Hawaiian Rolls Vs Dinner Rolls: What's The Difference?

When you need the perfect side to help sop up gravy, sauce, or just the last bits of food on your plate, nothing comes to the rescue like a dinner roll. According to iFood, these rolls originally sprung up in England around the 16th century, where people referred to them as baps. These breads have evolved over time to encompass a variety of styles and influenced the creation of a roll on the other side of the world.

Hawaiian rolls, one notable ancestor of the original bap, came into being back in Hilo, Hawaii during the 1950's (via King Arthur Baking). The bakery that pioneered these sweet local specialties eventually specialized in the roll, and even claimed that few Hawaiian rolls made it all the way home with the customers. 

While modern dinner rolls and Hawaiian rolls have a similar look, some striking differences set these baked goods worlds apart. According to Sally's Baking Addiction, dinner rolls rely on a yeasted, enriched dough featuring milk and butter in order to develop the rich, decadent taste we associate with this roll. These ingredients also help develop the texture of the rolls that make them so gratifying to pull apart. Compared to the Hawaiian roll, these breads seem like night and day.

A sweet, tropical take on the dinner roll

If you have recently dug into a pack of Hawaiian rolls, you might notice that while these breads feature a similar stretchy texture to a dinner roll, their tastes just can't compare. According to Baked By an Introvert, the secret to the flavor of authentic Hawaiian rolls lie in some sweet add-ins. These rolls use a combo of vanilla extract, honey, and pineapple juice to imbue the distinct flavor that sets these rolls apart from their European cousin. Factor in the use of buttermilk instead of regular milk, and you end up with a final product that has an extra touch of tang, making it a great complement to whatever you throw at them.

Next time you have to make a decision to grab some dinner rolls or Hawaiian rolls, you can remember how each roll makes use of unique ingredients and make an educated guess to decide which item better fits your needs. No matter which you choose, you can't go wrong with either of these time-tested favorites that guarantee to make your meal great.