We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

What Is A Hawaiian Burger? The Famous Pineapple Debate

Norah Clark
Hawaiian burger

A Hawaiian burger primarily features freshly grilled pineapple and a chutney of your choice, such as a tomato-based chutney, onion marmalade, or the classic sriracha mayo. The perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors.

Popular in both the USA and UK, you’ll find the Hawaiian burger on the menus of numerous burger joints and takeaways.

Having made Hawaiian burgers for years in restaurants, I’ve mastered the art of crafting the perfect burger patty and grilling it to perfection.

Read on to learn about the essential components of Hawaiian burger recipes, whether to use fresh or canned pineapple, assembling the burger, and other useful tips.

What Is A Hawaiian Burger Made Of?

A Hawaiian burger is a unique and flavorful burger combining sweet and savory elements. It typically consists of the following ingredients: a juicy beef patty, grilled pineapple, cheese, and a flavorful sauce, all served on a soft bun.

The Hawaiian burger goes by different names, depending on the restaurant or region. Some of the names you might come across include:

  1. Aloha Burger
  2. Hula Burger
  3. Pineapple Burger
  4. Tropical Burger
  5. Island Burger

Regardless of the branded name, the essential components of a Hawaiian burger remain the same – as long as there is bright yellow, fresh pineapple!

The History Of The Hawaiian Burger

Surprisingly, the Hawaiian burger’s origin isn’t solely attributed to the inclusion of exotic pineapple reminiscent of the tropical island of Hawaii.

In fact, it all began with a burger!

Hawaii Island - home of the Hawaiian burger. Credit: BigIslandNow.com
Hawaii Island – home of the Hawaiian burger. Credit: BigIslandNow.com

The Hawaiian burger was first created in 1949 at the Lincoln Grill restaurant in Hilo, Hawaii, by husband and wife owners Richard and Nancy Inouye.

The inception of this unique burger occurred when a group of young teenagers requested an affordable, quick, and different alternative to a sandwich.

Richard decided to grill up some pineapple and paired it with a beef patty. Thus, the pineapple burger was born.

Another intriguing twist to the Hawaiian burger’s history involves die-hard American McDonald’s fans who claim Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, invented the original Hawaiian burger called the Hula Burger in 1963.

McDonalds back in 1963.
McDonalds back in 1963.

This burger, a simple combination of bun, pineapple, and cheese, was comprised to attract Catholics who refrained from eating meat on Fridays, resulting in a significant loss of sales on Fridays. Their answer was grilled pineapple ring in between a soft bun. 

McDonald's 'Hula Burger' back in 1963.
McDonald’s ‘Hula Burger’ back in 1963.


Damn Tasty Hawaiian Burger Recipe

To create the juiciest and most flavorful Hawaiian burger, these are the key ingredients you need for the Hawaiian burger recipe:

  • Buns: Choose any style that appeals to you! A soft bun is usually best. Toast the buns in butter for added flavor and texture.
  • Lettuce: Gem lettuce is a great choice, as a single leaf provides crunch and an attractive presentation.
  • Meat: Use 80/20 ground beef for the juiciest burgers. Alternatively, 4-6 oz patties are sufficient.
  • Note: for the real effect of a smashed ground beef burger, make sure to use a good burger press. Read my review of the best burger presses.
  • Cheese: Havarti cheese pairs well with Hawaiian Burgers due to its sweetness. Alternatively, use cheddar, Monterey Jack, or plain mozzarella.
  • Pineapple: Hawaiian burgers feature sweet grilled pineapple for a unique flavor combination. Ensure your pineapple is ripe, and slice it thickly so the juices caramelize on the grill.
  • Red onions: Add some tanginess to balance the sweetness of the pineapple.
  • Hawaiian sauce: Drizzle Hawaiian Woodfire Marinade on your burgers after cooking for extra juiciness and flavor.
  • Sriracha mayo: Mix mayonnaise and sriracha, but go easy on the sriracha to avoid overpowering the other flavors. If you prefer, you can use teriyaki sauce instead of sriracha mayo.

Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients

Teriyaki sauce ingredients can vary depending on the recipe but typically include soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), sake (Japanese rice wine), brown sugar, and ginger.

Some recipes may also include garlic, sesame oil, or honey for depth of flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of meat is on a Hawaiian burger?

A Hawaiian-style burger typically features either ham or SPAM, which is a canned pork product, along with pineapple for a sweet and savory flavor combination.

What is a Hawaiian hamburger bun?

A Hawaiian hamburger bun is a soft, slightly sweet roll made with ingredients like pineapple juice, honey, and sometimes potato flour, giving it a unique, tropical taste.

What is a burger with pineapple called?

A burger with pineapple is often referred to as a Hawaiian burger, as it combines the tropical flavors of pineapple with a juicy beef patty, usually topped with ham or bacon.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

Back to Boyd Hampers Magazine

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 4