Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Know what I like about baking?  It’s a little bit like Forest Gump’s “box of chocolates”.  You’re never sure what you’re going to get.

It’s a little bit messy.  You’ve got to be organized and a bit more systematic.  It’s like different kinds of art.  Baking is a little bit like “paint by numbers” because you really can’t go too far outside the lines while cooking is a bit more like abstract art–free-flowing and intrepretive.  But that’s way too philosophical.

Let’s put it this way–I like baking and find it relaxing as I escape into mixing and stirring and kneading then anticipating the tasty results.

So for Easter, I was thinking about some sort of bread to go with the dinner.  But, it needed to be something that would compliment the saltiness of ham, the gloppy starchiness of mashed potatoes and the texture of a vegetable dish.  I wanted something that would come out soft but with a bit of flavor.

Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Well, we love “King’s Hawaiian Rolls” whenever we troop into Albertson’s on a Monday for their fried chicken dinner special.  (The dinner comes with a package of those soft and sweet dinner rolls).  So I thought they would really go well with the salty smoked flavor of ham with all the trimmings.

There are a lot of recipes out there in Googleland and, as usual, I checked out a bunch of them and synthesized what I thought would be something that would get the color, texture and flavor of the sweet Hawaiian rolls we enjoy.  So give it a try.  I think you’ll like the results.

Recipe: Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

Summary: Here’s a tasty treat–Homemade Hawaiian Rolls, those sweet and soft dinner rolls that go so well with holiday meals.


  • 3 cups all purpose flour (divided 2 cups, ½ cup and ½ cup)
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 eggHawaiian Rolls ingredients
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter or margarine melted


  • Get out your bread board, a good sized mixing bowl, spoon, 9 x 13 metal baking pan and 2 small bowls.
  • Combine the water, pineapple juice, yeast and 1 tsp of sugar into a small bowl and let stand 5-10 minutes until it’s foamy.Shaggy dough
  • Put 2 cups of flour into the mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt and ginger and stir it all together.
  • In the other small bowl, add the melted margarine, vanilla and egg. Stir it all together until the egg is well “scrambled” and everything is mixed.
  • Add the egg mix and the yeast mix to the mixing bowl of flour and stir, stir, stir.
  • Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. The dough is going to be “shaggy”. Add a portion of the extra half cup of flour and mix it in. Add a bit more and stir until you can work the dough without having a gooey mess all over—but not too much, just so the dough will pretty much pull away from the side of the bowl.work the dough for Hawaiian rolls
  • Make sure your bread board is well floured and have the next half cup of flour ready to keep flouring the dough a bit at a time as you work it. Work the dough out of the bowl and onto your bread board. Gently knead it adding a bit more flour as needed so you can work the dough. (It’s going to stay a bit tacky). Knead and fold for about 5 minutes or so until it starts to feel like soft dough.Dough after rising
  • Put a small skim of oil into your cleaned out mixing bowl and put the dough in it, then rub just a bit of oil onto the top surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 40-50 minutes.
  • Oil the baking pan you’ll be using—either with spray or squirt a bit of cooking oil onto a folded paper towel. Turn on oven to pre-heat to 375.
  • Use your fingers to gently deflate the dough. Put it on a well floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and gently form into round rolls (or 18 slightly smaller rolls).Hawaiian rolls ready to bake
  • Put the rolls onto the baking pan—or if you want to make bread loaves, form the dough into either one large loaf or 2 smaller loaves.
  • Let the dough rise again (covered with damp cloth) for about a half hour, or until doubled in volume. “Paint” the top of the rolls/loaves with a light skim of milk.
  • Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown in the top 1/3 of your oven.

Preparation time: 2 hour(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

This is pretty simple, but it’s a bit involved.  But, the results are worth it.  These rolls are light and sweet.  They’re perfect with ham.  They’re perfect all by themselves.

If you’ve made loaves, slice the bread and slather with butter for a taste treat.  You can even use it for tasty sandwich bread with your ham leftovers.

Hawaiian Rolls fresh from oven

The rolls and bread are also great with fried or roasted or grilled chicken. And, you’ll have the satisfaction that you’ve made something this good from scratch.  There’s something about the results of this “creative process” that’s really gratifying—especially when your “significant other” takes a bite and gives you an “Oh, wow!”

The Cheap Bastid Test:  This makes about a dozen 3” per side rolls or 18 slightly smaller rolls.  It also makes a couple of nice sized loaves.  At the store these rolls run about $3 per dozen.  Making it yourself costs about $1 for the flour, pineapple juice, egg and other ingredients.  And the satisfaction of tasting the results of your baking is priceless.

That’s the Cheap Bastid Way:  Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful!

About Walter Blevins

My wife started to call me Cheap Bastid a while back because I enjoyed coming up with dinners that cost next to nothing--and making them taste good. Yeah, I love to cook. And I love to cook good food cheap. I'm not a chef and I'm definitely not anything close to a gourmet. I'm just a home cook who grew up in a home where cooking was from scratch and was a little bit Midwest and a little bit country. That's because my Mom was from Michigan and my Dad was from Kentucky. I started sharing recipes when my daughter called me in 2006 and asked for my recipe for Swiss Steak. That year for Christmas I put together a cookbook for my 2 kids called "Dad's Everyday Cookbook and Kitchen Survival Guide". And I heard back that they both use it regularly. It was full of basic recipes that I had cooked for them when they were growing up. I work hard at creating recipes that are original and creative and inexpensive. You won't find a foo-foo foodie approach to my recipes and style. I believe that it's OK for food to go up the side of a plate. Food is for eating--it doesn't have to be pretty. And I write about my cooking and my recipes so that I can share them. I hope you enjoy these posts. Leave me a comment--that you liked something or that you didn't, it doesn't matter. I'd love to hear from you.
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3 Responses to Homemade Hawaiian Rolls

  1. Amy A. says:

    Walter, this looks SO good. Do you think you could substitute Truvia instead of sugar?

  2. Linda Seccaspina says:

    yum.. wish they were gluten free

  3. Pam Kilmer says:

    They turned out wonderful!

Comments are closed.