Hawaiian Rolls


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • One

    9 inch by 13 inch baking pan

Appears in

Baking With Licker: Home Baking With Asian Accents

Baking With Licker

By Jason Licker

Published 2020

  • About

When their chance came, they were ready to roll.

Yes, King’s Hawaiian Rolls actually did come from Hawaii. These famous buns became an empire via a small bakery on the Big Island in the 1950’s, opened by the Hawaiian-born son of Japanese immigrants. You can find them in pretty much any US supermarket these days, rollin’ in the roll money. They say that their key ingredient is the “aloha spirit” or whatever, but the truth is that a bunch of sugary butter does most of the work. And there isn’t much work to do, because these soft, buttery-sweet rolls are so easy to make.

What sets this recipe apart from most roll or bread recipes is the use of pineapple juice. Flavor is not what’s important here, because you can barely taste the juice. It’s the enzyme called bromelain that is instrumental in defining the structure of this bread. Bromelain is known for tenderizing meat, so think of it in the same way for bread and how it conditions the dough to be soft and pillow-like. As with all yeast doughs, be patient. The amount of sugar in this dough means that the proofing process may take a little longer than usual, but it is worth the wait. Much like a fine brioche, these rolls are fantastic for hearty breakfast sandwiches and burgers, or simply toasted with paté or foie gras on top. Let the good times roll.


Ingredients Grams
Whole Milk (40-46C) (105-115F) 120
Active Dry Yeast 13
Pineapple Juice (canned) 120
Eggs 100
Butter (melted) 60
Sugar 90
Salt 7
Bread Flour 567


Preheat Oven: 180C (356F)

  1. Prepare the 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray or by applying butter and flour to the bottom and sides of the pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment or wax paper.
  2. Grease a large-sized bowl with non-stick spray or a little oil and set aside.
  3. In a small-sized saucepan, warm the milk to 40-46C (105-115F). When you reach the desired temperature, pour the warm milk into a small-sized bowl and sprinkle the active dry yeast directly into it. Whisk to dissolve and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it becomes frothy/foamy.
  4. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix all the ingredients together on low speed for about 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure a uniform mixture.
  5. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. It may still stick to the bottom. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to knead the dough for 1-2 minutes. Place the dough in a prepared bowl with plastic wrap or a mildly damp kitchen towel directly covering the dough.
  6. Let the dough rise in a warm area of your kitchen (around 24C or 75F) until it has doubled in size. This may take 1-2 hours depending on the temperature of the room.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down on a lightly floured surface. Weigh out 50g pieces and shape each portion into a small ball. Arrange 18 pieces (evenly spaced in six rows of three) in your prepared baking pan with plastic wrap or a mildly damp kitchen towel directly covering the dough.
  8. Let the dough pieces rise again in a warm place (around 24C or 75F) for about 1.5 hours until they have doubled in size and are touching one another. In the meantime, prepare the honey butter recipe.
  9. Bake at 180C (356F) for about 20-25 minutes. You will know the Hawaiian Rolls are done when they are golden-brown or the internal temperature reads 88C (190F) on a digital thermometer.
  10. Remove the rolls from the oven and either transfer to a wire rack or allow them to slightly cool on the counter. While they are still warm, slather the honey butter all over the rolls. This will give them extra sweetness and a glaring shine.

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