How to Make Poi

Often eaten with just your fingers, poi is described as one- two- or three-finger, depending on its thickness. Below you’ll find an easy-to-follow recipe for “two finger poi.”

Traditionally, Hawaiians cooked the starchy, potato-like taro root for several hours in an imu. It was then pounded on large flat boards called papa ku`i`ai, using heavy stones called pohaku ku`i`ai. The taro was pounded into a smooth, sticky paste known as pa`i`ai and stored in air tight ti leaf bundles. Poi was created by slowly adding water to the pa`i`ai, then mixed and kneaded to the perfect consistency. It is sometimes left to ferment, giving it a unique and slightly sour taste.

Here is a simple recipe for one of my favorite Hawaiian dishes – poi.

Materials & Equipment:

  • vegetable brush
  • 2-quart pot
  • food processor
  • medium-sized silicone or stainless steel mixing bowl


  • 1 or 2 taro roots
  • water


  1. Use a vegetable brush to scrub the taro root under cold, running water. Do not peel.
  2. In a large pot, cover taro with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until taro can be pierced easily with a fork. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Peel the cooked taro and cut into small pieces. Using 2 cups at a time, put the cooked taro into a food processor bowl.
  4. Add a tablespoon of water and process until smooth. The consistency should be sticky and thick enough to stick to one finger. (Adding more water will produce “three finger poi”.)
  5. Rinse a non-reactive bowl (typically made of silicone or stainless steel) with cold water and transfer the mixture to the bowl. Slowly pour a thin layer of cool water on top of the poi and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel.
  6. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 2-4 days.

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