juicy drink that combines coconut, pineapple, watermelon, lemon juice, coconut milk, and sugar.

If this drink doesn’t make you want to hula, nothing will. 

5. Half Moon Pies

These thick, pineapple-filled pies are warm and moist, and they have the most amazing crusts, thanks to the addition of coconut milk into the dough.

If you’re fortunate enough to have had a great-grandmother who made homemade, half-moon apple pies, you’ll have an idea of what these are like.

The difference is, these are filled with pineapple and are a little juicier.

6. Coconut Caramel Bread (Fa’ausi)

Fa’ausi is one of the most popular desserts in Samoa.

There, some people use taro root as the base for their fa’ausi, but coconut bread is also popular. That’s what this recipe uses.

After you make your coconut bread, you’ll pour the caramelized mixture of caster sugar and coconut milk over it. The bread will absorb the caramel and harden over time.

Dust the finished product with coconut flakes, and it’s ready to serve. Of all Samoan desserts, this is one of the richest and sweetest. It’s also one of the best.

7. Suafa’i (Samoan Bananas in Coconut Cream)

This dessert has a pudding-like consistency and tastes strongly of bananas.

It requires only four ingredients – coconut milk, bananas, water, and tapioca – unless you like it a little sweeter and want to add extra sugar. 

You can serve it 30 minutes after it’s cooled, or you can refrigerate it and serve it chilled.

8. Samoan Poi (Mashed Bananas in Coconut Cream)

This Samoan sweet is similar in consistency and taste to the above-listed suafa’i.

However, instead of tapioca, you’ll use a splash of vanilla and add in a little lemon or lime zest.

Because you’ll add sugar, it’s a little sweeter than the suafa’i. However, thanks to the zest, it also has a hint of a sour tang to it.

9. Samoa Cookies

This is one dessert that everyone knows well, and I’m delighted to tell you that if you love the Girl Scout’s Samoas cookies, you’ll love this homemade version just as much. 

10. Samoan Banana Cake

Remember that thing I said about Samoan desserts being light, refreshing, and not too heavy?

That doesn’t apply here. This cake is total decadence, and it’s incredible.

Start with a banana loaf cake, slice it in two, and add some thick, yummy cream in the middle.

Pop it back together and slather the top with rich, sugared dark chocolate frosting.

11. Samoa Pie 

This pie is a bit like Samoa cookies; only it has a lot more going on. It’s a fantastic frozen pie made from shortbread that has several layers. 

There are cheesecake-like layers interspersed with a “special layer” made from chocolate, homemade caramel sauce, toasted coconut flakes, and chopped pecans.

It’s a pie that gets better with every bite.

12. Tapioca Pearls with Coconut Milk

Okay, let’s back away from the more coma-inducing desserts and get back to our light, airy, nearly guiltless ones. 

This porridge-like dessert is slightly sweet but not overbearingly so.

The porridge includes coconut milk and mangoes. There are tapioca pearls and rice flour balls to enjoy, as well.

The tapioca gives it a pleasant, chewy consistency; the coconut milk makes it smooth and creamy, and the mango gives it a wonderful bit of tart sweetness.

13. Mango Pudding 

This quick, simple recipe uses only five ingredients, takes only 10 minutes to make, and requires no actual cooking.  

You’ll just mix everything, then let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. You can’t beat that kind of simplicity.

14. Samoan Cocoa Rice

I was hesitant about trying this one because it isn’t “pretty.” Aren’t all good desserts supposed to be pretty?

Finally, I gave in and gave it a try, and I learned an important lesson.

Desserts absolutely don’t have to be pretty to be fantastic.

This chocolate rice pudding is thick, filling, and has just a tiny hint of orange in it that sets off the whole thing.

15. Coconut Shortbread Cookies 

Coconut and shortbread were meant to be together. 

These cookies are super simple to make, taking only about half an hour.

They’re mildly sweet and are great when served with hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.

Dipping them in melted chocolate is also a good idea.

15 Traditional Samoan Dessert Collection


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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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