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Hawaiian Rolls

Homemade Hawaiian rolls are soft and fluffy with a hint sweetness from pineapple juice. This easy copycat recipe is even better than the store bought version.

Love homemade rolls recipes? Make potato rolls, Texas roadhouse rolls and French bread rolls recipe, too.

Hawaiian rolls in a white baking dish.
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Homemade Hawaiian Rolls Recipe

This copycat recipe for homemade Hawaiian rolls has a pillowy-soft interior with a thick, fluffy golden appearance and delicate sweet flavor. As far as bread recipes go, this is one dinner roll that’s worth skipping store bought and making at home.

Fresh out of the oven this Hawaiian sweet rolls recipe is so fun to pull apart! Use them for mini sandwiches on game days or for breakfast sliders, ham and cheese sliders, cheeseburger sliders or meatball sliders.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy to make. This Hawaiian rolls recipe is easy to follow using traditional baking staples including instant yeast plus pineapple juice.
  • Pillowy soft with tropical flavor. Pineapple juice, brown sugar, and honey sweeten these rolls and fresh out of the oven, their texture is soft and addicting!
  • Versatile. Hawaiian sweet rolls can be used as a dinner roll with a spread of butter and honey, or fill them with meat and cheese for some amazing sliders.

Recipe Ingredients

These soft pull-apart rolls are made from pillowy dough baked until golden and have just the right touch of sweetness!

Hawaiian roll ingredients on counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Pineapple juice: Room temperature pineapple juice is the secret ingredient that keeps these Hawaiian rolls super moist!
  • Warm water & warm milk: Warm liquids combined with the dry ingredients to form a dough. Yeast thrives in warmth, however, if it’s too hot it’ll kill it. Too cold, it won’t rise.
  • Honey: Use whatever kind you have on hand.
  • Egg yolk: We’re using just the yolk, not the whole egg. The fat will add richness and help to slow down the gluten activity, which helps the dough to rise and expand.
  • Instant yeast: Instant yeast means you can add it to the dough right away without activating it first. Active yeast can be used but your rise time will be longer and you will need to activate/proof first for 5 minutes.
  • Butter: Melted, then cooled to slightly warm. I prefer unsalted butter in baked goods.
  • Baking staples: All-purpose flour, packed brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt.

Variations

  • Golden brown top: Add an egg wash using 1 egg and a Tablespoon of water and brush it on the rolls before baking for a deeper golden color and sheen.
  • Boost Hawaiian flavor: Add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract (or replacing half of the amount of vanilla extract) and a pinch of ground ginger.
  • Buttermilk: Replace the milk with buttermilk for even fluffier, more tender rolls.

How to Make Hawaiian Rolls

Showing how to make Hawaiian rolls in a 6 step collage.
  • Combine wet ingredients. In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment to stir pineapple juice, water, milk, brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt.
  • Form dough. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, egg yolk, and yeast. Mix on medium speed until combined, and then continue adding 1/2 cup of flour at a time, mixing to combine with each addition. The dough is ready when it pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • First dough rise. Grease the dough ball and the sides of the bowl with melted butter and cover with a warm towel or plastic wrap. Rise for about an hour until doubled in size in a warm draft-free area.
  • Divide dough balls. Once it has risen, punch it down and transfer to a lightly floured surface to knead with your hands for 1 minute. Section dough into 15 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place in buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  • Second rise. Cover dish with a towel and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Bake. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes until Hawaiian rolls are golden brown and cooked through. Brush with melted butter and enjoy!

Expert Tips

  • Fresh yeast. Always check the expiry date. There’s nothing worse than realizing your yeast is no longer active after you’ve made the dough!
  • Type of yeast: I used instant yeast for these Hawaiian bread rolls but you can use active yeast if that is what you have on hand. Active yeast will need to dissolved in warm water and sugar first.
  • Sticky dough. The pineapple juice and honey make this dough quite a bit stickier than usual. However, at a certain point, it should no longer be sticky, but soft.
  • Measure flour properly. Using a scale is the best way to ensure you’re using the right amount of flour. If not, use the spoon and level method, learn more on how to measure flour for best accuracy.
  • Equal-sized rolls. Again, the best way to ensure even Hawaiian rolls is to use a scale to weigh the dough. Eyeballing it is good enough for me!
Hawaiian rolls on counter in white baking dish.

Recipe FAQs

What are Hawaiian rolls?

Hawaiian rolls were born from the original Portuguese sweet rolls. They became popular in the 50s in Hawaii and from there the popularity grew. The dough is enriched with both sugar and pineapple juice which gives them a unique taste with a slightly sweet flavor.

What’s the difference between Hawaiian rolls and regular rolls?

There is a difference in flavor, although not overly sweet, there is a subtle hint of sweetness in Hawaiian rolls that isn’t found in regular rolls.

The difference in texture is thanks to the use of pineapple juice and egg yolk! Regular rolls typically don’t use eggs, and they sure don’t use pineapple juice, which adds incredible moisture and softness.

Do you taste the pineapple juice in these Hawaiian rolls?

Not as much as you’d think! It adds sweetness and moisture, but the pineapple flavoring is so subtle and masked by the honey and brown sugar as well. So, even if you’re not a fan of pineapple, you’ll still love these rolls!

Can I freeze the dough balls before baking?

Yes! Once you’ve formed the dough into the balls as directed, place them on a baking sheet and freeze them until solid. Transfer them to a freezer-safe bag and keep them frozen until you’re ready to bake them.

When you’re ready to bake them, place them in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, let them rise for 3-4 hours, and then bake as directed.

Ideas for Using Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

For breakfast, we like it with just a bit of butter and a dollop of homemade peach jam or strawberry jam. Sometimes I’ll also serve delicious orange butter or make cinnamon honey butter.

For lunch or dinner, we’ll turn to the savory filling usually like BBQ pulled pork or chicken salad, and have little sandwiches with a side of potato salad or macaroni salad.

And of course, Hawaiian roll pizza sliders are a must for any game day!

Storing Homemade Rolls

  • Storing: Keep the Hawaiian rolls stored at room temperature in a container with a lid for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing: Freeze them in a freezer-friendly bag for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature.
  • Reheating: Warm them up in the microwave for a few seconds to get your Hawaiian rolls nice and soft again.
Homemade Hawaiian rolls in a basket.

Want more easy rolls recipes? Check out Lion house rolls, Parker House rolls or garlic cheese rolls, next!

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Hawaiian rolls in a white baking dish.

Hawaiian Rolls

5 from 8 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Homemade Hawaiian rolls are soft and fluffy with a hint sweetness from pineapple juice. This easy copycat recipe is even better than the store bought version.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Rising Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 16

Video

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup pineapple juice , at room temperature
  • ¼ cup warm water (about 110°F)
  • ¼ cup milk , warmed (15 to 20 seconds in a microwave)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar , packed
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus more for tops
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract , could also do half coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour , plus more as needed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast (1 packet)

Optional: Maldon sea salt for tops; Butter and jam for serving

    Instructions

    • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook (or dough hook), whisk together pineapple juice, water, milk, brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt.
    • Add 1 1/2 cups flour, egg yolk, and the yeast. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add 1/2 cup flour at a time and continue to mix on medium speed, until the dough is no longer sticking to the sides. You’ll know it’s ready when your fingers no longer stick to the dough but it's still soft.
    • Spread butter across the dough ball and sides of the bowl and cover the bowl with a warm towel. Set by the window and let rise about 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.
    • When the dough has risen, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 1 minute.
    • Cut dough into 4 pieces. Roll each section into 4 rolls. Place in a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover with a towel and let rise 30 minutes, or doubled in size.
    • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    • Brush rolls with egg wash, if desired (see notes). Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown and the center is cooked through. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with butter.
    • Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top, if desired. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Egg wash: If you prefer the tops to have a shinier golden finish, brush an egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tablespoon of water) over the tops right before baking. 
    Hawaiian flavor: If you want to amplify the Hawaiian flavor even more, try adding 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract and add a pinch of ground ginger. 
    Storage: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container on the counter up to 5 days.
    Freezing instructions: You can freeze the baked dinner rolls by placing in a zip-top bag or freezer container. You can also place the shaped dough balls on a baking sheet and freeze. Transfer to a zip-top bag or freezer container. When ready to bake, place on a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish and let rise about 3 to 4 hours. Bake as directed.  

    Nutrition

    Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 87IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: bread
    Cuisine: American

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