It would not be Thanksgiving without bread rolls. Pillowy soft domes of comfort, the bread rolls, or buns as my family always called them, may seem much less impressive say than the turkey that so much time & effort is poured into, but for us, there would be a massive void at our family’s table if there were no buns. Because of our deep love for this simple comfort food, I wanted to create a genuinely soft gluten free roll recipe, so that even those who have to avoid gluten can experience the pure joy and nostalgia of a tender bread roll. These gluten free hawaiian rolls absolutely deliver everything that there is to love about buns, so much so, that your gluten free friends and family members will be so overjoyed, it just may be their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.

gluten free hawaiian rolls
gluten free hawaiian rolls
gluten free hawaiian rolls

If you have ever had hawaiian bread then you understand why I wanted to accomplish a gluten free version. Also known as Portuguese sweet bread or pao doce, hawaiian bread is one of our favorite types of bread. Growing up my family tried various types of bread rolls at each Thanksgiving throughout the years, with us eventually settling on hawaiian rolls as our family favorite.

Every Thanksgiving someone in my family, usually my mom, would shout out “don’t burn the buns!” during the final stretch of preparing all of the dishes for our family feast. See, my family always warmed the store bought buns in the oven just before we served Thanksgiving dinner. But there were enough incidences where my grandma, overwhelmed with all of the chaos in the kitchen, would burn the buns. Hence, the annual warning of “don’t burn the buns!” being cried out at every Thanksgiving for the rest of our lives.

gluten free hawaiian rolls
gluten free hawaiian rolls
gluten free hawaiian rolls
gluten free hawaiian rolls
gluten free hawaiian rolls


If its any assurance at all, it is much more difficult to burn fresh made bread rolls than it is to burn store-bought ones, so if only for that, making homemade buns is worth the effort. Not to mention, there is something about homemade bread that is unmistakably special. Hand-shaped balls of dough rise & bake into pillows of pure comfort. Whether you spread them with butter or use them to soak up the gravy on your Thanksgiving plate, bread rolls complete this meal that we all look forward to so much every year.


If you have ever had gluten free bread rolls, then you probably understand just how difficult it is to achieve a tender and soft end result. While these gluten free hawaiian rolls look a bit craggy on the outside, they are indeed the softest and most tender gluten free buns we have ever eaten. They really are the best served warm from the oven, but if you have any leftover rolls, they can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and reheated in the microwave for a very similar experience.


Out of all of the meals we gather together to share with those we love, Thanksgiving is probably one of the most treasured. Every family has its own combination of traditions and dishes, but the one thing that they all have share in common is some type of bread. So, as you break bread at your family feast, consider inviting these gluten free hawaiian rolls to your gathering, they are worth every ounce of effort & will truly delight everyone, gluten intolerant or not.




Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: 8 rolls



  • 3 tbsp (25g) gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) room temperature water
  • 3 cups (420g) gluten free pastry flour (we used Cup4Cup)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp (8g) instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar (we used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (6oz) milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature & beaten
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for egg wash
  • butter for greasing baking pan


  • Whisk together the flour & water in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture has thickened (the whisk will leave a visible trail as it moves through the roux)
  • Remove from the heat & allow to cool until no longer hot, reserve
  • While the roux cools, add sugar, salt & butter to a small dish
  • Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it is very hot, but not boiling & then pour over the butter, sugar & salt mixture, stir until the butter melts, reserve
  • Add flour, cream of tartar & yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer & use a handheld whisk to combine
  • Add the milk, sugar & butter mixture, the beaten eggs & the roux and mix on low speed with the beater attachment until the ingredients are well combined - raise the mixer to medium & mix for about 5 minutes
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl large enough for the dough to rise double its size & cover with a damp towel if you are going to make the rolls same day & set in a warm, draft free location until doubled (about 1 hour)
  • *or if you want to bake at another time, cover the dough with a greased piece of plastic wrap & place the dough in the refrigerator until baking day (dough can store up to 5 days in refrigerator)
  • Once dough is risen (for same day bread) when you are ready to bake from refrigerated dough, grease an 8" baking pan, punch down the dough & on a floured work surface, divide the dough into 8 pieces (mine weighed about 100g each). Shape into rounds by first flattening the piece of dough into a disk, then pull the edges toward the center of the dish, securing the edges together by pressing between your thumb & forefinger. Turn the dough over so that the gathered edges are on the bottom & coax the roll into a round shape. Place each roll into the prepared baking pan as you go, when you are finished with all the rolls, cover with a damp towel or greased plastic wrap & allow to rise in a warm, draft free location until almost doubled, about 30 minutes for same day dough or 1 - 1 1/2 hours for refrigerated dough
  • Pre-heat oven to 350f degrees, uncover the rolls, brush with egg wash & bake on the center rack of the oven for 20 minutes
  • Remove from the oven & place baking pan on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes before serving

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tanya December 27, 2016, 11:34 am

    These Hawaiian rolls sound delicious! Have you ever made GF bread or rolls using cassava flour? I recently bought Otto’s and am looking for recipes that will work with it. Supposedly it can be subbed 1 to 1 for wheat flour, but it’s somewhat expensive, so I’m hoping to find some proven recipes to avoid wasting it. Your advice will be appreciated. Happy New Year!

    • bella December 29, 2016, 1:09 am

      Hi Tanya! Unfortunately I have not tried Otto’s cassava flour, although I have always wanted to. I wish I could be more of a help!

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