Toast Hawaii

Toast Hawaii

10 min
Toast Hawaii blends the savoury with the sweet in a simple yet irresistible toast. Originating from Germany but full of flavours from Hawaiian cuisine, this classic toast recipe marries the richness of ham and melted cheese with the bright, fresh zing of pineapple, all topped with a cheerful cherry.


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-assisted oven).
  • Place ham, pineapple, and cheese on the bread. Place the bread on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  • Garnish with cocktail cherries.

Canned pineapple rings are the most common choice for toast Hawaii. They are consistently sweet and tend to be softer than fresh pineapple, which means they blend well with the toast ingredients during the brief oven time. But you can also use fresh pineapple for a brighter, tangier flavour and a firmer texture. Make sure the pineapple is ripe and sweet, and slice it into thin rings so it heats through easily in the oven.


The traditional cherry garnish is a maraschino cherry. These cherries are sweet, brightly coloured, and preserved in a sugar and cherry juice syrup. But you can use any type of cocktail cherry if you prefer a less sweet option or want to try something different.


Use leftover bread for your toasts, as this will give you the crispiest, sturdiest base for the other ingredients. Stale, slightly dry bread crisps up easier when toasted, oven-baked, or grilled, meaning it will provide the best base for your gooey, moist, cheesy toppings.


4 slices
Cooked ham, sliced
160 g
Pineapple rings
Cheese, e.g., Emmental or Gouda
4 slices
Cocktail cherries

Make a classic toast Hawaii

Toast Hawaii is an easy, indulgent, savoury treat you can easily enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or as an afternoon snack. It combines the savoury flavour of ham with the sweet and juicy taste of pineapple, all topped with melted cheese on a crispy slice of toast.

Savoury with a sweet tropical twist

Combining a distinct blend of sweet and savoury flavours, toast Hawaii features the salty flavour of ham and the sweet, fresh flavour of pineapple. The result is a cheesy, mouthwatering, exotic toast that transports your taste buds to a tropical paradise. The cheese adds a rich and creamy texture, tying all the ingredients together. Whether you are a fan of sweet or savoury flavours, this cheesy toast has it all and will leave you wanting more.

Open-faced sandwich with a cherry on top

Toast Hawaii is a classic German open-faced sandwich. It stands out from regular toasts that have a top and bottom slice of bread, which means you get to enjoy the view of the filling instead. It is traditionally topped with a vibrant cherry that adds a pop of colour and a hint of sweetness, balancing the tangy pineapple and creamy melted cheese.

Emmental and gouda are good choices for this toast, known for their excellent melting properties and mild, slightly sweet flavours, which harmonise beautifully with the ham and pineapple. Emmental melts smoothly, adding a creamy richness, while gouda offers a subtle caramel sweetness, enhancing the indulgent, velvety texture of the toast.

Try other toast recipes, such as our classic ham and cheese toast, similar to this one. We also have a cream cheese mushroom toast, an avocado toast with paprika, or, for a sweet finish to a meal, a banana toast with nut butter.

Why is it called toast Hawaii?

This delicious toast recipe is called toast Hawaii because of its tropical-themed topping. Particularly the pineapple, which is often associated with Hawaiian cuisine. It does not, however, have anything to do with Hawaii, as it originated in Germany.

It was created in the 1950s by Clemens Wilmenrod, Germany's first television chef, and it reflects the post-war fascination with American and exotic influences in Europe. A slice of toast layered with ham, a pineapple ring, melted cheese and garnished with a cocktail cherry, toast Hawaii captures the essence of a tropical paradise, evoking the warm, vacation-like allure of Hawaii. It became an instant classic in mid-20th-century cuisine, and it is still a favourite around the world.

Make it your own

Transform the classic toast Hawaii into something new and innovative. Cream cheese adds a creamy, smooth texture that melts beautifully under the heat. Neutral cream cheese offers a subtle tang that complements the sweet and savoury flavours without overpowering them. For a more adventurous twist, flavoured cream cheeses − such as herb, garlic, or pepper − introduce additional layers with different taste notes.

Instead of ham, use turkey or chicken, or make a deluxe version by adding toppings such as sliced peppers, onions, or mushrooms, as well as a sprinkle of herbs such as oregano or basil. You can also make a spicy version with a slice of jalapeño or a dash of cayenne pepper before topping with cheese. Substitute the pineapple with cranberry jelly for a sweet but tart flavour, or make a BBQ version with BBQ sauce under the cheese or drizzled over the top to give it a smoky flavour. Alternatively, use salami or pepperoni instead of ham for a robust and almost pizza-like flavour, and consider adding a slice of tomato or a sprinkle of fresh parsley for a fresh, vibrant finish.