Hawaiian Bread Rolls (King’s Hawaiian Bread Copycat Recipe)

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Hawaiian Bread Rolls

I’ve been looking for a recipe to replicate the famous sweet and soft King’s Hawaiian Rolls.  I think I finally found it!  The addition of pineapple juice and sugar add a wonderful sweetness and impart a tenderness to the finished rolls.

You can eat them warm, straight out of the pan.  Or, try my favorite: “Hawaiian Sliders” (mini sandwiches with grilled spam topped with coleslaw).




Hawaiian Bread Rolls:

  • 3 c. bread flour
  • 1/2 c. tangzhong
  • 4 T. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. pineapple juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 T. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. yeast
1.  Combine the butter, pineapple juice, egg, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and tangzhong into the bottom of the bread machine pan.  To make the Tangzhong (a water roux made from heating 1/3 c. bread flour with 1 c. water), see my post on Japanese Milk bread.
2.  On top of the wet ingredients, dump the flour.  Form a well in the flour, and add the yeast to the well.  (Do not allow the yeast to come in contact with any of the wet ingredients yet).
3.  Place the pan into the bread machine, and turn on the “make dough” cycle.  (You can knead and combine by hand or with a dough hook attachment on a stand mixer – but you will need to knead for at least 15-20 minutes, then cover and rise for an hour until doubled in bulk.
4.  When the dough is ready, turn out onto a lightly floured counter, and cut the dough into 16 even pieces.  (The dough will be sticky, so use a light touch, and flour if needed.)
5.  Shape the pieces into little balls, coating with flour to prevent sticking, and lay in a grid pattern in a 9″ X 9″ square pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 45 minutes.  (The dough will be VERY sticky – so make sure you coat your hands and counter top with flour – try to handle the dough as little as possible.  It doesn’t matter if the little balls are perfectly round and smooth.)
6.  Heat the oven to 335 degrees, and bake the Hawaiian rolls for 25 minutes.  Serve warm.  These are also great the next day split in half make Hawaiian sliders with a little bit of grilled spam topped with coleslaw.


  1. FDP says:

    Excellent recipe! I couldn’t stop pinching off the bread when it came out the oven. Made in a loaf pan and had French toast! Wow!

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m so glad it worked for you. Thanks for the feedback! :)

  2. FDP says:

    Made without a bread machine and added a half teaspoon more salt. I cannot begin to describe how FAT these rolls will make you. You’ll eat the whole pan! They are divine! Congrats on an extraordinary recipe!

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m so glad you liked the recipe! :) Thank you for commenting!

      • FDP says:

        Do you ever add additional flour to make the dough easier to work with? This is my third attempt at making these (first in a loaf, second as monkey bread, now as rolls) and the sticky factor is quite extraordinary. Hoping they still turn out chewy despite me adding a bit more bread flour so that I could handle the dough.

        • Mika Mika says:

          Yes, I do add a little extra flour – mainly for dusting and to prevent it from sticking to the counter top and to my hands… I think you are ok adding some extra flour, but just try not to go overboard with the flour. It is a very sticky dough, I know! ;)

  3. Diane Phillips says:

    Mika – if I were to do a loaf, is there anything specific I would need to do to the dough or just roll into a log and fit to the loaf pan? I am excited to try this recipe. :) My family loves the Japanese milk bread recipe! :)

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Diane,
      If you are making a loaf, I would just roll it into a log and put it into a loaf pan. Cover and let it rise for 45 minutes to an hour, then bake. Probably about 40 minutes… maybe a little bit longer if needed (start checking around 35 minutes). You can brush the top with a little bit of eggwash (1 yolk + 1 T. water) if you would like a more golden crust. It’s a VERY sticky dough though… so make sure you dust your counter top with flour and coat your hands with flour when handling the dough! :)

      • Diane Phillips says:

        It turned out great. It was super sticky like you said. I did the eggwash. It smells AMAZING. I can’t wait to eat it. It was cooked at the 35 minute mark. :) Thank you again. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Every one that I have tried so far have been awesome (granted that’s only 3, but 3 for 3 is fantastic).

        • Mika Mika says:

          Yay! ;) Thanks for the feedback. It’s always great to hear when things turn out!

  4. Amy says:

    Hi Mika,
    What kind of pineapple juice are you using? the one in a little can ( Dole, not from concentrated) or the one make from concentrated ( usually found next to the apple juice gallon section in the supermarket) or it doesn’t matter? thanks.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Any pineapple juice is fine! :) I use Dole pineapple juice from the paper carton.

  5. Honda says:

    Thanks for the yummy looking recipe. My dad really loves King’s sweet bread. I’ll have to try it when I get my new oven :)

  6. Tami Zyg says:

    Hey Mika, I’m trying the recipe right now and my dough wont rise, what am i doing wrong? its sitting covered in about 92 degrees. been over an hour and not at all puffy. I don’t have a bread machine so i used my stand mixer, but i let it stir with the dough hook for 20 minutes before sitting it in a warm area.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Tami,
      What kind of yeast did you use (I use regular active dry yeast)? Check your package and make sure the yeast is not expired. But even so, that is no guarantee that the yeast is still alive – storage conditions can alter the longevity of the yeast. If you have any leftover yeast, add one packet (about 2 1/4 tsp) into 1/4 cup of warm water (100 degrees F) with 1 tsp. sugar – see if it doubles within 10 minutes. If it does, then the yeast is fine. If not, then you probably need to buy new yeast.

      Did you add any hot liquids to the mixture? If you added hot tangzhong or hot melted butter to your dough mixture, you might have inadvertently killed your yeast. Remember- yeast is alive (dormant when dry). The moisture wakes the yeast up, causing them to start eating the sugar in the dough and creating CO2 bubbles through lactic acid fermentation. But if the yeast are dead (or if you kill the yeast), then no fermentation will occur, and no CO2 gas will be created.

      If you are using a stand mixer, your probably don’t have to knead the dough more than 15 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, 20 minutes should do it.

      ETA: Also, 95 degrees is too hot for the rise step in yeast dough. Proper rise temperature should be warm, but not hot… probably between 75 and 80 degrees F. Hope this helps!

  7. cfar says:

    How long will the dough last if I make up prior to making? Can you freeze the bread if done in advance and if so do you know how long this will last in freezer?

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’ve never frozen the dough before… so I’m not sure if that will work or not. Sorry! As far as making the dough in advance, you can probably refrigerate and keep overnight – but allow the dough to come to room temperature before baking. I wouldn’t store it in the refrigerator more than one night in advance… you might end up with a sourdough taste and less soft/fluffy texture the longer you let the gluten develop and the yeast continue to grow.

  8. Christine says:

    These things rock! I don’t know that I’ve ever made a copycat recipe that was so close to the original in every way – texture, taste, fluffiness – wow! Amazing! Thank you!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Christine! Thanks for the feedback – I’m glad my recipe worked out for you! :)

  9. Nohea says:

    Hi Mika,
    Currently Im trying to crack the code for Leonards Malasada Recipie from the islands. I was thinking this dough would be it to fry into balls for that hawaii Malasada recipie. The others I have tried have always been so dense and not the fluffy melt in your mouth taste. Can you give me some advice on the frying of the dough and would changing out the butter for butter flavored shortening help or hinder my goal?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Well I hope you crack the recipe! Leonard’s Malasadas…. yum!!!! I’m not sure how this dough would work for malasadas… since I’ve never tried frying this dough… but it doesn’t hurt to try. One thing I have learned though for making donuts is that you don’t want too much gluten, because that will make your donuts too tough and chewy instead of light and fluffy – so go with lower protein all purpose flour instead of bread flour. As far as shortening vs. butter… try it. Shortening has a higher fat content than butter (butter is partially water), so it might help make for a more tender donut. If you figure it out, let me know!!! Good luck. ;)

  10. Pam says:

    I have tried several Kings copycat Hawaiin Bread recipies and none compare to this one! Sweet, extra soft and fluffy as it should be.Thank you for posting this amazing bread recipe!

    • Pam says:

      After such a successful attempt with the rolls baked in oven, I tried to make a loaf in my bread maker. Although it was delicious, it wasn’t quite the same texture and was a heavier and not as soft using the recipe as is. Not being a seasoned bread maker, not sure which ingredients or settings to modify, but will keep attempting to try.

      • Mika Mika says:

        No… you don’t want to bake this in the bread machine itself. The bread machine will bake it much too long, and overcook the crust and give a harder texture, ruining the softness of the bread. If you want to make a loaf instead of rolls, remove the dough from the bread machine and bake it in the oven instead. That way, you can control how long it makes for and remove it before too long. Somewhere around 35 – 40 minutes should do it.

  11. kelly says:

    Hi Mika, I’m getting ready to make this up but had a couple of questions: I won’t be using any machines to help me and your instructions are clear about not letting the yeast mingle with the wet ingredients until all is in the machine for mixing. I usually proof my yeast in some of the liquid and add it in. Any suggestions. I was thinking that I would mix the wet, combine the dry yeast with the flour and knead it in gradually by hand. Also: I’ve handled sticky dough before and am used to flouring my hands or, when shaping rolls, putting a little oil on my hands. You don’t suggest oil and I’m wondering why.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Kelly,
      The reason why my instructions say not to let the yeast touch the wet ingredients is because that’s what the manufacturer (Zojirushi) of my bread machine recommends. If you are mixing by hand though, I would add the yeast to some of the liquid in the recipe a few minutes before mixing all the dough ingredients together – just like you were planning. ;) If you prefer to oil your hands to shape the dough, you can do that – no reason why you can’t. I try to handle the dough as little as possible, so a little bit of flour is usually enough for me. Basically I just plop the dough onto a floured counter top, sprinkle with a bit of flour, then cut into pieces. Then I just put those pieces into the pan as is.

  12. Rhea says:

    I am currently using this recipe, quadrupled at a time, for a small town cafe. I have found room temp affects the rising and stickiness of this dough. I usually add about one cup of flour to my dough if too sticky. You will find the dough does not rise well if the room is below 78 degrees, as well. My customers get mad if their rolls are forgotten or if we run out!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Rhea! I’m so glad you like the recipe! :) Thanks for the tip about rising time.

  13. Rhea says:

    Not A problem! I have been baking these weekly for nearly three months, now, and have had the dough be both sticky and smooth, depending on amount of flour added and room temp. Also, on the second rising, people need to be aware they will not double in size, they do that while actually baking in the oven. I have also noted a better color if a whole egg with water is used to brush them with, and make sure you egg brush just before placing in the oven.
    Also, if you do over work the dough, don’t worry too much, they just get a little more dense in texture, not the light and airy feel that they should have. The only thing that affects is how long they last. Mine last four to five days, needing only a warm up in the micro for about twenty seconds per roll. If I have over worked the dough, cut their storage length down to three days before having to toss.
    Make sure to keep them in an air tight container. These can also be frozen before the second rising, and proofed before baking. Add ten minutes to the rising time of one hour, then brush and bake. Not as light as baking fresh, but taste is still good ( due to moisture composition in freezing them, and the distribution changes of that moisture due to defrosting them).
    I hope this helps

  14. Banky says:

    I love this recipe!!! I put 2/3 cup pineapple juice and a little more flour with my West Bend machine. These are the best rolls I have ever made. Better than the store bought!! I did try to bake a loaf in the maker and I didn’t care for it as much. Should have read ALL the comments. I had already decided to bake it in the oven next time. I love the bread machine, you can just go on about your business. I did try some of the Tangzhong in my cinnamon roll recipe and they turned out great. I don’t understand how the tangzhong works so well when it’s just flour and water, but it make a big, wonderful difference. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Thanks for the feedback – I’m glad it turned out well for you!

  15. Pat BKK says:

    Hi Mika,
    I am from Bangkok and love all kinds of baking. Recently, I tried to bake the bread by bread machine. I also tried (one time) your Melonpan recipe and the outcome was so delicious (even looking still not nice because Thailand weather so hot and high humidity). I tried the Hawaiian bread roll as diary bread and as non-diary bread – outcome is so good for both taste and appearance. Today (3/02) I tried again with home made fresh pineapple juice (same quantity as your recipe) but it did not work, it was like curd flour, I put more flour to recover the sticky dough but it not work. I think the commercial pineapple juice is less concentrate quite a lot from pure juice. I love the smell of fresh juice. Do you think if reduce the fresh juice by half (1/3 cup instead) it will be workable? or dilute by half/half with water ? Thanks in advance for your comments.
    Br., Pat

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Pat,

      So both times you used 3/4 c. pineapple juice – once fresh, and once canned, and it didn’t turn out correctly the time you used fresh pineapple juice? I’m not sure what the problem was – as long as you used the same amount of liquid, fresh vs. canned juice shouldn’t make a difference. However, I see that you wrote you live in Thailand, where the weather is often quite humid? Daily atmospheric humidity can fluctuate, and can absolutely affect bread dough recipes. So on humid days, people often find bread recipes need less moisture… I live in Southern California where it is almost never humid, and always really dry. So when I make this bread, I absolutely need to use 3/4 c. pineapple juice so that the dough has enough moisture and flexibility to it. However, in Thailand, you might find your environmental conditions give you the opposite result, and make your dough too sticky (as you found). (Also, if your flour is stored without a desiccant, it can also absorb moisture from the air, throwing off the moisture balance in your recipe.) Next time you make these rolls, try starting with just 1/2 cup of pineapple juice, and add the remaining 1/4 c. of pineapple juice in 1 T. increments, if needed. Hope this helps! :)

  16. Christina Titus says:

    Hey Mika,

    Was ransacking your entire blog. Im from India and I’ve never tried the King’s Hawaiian Bread rolls before. But I was hoping to get a good regular bread roll recipe. Would it be the same as this recipe, just with the pineapple juice substituted for something else? Would love to hear your version.
    You have a mind blowing blog….

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Christina!
      No, the Hawaiian Bread Rolls are something completely different from a regular bread rolls. Hawaiian bread is really soft and slightly sweet – kind of like Portuguese Sweet Bread. If you are looking for something really soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet, then you will like the Hawaiian Bread Rolls. If you are looking for something more like French or Italian bread – soft on the inside with a harder & crunchier crust – then this recipe is probably not what you are looking for.

  17. Christina Titus says:

    Do you think I could make regular bread rolls with your Japanese Milk Bread recipe?

    • Mika Mika says:

      If you are looking for a “crusty” roll, then no. But if you are looking for a softer type of roll… then probably yes. It all depends what you mean because there are so many different types and styles of “regular bread rolls”.

      • Christina Titus says:

        Oh, definitely a soft crusted roll. More like the rolls in the banner of this website on top. Already kneaded the dough. left for rising. Going to try it out right away…Will let you know how it turns out.

        • Mika Mika says:

          Ok… if that’s what you are looking for, then yes, this should work. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  18. Jarrod says:

    I just wanted to come and give you major, major kudos for this recipe. It is absolutely masterful! I have recently been a tad obsessed with achieving soft, tender bread, and when I ran across your recipe, I got my hopes up. Well, it did not disappoint! I don’t have a bread machine, but I basically followed your directions except that I put everything in the big bowl of my Kitchenaid stand mixer with dough hook. Turned it on speed 1, and let it run for 15 minutes, stopping twice to let the dough plop down to the bottom and start again. Of all the bread recipes I’ve tried, yours is among the easiest, but still has the distinction of being the first perfect bread I’ve ever made! I thank you, and my wife and daughters thank you. We now have a bread recipe to keep in the family!

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Jarrod!
      Thanks so much for the feedback and I’m glad my recipe worked out for you! :)

  19. Amy says:

    Hi Mika,
    I tried your recipe today and it turned out awesome!!!. As usual, thankssssssss for posting the recipe. Does your bread has a strong scent of pineapple? Mine has a very faint scent. (could be because I use Dole can pineapple). Love the texture of the bread.. So soft and spongy

    • Mika Mika says:

      No… I don’t think mine usually smells much like pineapple… just a subtle sweet flavor from the pineapple juice.

  20. Cindy says:

    I just wanted to add another THANK YOU!! This recipe is awesome, the only problem I could find is that I can’t quit eating them ;) Thanks

    • Mika Mika says:

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad it worked out for you. :)

  21. agnes fang says:

    I tried your recipe today. I used the bread machine to make the dough & baked in the oven. It was soft and delicious ! However, when the I took the bread out of the pan onto the cooling rack, the bottom was not flat…it was bunched up, like clutters of bread. It was completely cooked though. WAs it it something that I didn’t do while I formed the dough into a log shape to put into the baking loaf (9×5) pan? Also was I supposed to punch it after the dough doubled?

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not sure what a “clutter of bread” is? If you are trying to make a loaf, and not rolls, then I would roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Roll the rectangle into a cylinder, then place the cylinder in your 9″ X 5″ pan. Cover with plastic wrap (loosely), and allow to rise about 30-60 minutes. Then bake about 35-40 minutes or so until done.

  22. gammyc says:

    To get around the sticky dough problem, what if ya’all scoop the dough into muffin pans? Then the rolls dont spread. They rise up. The rolls remain tender by not adding too much flour. Works for me.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Good idea! :)

  23. Lavern says:

    I started making bread a few years ago and trying to perfect the freshness to stay fresh longer and have the softness stay longer more than a day. I came across your site using tangzhong method and love the added rise even with less flour. But still the results starts getting the staleness in a short time. What do you do to make any of the bread recipes fresh longer more than a day. I make loaf bread, doughnuts, etc. using your method.

    Don’t get me wrong. I use the tangzhong to all my bread recipes now. I am just trying to come up with a way to make a bread that is two or three days old taste and fill like it wasn’t made a week ago, if you know what I mean.

    Please let me know your thoughts on this.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Have you tried refrigerating your bread? Bread will eventually get stale no matter what you do, but if you cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate – softer Asian style breads should stay fresher, for longer. The problem is that home baked bread doesn’t contain chemical preservatives, so it’s hard to mimic the longevity of products you can buy in the market that do contain these ingredients. Another thing I like to so is freeze bread – especially sandwich slices – remove from the freezer, build your “frozen” sandwich… 3-4 hours later at room temperature, and your sandwich bread tastes fresh (not stale).

  24. Steve says:

    Making for Mothers day dinner. Grandson’s like store bought, thought I would make it. In the bread machine now.


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