Hawaiian Raspberry Ribbon Pie

Kamai’ina Favorite
A Pie for the Non-Baker

Making Hawaiian Raspberry Ribbon Pie

Hawaiian Ribbon Pie, Finished with Macadamia Garnish

This pie is a favorite of the Kamai’ina, or old-time Hawaiian settlers, many of whom came from New England.  It is delicious and very attractive.

It also has one other strong point, if you don’t enjoy baking, as it doesn’t need to be baken in the oven.  You do need to make the crust, however.

This pie, also called simply Raspberry Ribbon Pie, has been popular among old Kamai”ina (long-time resident) families for generations.

Macadamia Nuts

Except for one local touch — the Macademia Nut garnish — the recipe appears practically the same as some Mainland American versions.

The recipe, while delicious, illustrates the point that many of the old New England families remained faithful to their American antecedents in cooking, even when surrounded by Polynesia.

Raspberries have been grown in the Islands since the late 19th century, so they can be considered a local fruit. [1] The Macadamia Nuts, originally from Australia, have now developed an association with Hawaii.

Raspberries, Frozen

Frozen Raspberries

Originally the Raspberries would have been local and the Raspberry jelly made from scratch using plain Gelatine with flavors and colors, but commercial Jell-O seems to have taken over even in the most authentic households.

The other key ingredients would all come from the food markets run by the Big Five in the old days. A similar Hawaiian dish that is not very Pacific and more supermarket is Broken Glass Torte, a culinary curiosity the children seem to enjoy.


Pie Crust

Pie Crust

1 9-inch Pie Crust, preferably Graham Cracker
2 – 4 tablespoons chopped Macadamia Nuts, depending on your preference, for garnish1 large package Red Raspberry Jell-O
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 packages frozen Red Raspberries, defrosted, total 14-16 ounces
½ cup Sugar
2 cups boiling Water
2 pints Whipping Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 ounces Cream Cheese
½ cup Powdered Sugar


Macadamia Nuts

First take care of the Pie shell: Begin by pricking the frozen pie crust on the sides and bottom with a sharp fork many times.  The frozen crust should come up to room temperature.  Bake in a preheated oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit, about 7 – 8 minutes, or according to package instructions and cool while preparing the rest of the pie.

Also, chop the Macadamia Nuts for the final garnish and set them aside.

Then prepare the two mixtures, the Raspberry mixture and the Cream mixture.

For the Raspberry Mixture, first, dissolve the Jell-O and Sugar in the boiling water and Lemon Juice.  Add the thawed frozen Raspberries and refrigerate until the mixture is slightly jelled.

Raspberry Jello

Raspberry Jell-O

It will take about an hour and a half, perhaps longer, for the Raspberry mixture to become semi-solid and easy to handle with a spatula.  This stage is critical; otherwise, the layers won’t come out right.

While the Raspberry mixture is cooling, prepare the Cream mixture:In the old days the Kamai’ina settlers must have used hand mixers, and this part was very laborious.  A modern electric mixer makes this part easy:

First, soften the Cream Cheese at room temperature, and add to the Whipping Cream, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract and whip until still.  This tends to splatter until the whipping is pretty well advanced, so if you start at low speed, as the Cream mixture becomes firmer, you can gradually increase the speed and finish at high speed producing a firm white Cream mixture.  Refrigerate this until the Raspberry mixture is ready to spread.

Hawaiian Raspberry Pie, Assembling the Pie

Hawaiian Raspberry Pie, Assembling the Pie

After the Raspberry mixture is sufficiently jelled to handle with a spatula, place a layer of the Whipping Cream mixture on the bottom of the pie shell, followed by a layer of the Raspberry mixture, then another layer of Cream and so on, alternative, until the pie shell is full, laying down at least five layers.

Finish with a layer of the Cream mixture on top.  We chop up enough Macadamia Nuts to make a garnish for the top Cream layer, from 2 to 4 tablespoons worth, depending on your preference for the nuts.

This pie is refrigerated at least six to eight hours or overnight before serving.

Hawaiian Raspberry Ribbon Pie, Cross-Section

Hawaiian Raspberry Ribbon Pie, Cross-Section

Again, the dessert, although delicious and definitely authentic Kamai’ina fare, is not specially local in ingredients or cooking styles.  It does illustrate the kind of dishes that get served in modern Hawaiian cuisine.

Depending on how you slice it, this would serve from 6 to 8 people.

For Further Information:

[1] On the authentic Hawaiian nature of the ingredients: Henry M. Whitney, The Hawaiian Guide Book (Honolulu: Henry M. Whitney, 1875). Almost all species were introduced to Hawaii by the early settlers and later arrivals. Whitney describes how the cattle and dairy industries were well established by the time of King Kamehameha V (1863-1874), and dairy products were commonly available by the 1870s.  He adds, “Among berries, are the gooseberry, strawberry, raspberry, etc.”Macadamia Nuts were a later arrival from Australia.

Hawaii - Whitney's Guide

Whitney’s Guide to Hawaii, 1875


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