Baking Bread Summer

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls Recipe

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Homemade Hawaiian Rolls are a diy version of the famous King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls ~ these golden buns are soft, lightly sweet dinner rolls that will round out all your meals this summer.

Homemade Hawaiian rolls go with everything!

My winter bread baking urge has eased right into summer with these plush little rolls.  They’ll become mini buns for all manner of sliders, barbecue sammies, and on the fly snacks this season.  With very little effort, you can churn out 16 of them to feed a crowd, or just serve them straight up as dinner rolls for family meals.

What are sweet Hawaiian rolls?

The iconic King’s Hawaiian rolls that you’ve probably seen at the grocery store are the famous product of King’s Hawaiian Bakery which started in Hawaii in the 1950’s and became known for it’s sweet, soft rolls made in the Portuguese tradition of enriched breads. Many Portuguese families immigrated to Hawaii in the 1800’s and brought their traditional breads and pastries with them.  Over time that tradition has become a part of Hawaiian food culture.  Love the delicious mash up of cultures!

Pro tips for making Hawaiian rolls ~

  • Don’t stress out if your dough seems very sticky ~ that’s how it should be! You’ll scrape your dough into a bowl for its first rise, and it should be easier to handle when you’re ready to shape them into rolls.
  • Use a little oil, not flour, to coat your hands and work surface when you work with this dough.
  • An easy way to divide your dough into equal portions for the rolls is to divide it in half, and keep dividing each half by two until you have the right number of rolls. In this recipe, you’ll end up with 16 equal portions, but I found that a standard 9×13 pan fits 15 rolls most comfortably.
  • Leave enough time for rising ~ sweet, enriched doughs can take longer to rise than regular bread dough because of the sugar content, so be patient and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful, fluffy rolls.

How to store these homemade rolls ~

Like all homemade bread, these Hawaiian rolls are best stored covered at room temperature for no more than a couple days. Store-bought bread often includes ingredients that help it stay soft for much longer, but the beauty of homemade bread is that it’s super fresh! So enjoy them within 1-2 days when they’ll be at their best.

We used our rolls as mini buns for our pulled pork with pineapple bbq sauce (look for the recipe coming tomorrow!) A quick homemade slaw finished these sliders off perfectly.

Barbecue sliders is just one way to use these versatile Hawaiian rolls:

  • I love to use them for mini burgers.  Try them with my favorite chickpea veggie burgers for a meatless option.
  • Make chicken salad, tuna salad, or shrimp salad rolls for an elegant luncheon.
  • Layer them up with deli meats and cheeses.
  • Make mini meatball subs or mini sloppy joes.
  • These little rolls make perfect kid friendly sized versions of all of the above.

More bread recipes perfect for completing summer meals ~

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4.75 from 4 votes

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls are a homemade version of the famous King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls ~ these golden buns are buttery, soft, and lightly sweet ~ yum!!
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Rising time 3 hours
Yield 16 rolls


For the sponge

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast (I used 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of dry active yeast)
  • 2 Tbsp water

For the dough

  • 1/2 cup canned pineapple juice
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick), unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white for brushing the rolls before baking)
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch (or potato flour)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt


  • First, combine the sponge ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer (if using) or a mixing bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes (see note below about what it means to make a sponge for a dough).
  • Add the pineapple juice, softened butter, brown sugar, and eggs to the bowl, and mix until everything is well incorporated. If you are using a stand mixer, I used my paddle attachment for this stage.
  • Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt, and then add it to the wet ingredients.
  • Mix together well, at first using the paddle attachment on medium speed for a couple minutes, then switching to the dough hook and kneading for about 5-7 more minutes (or knead by hand.) This dough is VERY sticky, so don't worry if it seems very wet, but you can also add 1-2 tablespoons more flour here if it seems like it needs it.
  • Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, it should be about doubled in size or a little less.
  • Lightly butter a 9 x 13 baking pan and set aside.
  • After it is done rising, gently scrape the dough out onto a work surface for shaping the rolls. It should be a little easier to work with at this stage, but if it's still very sticky, lightly oil your hands and your work surface while you shape the rolls.
  • Divide the dough into 16 equal portions, by dividing it in half, then dividing each piece in half 3 more times. A standard 9x13 baking pan will fit 15 rolls comfortably, so you can either discard the last little bit of dough, or bake it separately.
  • Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place them in the prepared baker. Cover and allow to rise again for about an hour. They should be puffed up and filling out the space in the pan.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F.
  • Mix 1 Tbsp of water with your reserved egg white and lightly brush the mixture over the risen rolls. The egg wash gives them their signature soft, shiny crust.
  • Place the rolls in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown color. If they seem like they are starting to brown too much on top you can gently place some tinfoil over them while they continue to bake.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing.


Making a "sponge" in bread baking refers to mixing the yeast with a little bit of your liquid ingredients and a little bit of flour and letting it sit and start to ferment before adding the rest of the ingredients. This helps boost flavor and give your breads a fluffier, lighter texture!
Recipe lightly adapted from King Arthur Flour.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness. These look so good. Many years ago we had that bread while in Hawaii and brought some home and made french toast with coconut syrup….it was sooooo good, and I have been looking for a great recipe like this one. Here in Canada I have not been able to find any of the king’s bread but I would like to make the french toast again and maybe bake it in a loaf pan or maybe form into a brioche? Any ideas?
    Love your website (and you have a great name too… lol)

  • Reply
    Erica PM
    July 10, 2020 at 5:22 am


  • Reply
    Penny Eisenberg
    June 18, 2020 at 7:13 am

    Can you make these larger? I’m going to make your pulled pork with pineapple barbecue sauce, and would prefer a dinner sized bun, rather than sliders. Both look fabulous. As to the person who said that pineapple juice isn’t in King’s buns, most recipes I have seen for Hawaiian rolls do include pineapple juice. Love your recipes, Sue!

    • Reply
      June 18, 2020 at 7:47 am

      I don’t see why you couldn’t shape them larger, and just bake them a little longer.

  • Reply
    low and slow
    June 11, 2020 at 10:44 am

    5 stars
    Are these as sweet as Hawaiian?If they are how much sugar can be reduced without affecting the recipe? We find them a little to sweet for our taste.Thank you.

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 10:49 am

      I find them a little less sweet than the store bought rolls, and generally you can reduce sugar by about 1/3 without much effect.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2020 at 9:10 am

    4 stars
    I buy Kings Hawaiian original Hawaiian sweet rolls quite often. I just picked up a package yesterday as a matter of fact and have to say there is no pineapple juice listed on the Kings Hawaiian rolls ingredient list on the back of the package/bag as it is not a liquid sweetener the Taira Family recipe uses.
    Your recipe as all your recipes do, looks and sounds lovely and I’ll be giving it a go for sure but when serving them would refer to them as pineapple sweet rolls rather than Hawaiian rolls as that would be misleading for me to say.

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 9:51 am

      Hey Joycelyn ~ the pineapple juice in this recipe adds a subtle sweetness but no actual pineapple flavor.

  • Reply
    Tim Spencer
    June 11, 2020 at 6:13 am

    Can a bread machine be used for preparing the dough?

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 6:24 am

      Yes, follow the recipe through step 3, then add to your bread machine and follow your machine’s instructions for a full cycle. King Arthur flour notes: “If you’re using a bread machine and the dough hasn’t doubled in size when the cycle is complete, simply let it rest in the machine for another 30 to 60 minutes.”
      Then pick back up with the recipe at step 6.

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    June 11, 2020 at 5:00 am

    I haven’t had Hawaiian rolls in years mainly because once I’d start to eat one I’d eat the entire package. I love them!!!
    I would love to try this recipe although a little skeptical since I can’t control myself. I may have to break down and make these. Thanks for sharing – I think! ?

    • Reply
      June 11, 2020 at 5:19 am

      Been there done that 😉

      • Reply
        June 11, 2020 at 11:24 am