The Best Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
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Hawaiian sweet rolls are some of my family’s favorite. They are great for sandwiches, as a side with dinner, or alone with honey butter.
Hawaiian sweet rolls are my favorite dinner rolls. If we’re having bread with dinner, it’s going to be these rolls. They are made similar to my easy homemade dinner roll recipe but they’re a lot sweeter.
I got hooked on this sweetly fragrant bread thanks to King’s Hawaiian. That brand is an evil genius.
Because I love the bread so much, I just could not resist making some from scratch. And then I couldn’t resist slathering them with honey butter.
These rolls really are the best and you are sure to agree!
Why this Hawaiian sweet rolls recipe works
- This recipe yields the perfect texture, the right amount of sweetness, and it comes together easily.
- Pineapple juice lends that familiar flavor of Hawaiian bread that we all love and gives the bread a subtle sweetness which is then enhanced with a touch of honey.
- Honey butter offers extra sweetness that really takes the rolls to a new level.
Hawaiian sweet rolls ingredients
These rolls use very staple ingredients. Either Instant or rapid rise yeast can be used. I don’t recommend using regular active dry yeast, though. I’ve tested it and it just doesn’t work well with this recipe.
- Pineapple juice: Pineapple juice is what gives the rolls a sweet and slightly tangy flavor.
- Buttermilk: Also offers a slight tanginess. Be sure to use whole (full fat) buttermilk.
- Butter: Is added to give the dough some richness.
- Honey: Use a mild-honey like clover honey.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is best for Hawaiian rolls.
- Yeast: Use instant or rapid-rise yeast.
- Salt: Added to help balance the sweetness.
- Egg: Is also added for sweetness.
- Vanilla extract: Adds a little extra flavor to the rolls.
How to Make the best Hawaiian sweet rolls
This homemade Hawaiian sweet roll is made with basic bread ingredients but there are a few extras to give the bread that distinct flavor of Hawaiian bread. I use half buttermilk and half pineapple juice for moisture and flavor. The two combined have a lovely sweet and tangy profile.
The Dough – The bread needs to rise twice. Each rise is about 1 to 1 and ½ hours. So make sure you plan ahead for this.
The first rise happens once the dough is mixed together and kneaded. The second rise is after you’ve portioned and shaped the dough into individual rolls.
Step 1: Combine the wet ingredients
Mix the pineapple juice, buttermilk, butter, and honey together in a microwave-safe bowl or large liquid measuring cup. Then microwave the mixture in 30-second intervals until it reaches 110°F.
It may appear curdled at this point. That’s perfectly normal so don’t fret.
Step 2: Make the dough
A stand mixer will be your best friend with this recipe or any yeast bread recipe. It makes the process so much easier!
Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook. Add the flour, yeast, and salt to the bowl. Mix on low speed for a few seconds to get everything combined.
Leave the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in the warm pineapple juice mixture. Then add the egg and vanilla. Let the mixer run on low for about 2 minutes until dough starts to form a ball.
Increase the speed to medium-low and continue to mix for 7 minutes. The dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl but should pull away from the sides.
It’s a soft dough that will be slightly tacky. Avoid adding excess flour.
Step 3: Let the dough rise
Very lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead it briefly and shape it into a ball. Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly greased and cover with plastic wrap.
Set the bowl in a warm place to rise for 1 and ½ hours. I like to have my oven preheating and use the microwave right above it as the warm environment.
If you do not have a microwave above the stove, you can heat your oven on the lowest temperature setting then turn the oven off and set the dough inside with the door slightly cracked open.
Step 4: Shape the dough and rise again
Once the dough has doubled in volume, gently punch it down to release some of the gas. Turn the tough out onto your work surface and divide it into 15 equal-sized pieces.
Shape each piece into a ball by pulling the edges under so the top of the dough is smooth.
Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan and arrange the dough balls in 5 rows of 3. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again until doubled in size. This can take up to another 1 and ½ hours.
The rolls should be almost as tall as the top of the pan.
Step 5: Bake
Brush the tops of the rolls with melted honey butter and bake until golden brown. The honey butter will help give the rolls a rich golden color.
Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the rolls. They are done when they reach 190°F.
Brush the tops with more melted honey butter and let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes. Slide the rolls out of the pan onto a cooling rack and let them cool for another 20 minutes.
The rolls are best served warm on the day they are made.
Homemade honey butter
Homemade honey butter complements the sweet bread perfectly and can easily be whipped up in a matter of minutes.
You don’t even need a recipe for honey butter. Just take some unsalted butter, let it soften to room temperature, beat it with an electric mixer until is smooth and creamy, and slowly beat in some honey. Use as little or as much honey as you prefer.
You can store any leftover honey butter in the refrigerator and use it on toast or English muffins for breakfast!
More delicious yeast bread and rolls to try:
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Recipe adapted from Cooks Country.
I want to make these but where I live there is no instant or rapid rise yeast, just the active dry or the fresh yeast. Can I use one of them?
Active dry yeast will not be as efficient with this recipe. I’ve never worked with fresh yeast so I don’t know how it will work.
New to making buns. Are you supposed activate the yeast before adding into the flour mixture? Doesn’t say in the instructions but maybe that is implied.🙃
This recipe uses instant yeast. You don’t need to activate it first. Just follow the recipe instructions.
I’m sorry to say these were the worst rolls I’ve ever made! I normally don’t weigh my ingredients but use cups of this and teaspoons of that. Because the author stressed the importance of weighing your ingredients I thought I should so, I did. BIG MISTAKE!!! I know from making rolls from scratch for over 49 years what the dough should look like. It ended up being a very, very, VERY wet dough. That ain’t right! So I thought in order to save it, I’d add flour a little at a time until it pulled from the sides of the bowl. I don’t know how much I added and I think I overdid it. The rolls were pathetic, at best! I think I’ll stick with my good ol’ King Arthur recipes from now on.
I’m sorry you had issues with this recipe. I have had thousands of readers make it with great success. As far as a wet dough, the dough is supposed to be soft. You can see this in the photos and video. Adding more flour than the recipe calls for is going to ruin the recipe and there’s no surprise it didn’t turn out as expected.
Hello! 🙂 I’ve just made these! They are my first rolls ever! In my country, we love bread, but we are not used to cooking this type of rolls so I was a bit nervous, especially with the pineapple/buttermilk mixture. Your instructions are really clear and easy to follow and the result absolutely exceeds my expectations!! I want to use these to make Cuban sliders. You made trying this new recipe a lot of fun, thank you! 🙂 My American boyfriend said the rolls look “scrumptious”!!
Can this recipe be made in the bread maker? Any adjustments?
I’ve never used a bread maker so I can’t say if the recipe will work with one or what adjustments would need to be made if any.
I don’t have any pineapple juice (or any juice for that matter) in the house…. can I just use water?
You’ll lose that great hawaiian bread flavor.
This has become my go-to dinner roll recipe. So good! Wondering if the dough can be frozen after shaping for later second-proof/bake?
Yes, you can freeze the rolls. There’s a make-ahead section in the recipe notes that explains what to do.
You sure this wasn’t a biscuit receipt me and my grandson mad today and they look like biscuits
It’s definitely not a biscuit recipe. Biscuits are leavened with baking powder and rolls are leavened with yeast. This recipe uses yeast.
Is there any substitute for honey! Would love to try these for my family but my littlest one is under a year and can’t have honey yet.
I haven’t made them with anything other than honey.
Wow! Love the recipe and the end result is brilliant. I made slider sized rolls so 24 at 58g vs 15 at 93g. Moist, fluffy and will be delicious filled with corned beef, Swiss cheese, Sauerkraut and mustard.