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Hawaiian Bread Recipe in Loaves or Rolls and Buns (Pull-Aparts)

 

I never buy Hawaiian bread in the grocery store because of all the palm oil ingredients. It’s easy to make Hawaiian bread at home. This soft, sweet bread lives up to its name because when you take a bite, it tastes just a little like the islands.

My preferred yeast is Red Star Yeast in the packets. It doesn’t contain any palm oil ingredients like many yeasts in jars do. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract instead of imitation as well. 

This yeast bread is slightly sweet with a very nice crumb that is a little denser and chewier than other breads. You can make sandwiches with this bread, have it with dinner, or eat it right out of the oven with a little butter. It’s really nice to serve for brunch.

Homemade Hawaiian bread is made with white flour, sugar, butter, eggs, milk and pineapple juice. You knead the dough by hand and then bake in the oven.

This recipe explains how to make Hawaiian bread loaves as well as rolls (also called buns or pull-aparts). I like making the loaves round instead of rectangular. Here’s how to make Hawaiian bread. It’s easy to make and delicious.

Hawaiian Bread Recipe

When making the bread, keep in mind that the dough will be a little stickier than other breads. You can dust your hand with a little flour when you handle it. This is also a dough that mixes well whether you do it by hand or use a machine.

Use these step-by-step instructions to make Hawaiian bread. Prep time takes just 10 minutes and bake time 30 minutes. Allow 2 hours for the dough to rise. Keep reading for tips for storing the bread and keeping it fresh. You’ll want it to retain it’s fluffy outside and flaky inside. 

This recipe serves 12.

Hawaiian Bread Ingredients

  • 6 cups unbleached flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger or ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 packages Red Star yeast
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon avocado oil, vegetable oil or other tasteless oil to coat the pans and bowl

How to Make Hawaiian Bread

  1. Generously grease three round cake pans or casserole dish with oil. 
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, pineapple juice, sugar, ginger, pure vanilla extract, and melted butter.
  3. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the yeast and mix well.
  5. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. It will feel sticky.
  6. Drizzle a little oil in a large bowl and spread it to coat the bottom and sides. Put the dough in the bowl and turn once to make sure the entire surface of the dough is coated with the oil.
  7. Cover it with a cloth and leave it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
  8. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into three equal parts. Shape each of these parts into round loaves and place each one in its own greased pan. (If making into Hawaiian rolls, separate into smaller balls, equal in size. Place next to each other in greased baking pan.)
  9. Cover the loaves with cloth and allow them to rise for an additional 60 minutes. 
  10. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 350ºF.
  11. After rising, place the three pans in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until done. (If making Hawaiian bread rolls, check for doneness after 15 minutes.)

Pro Tips for Making this Recipe

If making Hawaiian bread loaves:

If you don’t have three circle pans, use what you have. You can set the dough on greased baking sheets as well.

If you have a smaller oven or if you have one pan instead of three, you can bake the three loaves separately instead of together. They will bake faster so be sure to check them after 15 minutes. Keep the remaining covered dough rising on the counter until you are ready to bake.

Another option is to use a 9 x 13 pan to replace two round cake pans. Start checking for doneness after 15 minutes.

If making Hawaiian bread rolls:

If you don’t have three circular pans or if you prefer making pull-aparts, the process is the same. Divide the dough into even parts. Set them together in the greased pan to rise for an hour, and then set in preheated oven. Check for doneness after 15 minutes.

You may have extra dough, depending on how large you make each bun. Keep the extra dough covered and rising on the counter until you are ready to bake.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Hawaiian bread as a breakfast, a snack, with sandwiches, or as a side for salads and meals.  It is savory and sweet and goes with just about everything. If you make it in a loaf, you can slice it and use it to make French toast. It is similar in taste to Portuguese sweet bread.

How to Store Hawaiian Bread

Before you put away freshly-made Hawaiian bread, you want to be sure it is completely cooled. This is essential so it does not build up condensation. Storing in a bread box is ideal. It will keep the bread from drying out and becoming stale.

However, being many people don’t own a bread box, the next best thing you can do is to store it in an airtight container and leave on the counter. Be sure it is not in direct sunlight. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

If you want to keep Hawaiian bread fresh longer, you can keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 2 weeks.

If you want to freeze it for later use, wrap it securely and tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Be sure to secure the edges so no air can get in. Alternatively, after wrapping in plastic, you can put it in a freezer bag, being sure to work all the air out of it before sealing.

To defrost the bread, set it in the fridge overnight to thaw. You can refresh it in the oven before you are ready to serve. Preheat the oven for 375ºF and set the loaf in the oven for 3 minutes.

Why Make Your Own

Making your own means you can control the ingredients. Homemade means you will recognize the ingredients in the bread. 

What is in King’s Hawaiian bread?

There are many more ingredients in King’s Hawaiian bread than if you make it at home yourself. This is because in order to increase the shelf-life, it contains preservatives. As someone who avoids palm oil, I can’t buy this bread. The ingredients on the packages of King’s Hawaiian bread are: 

Enriched Flour, Water, Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Potato Flour, Yeast, Sorbitan Monostearate, Ascorbic Acid, Whey, Corn Flour, Monocalcium Phosphate, Soy Flour, Nonfat Milk, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Datem, Calcium Silicate, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate, Wheat Starch, Enzymes

FAQs

Why do they call it Hawaiian bread?

Hawaiian bread gets its name from its origins in Hawaii, where it was first created by Portuguese immigrants who brought their sweet bread-making techniques to the islands.

What is special about Hawaiian bread?

Hawaiian bread is special because it has a soft and fluffy texture and sweet taste. Some recipes call for milk, sugar, and eggs to give it a richer flavor.

What type of bread is Hawaiian bread?

Hawaiian bread is a type of sweet bread, similar to brioche or challah. It is made with flour, yeast, pineapple juice, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and butter or oil.

What makes Hawaiian bread different?

Hawaiian bread is different because of its sweetness and light texture. It is often served as a dessert bread or used to make sandwiches.

Why is Hawaiian bread so sweet?

Depending on the recipe, Hawaiian bread is sweet because of the granulated sugar and pineapple juice. Some recipes use honey to add sweetness and moisture. 

Why does Hawaiian bread taste so good?

Hawaiian bread is delectable… some say it melts in your mouth. It tastes so good because it has a delightful combination of sweetness with a light, fluffy texture.

What can I do with Hawaiian bread slices?

It is perfect for making French toast, bread pudding, or simply enjoying as a snack.

What makes Hawaiian bread different?

This fluffy bread is different from other types of bread because of its sweetness and soft texture. Its ingredients, including sugar and pineapple juice, give it a richer flavor and a distinct taste that sets it apart from other breads. If you haven’t tried it before, I hope you will make this recipe.

Homemade Hawaiian Bread

My family avoids palm oil because it makes my son sick. This means we don’t buy premade Hawaiian bread rolls from the store. Even the sliced Hawaiian bread and loaves and really, any packaged sweet Hawaiian breads contain palm oil ingredients. Manufacturers use these ingredients to extend the shelf-life of the bread. 

Because of this, I have learned to become very good at baking breads at home. Some bread recipes I make are quick breads that don’t require yeast, such as Irish soda bread and a simple unleavened bread. Others, such as French bread  and this recipe for Hawaiian bread, are leavened with yeast. Once you get in the habit of baking bread recipes from scratch, it is easy.

Making Bread and Rolls at Home

Some people prefer homemade bread to store-bought bread because it tastes better and is usually less expensive. Homemade bread is also healthier than store-bought bread because it doesn’t contain preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, and other chemicals.

If you make this Hawaiian bread, please leave me a note in the Comments. What do you serve it with? Perhaps just butter? It’s so tasty that way. Do you slice it to make sliders or just pull it apart to enjoy? What other breads do you bake from scratch? Here are some to consider making next time:

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Hawaiian Bread

This intriguing bread lives up to its name because when you take a bite it tastes just a little like the islands. Hawaiian bread is slightly sweet with a very nice crumb that is a little denser and chewier than other breads. You can make sandwiches with this bread, have it with dinner, or eat it right out of the oven with a little butter. Make it as round loaves or as rolls.
Course Bread
Cuisine Hawaiian
Keyword Hawaiian bread, Hawaiian bread recipe, Homemade Hawaiian bread, How to make Hawaiian bread, recipe for Hawaiian bread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rising time 2 hours
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 6 cups unbleached flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger or ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 packages Red Star yeast
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or avocado oil to coat pan

Instructions

  • Generously grease three round cake pans.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, pineapple juice, sugar, ginger, vanilla, and melted butter.
  • Add 3 cups of flour and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the yeast and mix well.
  • Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. It will feel sticky to the touch.
  • Drizzle a little oil in a large bowl and spread it to coat the bottom and sides. Put the dough in the bowl and turn once to make sure the entire surface of the dough is coated with the oil. Cover it with a cloth and leave it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into three equal parts. Shape each of these parts into round loaves and place each one in its own greased pan.
  • Cover the loaves with cloth and allow them to rise for 1 hour.
  • Toward the end of the rise time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • After rising, place the pans in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until done.

Notes

This recipe is for Hawaiian bread loaves. If you want to make Hawaiian bread rolls or buns (aka pull-aparts), separate the dough into equal parts and place on prepared baking pan with sides. Let rise for 60 minutes (as in instructions above) then set in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes and check for doneness. It may require another 5 minutes, depending on your oven. Do not overbake. 
Another option is to use a 9 x 13 pan to replace two round cake pans. Baking time is reduced by about 15 minutes less. But that is a general rule. Start checking for doneness after 15 minutes.
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