Soft, fluffy, and sweetened with pineapple juice, honey, and brown sugar, these Hawaiian Rolls are made with 10 minutes of prep time and shortened rise time. In under 2 hours, you’ll be pulling apart freshly baked, pillow-soft, homemade buns perfect for filling, dipping, or spreading!
Table of Contents
They’re Like Little Pillows!
If you’re on the hunt for a recipe for King’s Hawaiian rolls, this is a great copycat! Dare I say, these are even better? Hawaiian rolls are famous for their pillowy-soft interior, their thick, fluffy, and golden appearance, and their delicate sweet flavor.
They’re also fun to pull apart as they’re traditionally attached to one another when fresh out of the oven.
They’ve always been the perfect slider bun for everything from breakfast sliders and ham and cheese sliders to cheeseburger sliders and meatball sliders. They also make the best mini sandwiches for party platters and game day eats.
That’s not where it stops! As far as bread recipes go, this Hawaiian rolls recipe is one you’ll keep coming back to!
Fresh homemade Hawaiian buns are also just as great used as dinner rolls on the table for pasta, soups, stews, chili, you name it!
Why This Recipe Works
- Unmistakable texture. We’re not calling them pillowy soft and fluffy for nothing! It’s hard to stop at just one. Freshly baked, straight out of the oven, Hawaiian rolls are just plain addicting!
- Easy to make. If you’ve got a stand mixer, you’re laughing. Either way, this recipe is easy to follow using traditional baking staples plus pineapple juice. I also use instant yeast which means no need to activate it first.
- Tropical flavors. Pineapple juice, brown sugar, and honey come together to sweeten these rolls!
- Versatile. Even still they are not overly sweet which means they can be used for both sweet and savory fillings. Enjoy it with a spread of butter and honey, or fill it with meat and cheese, or use it to scoop up some sauce.
What Are Hawaiian Rolls?
Soft pull-apart rolls that are made from pillowy dough baked until golden and flavored with a hint of sweetness from pineapple juice, brown sugar, and honey.
Hawaiian rolls were born from the original Portuguese sweet rolls. They became popular in the 50s by King’s which originated in Hawaii and was made famous in the states. And because they tweaked the formula to be able to extend the shelf life of these rolls, they were able to mass produce them.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Pineapple juice: Bring it to room temperature ahead of time. It helps to start with all ingredients at the same temperature to ensure even baking. It’s the secret to making these Hawaiian rolls super moist!
- Warm water & warm milk: Warm liquids combined with the dry ingredients to form a dough. Warm temperatures will help the yeast. 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.
- Baking staples: All-purpose flour, packed brown sugar, unsalted butter, melted, vanilla extract, salt, instant dry yeast, and large 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.
Sometimes I’ll 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.
You can also boost the Hawaiian flavor by adding 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract (or replacing half of the amount of vanilla extract) and a pinch of ground ginger.
How to Make Hawaiian Rolls
- Combine wet ingredients. In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the dough hook attachment, whisk together the pineapple juice, water, milk, brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt.
- Form the dough. Then, add 1 1/2 cups of flour, the egg yolk, and the 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. You’ll know your dough is ready when it’s no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl or your fingers, but is still nice and soft.
- First rise. Grease the dough ball and the sides of the bowl with melted butter and cover with a warm towel. Keep it in a warm draft-free area, or if you live somewhere warm, the window in the sunshine works too. Allow it to rise for about 1 hour until it doubles in bulk.
- Divide the dough balls. Once it has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lightly floured surface and begin kneading with your hands for 1 minute. Cut the dough into 4 sections, then cut each section into 4. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place them in a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. You want to try and get each portion of dough equal in size, however, because it all gets baked together, it’s not a make or break situation if it’s not exact.
- Second rise. Cover the dish with a towel and let the rolls rise for 30 minutes until doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F. Once the dough rises, brush the tops with an egg wash if desired.
- Butter then bake. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove Hawaiian rolls from the oven and brush with a bit of melted butter and finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, if desired. Enjoy!
- 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: If you have issues with your dough it almost always comes down to the yeast! I used instant yeast for these Hawaiian bread rolls but you can use active yeast if that is what you have on hand. The difference is that instant yeast can just be added directly while active yeast needs to be 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!
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.
Absolutely, as long as you follow the instructions for your bread machine as you go.
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!
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.
What to Pair Your Hawaiian Sweet Rolls With
And of course, as mentioned above, we can’t have sliders without Hawaiian rolls!
Keep the Hawaiian rolls stored at room temperature in a container with a lid for up to 5 days.
Freeze them in a freezer-friendly bag for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature.
Warm them up in the microwave for a few seconds to get your Hawaiian rolls nice and soft again.
More Homemade Bread RecipesBrowse all
- 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
- 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!
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!