Samoan food is riddled with delicious dessert food. The islands bring a unique set of tastes to anyone’s palette; in fact, some of Samoa’s main ingredients include foods like coconut, bananas, pineapple, breadfruit, and of course, taro.
Samoan desserts are quite nostalgic for many Samoan communities, but they often appeal to people of all ages, young or old. Not sure where to start? Don't worry. Here are eleven of the best Samoan desserts you can feast on!
This Polynesian dessert is best described as sweet coconut bread. The bread is often dipped in a sweet coconut caramel sauce for added richness; this combination actually makes another dessert called Fa’ausi. You can find these eaten during Samoan holidays or events.
Panikeke is mouthwatering deep-fried breakfast food that tastes like yummy ripe bananas. The word “panikeke” sounds like the English word “pancake” and the dish is even referred to as “round pancakes.” Essentially, this dish is a combination of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, ultimately topped off with powdered sugar.
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Mmmmm! This dish has many variations, but all taste sweet and delicious. You can find it usually made as tender dumplings with a milky caramel tang, great for breakfast or as a dessert. Other ways you’ll find Ko’pai made is dipped in Samoan cocoa, syrup, or coconut milk. Each varying taste of Ko’pai is identified by the color of the dish; coconut milk makes it look white, while the caramel sauce gives it a lighter brown color.
4. Pani Popo
This popular cuisine is made of Samoan’s soft sweet rolls dipped in fresh coconut sauce. As you can imagine, they are quite soft, sweet, warm, and gooey! You can make them easily at home and serve them as a side or as breakfast. This dish is very important to the people of Samoa, and for good reason: it is absolute soul food.
Suafa’i is essentially a tapioca pudding with coconut cream and bananas. It is quite versatile; you can eat this dish either hot or cold, and it can be served as a dessert or even as breakfast! Samoans make this by boiling their ripened bananas and cooking them with small tapioca pearls, which tend to cook faster than large ones.
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6. Koko Alaisa
Very popular among Samoan communities, this unique dish is made with two simple ingredients: chocolate and rice. The consistency is that of a thick soup, but can be served as a dessert or a snack. The combination sounds strange, but many people grow up with this comfort dish and continue loving it through adulthood. Koko rice is a staple to Samoan cuisine; it’s so easy to make at home, so give it a try today!
7. Pai Fala
Pai Fala is a traditional Samoan half moon pie with pineapple filling; the shape resembles that of an empanada, but has that unique Samoan pineapple flavor in the center. The outside is a crisp buttery pastry that complements the sweet custard on the inside.
Puligi is a sweet steamed Samoan coconut pudding coated with custard sauce, or simply with butter and tea; the shape resembles that of a bundt cake and is quite easy to make at home. You’ll taste a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut in the pudding itself, which is perfect for those cozy nights, especially during the Christmas season. Surely, this is one of the more popular desserts and has been around since Europe’s colonization of Samoa, since the recipe itself calls for a mixture of Polynesian and British cooking techniques. You can also find this in Fiji under the name Puteni.
9. Keke Fa’i
This dessert is a traditional Samoan baked banana loaf cake with a deep brown color. The main ingredients of this cake are ripe bananas, flour, butter, vanilla, milk, and sugar. After baking, many top it off or filled with chocolate frosting or sweetened whipped cream. The smell of baked bananas emitting straight from the oven will have you salivating.
Vaimeleni is a Samoan watermelon drink, which you can also find in Tonga as ‘Otai. Samoan recipes of this sweet watermelon drink often contain hints of coconut, giving it the right amount of sweetness for those warm island summers.
11. Banana Poi
Banana Poi is a chilled Samoan banana pudding perfect for warmer weather. The recipe is quite simple; all you need are ripe bananas, ice, and coconut milk, but you can also add lemon leaves for zest and vanilla extract.
Whether or not you have a sweet tooth, Samoan desserts always hit the spot. The natural flavors of fruits and the tenderness of pastries bring unique, nostalgic, and remarkable tastes to the table. Manaia!