Ask any carb-lover what the sweetest bread around is, and they’ll tell you that King’s Hawaiian Rolls are the sweetest, softest, smoothest-tasting bread rolls that have ever been invented.
They originated in Hilo, Hawaii with a local bread baker who created his own recipe for an ultra-soft, ultra-sweet bread roll.
Taste and texture aside though, you’re probably wondering, “Are Hawaiian Rolls vegan?”
Unfortunately, Hawaiian Rolls are NOT vegan. The reason why the bread rolls are so soft and sweet is thanks to all of the added dairy products and sugar. Both dairy and refined sugar are non-vegan since they contribute to animal cruelty and exploitation.
Additionally, Hawaiian Rolls are packed full of artificial chemicals that you would never believe. Below, I’ll show you all twenty-five ingredients used to make these bread rolls and explain exactly why they’re not vegan-friendly.
Is There Dairy In King’s Hawaiian Rolls?
Your typical loaf of bread is usually dairy-free. Most bread is made from simple ingredients like wheat flour, water, salt, and maybe added grains.
What makes King’s Hawaiian Rolls different from normal bread rolls, though, is that they’re ultra-soft and sweeter than almost any other bread roll on the market.
King’s Hawaiian Rolls contain whey, milk, and butter, all of which are non-vegan dairy products.
This means that Hawaiian Rolls shouldn’t be consumed by vegans or lactose-intolerant individuals. While the amount of dairy in these rolls isn’t very high, it’s still enough to cause lactose-intolerant eaters a stomach ache, diarrhea, or worse.
Do Hawaiian Rolls Contain Eggs?
Like milk, eggs aren’t commonly used for your average loaf of sliced bread. They’re usually reserved for dessert dishes, such as cake, cookies, or pastry bread. When added to bread dough, the dough becomes chewier and often takes on a softer texture that’s quite delightful.
Hawaiian Rolls all contain a small number of eggs. This was one of the key ingredients that the creator used to create his original world-famous King’s Hawaiian Rolls, so don’t expect it to change.
While there are a growing number of vegan egg substitutes that are available on the market, many of them are packed full of artificial ingredients and are quite expensive. Until a better option arises, most bakeries will still rely on eggs as an emulsifier.
What Are Hawaiian Rolls Made Of? Ingredients Listed
King’s Hawaiian Rolls was first launched in 1983 after the bakery and owner Robert Taira decided to respond to the ever-increasing demand for more of their delicious rolls. Up until then, King’s Hawaiian was just a small, locally-owned bakery and restaurant on the “Big Island” (Hilo).
Once King’s Hawaiian Rolls hit store shelves in the US mainland, the brand exploded. Today, they’re sold in grocery stores in every state in the United States.
While the original recipe for King’s Hawaiian Rolls was likely a lot simpler, I have to admit that today’s Hawaiian Rolls contain a lot more additives and artificial ingredients than I expected.
The main ingredients are flour, water, sugar, butter, and eggs. However, there’s a list of about twenty other ingredients that consumers might not be so fond of.
Here’s the shortlist of the ingredients, so you can see for yourself:
I know, what a mouthful, right?
To help you break through the confusion and decipher this long list of additives, here’s a complete breakdown of all of the ingredients in King’s Hawaiian Rolls.
1) Enriched Flour & Water
The first two ingredients are the most important – flour and water. When flour and water are mixed together, they create the dough, which is the base of all bread, pasta, cookies, pastries, or any other delicious bread products that you may enjoy.
Flour is a plant-based baking additive that’s 100% vegan, so you never have to worry about this one. It’s made by drying and grinding the ripe fruit of wheatgrass into a fine powder.
Flour is an ancient food that has been around since the dawn of humanity. Even the ancient paleo cavemen were making and eating primitive grain-based flour as far back as 32,000 years ago!
Above all else, King’s Hawaiian Rolls are sweet. I believe the original recipe used honey as a sweetener. However, due to the high cost of honey, most of the Hawaiian Rolls on the market today are made with refined white sugar.
Unfortunately, refined white sugar is a gray area sweetener for vegans. While it’s technically a plant-based food ingredient, white sugar goes through a refining process that involves the use of animal bone char filters.
Because of this, most vegans prefer to consume natural unrefined cane sugar instead of white sugar.
3) Liquid Sugar
Liquid sugar is also used in addition to pure raw sugar. Since liquid sugar is made with the same refined white sugar, it’s also a non-vegan food additive.
As a product of cream, milk, and salt, butter is a dairy product and is therefore not vegan. Butter is mostly used as a thickening agent to make the bread softer and chewier.
Eggs, of course, are never vegan. They’re stolen from exploited chickens, which are often treated very cruelly in the commercial egg and poultry industry.
6) Potato Flour
Potato flour is mixed in with wheat flour to add an extra layer of flavor and complexity to the bread. Potato flour is naturally sweet and potato bread is known for having a sweeter, softer texture than wheat bread.
Without yeast, bread rolls wouldn’t be possible. When active yeast is added to the dough, the yeast feeds on the carbs and sugar, producing CO2 gas, which causes the bread to rise. When deactivated, nutritional yeast is also a great vegan seasoning!
Whey is a protein that’s released from milk as a by-product of the cheese-making process. Whey is often processed and used to create protein shakes, bars, and other health supplements.
9) Nonfat Milk
Nonfat milk is added to the Hawaiian Roll dough to give it a sweeter flavor and a softer texture. Milk provides natural lactose sugars, which make the bread sweeter and more flavorful.
10) Soy Flour
Soy flour is a type of flour that’s made from dried and crushed soybeans. I’m not sure exactly why soy flour is used alongside potato and wheat flour, but I guess it’s all part of their secret recipe.
Salt is a common baking additive that’s added to almost all bread products. Not only does salt improve and balance the flavor of the bread but it also strengthens the protein bonds in the bread, making for a firmer, more wholesome-tasting bread roll.
12) Degerminated Yellow Corn Flour
King’s Hawaiian Rolls are made with multiple types of flour, including degerminated (read, processed) yellow corn flour. This is the same type of flour that’s used to make tortillas.
13) Wheat Gluten
Wheat gluten is a pure protein that’s contained within wheat and is added to the dough to strengthen it.
14) Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
This is a chemical preservative and emulsifier that’s derived from lactic acid.
Datem is shorthand for Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Mono- and Diglycerides. These fatty acid compounds are artificially made and serve as a fatty emulsifier that holds the dough together and improves the consistency of the bread.
16) Monocalcium Phosphate & Calcium Phosphate
Both of these organic compounds are used as leavening agents, in the place of baking soda. They’re mostly natural and safe to consume.
17) Wheat Flour
A small amount of wheat flour is used to coat the outside of the bread rolls to prevent them from sticking to each other after baking.
18) Sodium Silicoaluminate
This is a salty chemical that’s used as an anti-caking agent in the mixture.
19) Ascorbic Acid
Ascorbic acid is the term for artificially created vitamin C. It’s used to condition the dough and improve its texture prior to being rolled and shaped.
20) Ammonium Sulfate
This chemical is often found in fertilizer. In these Hawaiian Rolls, though, it’s used as a dough stabilizer to ensure all of the rolls are evenly cooked.
21) Wheat Starch
Wheat starch is added as a thickening agent to make the bread rolls a bit softer.
22) Sorbitan Monostearate
This is a synthetic wax that’s used in processed foods in the place of carnauba wax. This helps to lock in the flavor of the rolls.
Enzymes are added to the dough to help break down the dough before it’s cooked, making the bread rolls softer when they come out of the oven.
24) Microcrystalline Cellulose
This highly processed compound serves as an emulsifier and anti-caking agent when used in baking.
25) Calcium Silicate
Calcium silicate is a pharmaceutical-grade anti-caking agent that’s used in a number of different medications. Apparently, it’s also safe to use in bread.
The Verdict – King’s Hawaiian Rolls Are Not Vegan-Friendly
When it comes to bread, King’s Hawaiian Rolls are about as non-vegan as it gets. They’re made with lots of dairy and egg. They also contain refined sugar and a number of other artificial chemicals that even non-vegans shouldn’t be consuming on an everyday basis.
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan bread brands next!