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Taro Rolls

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Taro rolls are a Hawaiian twist on your classic dinner roll. Slightly sweet, light, and fluffy purple bread. An easy recipe that makes a great side dish.

close up of taro rolls

If you love Portuguese sweet bread, then you are going to love this recipe. Sweet dinner rolls flavored with the staple food of Hawai’i, taro, and baked to perfection.

The vibrant purple hues give this taro bun a gorgeous color to pair with it’s great taste. Eat it fresh out of the oven with a little bit of butter and it can’t be beat.

It goes perfectly as a side dish with so many of your favorite dishes. And best of all it’s a simple recipe.

Now let’s talk about the star of the show, the taro. 

kalo or taro plants
Photo credit: Studio Kealaula

Taro or kalo is a root vegetable that is the staple of Native Hawaiian cuisine. It can be steamed or boiled and eaten as is or mashed and water added to make poi. It has a plain starch-like flavor.

Ingredients for this taro buns recipes

(Full recipe instructions and ingredient amount are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post)

taro rolls ingredients
  • Bread flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content and is perfect for making well, bread. If you don’t have bread flour you can also use all purpose flour.
  • Sugar. This gives the bread a sweet twist to help balance out flavors.
  • Instant yeast. Instant yeast decreases the amount of time it takes to make this recipe as it does not need to be dissolved in a liquid first or complete a first rise. You can also use active dry yeast for this recipe as well.
  • Salt. Salt brings out the flavors of the bread.
  • Milk. This will ensure your yeast thrives. Be sure to use warm milk. Milk that is too hot or too cold can kill the yeast.
  • Poi. Every brand of poi varies so you will need to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly. If you can’t find poi you can use taro. Steam or boil, mash, and add water until you get a paste like consistency. 
  • Butter. This gives the bread more rise and a crispier crust.
  • Purple food coloring. This gives its characteristic purple hue. You can omit this if you’d like.
taro rolls in a baking pan

How to make taro rolls?

  1. Prepare the dough: To a large bowl add flour, sugar, and yeast. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer add ¼ cup milk, poi, egg, and butter. Using the paddle attachment mix until well combined. Then add purple food coloring and mix until the color is mixed through.
  3. Remove the paddle attachment and replace with the dough hook.
  4. Next add the flour mixture in sections. Mix until well combined. Slowly add the remainder of the milk mixture as needed. This will largely vary depending on the brand of poi and the humidity.
  5. Knead the dough: Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. This is a wet dough. You can tell the mixture is done when you can touch the dough with clean hands and the dough does not stick to your fingers.
  6. Shape the dough: Once the dough has been thoroughly mixed, divide the dough into 15 pieces. Form a smooth ball with each piece of dough.
  7. Allow to rise: Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter or oil. Place the dough in 5 rows of 3. Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will vary depending on the temperature and humidity.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  9. Bake the rolls: Once the dough has doubled, bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the bread just begin to brown.
  10. Allow to cool slightly and ENJOY!
taro rolls with browned tops

Tips for the best taro bread

  • Add the liquid in sections. Poi consistency varies from brand to brand. Adding a little at a time allows for better control of the wetness of the dough.
  • Using a stand mixer makes the job of making bread much easier, but is not required. You can mix the dough with a wooden spoon and knead by hand.
  • Shape the dough until you get a taught smooth top surface. A great way to do this is shape your hand like a C and place it over the dough. Roll the dough in a circular motion until the dough pulls itself taught. ***See video for a visual representation***
  • Don’t rush the rising process. The fermentation gives you airy and flavorful bread.
  • If you want a more golden brown top to the taro rolls you can brush a whisked egg over the top of the bread prior to baking.
hand holding a split taro roll

FAQs

  • What are taro rolls made of?
  • Taro or kalo is a root vegetable and one of the main flavors of this sweet roll.
  • What makes taro purple?
  • Taro alone is a grayish color. This bread uses purple food coloring to give it it’s bright purple hues.
  • Is taro gluten free?
  • Yes. Fresh taro root is gluten free. This taro bun recipe utilizes bread flour, which is not gluten free. I have not tried gluten free flour for this recipe.
  • How to store?
  • Taro rolls are best eaten fresh. If you have leftovers place in an airtight container and store at room temperature. This will keep for 4-5 days.
  • Can you freeze taro rolls?
  • Yes. The great thing about this recipe is the ease of which both the dough or fully baked rolls can be frozen. Cover with plastic wrap or your plastic wrap alternative of choice. Then place in an airtight container or zip top bag. This will keep for about 3 months.
  • How to reheat?
  • Room temperature rolls can be reheated in the microwave or the oven. If your rolls are frozen, allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Then reheat in the microwave or oven.
  • Other great taro recipes

    close up of taro rolls

    Taro Rolls

    Yield: 15 rolls
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Additional Time: 2 hours
    Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

    Taro rolls are a Hawaiian twist on your classic dinner roll. Slightly sweet, light, and fluffy purple bread. An easy recipe that makes a great side dish.

    Ingredients

    • 4 cups bread flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup warm milk
    • 1 cup poi
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 tsp purple food coloring

    Instructions

    1. Prepare the dough: To a large bowl add flour, sugar, and yeast. Mix until well combined and set aside.
    2. To the bowl of a stand mixer add ¼ cup milk, poi, egg, and butter. Using the paddle attachment mix until well combined. Then add purple food coloring and mix until the color is mixed through.
    3. Remove the paddle attachment and replace with the dough hook.
    4. Next add the flour mixture in sections. Mix until well combined. Slowly add the remainder of the milk mixture as needed. This will largely vary depending on the brand of poi and the humidity.
    5. Knead the dough: Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. This is a wet dough. You can tell the mixture is done when you can touch the dough with clean hands and the dough does not stick to your fingers.
    6. Shape the dough: Once the dough has been thoroughly mixed, divide the dough into 15 pieces. Form a smooth ball with each piece of dough.
    7. Allow to rise: Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter or oil. Place the dough in 5 rows of 3. Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will vary depending on the temperature and humidity.
    8. Preheat the oven to 325F.
    9. Bake the rolls: Once the dough has doubled, bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the bread just begin to brown.
    10. Allow to cool slightly and ENJOY!

    Notes

  • Add the liquid in sections. Poi consistency varies from brand to brand. Adding a little at a time allows for better control of the wetness of the dough.
  • Using a stand mixer makes the job of making bread much easier, but is not required. You can mix the dough with a wooden spoon and knead by hand.
  • Shape the dough until you get a taught smooth top surface. A great way to do this is shape your hand like a C and place it over the dough. Roll the dough in a circular motion until the dough pulls itself taught. ***See video for a visual representation***
  • Don’t rush the rising process. The fermentation gives you airy and flavorful bread.
  • If you want a more golden brown top to the taro rolls you can brush a whisked egg over the top of the bread prior to baking.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 266Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 131mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 5g

    Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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    By on November 21st, 2021

    About Relle

    Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

    I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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