Delicious Hawaiian Barbeque on the islands, a favorite local dish with easy recipes to follow (updated 2023)

Everyone love’s Hawaiian Barbeque, but what is it exactly? With so many riffs on what Hawaiian barbeque actually is, we are sharing this quick guide to what inspired in the food world to what Hawaiian barbeque really is and the different inspiration to creating unique marinades, sauces and cooking barbeque styles that create this idea of local barbeque style on the islands. In my experience of eating out and making my own food on the islands, Hawaiian barbeque style is amazing.

What is Hawaiian Barbeque style?

Hawaiian barbeque in Hawaii encompasses a variety of cooking styles, sauces and marinades and even how to prepare a grill using local woods or gas to cook with. You’ll find all the typical recipes below easy to follow with basic ingredients that are typical of most barbeque recipes.

What is Hawaiian Barbeque style?

Hawaiian barbeque vs American barbeque style

This is some subtle difference between Hawaiian barbeque style and popular American Barbeque sauces and marinades used for grilling. Most Hawaiian barbeque typically utilize some tropical flavors like passion fruit, pineapple or even Asian inspired like soy sauce, sesame oil or other local inspired ingredients to create a blended marinade or sauce that has a tropical or Asian inspired flavor and sauce. A Hawaiian inspired dipping sauce or marinade is perfect for many meat and seafood dishes like Hawaiian style pulled pork, fish, chicken or some other seafood. Most American style marinades in comparison create sauces using ketchup, garlic, worchestershire sauce, vinegar, olive oil and various herbs and peppers to make a dry rub or marinade to cook with.

You’ll love trying the many Hawaiian infused sauces to create a more delicious bite with over tones of tropical, smoky to Asian flavorings depending on what your preference is for dipping or marinade on the dish. You can easily buy already made marinades and sauces in popular Asian and Hawaiian inspired sauces purchased at grocery or specialty food stores throughout the islands.

Is there an actual Hawaiian barbeque style of food?

What kind of meats are popular with barbeque on the islands?

Almost everything is popular for barbeque on the islands with the top choices being chicken, beef, pork, burgers, seafood and shrimp. Hawaiian barbeque flavors tend to pair very well with a variety of meats, seafood and poultry.

Can you make your own Hawaiian Style sauce?

Yes, you can create your own version of a Hawaiian style sauce, you just need to start with creating a typical base for your marinade or sauce.

Hawaiian barbeque style 7 1

Creating a base Hawaiian style BBQ sauce

The base uses basic ingredients to use in create a sauce that includes:

8 oz or tomato sauce – organic or the best brand you can buy

A half cup of vegetable oil

¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

The base for your Hawaiian BBQ sauce is the same as that for any other type of BBQ sauce: just the basic ingredients. You’ll need about 8 oz. (that’s one can) of tomato sauce (hint: choose the most natural kind for better flavor – organic is best), half a cup of vegetable oil, ¼ a cup of apple cider vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Stir together, then flavor with 3 tablespoons, plus two teaspoons, of sugar, 2 tablespoons of dried minced onion, 3 teaspoons of dry mustard, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, and half a teaspoon of garlic powder. Add kosher salt and finely ground black pepper to your individual taste. Mix the ingredients well and allow the ingredients to sit together for a short while, to absorb each other’s flavors.

Add some Hawaiian inspired flavor with these ingredients

Hawaiian style covers the gamut from sweet, tart, savory to spicy barbeque flavors. To create your personal tropical inspirations most sauce recipies includes using a variety of incredients including: pineapple sauce

soy sauce

teriyaki sauce

fresh or ground ginger

fresh garlic

brown sugar

chili pepper

liquid smoke


You can follow some of the video recipes below to give more Hawaiian sweet and savory and even some heat to your barbeque dishes.

What are the other popular side dishes to served with Hawaiian Barbeque?

Side dishes for Hawaiian barbeque does cover the gamut and similar to other popular side dishes with some tropical inspiration to include:

Pineapple coleslaw

Potato salad

Fresh corn

Macaroni salad

pasta salad

mash potato


dinner rolls

Hawaiian style potato chips

Check out these inspired Hawaiian barbeque recipes below

Where to find out local Hawaiian BBQ places around the islands?

Hawaiian barbecue, also known as “Hawaiian plate lunch,” is a popular dish in Hawaii that typically consists of rice, macaroni salad, and a meat entrée that is often grilled or barbecued. Here are some popular places in Hawaii to get Hawaiian barbecue:

Rainbow Drive-In: This iconic spot in Honolulu has been serving plate lunches since 1961, and their barbecued chicken is a must-try.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue: With locations throughout the islands and on the mainland, L&L is a well-known chain that serves up a variety of Hawaiian barbecue favorites.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food: This family-owned restaurant in Honolulu is known for their traditional Hawaiian dishes, including kalua pork and laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves).

Ono Hawaiian BBQ: Another popular chain with locations throughout Hawaii and California, Ono serves up a variety of plate lunches, including teriyaki chicken and beef short ribs.

Da Kitchen: This Maui-based restaurant has gained a following for their large portions and flavorful dishes, including their famous kalua pork plate lunch.

These are just a few of the many great places to get Hawaiian barbecue in Hawaii. Enjoy your meal!

Check out these inspired Hawaiian barbeque recipes below

With so many different meats, fishes and chicken or pork, you can barbeque so many delicious dishes like the inspiring Hawaiian style barbeque recipes. Try some or all of these recipes below and enjoy some delicious Hawaiian style barbeque today.

Try this Chicken and short ribes in a Hawaiian style bbq marinade

Ribs Hawaiian Style

Huli Huli Barbeque style chicken

A very simple marinade to use for any meat dishes

What else do we like to eat around the islands?

There’s a full gamut of different foods inspired by traditional food brought to the islands, plantation style or local foods and now farm to table ingredients and food dishes made from the best ingredients on the islands.

Traditional Hawaii food

Traditional Hawaii food

The local Hawaiian food dishes are the foods of the indigenous Hawaiians who created delicious foods from Hawaiian food staples like canoe plants brought to the islands, grown fruit and vegetables, local meat sources and other sweet inspirations to finish off a meal.

These foods and other popular local foods from the plantation era where food was typically shared potluck style became more known as the local foods of the islands with the traditional Hawaiian foods as the main staple dishes.

Find out more on our post about traditional Hawaii food here for more information and delicious inspiration to trying out any of the food specialty dishes.

What is Hawaiian food?

What is Hawaiian food?

Find out more about the melting pot of cultures that combined to create Hawaiian food what it is today. From local foods shared at pot lucks to Hawaiian fusion and regional cuisine, you’ll learn a little more about the foods and culture by what we eat here on the islands.

Check out this post on Hawaiian food here for more information and inspiration on what foods we like to eat around the islands today.

Eating Poi

Eating Poi

One of the most traditional staple starch eaten on the islands and a traditional Hawaiian food favorite is poi. Made with the roots of the taro plant, poi is considered a sacred dish to Hawaiians and is a popular staple dish you’ll find served with traditional foods like Kalua pork, lau lau and lomi salmon which is the main starch that complements the salty and fatty foods of the Hawaiian diet.

Check out our post on Hawaiian poi here for more information, recipes and the story about this important food.

Hawaiian sweet potatoes

Hawaiian sweet potatoes

The original canoe plant and staple food, Hawaiian sweet potatoes are locally grown with Okinawan purple sweet potatoes. These healthy foods are used for a variety of sweet to savory dishes or simply eaten freshly steamed with their earthy and sweet taste.

Check out our Hawaiian sweet potato post here for more inspiration, recipes and the story about this very important crop grown around the islands.

Check out these other delicious Hawaiian foods and recipes below

Make your own Kalua Pork

Try some popular Hawaiian comfort foods

All about Hawaiian poke

Tropical fruits of Hawaii

Favorite snack foods of Hawaii

Hawaiian desserts you should try now

Traditional Hawaiian foods

Delicious Hawaiian breakfast

Final thoughts

Hawaiian barbecue, also known as “Hawaiian plate lunch,” is a popular and delicious dish in Hawaii. It typically consists of rice, macaroni salad, and a grilled or barbecued meat entrée, such as barbecued chicken or kalua pork. There are many great places to try Hawaiian barbecue in Hawaii, including Rainbow Drive-In, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Ono Hawaiian BBQ, and Da Kitchen. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, be sure to try this flavorful and satisfying dish!

Try out some of these ono places above or you can even make your own with the recipes we shared on this post.

Conclusion to Hawaiian style barbeque

Conclusion to Hawaiian style barbeque

If you are craving some Hawaiian style barbeque for your beef, chicken, pork or even seafood dishes, these recipes above will inspire you to try and make your own sauces to your taste.

Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Hawaiian Barbeque. I hope you are inspired to plan a visit and enjoy some delicious barbeque and try to make some of these amazing dishes at home.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.