Aloha, Delicious: Hawaiian Rolls Recipe

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Hawaiian bread rolls”? Is the first thought of a commercial food, a bag of puffy, sweet rolls, sold at the supermarket?

Well, it’s time to shift your thinking, because this Hawaiian rolls recipe yields feathery-light rolls that are completely homemade, and completely delicious.

How to make Hawaiian bread rolls

Photos via CakeSpy

Gently sweetened with pineapple juice and brown sugar, these egg-enriched rolls have substance in spite of their light texture, with a rich, full flavor. Once you try one of these rolls fresh and warm from the oven, you might have difficulty ever going back to the commercially produced variety.

While the two rising periods called for in this recipe require some ahead-of-time planning to make these rolls, they’re very easy to make, and they keep well for several days, or up to a month in the freezer. 

Hawaiian bread rolls

Hawaiian rolls recipe

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes 16 rolls

For the sponge

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water 

For the dough

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk; reserve the egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1:

Prepare the “sponge.” In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the sponge ingredients. Let them rest for 15 minutes.


Step 2:

Add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs and yolk, and vanilla, mixing until combined.

Wet ingredients

Step 3:

In a separate bow, sift together the remaining flour, starch, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the liquid ingredients in the stand mixer bowl.

Step 4:

Begin to mix the ingredients using the paddle attachment. The mixture will start out quite sticky. Once the ingredients have come together, continue to mix and knead until the mixture becomes smooth and elastic. You can continue with the paddle attachment or switch to the dough hook.

Author’s note: I do not have a dough hook so I used the paddle attachment for 5 minutes to knead, pausing and scraping the dough that might have stuck to the bottom of the bowl and the paddle attachment a few times during the process.


Step 5:

Lift the dough out of the bowl for a moment. Lightly grease the bottom of the mixing bowl, form the dough into a ball, and place it back in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until puffy, about 2 hours.

Ball of dough

Step 6:

Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. Gently, deflate the dough. Divide it into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, until you have 16 equal pieces.

Equal portions

Step 7:

Form each piece into a smooth ball, with the seam, if any, facing down. Space the buns in the pan (two rows of 5, and one of 6).

Hawaiian bread rolls

Step 8:

Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 hour, until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Risen Hawaiian rolls

Step 9:

Mix the reserved egg white with about 1 tablespoon of water, and brush over the tops of the rolls. This will give them a shiny finish.

Brush with egg white

Step 10:

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on top.

Just baked Hawaiian bread rolls

Step 11:

Remove the rolls from the oven, and place the pan on a wire rack. Let cool for several minutes, then remove from the pan to serve warm.

Hawaiian bread roll with bite taken out

Store leftovers, wrapped, at room temperature for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

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