This simple, nostalgic German dish from the “economic miracle” era in the 50s is an absolute crowd pleaser. Buttery toast slices topped with ham and pineapple, topped with melted cheese. It´s a flavorful combo that satisfies all taste buds.
The tasty German recipe was created 1955. In the 70s and 80s, the quick dish was one of the most popular family favorite. No wonder as it is super quick to prepare and tastes delicious. For my family the dish was always a staple at parties. This delicious sweet and savory party snack is a real crowd pleaser.
The Origin - Why Is It Called Hawaii?
German Hawaii toast became popular in the 50s in Germany, where its first introduction is attributed to actor and television chef Clemens Wilmenrod in 1955.
Why is it called toast hawaii? Hawaii was at that time the main producer of canned pineapples. Plus, Hawaii sounds melodic, and you immediately have images of beautiful tropical beaches and vacation on your mind.
Originally, white bread, canned pineapple rings, and processed cheese slices were used for toast hawaii. As a garnish a cocktail cherry was placed on top. Nowadays there are all kinds of variations of this dish and often whole-wheat bread varieties, high-quality cheeses and cranberry topping are used for the dish.
In this overview you will find the classic ingredients to make a good toast hawaii and some substitutes for healthier and deluxe variations.
Originally white bread slices were used to make the famous Hawaiian toast. In Germany the kind of bread that you use in a toaster is called Toastbrot (toast bread).
You can use your favorite bread for the dish, whole-wheat and other varieties work very well.
Some German toast Hawaii recipes call for butter, other´s leave it out. I personally think that it adds the perfect buttery flavor to the dish, but if you want to save a few calories you can leave that step out.
Use cured ham or cooked ham for these open-faced sandwiches. The deluxe version can be made with real smoked Black Forest ham or Italian Prosciutto which gives the dish a saltier, more intense flavor.
Even I love fresh pineapples rings, I personally prefer for this dish canned pineapple as it is juicy and sweet. But if you prefer fresh pineapple is a great choice too. Does it need to be rings? Well, I think it does not alter the taste if you use pineapple pieces or rings but somehow for me the open-faced sandwich must be made with pineapple rings. But this is probably just a nostalgic thing.
It does not always have to be Swiss Cheese
The original was made with American cheese slices. Even we roll our eyes on processed cheese nowadays, in the 50s everything that came from the United States was modern and fancy in Germany. And be honest, did you not like an American cheese slice in your childhood?
Nowadays the German treat is usually made with Swiss cheese. I personally like Swiss or Emmental cheese best, but butter cheese, Gruyere or all kinds of other cheese variations are delicious too.
You can use the classic Maraschino cherry or the popular cranberry sauce as a topping. Cherry and black berry preserve work very well too.
How to Make Toast Hawaii
Classic German Recipe For Hawaiian Toast
- 4 slices bread
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 8 slices ham
- 4 slices pineapple rings
- 4 slices cheese
- 4 Maraschino cherries
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the meantime, toast bread slightly and drain pineapple rings.
- Butter one side of the cooled toast and place it on the baking sheet, buttered side up.
- Top each toast with two slices of ham, a pineapple ring and one slice of cheese.
- Bake for about 10 min. or until the cheese is melted and slightly brown.
- Remove from oven place a Maraschino cherry in the middle of each toast and serve immediately.