Classic Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

Soft and fluffy, sweet Hawaiian rolls

One night, my dad was watching The Food Network, and they were making Hawaiian sweet rolls. This sparked his request for me to make some for him. The first time we had ever tried these rolls was in Hawaii, on the Big Island, when we visited the Panulu’u Bake Shop. They are very famous for their hawaiian sweet rolls, and they were delicious, so light and fluffy with the perfect amount of sweetness. When my dad requested it, I decided to give them a shot!

What makes Hawaiian Sweet Bread different?

Hawaiian Sweet Bread is sweetened with pineapple juice rather that white sugar or honey, and it contains potato starch. Potato starch is the key ingredient to the best Hawaiian sweet bread! Potato starch and potato flour are very different. Potato starch is less flavorful and more like corn starch compared to potato flour which is made with whole potatoes. Without the potato starch, the bread is not smooth, moist, or flavorful. Just a small amount makes a huge difference in the final product. The starch helps absorb more water and creates more air pockets, so the bread ends up being more silky, moist, and airy.

This recipe is very standard and simple, you can do it! Treat this like any other yeast bread. Begin by activating the yeast in the warm water and pineapple juice mixture. You need to make sure the liquid is not too hot and not too cold for activation. I use a meat thermometer to ensure the liquid is 110-113 degrees F. Then, when you add the yeast, make sure you let this mixture sit and get foamy before adding it to the rest of your ingredients. If this mixture doesn’t get foamy, you know your yeast is no longer good.

While your yeast mixture is sitting, combine the dry ingredients and set aside. Then, in the bowl of the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add the frothy yeast mixture. Slowly add all of the dry ingredients into the bowl and whip with the paddle attachment for 3 to 4 minutes. Next, switch to a dough hook and knead until the dough passes the window pane test, about 5 minutes.

To do the window pane test, gently grab the edges of the dough and let gravity slowly pull it down. The dough will pass the test if you can see the light pass through the super thin dough, this means enough gluten has formed.

Once the dough passes this test, let the dough rise until doubled in size in a greased bowl, about 3 hours. Once doubled, punch down the dough and cut into 15 even pieces and shape into tight dough balls. Place them in a greased 9 x 13 pan and let rise until doubled again. Brush the top of the rolls with the egg wash and bake at 350 degrees until the center is 195-200 degrees F or until golden brown on top.

My dad and I sat on our deck on a nice, sunny day, eating the warm Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, pretending we were back in Hawaii. I hope you enjoy this summery recipe as much as we did! I would love to see your creations! Tag me on Instagram @beyondbakingwithamandajane with your Hawaiian Sweet Rolls!

Perfect Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

  • Rating: ★★★★★
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  • 1 1/4 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice, canned or fresh
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk (save the whites)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. In a medium-size saucepan, warm the water and pineapple juice until 110 degrees F. Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast over top and give it a little stir. Let sit until frothy.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, starch, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk (remember to save the egg), and vanilla. Add the frothy yeast mixture and mix well.
  4. While the mixer is on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Once you pour in all the dry ingredients, beat on medium-high for 3 minutes.
  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test, about 5 minutes.
  6. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise, covered, until double in size. This will take about 3 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  7. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces.
  8. Using your hands, make each piece of dough into a tight ball. Cup the dough ball with your hands and pull one hand down, rotating the dough ball. This will create a tight ball and tension on the surface of the dough. Then, place in the greased pan. Repeat this step for all 15 of the rolls.
  9. Cover the rolls and let rise until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  11. Mix a tablespoon of water with the reserved egg white and brush this egg wash over the risen rolls.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the bread is 200 degrees F. The tops should be a nice golden brown.

Taste tested by friends and family with love.

6 thoughts on “Classic Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

  1. I love your descriptions and postings of the different recipes. I am not much of a baker but reading how you feel about the process of making them and seeing your photos are tempting me to try to make what you have shown.
    You sure make it simple with all the details.


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