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Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
This copycat recipe for homemade soft & buttery Hawaiian sweet rolls is insanely fluffy and perfectly sweet, topped with a salted honey glaze. Best of all, they're SO easy to make, and they're perfect for a dinner side or for making Hawaiian bun sliders!
These rolls were made with Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast (also known as instant yeast). I actually use Fleischmann's® RapidRise® Instant Yeast in most of my homemade bread recipes because it makes the rising time much, much faster without sacrificing any quality AND yields super soft, fluffy, and great-tasting dough every single time. Can you say win-win?!
Now, I know a lot of people are nervous when it comes to making yeasted bread at home, but I’m telling you that you have nothing to worry about! It’s not as complicated as you think! If you’re still nervous, the Fleischmann’s® Yeast website is an amazing resource for tips and tricks to help you get started and ensure that your baking turns out great!
What are Hawaiian Sweet Rolls?
Hawaiian rolls are sweet, soft, small round rolls that are infused with pineapple juice and a bit of honey; they make great Hawaiian bun sliders, and they have a very subtle sweet flavor which is what makes these rolls unique. And in the case of these homemade Hawaiian sweet rolls, they're brushed with a healthy amount of honey-butter right out of the oven... YUM! Hawaiian rolls first came to popularity in Hawaii in the 1950s, but the roots of these rolls can be traced back to Portugal by way of the Philippines.
You don't need much for this Hawaiian sweet bread recipe; here are the necessary ingredients:
- All-purpose flour: I've experimented with different flours and found that all-purpose consistently leads to the best results; plus, that's what most people have on hand
- Fine sea salt: helps to control the yeast, so don't skip it
- Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast: my favorite yeast! It's fast-acting and super reliable; what's not to love?!
- Pineapple juice: the secret ingredient for these homemade Hawaiian sweet rolls; it adds sweetness with a bit of a bite (don’t worry that the pineapple flavor will be overpowering, it’s quite subtle, I promise)
- Milk: liquid is what activates the yeast; for the softest dinner rolls, use whole milk (nondairy or low fat milks work too, but whole milk produces a better flavor and texture)
- Butter: promises a soft, flavorful dinner roll
- Honey: feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough while providing the perfect amount of sweetness
- Vinegar: adds a little extra tang, similar to the pineapple juice
- Vanilla extract: for just a subtle hint of vanilla
- Eggs: one egg in the dough to help provide structure; one egg for the egg wash that's brushed on right before baking
The honey butter glaze is simple to make as well! Literally just requires you to melt butter and honey together and then brush all over the freshly baked rolls. The honey butter soaks into all the cracks and crevices and the flaky sea salt makes that honey flavor pop.
How to Make Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Prep: In a small saucepan, combine the pineapple juice, milk, honey, and butter and place over medium-low heat until warmed (120°F/48°C to 130°F/54°C).
Combine: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast, and salt. Add in the warm mixture, followed by the egg, vanilla, and vinegar. Stir until combined and a shaggy dough forms.
Knead: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough forms a soft, smooth ball.
Rest: Place the dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before shaping.
Spray: Lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
Divide and Rise: Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 15 equal portions. Form the dough into balls and place in the prepared pan. Cover again with the towel and allow the dough to rise for 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Egg Wash: Whisk together the egg and water. Lightly brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash.
Bake: Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve: Brush baked rolls with honey butter while warm and sprinkle flaky sea salt on top, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Troubleshooting & FAQ
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I use active dry yeast instead?
Technically, yes! But you'll need to add the yeast to the warmed pineapple juice and milk mixture and let sit for 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Also, your rolls will require two longer rises instead of just one; one rise will need to be done after kneading the dough and one after shaping the dough!
Can I make these Hawaiian sweet rolls with bread flour instead of all-purpose flour?
Sure! Just note that using bread flour will yield a slightly chewier dinner roll due to the higher protein content!
What's the best way to shape these Hawaiian sweet rolls?
To shape the dough into balls, I use the pinch and claw method. You basically pinch and fold the seams of the dough inwards to make a rough ball shape, then use your hand in a claw shape to roll the dough into a perfect circle. You can see an example of me doing this in the recipe video below!
Can I make these Hawaiian sweet rolls ahead of time?
Absolutely. You can let the shaped rolls rise overnight in the fridge. Just let them sit at room temperature for about an hour, until puffy and not so cold, before baking as the recipe directs.
Can I freeze these Hawaiian sweet rolls?
Yup! You can freeze the fully baked rolls in an airtight container. Thaw to room temperature overnight before reheating in a 300°F oven for 10 minutes. You can also bake straight from the freezer at 300°F for 20 to 25 minutes, though this method may produce dryer rolls.
How long do Hawaiian rolls last?
Cover any leftover rolls and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. If you freeze them, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and then warm them up in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 minutes.
How do you cut Hawaiian rolls in half?
One roll is easy to split in half using their a knife or just your hands to pull them apart in the middle. However, if you want to use these dinner rolls to make Hawaiian bun sliders, the best way to cut them in half is by removing all of the rolls from the pan while still connected (don't pull them apart!). Then just take a sharp bread knife and slice them in half from one end to the other! From there, you can load them up with your favorite sandwich fillings!
Help! My dough isn't rising! What's wrong?
Yeast has a "use by" date. As it moves beyond that time, it loses its oomph. Check the date printed on the package to make sure it's within its usable life.
If your yeast hasn't expired, then you likely accidentally killed it by adding liquids that were too hot. The ideal temperature of the pineapple juice/milk/honey/butter mixture is between 120°F (48°C) and 130°F (54°C); I recommend getting an instant-read thermometer to ensure you don't waste your ingredients!
Help! My Hawaiian sweet rolls are tough! What did I do wrong?
Are your dinner rolls not as soft & fluffy as you'd like? Sounds like too much flour was the problem! If you used cup measures as opposed to weight measures, your ingredients were probably a little off. As weird as this sounds, measuring cups aren’t as accurate as you think and it's easier to use too much or too little of an ingredient when using volume measures. This is why I list ingredients by grams first and why you should really be measuring by weight with a kitchen scale instead—it’s much more reliable and completely eliminates any inconsistencies.
If you used weight measures and are STILL experiencing issues, then you might be adding and incorporating too much flour when kneading and shaping the dough, so just keep an eye on it! A sticky dough can be tough to work with, but the higher moisture content is what makes for super soft and tender dinner rolls.
Help! My Hawaiian sweet rolls are pale! What did I do wrong?
Did everything right but your rolls look dull? You may have forgotten the egg wash! Egg wash gives baked goods a golden shine If they're already baked and they look pale and dry, a drizzle of melted butter can help shine them up right before serving.
*Originally posted October 27, 2021*
*Blog post updated January 19, 2023*
Soft & Buttery Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
For the Hawaiian Sweet Rolls:
- 530 g all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 14 g Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast
- 180 g pineapple juice
- 90 g milk
- 60 g unsalted butter melted
- 85 g honey
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 large egg (50g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Egg wash: 1 large egg (50g) beaten with 1 tablespoon (15g) water
For the Salted Honey Butter Glaze:
- 30 g salted butter melted
- 20 g honey
- flaky sea salt to finish (optional)
To Make the Hawaiian Sweet Rolls:
- Combine 4 cups (500g) of the all-purpose flour, fine sea salt, and both packets of Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast in a large bowl.530 g all-purpose flour, 1½ teaspoon fine sea salt, 14 g Fleischmann’s® RapidRise® Instant Yeast
- In a small saucepan, heat the pineapple juice, milk, butter, and honey over medium-low heat, stirring often until warm (120°F/50°C to 130°F/55°C). Add to flour mixture and stir using a Danish dough whisk/spatula.180 g pineapple juice, 90 g milk, 60 g unsalted butter, 85 g honey
- Add the egg, vinegar, vanilla, and remaining ¼ cup (30g) of flour and continue stirring until a shaggy dough forms.1 teaspoon white vinegar, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough back to the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and weigh the dough, then divide it into 15 equal-sized pieces and shape them into balls. Place in a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 60 to 75 minutes.
- While the rolls are proofing, adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Once proofed, lightly brush the tops with the egg wash and then bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. While the rolls are baking, make the salted honey butter glaze.
To Make the Salted Honey Butter Glaze:
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Once fully melted, remove from heat and stir in the honey until well combined.30 g salted butter, 20 g honey
- Once you remove the baked rolls from the oven, immediately brush the tops with the salted honey butter glaze and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if using. Allow the rolls to cool in the pan. (To reheat room-temperature rolls, wrap in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 minutes.)flaky sea salt
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