18 Creative Luau Food Ideas For Your Next Gathering (2024)

A luau is a party that can be held for almost any occasion. Traditionally, you might hold a luau for a canoe launching or a baby’s first birthday. That said, you can throw a luau for its own sake as well, bringing together friends and family for a festive time. If you don’t live in Hawaii, then how do you create the right vibe? Start with creative luau food ideas that embrace the flavor of the islands! We’ve gathered 18 of our favorite luau foods that are easy to make, diverse, and delicious.

Peerspace not only has ideas for party planners; we also have venues for hire where you can throw a luau, birthday, wedding reception, or other special event. So keep that in mind as you browse ideas for what to eat at your next luau!

1. Hawaiian pineapple tomato salsa

Bright and colorful Hawaiian tomato salsa is the best luau dip for tortilla or potato chips! It’s also very easy to make and transports your guests straight to dreams of lounging on a sandy beach in Hawaii with a bowl! While canned pineapple and mango are serviceable you’ll want fresh fruit for the best flavor. Follow this recipe and then chill it for a couple of hours before serving!

2. Fruit kabobs

Looking for an eye-catching way to serve fresh fruit? Pick your favorites (with pineapple being mandatory) for some Hawaiian fruit kabobs! You can serve these fresh, drizzle some chocolate sauce on top, or glaze them with sweet and/or spicy blends for added kick. Take your luau party up another level by booking a venue with decor and amenities to match your Hawaiian theme!

Did you know that Peerspace has luau party spaces like this beachfront patio in Los Angeles, CA? You’ll have instant access to sunshine, the beach, a full kitchen, a living room, and other essentials for a fun time by the sea!

3. Tropical Hawaiian fruity lava flow cocktail

Don’t forget about the drinks while planning your list of exciting luau food ideas! A cold, colorful cocktail is the perfect addition to the party snacks and food. Stick to the Hawaiian theme and mix some fruity lava flow cocktails for your guests! As tasty as they are beautiful, these lava flow cocktails should be garnished with some pineapple or banana pieces and a cocktail umbrella before serving!

4. Slow cooker Hawaiian meatballs

Few luau food ideas are more delicious than this three-ingredient recipe for Hawaiian meatballs! All you’ll need is meatballs, barbecue sauce, pineapple juice (or chunks), and time. Be sure to budget 3-4 hours of meal prep so your Hawaiian meatballs will be ready in time for the festivities! Paired with rice, they are an excellent main dish – or you can serve them with toothpicks as a savory side snack!

5. Spam musubi

Spam is a portable and tasty meat preparation that’s easy to transport and keeps for a long time. That made it the protein of choice throughout the Pacific region, where shipping times were long and refrigerated ships were still a few years off. Spam musubi reminds you of sushi but it’s safer for luau parties where shellfish allergies might be a concern. You can customize it further with avocado, shredded carrot, and other additions just like a sushi roll! 

Make your next gathering one they’ll never stop talking about when you utilize these awesome tropical theme party ideas!

6. Hawaiian guava cake

If you want to step away from the many pineapple-centered luau food ideas, think about making a Hawaiian guava cake for the occasion! The sweet, floral flavors of guava are a treat we don’t get enough of in the mainland United States. You might have to hunt around a bit for guava nectar or juice but it’s worth the effort! It’s slightly tangy and tastes wonderful with the rich cream cheese icing the recipe calls for.

7. Baked sweet potato wedges

Sweet potatoes are enjoyed throughout Polynesia and are a staple of Hawaiian cuisine. Instead of a whole baked potato, cut yours into wedges and season using this recipe for baked sweet potato wedges! Remember that the spice mixture can be customized to your liking; experiment with paprika, garlic powder, salt, chili powder, and other ingredients to find the right mix of sweet and spicy!

8. Ahi tuna poke bowl

Poke has taken the nation by storm but did you know the dish is a Hawaiian invention? Poke is like a sushi salad and like both dishes you can customize it endlessly with the right sauces and ingredients. Start off with this simple ahi tuna poke bowl recipe and add ingredients like seaweed, corn, and cucumber slices as needed.

While you’re at it, why not enjoy your poke bowls with friends, sunshine, and surf nearby during your luau party? After all, Peerspace has beach houses for rent in many US coastal cities!

9. Mini pineapple upside-down cakes

Cakes don’t have to be enjoyed as a large slice or two. Not when you can have mini pineapple upside-down cakes as dessert treats for a luau party! Enjoy the flavors of pineapple and cherry inside cupcake-sized portions using this recipe for mini upside-down cakes. The total preparation time is about an hour as well so you can easily have these ready for a luau party today!

10. Hawaiian fried rice

Celebrate the Asian-Pacific islander fusion cuisine of Hawaii with this fried rice dish that incorporates tropical pineapple into the mix. Hawaiian fried rice can use any protein you like but pork, chicken, or shrimp are the traditional three. Sweet and sour sauce adds further tang to the blend and flavors up the peas, broccoli, and other vegetables that find their way into the pan.

11. Slow cooker Hawaiian ribs

Bring out some barbecue flavors by making some Hawaiian ribs! We prefer ribs with meat that falls right off the bone, like these slow cooker Hawaiian ribs have. The blend of onion, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, and pineapple in this recipe comes together for the best teriyaki sauce you’ve ever made yourself! 

12. Hawaiian macaroni salad

No Hawaiian lunch plate would be complete without a scoop of macaroni salad. Hawaiian macaroni salad is made a little differently from the mainland side. It goes heavy on the mayo to make it extra creamy. Macaroni salad is the perfect accompaniment to the sweet and tangy glazes left over from the grilled meat it’s paired with!

13. Mango pineapple salsa

A few spoonfuls of mango pineapple salsa are the perfect condiment for fish, chicken, pork, and other meats. It’s also a beautiful, sweet, and tangy topping for salads and rice dishes. Or you can simply eat it plain with corn tortilla chips; mango pineapple salsa can find a place at any luau! 

Now that you’ve got venue and menu inspiration, you just need to round out your party using our favorite fun luau party games!

14. Blackened mahi mahi

Mahi mahi is the Hawaiian name for the dolphinfish or dorado, a firm textured, lean white fish that’s relatively inexpensive and easy to prepare. You’ll want to generously season the mahi mahi steaks or filets beforehand. The seasoning forms a spicy black crust as it cooks. Blackened mahi mahi is best enjoyed with a spoonful of mango pineapple salsa (see above), which adds a sweet, tangy element to the flaky fish. 

15. Pineapple pork stir fry

The fresh, sweet flavors of pineapple go well with chunks of pork and vegetables! So why not add pineapple pork stir fry to your menu of luau food ideas? This recipe takes just half an hour to complete and you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like with the right seasonings!

16. Coconut pineapple lush cake

Do you like dessert but don’t like baking? You can still impress your friends at the luau party with this no-bake coconut pineapple lush cake! From the crumbly graham cracker crust to the luscious white whipped topping, the entire coconut pineapple lush cake takes just 20 minutes to prepare. You will need to budget 3 hours for it to set in the fridge, so plan to make this well in advance!

17. Dole Whip

Dole Whip is a tropical-themed dessert that incorporates the best flavors of summer! It’s also easy to make, with just three ingredients: frozen pineapple, ice cream, and pineapple juice! Dole whip is a fruity, chilled dessert that you can serve to guests while lounging in a beachfront house like this one in Belle Harbor, NY

18. Air fryer pineapple rings

Grilled pineapple chunks and rings are a classic luau food. But did you know that you can get the same flavor for way less work using an air fryer? Air fryer pineapple rings brushed with a little butter, cinnamon, and granulated sugar come out hot and browned. You can eat them plain, add them to a fruit kabob, or use them as a topping for pork chops, salads, and other luau food ideas!

19. Shoyu chicken

key west beach house
Source: Peerspace

Celebrate Hawaii’s mixed Asian-Pacific islander heritage with shoyu chicken, a Japanese-inspired dish that uses soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar for the dark, salty glaze. Bone-in chicken thighs offer extra flavor but you can easily use chicken thigh pieces or breasts instead. Double or triple the recipe as needed for an extra-large luau party. Large-scale luaus should have a venue to match!

Did you know that Peerspace has several beach party houses where you can throw a luau while enjoying a volleyball net, firepit, and other amenities? How about this beach house in Key West, with a billiards table, pool, and easy access to the sea?

Luau food ideas: conclusion

A luau party is the best way to bring the tropics to your home, no matter how far away you are from the Pacific! With the right decorations, luau food ideas, and venue, it will be a party that people will be talking about for months to come. Let Peerspace help you further by hosting your party in one of our special party spaces. From beach houses to backyard barbecue pits, the amenities our party venues offer will ensure your luau is truly unforgettable!

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