hula pie

Hula pie

1 July 2015

I don’t know if its the 19 straight days of rain we’ve had since we arrived in Ohio, or the fact that an unusual number of midwest friends have gone to the islands this June, but I have sunny Hawaii on the brain. Last weekend Cynthia married her Hawaiian sweetheart on the beach, and in the spirit of aloha I made hula pie.

Hula pie is the famous dessert from Duke’s Waikiki, a rare hangout that draws tourists and locals both. In a prime spot on Waikiki beach, Duke’s proudly honors local son Duke Kahanamoku, Olympic swimmer and surf champion, and offers down-to-earth Hawaiian hospitality amid the Waikiki circus.

A mammoth slice of hula pie is not just one dessert on the menu, it’s the only dessert on the menu. I guess no one at Duke’s dines alone – and any solo diner with hula pie is sure to find himself with instant friends. I watched a video to find out how they make it so dang big.

They take a regular pie tin, press down buttered chocolate cookie crumbs for crust, shovel in a FULL GALLON of macadamia nut ice cream, and cover the frozen mountain with a lava-thick blanket of hot fudge. A single slice of Duke’s hula pie has over a pint of ice cream. One pint. One tall Hawaiian slice.

You may remember these pictures from my recap on Hawaii eats from last April. The photo minimizes it – in person it is eye-poppingly massive.

duke's hula pie

But seven of us, armed with sporks, made quick work of it.

hula pie spoons and plate

I can’t replicate the view from Duke’s for you at home, the unreal clarity of colors and the soothingly balmy sea air. But in making hula pie – and especially eating hula pie – we can bring some aloha spirit home.

dukes honolulu

You can easily buy a pre-made chocolate crumb crust in the baking aisle, but it’s quick to make one. And when you have only three elements in the pie, each one really counts.

The hardest part of making the crust is finding Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers – essentially Oreos without the filling. I found these in the baking aisle (not the cookie aisle, oddly), but you could also do with chocolate graham crackers.

chocolate cookies for crumb crust

Nabisco chocolate wafers are darker and denser than chocolate graham crackers, without the slight graininess of graham. Or you can buy regular Oreos and scrape out the sugar-Crisco filling.

famous wafers vs chocolate grahams

Mix chocolate crumbs with melted butter.

mixing crumb crust

Delicious dirt.

chocolate crumbs

A spoon works too, but a flat-bottomed measuring cup can make the crust perfectly smooth.

pressing crumb crust

What used to be a half-gallon of ice cream (8 cups) has now shrunk to a quart and a half (6 cups). I wish food manufacturers would just do an honest price increase – this sneaky package size nonsense messes with cooks.

vanilla ice cream macadamia nuts

Add nuts to taste. A whole package makes a generously nutty pie. Save some for topping later.

macadamia ice cream stir in

mixing macadamia ice cream

Pile ice cream on the frozen crust.

ice cream over crumb crust

Six cups makes a human-sized flat pie. For a gargantuan Duke’s effect, double it or go for the full gallon (16 cups).

ice cream pie

Final layer: hot fudge sauce (room temperature, not hot!).

cold fudge layer

Freeze until ready to eat.

hula pie

Duke’s somehow pops the whole pie out of the pan (the video didn’t show that part) and divides the whole shebang with a giant knife. My first two slices out of the pan were a little messy. This was my third.

hula pie top

Mild and sweet, macadamias are likable nuts. Still, fewer in the pie leaves more for true fans to sprinkle on top.

hula pie slice

After parched California, the rain in Ohio seems almost obscenely bountiful.

rainy ohio

And when the sun shines, there’s nothing but green to the horizon.

sunny ohio

Happy July! Some recipes for the 4th from the archives:

Hula Pie
Bring some aloha spirit home with hula pie from Duke’s Waikiki: macadamia nut ice cream sandwiched between a chocolate cookie crust and a fudge topping. A taste of Hawaii and a perfect summer indulgence.


  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers or chocolate graham crackers; see note)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 3-6 ounces macadamia nuts, roughly chopped (6 ounces is generously nutty; 3 ounces will be more spare, like butter pecan ice cream)
  • 1 cup dark hot fudge sauce
  • Whipped cream, for serving


  1. Add melted butter to chocolate crumbs and mix well. Pour crumbs into 9-inch pie pan and use a large spoon or flat-bottomed measuring cup to press the crumbs firmly and evenly into just the bottom of the pie pan (not up the sides). Put pan in freezer for 1 hour or more.
  2. Take ice cream out of freezer and let sit at room temperature to soften, about 15-20 minutes. Set a handful of macadamia nuts aside for topping. Add ice cream to a large bowl, along with macadamia nuts to taste. Use a large spoon to mix the nuts into the ice cream. Then pour ice cream into the pie pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top with a spoon or spatula. Put pie pan back in freezer for at least 1 hour.
  3. Spread cold fudge sauce in a thick layer over frozen ice cream pie. Put pie pan back in freezer until ready to serve.
  4. Remove pie from freezer a few minutes before serving. Use a thin-bladed knife dipped in hot water to cut pieces. Top with whipped cream and additional nuts.


  • If you can find them, Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers are best; otherwise chocolate graham crackers will do. About 16 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (or 6-7 full sheets chocolate graham crackers) = 1 cup of chocolate crumbs. You can also use Oreo cookies and scrape out the filling (or leave it in if you don’t mind a supersweet crust). Use a food processor, or put cookies in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs.
  • For a mountain-mounded hula pie like the Duke’s original, use 1 full gallon of ice cream. Add additional drizzle of hot fudge sauce when serving.
  • Many larger containers of ice cream have been sneakily downsized by manufacturers from 1/2 gallon (8 cups) to 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups). The smaller amount will make a slightly flatter pie, but it’s fine.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen 1 July 2015 at 3:57 pm

Yum! Reading this post made me practically feel the tropical breezes!


John 1 July 2015 at 6:38 pm



cg 3 July 2015 at 9:48 am



Ava 4 July 2015 at 12:24 pm

Hi! This looks good! Lets go to Hawaii again and make this together!!!!



cg 4 July 2015 at 10:51 pm

you’re on, ava! 🙂


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