Hawaiian Rolls

Sweet, fluffy Hawaiian rolls. Whole grain & no refined sugar! What could be better?

Hawaiian rolls

Um, I’ll tell you what could be better. THIS:


Yep, that’s me, making physical contact with the FLOTUS. Nobody will want to eat my Hawaiian rolls now, knowing that I kneaded them with the hand that I am never washing again. Just kidding. But yes, her arms are amazing, she was so down-to-earth and lovely, and it was in general beyond a pleasure to meet Mrs. Obama. And yes, I am short…

Back story: I had the amazingly good fortune of attending the White House holiday party Wednesday evening, and it was a case of “right place, right time”.. I wish I could have given Michelle a passionate elevator pitch about incorporating some plant-based ideas into Let’s Move! but instead I just became a starstruck robot. Next time…

So, vegan Hawaiian rolls. (Did you like that segue?)  You know the drill: I took a King’s Hawaiian Rolls copycat recipe and fixed it up to be vegan, whole grain, refined sugar-free, and lower fat (so… pretty much completely different). Admittedly, they don’t LOOK exactly the same (the original is a very bold, light yellow color). But one of the best things about baking with whole grain flour is that the flour itself is flavorful, and therefore I have concluded that these TASTE even better than the original. I hope you’ll agree =].

Hawaiian rolls

I’m not always the biggest fan of pureed tofu in baked goods, because it sometimes makes them very dense, but that’s not at all what happened here. The tofu added fluffiness in the best way, and thanks to the Magic Bullet I bought on black Friday, it was easier than ever to add it to the recipe, then add the pineapple, then do the dishes. =]


Hawaiian Rolls

Makes 16 rolls. Dramatically altered from this copycat recipe.

1/4 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk, warmed to ~100 degrees Fahrenheit
1 tb active dry yeast
3/8 cup maple syrup (== 1/4 cup + 2 tb.)
4 c. whole wheat flour
1 heaping tb vital wheat gluten flour
1 tsp salt
2 tb olive oil
3 tb coconut oil (see notes)
3 tb unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. pureed, extra-firm silken tofu
2/3 c. pureed, canned/undrained pineapple (see note)
additional flour for kneading

Equal parts maple syrup, canola oil, and plain, unsweetened nondairy milk (I used about 1 tb of each)

Activate the yeast. Gently stir together the warm milk, yeast, and maple syrup, and set aside for 10 minutes, more if your home is very cool. It will look foamy, otherwise you might want to try again and carefully check the temperature of the yeast.

Make the dough and let it rise. Stir together the flours and salt. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil, coconut oil, applesauce, tofu, pineapple, and yeast mixture. Mix together with a fork until dough pieces begin to form, then finish mixing with your hands. Lightly flour a clean surface and transfer the dough ball onto the surface (alternatively, get out your standing mixer for this part). Knead for 10-15 minutes, or until dough is smooth. Add as little flour as possible, only enough to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. The finished product should be smooth, with fully formed gluten strands, but also still feel somewhat moist. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased dish. Cover with a damp towel and let it sit in a warm area for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Shape the dough and let it rise again. Punch down the doubled-up dough and divide into 16 approximately equally-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and line them up next to one another in a cast iron skillet or other pan with edges. If you aren’t using cast iron or some other baking stone, then lightly grease the surface of the dish first. Let the rolls rise for another 45-60 minutes in a warm area, or until nearly doubled in size again.

Top with the crust wash and bake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the ingredients for the crust and gently brush the tops of the rolls. Be fairly generous here, but be careful not to press down on the rolls too much so that they stay nice and airy and fluffy. Bake for 25-30 minutes (longer if you aren’t using a cast iron skillet or baking stone). If the tops become very brown before the inside is done (it should feel hollow when you tap on the top of one), then cover the rolls with a piece of tinfoil. No need to let them cool – you can eat them as soon as they don’t burn your hands. They are best the day they are made, but will still be good for the next 2-3 days as well if stored covered at room temperature.

Note: I used 365 brand canned pineapple (organic, BPA-free) since the pineapple in this recipe shouldn’t be rinsed or drained. I separated the juice from the pineapple meat, and pureed 2/3 c. worth of the meat. Then added juice back to it to get to 2/3 c. in final volume. I think the ratio shouldn’t matter that much.

Hawaiian Rolls


Submitted to Yeastspotting.


TGIF, am I right? More fun posts planned for this weekend, so stick around! :)


  1. says

    What an amazing opportunity! I would love to meet her!

    Oh, and the rolls look awesome too, of course… But meeting Mrs. Obama! Epic!

  2. says

    This recipe is so great. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this recipe online being sold as “vegetarian” but they use eggs. Finally, I get this recipe which is truly Vegetarian and Vegan. Thanks you

  3. Barb says

    I have an omni daughter who is “hooked” on King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. She will be a tough critic, but the ingredients look wonderful, so I’m excited to try this healthy version!


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