Hawaiian rolls are soft and tender, with a hint of sweetness from the pineapple juice, brown sugar, and honey. These sweet rolls are yeast-leavened until they double in size, then watch them bake into golden pull-part rounds.
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This homemade Hawaiian rolls recipe is an irresistible treat at the dinner table or for making ham and cheese sliders. Most people don’t have the time to bake from scratch, so I cut the preparation time in half by using dried instant yeast when developing this easy recipe. After shaping them into rounds is the only time needed to ferment.
This bread recipe is an enriched sweet dough that calls for more butter, eggs, and sweetener than lean doughs like my classic dinner rolls. The result is a more tender interior with a nice golden brown, buttery crust.
There are a few different types of yeast that help bread rise. Dry instant yeast, also called “fast-rising” or “fast-acting,” reduces the fermentation time, where live organisms produce carbon dioxide and create air pockets.
It requires no initial proofing step and can be added directly to the dry ingredients and then rehydrated with the warm liquid in the recipe.
Flavoring the Hawaiian bread
What makes these rolls addicting and gives them an island twist is the addition of pineapple juice, honey, brown sugar, milk, and butter. This combination adds a hint of sweetness and helps to make the bread more tender, but it also makes it stickier to work with.
Add some additional all-purpose flour when kneading, but not too much, or they’ll become too dense. It’s okay for the dough to be slightly tacky.
Don’t kill the yeast!
The yeast used in baking is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is dormant when dried but activates in warm and wet conditions that contain carbohydrates like bread dough. It’s imperative to add liquids between 120 to 130ºF (49 to 54ºC) so that the dough rises.
This temperature range wakes them up and keeps them alive. Too low, and they don’t activate. Any higher and they will die. If the dough does not rise, it’s a strong indicator that the yeast was killed.
Best way to portion the rolls
The most accurate way to portion the dough is to weigh them on a digital scale. This formula makes between 2.5 to 2.75 ounce (71 to 78 grams) dough balls, so target that weight.
Otherwise, do your best eyeballing the dough, pinching off pieces to bulk up others if needed. Since they’re all baked together, it’s okay to be close but not exact.
Cutting down the rise time
Instant yeast is highly active. Therefore, it only needs to rise for about 30 to 60 minutes after rolling into balls. After mixing with a dough hook, give 10 minutes to allow the gluten to rest so it’s easier to cut and shape.
Typically dough needs two rise steps, one right after mixing for 1 hour, but the instant yeast cuts the time in half. I recommend making a simple oven proofing box to create the optimal warm, humid environment for the dough to rise correctly.
Storing, freezing, and reheating
These Hawaiian rolls taste best served warm the same day, but they can be stored in a resealable bag or airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
- Room temperature rolls: Reheat in the microwave on high power for 30 to 60 seconds or in the oven at 300ºF (149ºC) for 10 to 15 minutes on a sheet pan.
- Frozen rolls: Reheat in the microwave on high power for 60 to 75 seconds or in the oven at 300ºF (149ºC) for 15 to 20 minutes on a sheet pan.
Serve these with
Can active dry yeast be used?
Yes! Active dry yeast can be used instead of instant yeast. About 1.33 times more must be added for the same fermentation power, 18.2 grams for this recipe. This type of yeast requires rehydrating in warm water first between 100 to 110ºF (38 to 43ºC), then two rise steps after kneading and shaping for about 1 hour each.
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- 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
- 4 1⁄2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1⁄2 cup whole milk, plus 1 tablespoon (15ml), divided
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 1⁄3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Prepare the Ingredients – Add 5 cups (710g) flour, yeast, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a hand whisk to combine. Add the brown sugar, 1 egg, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.In a microwave-safe bowl, add 1⁄2 cup (120ml) milk, pineapple juice, 6 tablespoons (84g) melted butter, and honey, and whisk to combine. Microwave in 20-second increments until the mixture reaches 120 to 130°F (49 to 54°C), about 90 seconds.
- Knead the Dough – Set the mixer with a greased dough hook to low speed and gradually add the warm liquid mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed to incorporate. Knead the dough on low until it begins to pull away from the bowl, 2 minutes.Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is elastic and smooth in texture, about 7 minutes. The dough should start to clear the sides of the bowl but will be sticky on the bottom. Add 1⁄4 cup (36g) of additional flour, mixing on low speed for 1 minute. Add another 1⁄4 cup (36g), if needed, until the desired texture is achieved and a slightly sticky ball forms. Use as little added flour as possible.
- Rest the Dough – Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Shape the Rolls – Cut the dough into 18 even-sized pieces, about 2 ½ to 3 ounces (71 to 81g) in weight. Roll the pieces into balls with smooth tops, lightly flouring the work surface as needed.
- Let the Dough Rise – Place the dough balls into the greased pan, 3 balls per row, 6 rows total. Leave about 1⁄2 inch around the corners of the pan. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place it in a warm, draft-free area. Allow the dough to rise and double in size for 30 to 60 minutes. They should be touching each other and nearly filling the pan.
- Preheat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C).
- Brush with Eggwash – In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of milk. Brush the egg wash on the tops and sides.
- Bake – Place the pan in the oven and bake until golden brown and shiny on the surface, 18 to 25 minutes. Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.
- Cool Briefly and Serve – Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Brush the rolls with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Remove them from the tray and serve immediately while warm.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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