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Butter Rolls

12 Rolls

3½ hours 30 minutes active

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As featured on our show “Milk Street’s My Family Recipe,” these soft-yet-rich butter rolls were recreated from Royce Tanaka’s memory of his grandfather’s version. While growing up in Hawaii, Tanaka’s grandfather, Masao Teruya, owned and operated M’s Bakery in Wahiawa, on the island of Oahu. Tanaka has fond memories of spending time at the bakery on the weekends while his mother helped out. A World War II veteran, Teruya graduated with the inaugural class in the baking program at Honolulu Vocational School, now Honolulu Community College. One of his classmates was Robert Taira, who later founded King’s Hawaiian Bakery, now famous for its Portuguese-style sweet bread. At M’s Bakery, which was frequented by locals and folks from Wheeler Air Force Base (now Wheeler Army Airfield), Teruya sold a baked good that was and still is extremely popular in the Aloha State: the appropriately named butter rolls, made by baking a rich, lightly sweetened yeasted dough in muffin pans with a pat of butter at the bottom. Teruya didn’t invent the butter roll—other bakeries made them, too—but his were Tanaka’s favorite. The “intense caramelization of the butter into the bread” is what Royce remembers most. “I peeled off the top layer, crispy and hot, and added more butter.” Tanaka’s wife, Terry, would like to re-create these rolls for her husband, but unfortunately, Teruya did not leave any record of his recipe or techniques. Terry said butter rolls are mostly a bakery item—the most famous version is from Liliha Bakery—and people rarely make them at home, which explains why she was unable to find recipes. That’s when she contacted Milk Street. Butter rolls are reminiscent of Parker House rolls, so we used them as our jumping-off point to develop this recipe. To achieve the soft, tender, pillowy crumb and rich, sweet flavor characteristic of butter rolls, we use a combination shortening and butter, as well as both milk and water. The rolls are best served warm, but leftovers keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.



3½ hours

30 minutes active


  • ¾

    cup whole milk

  • 71

    grams (⅓ cup) white sugar


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Diana L.
February 28, 2023
Very good butter rolls
This is a special recipe, so I had to make it. I watched a video after I made it on Roku. The video is great for following the recipe and understand how to fold it exactly in each cup. I forgot to put butter on the bottom, but they still came out very tasty. I will try baking this again and not forget the butter. Thanks for sharing this recipe.