Home Recipe Roundup 15 Traditional Samoan Recipes

15 Traditional Samoan Recipes

When I think of Samoan recipes, my mind automatically goes to coconuts, bananas, taro, rice, and lean protein.

In other words, my mind goes on a beach holiday whenever I think of Samoan anything, but the thought of Samoan food quickly makes my mouth water. 

Samoan Coconut Rolls
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In both their main dishes and desserts, Samoan chefs have always walked the sweet and savory line in a way that’s both impressive and intimidating. 

If you want to make the most of these Samoan recipes, you’ll also have to master that same balancing act.

Luckily, it’s not hard to do when you have such detailed recipes to follow!

1. Palusami (Main Dish with Corned Beef and Coconut Milk)

If you’re looking for a filling, “stick to your ribs” main dish, consider palusami. 

It’s a baked dish that combines the rich, savory flavors of corned beef, sauteed onions, minced garlic, and soy sauce with the sweetness of coconut milk and the earthiness of spinach.

It’s an assortment of bold flavors that nonetheless work well together. 

2. Fa’alifu Fa’i (Green Banana in Savory Coconut Sauce)

This island favorite isn’t too difficult to make.

Start by boiling green bananas for about 10 minutes and making a sauce with coconut cream, water, crushed onions, and salt.

Once you’ve boiled and drained your bananas, steam them and add the coconut/onion mixture into the pan. 

Let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes before removing it and allowing it to cool. Serve it as a side dish with just about anything.

3. Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is a Samoan staple that’s served with most meals. It’s super easy to make, requiring only three ingredients and about 30 minutes to cook.

To make it, you’ll just boil rice in coconut milk instead of water. 

Once it’s done, you can add salt for a savory dish, sugar for a sweet dish, or more coconut flakes for a more coconutty dish.

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4. Samoan Chicken and Coconut Rice

Samoan chicken is best when cooked in a Dutch oven. It has a thick, bold taste thanks to the dark soy sauce, garlic, onions, and ginger. 

It takes about an hour to make, but once it’s done, you can put it on a plate with some coconut rice and call it a day.

Use the sesame seeds and green onions as garnishes to add some crunch.

5. Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls)

These delicious dinner rolls are another staple of Samoan fare, and they definitely find that perfect sweet/savory balance. 

They’re baked in coconut milk, which is what adds the hint of sweetness.

They’re soft and fluffy like Hawaiian rolls, but they’re a little crispier on the outside. 

6. Sapa Sui (Samoan Chop Suey) Recipe

This dish puts a Samoan twist on the traditional chop suey recipe. 

The recipe calls for chicken, but you can add a different protein if you want, or you can leave out the meat altogether and make it vegetarian-friendly.

The chop suey flavor comes from the soy sauce, peanut oil, and onions. Add in some carrots, water, and grated ginger for a full-flavored, robust meal.

7. Panikeke (Samoan Pancakes)

This recipe is straightforward and easy to follow. 

Once you’re comfortable with it, you may want to add other ingredients – cinnamon, nuts, fruit, etc. – to suit your tastes even better.

Plus, there’s just something about round pancakes that makes me smile.

8. Kale Moa (Samoan Chicken Curry)

Once finished, the consistency of this dish is almost like a thick, hearty stew. For that reason, I like to serve it over rice when it’s time to eat.

It’s a tasty, unique dish that’s somehow sweet, salty, savory, and spicy all in one.

The sweetness comes from the coconut milk, while the curry adds the spice. 

The chicken and veggies add a savory element, and the garlic adds a slight saltiness to the mix. Overall, it’s yummy.

9. Boiled Taro With Coconut Milk

Boiled taro is a bit like boiled sweet potatoes.

You’ll make it with coconut milk, which makes it sweet, and add in enough salt to give it that sweet and salty combo that never fails to delight the taste buds.

10. Samoan Watermelon Drink

This fruity drink requires less than10 ingredients and less than 10 minutes to fix.

It combines all the tasty tropical flavors of coconut, watermelon, and pineapple with the tang of lemon juice.

Add in some sugar and ice cubes, and you’ll have a wonderfully sweet drink that’s perfect for chilling with your toes in the sand.

11. Half Moon Pies

These delicious pies are fatter, juicer versions of homemade apple pies; only they’re filled with pineapples instead of apples. 

Getting the dough just right takes a little bit of time, but when those warm, juicy pies come out of the oven, you’ll forget all about the time it took to make them.

12. Coconut Caramel Bread (Fa’ausi)

Although some native Samoans use taro as the base for their fa’ausi, this recipe calls for coconut bread, which tastes just as good.

The real treat with this bread is homemade coconut caramel. It’s simple to make. All you’ll need is caster sugar, coconut milk, and a saucepan. 

Once the mixture is done, you’ll pour it over your coconut bread, let it harden, and dust the whole thing with powdered sugar or coconut flakes.

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

This dish is basically banana-flavored tapioca pudding.

I mean that as a genuine compliment because the idea of banana-flavored tapioca pudding is mouth-watering.

It’s best served chilled, and don’t be afraid to add extra sugar for an even sweeter treat.

14. Samoan Poi (Mashed Bananas in Coconut Cream)

I’m a big fan of any banana dessert, which is certainly why I finished this list with three banana sweets in a row. 

This one’s a particular favorite of mine because it’s done in about 5 minutes.

All you’ll do is peel and mash your bananas until they’re mushy.

Then add a half-cup of coconut cream, some sugar, vanilla, and a little lemon zest. It’s super sweet with just a hint of tang.

15. Samoan Banana Cake  

If you love dark chocolate, cream, and bananas, this is the dessert for you. 

It takes only 10 minutes to prepare, and as long as your banana loaf cake is pre-made, there’s no cooking involved.

You’ll have to do some melting and stirring, though.

Split the cake to accommodate the cream filling. Then smother it in your dark chocolate frosting. If you’re a banana lover, it doesn’t get much better than that.

15 Traditional Samoan Foods


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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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