Gluten-Free Hawaiian Rolls are a marvelous side dish for any meal! A riff off of the classic iconic Hawaiian Rolls, this gluten-free and dairy-free version is an excellent alternative to the traditional favorite.
Are you a Hawaiian roll fanatic?
My whole family is.
True story, Hawaiian rolls were a HUGE To Do during the holidays growing up. It seems as though my siblings found them even more important than the turkey or other sides!
I myself never really cared for the store-bought Hawaiian rolls, but I know many others in addition to my siblings and nieces and nephews (all 11 of them) who are obsessed with the things.
After making these dairy-free gluten-free Hawaiian rolls, I can safely say I love them – that is, I love this exact recipe 😉
Fluffy with a nice crisp, rich with unique flavor, so incredibly fragrant and AMAZING when warm with a smear of butter and drizzle of honey…
Now I can see why they are so crucial to any feast!
What Are Hawaiian Rolls?:
Hawaiian rolls, in case you’ve never tried them, are small golden-brown bites of joy that are ever so slightly sweet and are incredibly light.
The traditional recipe calls for regular all-purpose flour, buttermilk, pineapple juice, and honey or brown sugar. The combination of gluten-containing flour and yeast is what gives the rolls that iconic airy fluff, and the combination of buttermilk and pineapple juice is where the iconic flavor comes from.
The Scoop on These Rolls:
Full disclosure, these do not have the same exact consistency as store-bought Hawaiian rolls, which basically have the lightest, most airy texture.
This gluten-free version is more dense and closer to the consistency of a biscuit – it’s nearly impossible to get that light of a texture without gluten. That being said, the taste is there!
Before we go further, I have included instructions for using dairy if you aren’t dairy-free, as the classic roll includes both buttermilk and butter.
But for those of us who are dairy-free, this is an incredible replacement and you’d never guess the difference.
The ingredients for these dairy-free gluten-free Hawaiian rolls are remarkably simple! Let’s chat.
Gluten-Free Hawaiian Rolls Ingredients:
Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk: A traditional Hawaiian roll recipe includes buttermilk and butter. We replace both with full-fat canned coconut milk. The canned coconut milk adds richness and natural sweetness to the rolls, which you can actually smell while the dough is proving!
For the best result, do be sure to use full-fat canned coconut milk (not light coconut milk or coconut milk from the carton), as it replaces the fat lost from the buttermilk and butter, which is crucial in getting the texture right.
If you do dairy, replace the full-fat canned coconut milk with ½ cup of buttermilk plus 4 tablespoons of butter.
Pineapple Juice: Just like classic Hawaiian rolls, we use 100% pineapple juice. This serves as a portion of the liquid, sweetness, and island vibe flavor! Be sure to use 100% pineapple juice rather than a pineapple blend.
Honey: To sweeten the rolls, we use honey! In addition to providing sweetness, honey is helpful in getting that iconic golden-brown color that is typical with Hawaiian rolls.
Yeast: That amazing ingredient that causes the dough to rise substantially so that the rolls are incredibly fluffy. Be sure to use yeast that is not expired! In addition, after activating the yeast it should become very bubbly and fragrant. If you don’t get a huge yeasty aroma or bubbles, start over!
Eggs (+ 1 Egg White): Used to make the rolls nice and fluffy, we need a couple of eggs. We also need one egg white plus a little water to make an egg wash for the rolls. The egg wash gives it that shiny, golden finish.
Gluten-Free Flour: In order to make these Hawaiian rolls gluten-free, select your favorite gluten-free blend – preferably one that includes leavening agents and/or emulsifiers. I use Bob’s Red Mill’s Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, but King Arthur and Pamela’s should work great too. Do note that these flours contain different absorbencies, so you may need to adjust the amount of flour you use based on what the dough is looking like. If it is overly sticky, add ¼ to ½ cup more, until a proper dough forms.
Sea Salt: Enhancing the flavor of these Hawaiian rolls is sea salt! Be sure you don’t skip it as it works wonders on making an otherwise bland roll taste amazing.
See? Short, simple and familiar! Now that we’re experts on the ingredients, let’s bake a batch of these yummy rolls.
How to Make Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Hawaiian Rolls:
Combine the coconut milk, pineapple juice and honey in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and heat for 30-second increments, stirring well in between, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Stir the yeast into this wet mixture and allow it to sit for 10 minutes to bloom.
Transfer the wet mixture to a stand mixer and beat in the eggs using the paddle attachment.
Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a thick dough forms. The dough will be somewhat sticky but if it is overly sticky, add more flour.
Cover the dough with plastic or a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide the dough into 15 sections and form balls out of the dough. Transfer the balls of dough to a greased (or sprayed) casserole dish (I use a medium-sized casserole dish, not a 13” x 9” You can use a 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan if you’d like).
Allow the dough to rest another 30 minutes, or until the balls have doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a bowl, whisk together 1 egg white with 1 teaspoon of water. Use a silicone brush to lightly coat the dough balls with egg wash.
Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 23 to 30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden-brown.
Remove rolls from the oven and serve warm with butter (or vegan butter spread to keep it dairy-free) and honey.
There’s something about baking with yeast that is such a game changer! While yeast recipes do take longer because the dough needs to rise, the process of making the dough is fun, therapeutic, and do I daresay romantic!
I hope you and your family enjoy these rolls as much as we do!
If you’re looking for more dinner roll ideas, here are some suggestions:
More Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls and Breads:
- Sweet Potato Rolls with Maple Bacon Glaze
- Almond Flour Dinner Rolls
- Keto Biscuits with Coconut Flour
- Gluten-Free Cornbread (Dairy-Free)
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
If you make these Hawaiian rolls, feel free to share a photo on Instagram and tag @The.Roasted.Root!
Gluten-Free Hawaiian Rolls
A gluten-free, dairy-free twist on classic Hawaiian rolls for those of us who LOVE a great roll!
- 1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk*
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- ⅓ cup honey
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 ½ to 5 cups gluten-free flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp water
- Combine the coconut milk, pineapple juice and honey in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and heat for 30-second increments, stirring well in between, until the mixture reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stir the yeast into this wet mixture and allow it to sit for 10 minutes to bloom.
- Transfer the wet mixture to a stand mixer and beat in the eggs using the paddle attachment.
- Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a thick dough forms. The dough will be somewhat sticky but if it is overly sticky, add more flour.
- Cover the dough with plastic or a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Divide the dough into 15 sections and form balls out of the dough. Transfer the balls of dough to a greased (or sprayed) casserole dish (I use a medium-sized casserole dish, not a 13” x 9”). Allow the dough to rest another 30 minutes, or until the balls have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a bowl, whisk together 1 egg white with 1 teaspoon of water. Use a silicone brush to lightly coat the dough balls with egg wash.
- Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 23 to 30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden-brown.
- Remove rolls from the oven and serve warm with butter (or vegan butter spread to keep it dairy-free) and honey.
*If you do dairy, replace the coconut milk with ½ cup of buttermilk and 4 tablespoons of butter.
If your gluten-free flour blend doesn’t contain leavening agents in it, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
Nutrition InformationYield 15 Serving Size 1 roll
Amount Per Serving Calories 215Total Fat 3gCarbohydrates 44gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 4g
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Tuesday 22nd of November 2022
My hawaiian rolls were as hard as hockey pucks! What did I do wrong?!?
Wednesday 23rd of November 2022
Hi Sarma! I'm so sorry to hear that! Did the yeast seem active when you were making the dough? And did the dough rise during both the initial and secondary rise? My thought is there may have been an issue with the yeast, but let me know what the dough was like while you were preparing the recipe and I can try to troubleshoot from there. xoxo
Sunday 20th of November 2022
Can these be made ahead and freeze the dough?
Monday 21st of November 2022
Hi Shari! I think making the rolls ahead of time is an excellent idea, but I would bake them and then freeze them. My only worry is that if the dough is frozen it may kill the yeast and the rolls won't bake as fluffy. That said, I'm not positive what the result would be so if you've had success freezing dough in the past, it may be worth the try! xo
Friday 10th of December 2021
I was wandering if instead of coconut milk if you could substitute condensed milk or regular milk?
Friday 10th of December 2021
Hi Lisa! Regular milk or buttermilk will work great. I've never tried using condensed milk in the recipe so I'm not sure about that one, but it may work just fine too! xo
Thursday 18th of November 2021
Hi! I really want to try this but don't have a standing mixer. Suggestions?
Wednesday 24th of November 2021
@Amanda, I made them with my hand mixer, turned out well.
Tuesday 16th of November 2021
Hi! I also am wondering about the egg replacement and I'm also super allergic to pineapple. Any suggestions??