Sweet Hawaiian-Style Rolls (Mixed in a Bread Machine)

Sweet Hawaiian-Style Rolls Mixed in Bread Machine.jpg

Creating a clone of Sweet Hawaiian Bread has been on my recipe bucket list for a long time. I can tell by the ingredient list on the package sold at the supermarket that a home cook is not likely to figure out the exact recipe, but that doesn’t deter me.

After many years of disappointment with recipes that claimed to imitate Sweet Hawaiian Bread, I think I’ve got it, at least for my taste. At any rate, it’s time to stop the experimentation before I have to graduate to the next dress size. These are a splurge, and I simply cannot resist when they are in the house!!

This recipe is for the rolls only. I have tried to make the big round loaves, but they are problematic. It’s challenging to get them cooked all the way through without the crust being too thick and dry. I’ll work on that another day.

Meanwhile, with all the Hawaiian bread now in my freezer, I need to start working on the next item on my recipe bucket list–bread pudding. If you have a good one you don’t mind sharing, please send. I don’t want too rich or too sweet or too eggy. I hope I’m not asking too much.

Special don’t-miss notes for those of you who decide to try this recipe:

  • Using shiny pans will help to avoid a thick crust. Aluminum foil cake or pie pans work perfectly, and they are reusable if you don’t run them through the dishwasher.
  • If you use foil pans, be sure to cook the rolls on the lowest shelf of your oven. This will help the bottoms to brown a bit and keep the tops from browning quite so fast.
  • The mashed potatoes can be a variable depending on how you make them. I’ve used potatoes with a little bit of butter, milk and salt, and I’ve used potatoes with a lot of cream cheese, butter, and salt and pepper. They all worked. However, the moisture content can vary and may affect the consistency of your dough. That’s just one reason you ABSOLUTELY MUST CHECK YOUR DOUGH 5-10 MINUTES AFTER YOUR BREAD MACHINE HAS BEEN RUNNING TO SEE IF YOU NEED TO ADD ADDITIONAL FLOUR OR WATER. Neglecting to open the lid and take a look may result in disappointment in the form of dough too sticky to handle or something resembling a firm rubber ball.
  • Many cooks don’t hesitate to make substitutions for ingredients they don’t have on hand. Works sometimes, sometimes not. One of the secrets of this recipe is the vanilla butter nut extract, and I highly recommend it. Vanilla butter nut extract is cheap ($2) and readily available at most grocery stores. (I got mine at my local Krogers.) It imparts a certain enigmatic flavor to sweet yeast breads and also a yellow color characteristic of Hawaiian-style bread. You could use vanilla extract instead, but it won’t be the same.
  • Specifying exact baking times can be tricky in bread recipes. Of course, you don’t want your rolls to be overdone and dry or underdone and doughy. Use a thermometer if you have one and bake to 190 degrees F. Watch the rolls closely because your oven will invariably bake differently from mine, so the times given are not gospel.
  • The glaze is optional. If you observe the bread at the store, the rolls are unglazed, but the larger round loaves are glazed. Personally, I prefer my rolls glazed, so I’ve added the instructions here.  You can see what they look like unglazed here.

Sweet Hawaiian-Style Rolls for the Bread Machine
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 24 rolls
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A sweet and soft roll in the same style as my favorite Hawaiian bread at the grocery store.
  • ⅓ cup warm pineapple juice
  • ½ cup mashed potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dried milk solids
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup warm heavy cream
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla butter nut extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Combine all ingredients in bread machine pan in order given. Select the dough cycle and push start button.
  2. Check bread after 5-10 minutes to make sure dough sticks to the side of the pan and then pulls away. If necessary, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time if dough is too sticky or thin and won't pull away. If dough is too dry to stick to edge of pan, add water or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until dough looks perfect. Experience really helps with this step. This post has some pictures that might be helpful.
  3. When dough cycle completes and/or dough has risen to double, remove dough from pan to a floured surface. (I use a silicone mat so I can throw it in the dishwasher to clean.)
  4. Spray two 7 or 8-inch, square or round, aluminum foil pans with an aerosol oil/flour mixture like Baker's Joy.
  5. Form dough into a large ball. Divide in half. Divide each half into 12 portions and form each portion into a ball. See this video if you need an easy way to make perfect balls.
  6. Place 12 balls into each pan. Cover pans with a tea towel and find a warm place for the rolls to rise again. One of my favorite places is inside a microwave oven where I have boiled a cup of water for 5 minutes to make it steamy and warm.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Let dough balls rise only 30-40 minutes until about half again their original size. If you let them get too big during this rising, they will be dry.
  9. Whisk egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl. Use a silicone brush to carefully coat unbaked rolls just before you place them in the oven.
  10. Place rack in a low position in your oven. Bake rolls at 375 degrees F for 12-13 minutes or until golden brown. You don't want them to be doughy but if you bake them too long they will be dry and lose the soft texture you expect in Hawaiian bread.
  11. After cooling about an hour or two, place into a plastic bag to keep the crust soft.
Knead a cup of raisins or other dried fruit into the bread dough after removing it from the bread machine for a fabulous variation.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

devinmontuya October 8, 2015 at 10:07 am

Is there a substitution for the heavy cream that I may try as my children are lactose intolerant?


Paula October 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

If they can tolerate lactose-free milk, use that. Otherwise, you could use water. The rolls won’t be as rich and soft but they will still be delicious.


Jen January 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm

America’s test kitchen has a great bread pudding with bourbon sauce made out of challah bread!


Kristin Burnett December 28, 2014 at 8:46 pm

UPDATE! I just pulled these out again– my kids raided the kitchen the other night and ate them all– and they taste better than the store bought ones! Before, I said they weren’t sweet enough for my taste but still the fluffiest rolls ever. Now, they are sweeeeeeeet and fluffy! My differences are thus: mashed SWEET POTATO in place of a regular one, 1/4 tsp each of vanilla and almond extract in place , and bread flour for AP flour.

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, Paula! I swear I’m going to make this every other day 🙂 If I happen to make a loaf, I’ll let you know. So far, I’ve made dinner rolls and hamburger-style buns.


Paula December 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Hi Kristin,
Always happy to hear about the successes. I love sweet potato in rolls. Great substitution.


Shealeigh December 26, 2014 at 6:26 pm

I just made these, and they are wonderful! Thank you so much for this recipe! I looked all over town for butternut extract, (no luck there), so I used 1/4 tsp of almond extract, and 1/4 tsp of Butter extract, and it hit the nail on the head! They taste even better than the store bought King’s rolls!

Thank you again for sharing this recipe!


Paula December 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm

So glad to hear you liked them, Shealeigh.


Kristin Burnett December 24, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Just pulled these out of the oven, let one cool for a few and popped it in my mouth. Although very fluffy (the most pillow-y rolls I’ve ever made!), I was disappointed that they just weren’t that sweet to me. The only substitutions I made were thus: bread flour, and like a reviewer suggested, used 1/8 tsp of almond extract and the rest vanilla. Perhaps I could up the sugar to a half cup, or use honey instead?

Still, these rolls are fantastic, and I will definitely be using this recipe again! Thank you so much!


Kristin Burnett December 21, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Could I substitute bread flour instead of AP flour? I’m going to bake the for Christmas.


Jocelyn June 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

These are superb! Thank you for all the work you put into creating the recipe. I must confess that I didn’t have the vanilla nut extract (I used 1/8 tsp almond extract and the rest vanilla), a bread maker (just lots of elbow grease!), or the shiny aluminum pans, but the rolls were still delicious. Well done, Paula! I will definitely make these again.


Jenny June 2, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Thanks for sharing your bread recipe. I’ve a bread machine sitting at a corner of my kitchen collecting dust until I stumble on your blog. Great recipe and explanation on how to make them and beautiful photos to accompany each recipe!


sis April 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Beautiful photo work!


Vicki April 17, 2014 at 8:05 am

These look awesome! I can’t wait to try the recipe! I am an absolute convert to using the bread machine to mix the dough and then baking in the oven. My never used bread machine has turned into an appliance I use often! Thank you for that!


Becky April 17, 2014 at 8:03 am

Thanks, Paula, I have been looking forward to this recipe! It must have been an adventure to come up with this, the recipe list of ingredients is fascinating.


Betty April 16, 2014 at 9:59 pm

I love those Hawaiian Rolls! I can’t always find them when I need them to make ham and cheese sliders- It’s nice to have to option to make them myself. Those look even better than the originals. 🙂


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