Learn how to make Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls (Sweet Rolls) right at home that are perfectly buttery, sweet, fluffy and oh so delicious! These little pillows of heaven will become a family favorite you never expected!!
The Heart and Soul of this Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls Recipe
This recipe comes from my friend Jessica Gavin‘s cookbook Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking. Jessica’s book features 75 delicious recipes, helpful cooking tips, and step-by-step guides for better cooking. The featured recipes in this book are incredibly approachable and jam-packed with unbelievable flavor.
Cuisine Inspiration: Hawaiian-American Fusion
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: Vegetarian
Key Flavor: Sweet and Buttery
Skill Level: Intermediate
- Butter Love: A generous dose of butter gives these rolls their rich and tender crumb.
- Sweet Twist: A touch of sweetness sets them apart from your average dinner roll.
- Pillow Soft: Expect a super soft, fluffy texture that’s perfect for mopping up sauces or gravy.
- Versatile Vibe: These rolls pair well with everything, from holiday feasts to weeknight dinners.
- Crowd-Pleaser: Watch them disappear fast – they’re a hit with kids and adults alike.
What Are Hawaiian Sweet Rolls?
If you didn’t know by now, I’m a huge nerd for the history of food. Learning about where my food comes from creates a deeper appreciation for things I eat. So here’s a little food history tidbit for you!
Sweetened breads came to Hawaii (y’all know how much I love Hawaii since I was married there) with the Portuguese immigrants who flooded there in the mid-to-late 19th century to work the livestock ranches and sugarcane plantations.
By 1910 the number of Portuguese immigrants in Hawaii was at more than 20,000. Many of these families baked their own bread using recipes brought from home, but when refined sugar was too expensive, they used local ingredients like honey and pineapple juice as sweeteners.
Not too much later, King’s Bakery was born and the signature King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls began to take the world by storm. I think you know the rest!
The major ingredients that truly provide the sweetness, amazing texture and deliciousness are the following:
- Instant Yeast
- Whole Milk
- Pineapple Juice
- Brown Sugar
These rolls have a very light pillowy texture which comes from the use of instant yeast here. For flavor, these rolls contain a large amount of butter, sweeteners (pineapple juice, honey and brown sugar), and eggs. This makes these much richer in flavor in flavor!
I also love the whole milk and vanilla that rounds out everything. Eggs are also stabilizers here.
These ingredients truly work together perfectly making the most glorious rolls you have ever had.
How to Make Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
One of the beauties of Jessica’s recipe is it’s easy-to-follow instructions. Her steps are simple, straight-forward and make for the best results each and every time it’s made.
Here are a few tips to share to make your process easier.
Kneading By Hand VS Stand Mixer
You can knead it by hand! Start out by stirring with a spoon until you can’t anymore and then knead it with your hands. Just keep on kneading until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is soft to the touch and only slightly sticky. It’s a workout, but it’s worth it!
What Should Your Dough Feel Like?
The dough should be slightly sticky, but still very soft and pliable. It should just barely not be sticking to the bowl. If you add too much flour the dough will stiffen, which make for stiff rolls.
Weigh Out Your Dough
The trick to even baking and a uniform aesthetic is making sure each of the rolls have the same weight. I use a kitchen scale to measure each of my dough balls. It isn’t much added effort and I end up with rolls that are nearly uniform in size.
What Can I serve Sweet Rolls With?
I would love to give you a specific answer here but let’s be honest, this bread goes with anything. And I truly mean anything. You can use these rolls to sop up sauces and gravy, make slider buns or even create sweet croutons for salads.
I’ve gotten really creative with these rolls and so should you! Use your leftovers to make my peach bread pudding or use them for a special morning treat like french toast. The possibilities are endless but above them all comes this one: eat them warm out of the oven with salted butter.
Sometimes simple is best!
Can These Be Made Ahead of Time?
Hosting a dinner party and need to manage your time wisely? Making these sweet dinner rolls ahead of time is a great option for you!
Simply make this recipe as instructed, properly wrap and store them and put them in the freezer. When ready to eat, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw and rise until double in size. This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours so allow yourself enough time.
Then continue to bake according to recipe instructions. Voila!
Other Roll Recipes to Try
Finally, I have joined up with a bunch of blogger friends for a Friendsgiving Virtual Potluck! Be sure to check the recipes below out for wonderful Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving recipe and craft ideas!
Sauteed Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts from Shashi of Savory Spin
Creamy Brussels Sprouts Salad from Faith of An Edible Mosaic
Fried Brussels Sprouts from Erin of The Almond Eater
Cheesy Horseradish Mashed Potato Casserole from Renee of Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip from April of April Golightly
Sauteed Garlic-Butter Mushrooms from Linda of Simply Healthyish Recipes
Easy Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole Recipe from Mel of Adventures of Mel
Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo from Isabel of Isabel Eats
Bacon Brussels Sprouts from Kara of Kara J. Miller
Crockpot Sweet Potato Casserole from Jennifer of Show Me the Yummy
Amazing Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing from Sommer of A Spicy Perspective
Pumpkin Caramelized Onion Gratin from Denise of Chez Us
Crockpot Mac & Cheese from Leanette Fernandez of Funtastic Life
Cheesy Brussels Sprouts au Gratin from Rachel Gurk of Rachel Cooks
Spiced Pumpkin Margarita from Sharon of Cupcakes and Cutlery
Sourdough Pull Apart Rolls from Erica of Buttered Side Up
How to Make Homemade Butterhorn Rolls from Mel of Flour on My Fingers
Sweet Dinner Rolls from Jocelyn of Grandbaby Cakes
Parker House Rolls from Irvin of Eat the Love
Sugar Pie from Julie of The Little Kitchen
Oatmeal Apple Crisp from Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers
Pumpkin Pie Milkshake from Eden of Sugar and Charm
Strudel Pastry from Justine of The Typical Mom
Tahini Hawaij Pumpkin Pie from Amy of What Jew Wanna Eat
Turkey Cookies from Meaghan of The Decorated Cookie
Mini Apple Pie Bites from Lynsey of MoscatoMom
Kabocha squash pie from Hilah of hilahcooking
Pecan Pie Cupcakes from Courtney of Pizzazzerie
Coconut Cream Pie from Schnelle of Brooklyn Active Mama
Chocolate chip cheesecake from Jeannette of Hispana Global
Chocolate Pecan Pie from Kate of I Heart Eating
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Chelsea of Someday I’ll Learn
Turkey Donut Race Cars For Thanksgiving Treats from Theresa of Chewable Structures
Crafts and Centerpieces
Cinnamon Stick Holiday Candle Place Setting from Alli of Made with HAPPY
Metallic Pumpkin Luminaries from Amy of As The Bunny Hops
Easy centerpiece that will stun + party favor from Noelle of Oh Happy Play
Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls Recipe
- 5- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour divided plus more for dusting
- 4 1/2 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
- 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk divided
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs divided
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Use a stand mixer fitted with a greased dough hook. Add 5 cups flour, yeast, and salt to a bowl, and whisk to combine.
- In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, add 1/2 cup of milk, pineapple juice, 6 tablespoons of butter and honey and whisk to combine. Microwave the mixture in 20 second increments until it reaches 120 to 130 F, about 90 seconds.
- Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add the warmed milk mixture, brown sugar, 1 egg, apple cider vinegar and vanilla to the flour mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed to incorporate the flour.
- Knead the dough on low until the dough 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, 7 minutes. The dough should start to clear the sides of the bowl, but will be sticky on the bottom. Add 1/4 cup of additional flour, mixing on low speed, 1 minute. Add another 1/4 cup if needed, until the desired texture is achieved and a slightly sticky bowl is formed. Use as little added flour as possible. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Grease a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. Cut the dough into 18 even size pieces. Roll pieces of the dough into balls with smooth tops, lightly flouring the work surface as needed. 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.If you have any problems with rolls not rising, try this! After the dough is made, take it out of the bowl and kneaded it a couple extra times, dusting it with more flour. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and let it double in size for an hour and a half. Then take the dough out, punch it down, shape the rolls, and let that proof for another hour and a half.
- Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and place in a warm draft-free place. Allow the dough balls to rise and double in size, 30 to 40 minutes. The buns should be touching each other and nearly filling the pan completely.
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush the egg wash on the tops and sides of the buns. Bake the rolls until golden brown and shiny on the surface, 18-20 minutes. Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.
- Cool the rolls on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the rolls from the tray and brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Serve the rolls immediately while warm.