Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls are slightly sweet and flavored with a hint of pineapple. They’re perfect for serving up sandwiches and sliders as well as a side at the dinner table.
Raise your hand if you grab a package of Hawaiian rolls from the grocery store before every major holiday?
This copycat recipe for homemade Hawaiian rolls is the perfect pairing for almost anything you could imagine serving. I use them for everything from fancy holiday dinners to a side for Dutch oven chicken noodle soup to serving slider sandwiches in the field.
We grew up eating King’s Hawaiian brand rolls at our house and we still serve them to our kids to this day. Our picky eater Eleanor has consumed Easter dinners that were comprised of nothing but Hawaiian rolls. #truestory
If I had to pick one kind of dinner roll to have the rest of my life, it would be these Hawaiian sweet rolls. Basically, it takes a regular bread and steps it up fifty notches and they’re hands down my favorite rolls.
This is a Hawaiian bread recipe with pineapple (both juice and chunks), yeast and a few other pantry ingredients. I promise, when you’re in the middle of winter, this will transport you to a warm, tropical destination!
Why you’ll love this Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls Recipe
Making Hawaiian rolls isn’t as hard as you think! You’ll be happy to see that the ingredients we’re using in this recipe are pretty basic while still giving the rolls that signature Hawaiian bread flavor.
- These fluffy rolls bake up with just a hint of sweetness from pineapple.
- Using a simple yeast dough, they bake up light and airy
- Chances are you have almost everything you need in your kitchen already!
- There’s nothing like the smell of your own homemade bread baking in your pantry
Ingredients in homemade Hawaiian rolls
- pineapple juice and chunks - gives the rolls a perfect sweet and tropical flavor
- yeast - any kind of active dry yeast works. You can use rapid rise or instant yeast. Don’t be intimidated, I’ll walk you through it!
- granulated sugar
- salt - counterbalances the sweetness. It’s in most recipes I make with yeast, too.
- egg - helps increase the richness
- olive oil - gives the rolls some body
- all purpose flour - we need plain old flour here, no bread flour required
- ginger - pairs perfectly with the pineapple
How to make Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Step 1: Prep pineapple.
Separate the pineapple chunks from the pineapple juice and keep both. The juice is the liquid that’s going to activate our yeast, so we need it to be between 95-100°F. It’s easy to measure with a digital thermometer.
If you need to put the juice in a small bowl and pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds, you can do that. Just don’t overheat it, we’re striking a balance between too hot and too cold here.
Add your pineapple juice, yeast and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Let it hang out there for 4-5 minutes while the yeast activates.
You’ll see little bubbles popping to the surface as it activates. It’s actually kind of fascinating.
Step 2: Prep the remaining ingredients.
Chop the pineapple up into smaller chunks, then add it to the mixing bowl. Then add the salt, egg and oil. Mix for 30 seconds.
Add the ginger and the flour, working in 3 batches or so to avoid flour going everywhere as it works into the dough.
Mix the dough for 5 minutes. This will start to stretch the dough and develop the gluten. The dough will be sticky. If you’ve made my cinnamon rolls recipe it’ll be much the same. You can kind of see the texture in the photo below.
Step 3: Let the dough rise.
Oil a bowl with butter or cooking spray and and transfer the dough to the bowl. I like to flip it over once to coat in the oil. You’ll cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a draft free, warm place.
Living in Illinois means we don’t have a lot of warm places all the time. I usually set my dough in my microwave to rise, or near the oven if I’m baking something to help it along.
Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour.
Step 4: Portion the dough.
Grab a 9x13 baking dish and grease it - again, you can use nonstick cooking spray or butter. Spread about ⅛ cup flour on your work surface and knead the dough 3-4 times. It should be nice and soft at this point.
Separate the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Place the 12 rolls into the prepared baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for an other house in a draft free, warm environment.
This is what I’ll call the second rise. Sounds like something out of a Star Wars movie, right?
Step 5: Bake the rolls!
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake them for 18-20 minutes. They’ll be nice and golden brown and won’t yield to a soft poke like the Pillsbury dough boy.
You can (and should) go the extra mile and brush 1-2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter on the top.
What to serve with homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
How long will these rolls last?
Well, I’m tempted to say they’ll only last one lap around the dinner table, but that’s not what you’re really asking, is it?
The rolls will keep on the counter in a ziplock bag or other airtight container for 2-3 days and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For ultimate freshness, eat them the same day as baking.
Can I freeze Hawaiian sweet rolls?
Yes, and if you’re making them for any holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, it can be a sanity saver!
You can freeze these after baking and then reheat them, or you can refrigerate them before the second rise.
Can I use bread flour instead of all purpose flour?
I recommend you use plain old all purpose flour for this recipe. Bread flour has more protein which would make these rolls more dense. We want these to be light and airy, like the island sky!
(elaborate on difference between flours)
I don’t have a stand mixer. Can I still make this bread?
Yes, you can mix these the old fashioned way - with a bold and wooden spoon. You’ll do the kneading by hand.
Tips for the Best Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
- Be sure to use room temperature pineapple juice
- These rolls taste best when they’re freshly made
- I love a good stand mixer recipe, but this can be made by hand. Just use a large bowl and sturdy spoon for mixing everything, and knead by hand. It’s a good workout!
- Rise time will vary based on your kitchen temperature. Watch for them to double as your guide.
More Bread and Roll recipes:
When you make these Hawaiian sweet rolls, leave me a comment or review. I'd love to hear from you!!
Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
- 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in 100% pineapple juice do not drain, we will use the juice
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg at room temperature
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour + ⅛ cup flour when you will roll the dough. See note
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- Open the can of pineapple chunks and separate juice and pineapple pieces. Set aside.
*NOTE* If the juice is cold, below 90 degrees F (think warm bath water) add it to a microwave safe bowl warm it up in the microwave for 15 seconds. The ideal temperature for the juice to activate the yeast should measure 95-100°F. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast and too cold it will take longer for the yeast to activate. I use a digital thermometer to check my temperatures.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add ½ cup pineapple juice, yeast, and granulated sugar.
Let the mixture sit for 4-5 minutes to allow the yeast to be activated. It will start to foam. If the yeast does not foam, redo this step with fresh yeast and double check your temperature.
- Chop pineapple chunks into smaller pieces and add the chopped pineapple to the yeast mixture.
- Add salt, egg and oil. Mix for 30 seconds.
- Add the ginger, then add the flour to the mixture in several increments.
- Mix at medium speed for 5 minutes to allow the gluten to develop. The dough will be sticky, as in when you touch the dough with your index finger, you will have dough sticking to your fingers.
- Oil the inside of a medium sized bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a draft free warm place.
Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size. Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside (I prefer to butter the dish, but you can use nonstick spray as well.)
- On a clean flour surface (this is where I use the extra ⅛ cup of flour) knead the dough 3 to 4 times. Now it should be nice and soft. Separate the dough into 12 equal balls. Roll them into balls and place into the prepared baking dish.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again for 1 hour in a draft free warm place, for me, my microwave.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Once the oven is at temperature, take the plastic wrap off and bake for 18- 20 minutes or until the tops are nice and a light golden brown. You'll know they're done when there's no soft spot when touching them or you insert a toothpick into one and it comes out clean.
- If you'd like, brush 1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter on the top while they're warm.