Slightly sweet, soft, and buttery. A gluten-free Hawaiian rolls recipe so delicious and easy to make, you'll be coming back for more! These gluten-free Hawaiian sweet rolls are the perfect complement to your Thanksgiving or Easter dinner. You can also use them as gluten-free slider buns or hamburger buns! Dairy-free options included.
I'm so excited to share this gluten-free Hawaiian rolls recipe with you! If you're like me, you probably miss those sweet and fluffy King's Hawaiian rolls! There is just something so satisfying about them! While it's hard to get the same exact pillowy soft texture in gluten-free bread, it is possible to get a soft, squishy roll with the same taste as those famous rolls you used to love.
King's Hawaiian Rolls
Hawaiian rolls were made famous by the brand King's. You've probably seen them as they are in just about every grocery store. Unfortunately, King's Hawaiian Rolls are not gluten-free so we will just have to make our own copycat version!
A lot of recipes for Hawaiian rolls call for pineapple juice, which makes sense because of the tropical nature of the fruit. Given that, I made some batches with pineapple juice but I was honestly not a fan of the flavor. The pineapple was too strong and they didn't taste anything like a King's Hawaiian roll.
Upon further research, I noted that the ingredients for King's Hawaiian rolls don't even contain pineapple juice! The King's roll is most likely based on a type of sweet bread called Portuguese sweet bread.
While that type of bread was traditionally sweetened with pineapple juice or honey, the King's bread does not seem to be sweetened with either, but rather it is sweetened with sugar.
Most of these ingredients are standard pantry items for a gluten-free baker which makes this recipe perfectly accessible anytime you have a hankering! You do not have to make your own flour blend, but I do have recommendations below for store-bought gluten-free flour blends that produced the best results!
- Gluten-free Flour: I highly recommend Caputo Fioreglut Gluten-free Flour or Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour for this recipe. At this time, I do not have any other flour recommendations. As I continue to test this recipe with other flours, I will add them to the list if they work well.
- Caputo Fioreglut is a special Italian gluten-free flour that I use most notably in my gluten-free pizza dough, you can also read a little bit more about the flour in that post. If you want to make gluten-free bread that is as close to regular bread as possible, use this flour. Please note: Fioreglut does contain gluten-free wheat starch.
- Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour came in a close second in this recipe. The results were great, although slightly more dense than the rolls made with Fioreglut. Please note: Cup4Cup does contain dairy.
- Psyllium husk powder: Adding psyllium husk powder to yeasted bread recipes helps them to rise a bit more and gives the bread a better structure. Plus we could all use a little extra fiber, right?
- Potato Flour: For this recipe, you'll want potato flour, not potato starch.
- In a pinch, you can grind plain mashed potato flakes into a powder if you have a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix.
- Yeast: The yeast for this bread is rapid rise yeast. It may also be labeled as instant yeast or bread machine yeast. The benefit to this type of yeast is that it is a bit easier to work with. You don't have to dissolve it first. It can be mixed right in with the dry ingredients.
- If you only have regular active dry yeast, sprinkle the yeast in the warm milk (110-120°F) and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding it to the recipe.
- Brown Sugar: The original rolls also have malted barley flour, which is why I chose brown sugar as opposed to white sugar in this recipe. The brown sugar will add a touch more flavor and color to the rolls.
- Milk & butter: For dairy-free, substitute your favorite dairy-free baking substitutes. I tested this recipe with almond milk and canola oil. You can also use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.
The dough is mixed for 2 minutes to get it very smooth and well combined, which would be a challenge without a stand mixer. Since the dough is also pretty thick, I do not recommend using a hand mixer.
This recipe makes a small batch of 8 rolls and it fits perfectly into a regular loaf pan! If you want to double the recipe for a larger quantity, you can easily do that! In that case, bake the rolls in a 9 x 9-inch pan.
How to Make Gluten-free Hawaiian Rolls
These Hawaiian rolls are fairly easy to make, but they are a bit time-consuming. Most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise. (See below for a time-saving variation.)
Part 1: Make the Dough
To make the dough, you're basically just mixing everything together! The only thing of note is that you'll need to warm the milk to about 120°F to activate the yeast.
After you've mixed the dough, let the dough rise in a warm spot until about doubled in size. If your kitchen is cold you can:
- Set the bowl near a sunny window.
- Turn your oven on to 'warm' (or your oven's lowest temperature setting) for a few minutes. Then turn the oven OFF. Place the bowl in the warm oven with the light on. Be sure the oven isn't too warm! You don't want the oven temperature to be more than around 80-ish degrees.
- Use your Instant Pot! You can proof the dough using the yogurt setting. This is usually the fastest method and may only take about 30 minutes for the dough to double in size!
After the dough has risen, the next step is to chill the dough. This is not 100% necessary, but it makes the dough much easier to handle! Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Note: If you choose to chill the dough overnight, the yeast will ferment and create a slightly stronger flavor to the dough. I found this detracts slightly from the overall sweetness of the rolls.
Part 2: Forming the Rolls
Once the dough has chilled, dump it out on a floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top.
Then gently knead the dough. You don't want to be too rough here! Knead it just enough so that the dough is smoother and not so sticky on top.
Then divide the dough into 8 portions and roll each one into a ball. Cup your hand over the dough on the counter, then use small circular motions to roll it around into a ball. Or just roll the dough into a ball in between your hands. Whichever is easier!
Again, be gentle. You don't want to undo too much of the work the yeast has already done!
Part 3: The Final Rise and Baking
Now that you have formed your rolls, place them in a lightly greased loaf pan. Allow them to rise again until puffed. They probably won't double in size but they should rise enough to fill in the gaps between them. This will take another hour or two.
Once the rolls have puffed up, it's time to bake! Brush a little melted butter on top before popping them in the oven.
How to Make the Rolls Ahead
- After the first rise: After the dough rises the first time, you can place the covered bowl in the fridge for several hours up to overnight. Then continue to shape the rolls.
- After Shaping: You can refrigerate the rolls after shaping them, either before or after the second rise. Place the rolls in the greased loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator at least 2 hours before baking to allow them to come to room temperature and go through the second rise.
- Bake One Day Ahead: The rolls can be baked one day in advance and reheated when needed. To reheat, brush the rolls with melted butter. Reheat for 10-15 minutes at 350°F or until warmed through.
A Faster Method
By now, you may have realized this is one of those recipes that takes up most of the day! And while it's not hard... it's just a lot of waiting. If you don't necessarily care how pretty these rolls are, you can skip the second rise.
This will save you several hours because you won't need to chill the dough or let them rise again after you form the rolls. Here's how to do it:
- After you make the dough, scoop 8 portions of dough into a greased loaf pan. The portions are about the size of a heaping ¼th cup. Using a large scoop really helps with this!
- Then cover with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise until doubled in size.
- Once doubled, proceed with baking.
The only difference with this method is that the rolls are not quite as nice looking on top. The tops will not be as smooth and have more of a bubbly-looking texture. The rolls will still taste the same and it will save you a considerable amount of time!
More Gluten-free Bread Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe be sure to check out my other gluten-free yeast bread recipes! Or check out some yeast-free reader favorites!
As always, if you enjoyed this gluten-free Hawaiian Roll recipe, please share it on Pinterest or Facebook! I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment and a star rating below!
Gluten-free Hawaiian Rolls
- 1 ½ cups Caputo Fioreglut Gluten-Free Flour, or Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten-free Flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar, increase to ½ cup (100g) for sweeter rolls
- 2 Tablespoons potato flour, not potato starch
- ½ Tablespoon psyllium husk powder
- ½ Tablespoon instant yeast, also known as Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk, or dairy-free milk such as almond milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks or Canola Oil for dairy-free
- 1 egg
Make the Dough
- In a stand mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, potato flour, psyllium husk powder, yeast, and salt.
- In a microwave-safe cup, combine the milk and butter. Microwave for 1 minute to melt the butter and heat the mixture to 120-130°F. (Check the temperature with a digital thermometer as this is important to properly activate the yeast.)
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Then add in the egg.
- Blend on medium speed for 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick and smooth.
Form the Rolls
- Lightly grease your hands with cooking spray or oil. Then scoop ¼ cup of the dough mixture into your hands and gently roll into a ball. Place in a greased loaf pan. Repeat with the remaining dough, to yield 8 rolls total.
- Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap or a towel. Place in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour or until rolls are doubled in size and puffy.
Bake the Rolls
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter.
- Bake the rolls for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Brush again with melted butter. Serve warm.
- After the rise: Form the rolls as indicated and let rise. Keep covered with plastic wrap and place the pan of rolls in the fridge for several hours or up to overnight. Bake as instructed.
- Bake One Day Ahead: The rolls can be baked one day in advance and reheated when needed.