The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Mouthwatering Hawaiian Plate Lunch

If you’re craving a taste of Hawaii but can’t hop on a plane, why not bring the flavors of the islands to your own kitchen? A Hawaiian Plate Lunch is the perfect way to transport yourself to the sandy beaches and tropical paradise of the Aloha State. In this article, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to create an authentic and delicious Hawaiian Plate Lunch right at home.

What Makes a Hawaiian Plate Lunch?

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Hawaii, chances are you’ve indulged in a plate lunch. It’s the quintessential island meal that locals and tourists alike can’t resist. Traditionally, a plate lunch consists of two scoops of sticky rice, a generous portion of mac salad, and an “entrée” of your choice. The entree options are vast, ranging from grilled teriyaki chicken to Kalua pork or teriyaki beef. Some plate lunches even feature unique options like chicken katsu, shoyu chicken, shrimp, hamburger patties, mahi-mahi, BBQ chicken, or spam. The possibilities are endless, depending on where you go.

Plate Lunch vs. Mixed Plate: What’s the Difference?

Before we dive into the details, it’s essential to understand the distinction between a plate lunch and a mixed plate. While the two may seem similar, there’s a crucial difference. A plate lunch typically consists of one large serving of a single entree, while a mixed plate offers a combination of two or more smaller entree servings. If you’re like me and love trying a little bit of everything, the mixed plate is the way to go!

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The Perfect Rice for Your Plate Lunch

Rice is a staple in Hawaiian cuisine, and choosing the right type is crucial for an authentic plate lunch experience. Most plate lunches use sticky rice, with Calrose rice being a popular choice. Jasmine rice and long-grain white rice won’t give you the desired texture, and if you’re aiming for true authenticity, pass on the brown rice. While the rice is usually served plain, some restaurants elevate the flavor by adding a touch of sauce or brown gravy. You can also season your rice with a bit of salt and pepper for an extra burst of flavor.

The Essential Hawaiian Mac Salad

No Hawaiian Plate Lunch would be complete without the iconic Hawaiian macaroni salad. It’s a must-have addition that brings everything together. There’s something magical about combining a scoop of mac salad with a bit of rice and a mouthwatering piece of meat in every bite. This heavenly mix of mayonnaise-coated macaroni is a true indulgence that you simply can’t skip.

Mouthwatering Entree Options

Now let’s talk about the star of the show – the entrees! Grilled teriyaki chicken is a classic and widely loved choice. It’s a safe option for those who want to try something familiar with a Hawaiian twist. Remember, though, if you’re looking for the best flavor, opt for chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts.

Another fantastic choice is Hawaiian beef teriyaki. Thinly sliced, tender beef with a delicious marinade is sure to satisfy your taste buds. If you have any leftover marinade, consider using it to enhance the flavors of your beef and even drizzle it over your rice for a tasty beef stew effect.

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For pork lovers, Kalua pork is a must-try. While traditionally it is cooked in an underground pit, we have a “cheater” version that uses a slow cooker to achieve the same tender and flavorful shredded pork. Adding cabbage to the mix gives it that extra touch of authenticity.

Creating Your Own Hawaiian Plate Lunch

Now that you know all the components of a fantastic Hawaiian Plate Lunch, it’s time for you to embark on your culinary adventure. We’ve provided tried and true recipes for each element, guaranteeing an unforgettable meal that will transport you to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Don’t forget to serve your plate lunch with a side of fresh pineapple for the complete Hawaiian experience.

To get started, you can find all the recipes you need to make your Hawaiian Plate Lunch at Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. They have a wide selection of mouthwatering Hawaiian recipes that are sure to delight your taste buds.


Hawaiian Plate Lunches are more than just a meal; they’re an experience that captures the essence of Hawaii’s rich culinary culture. With the right combination of rice, mac salad, and delectable entrees, you can transport yourself to paradise without leaving your home. So, gather your ingredients, put on some tropical tunes, and get ready to create a Hawaiian Plate Lunch that will leave you dreaming of sandy beaches and swaying palm trees. Aloha!