Pani Popo

Sweet, soft buns bathed and baked in coconut, pani popo are originated to the South Pacific Islands of Samoa. They are best served warm or cold as a dessert or with savory meals.Homemade pani popo - sweet, soft buns bathed and baked in coconut

I love every email I receive from you! May them be about a recipe I shared and you want to thank me or not for it, or to explain you better the directions or just to say Hi. I love all of them!

The other day I received a different email. One of you wanted to make my Hawaiian coconut milk but somehow could not find the recipe. I looked around, and looked again just to realize when I moved from Blogger to WordPress 3 recipes didn’t make the more.

One of them being the Pani Popo rolls.

I could have easily just copy/paste it from my Blogger account, but since I love these coconut buns I decided to make some and take new photos.

Pani Popo - Sweet, soft buns bathed and baked in coconut

Pani popo are Hawaiian dinner rolls, baked in a pool of coconut milk.

I saw the recipe on my friend Dionne blog and since then I made them so many times I lost count.

These rolls also hold a special place in my heart, they were the first think I shared on my previous blog.

Pani Popo |

For the original recipe of these rolls you have to visit my friend Dionne’s blog

Pani Popo

In my previous variation of these coconutty rolls i used dairy milk and butter. This time I made them dairy-free and since they were egg-free to begin with, now they are vegan dinner rolls.

They are so soft and fluffy you could hardly say so!

Pani Popo |

Pani Popo

Pani Popo


  • 3 Cups All purpose flour (360grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast (~4-5 grams)
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (15 ml)
  • 1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 sugar - depending how sweet you like it


  1. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, make a well in the middle, pour the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave a couple of minutes (about 5) until the yeast is dissolved and bubbles appear.
  2. Add the oil and a pinch of salt and with the dough hook on start mixing slowing adding coconut milk until the dough comes clean from the sides of the bowl.
  3. I measured mine and I used 3/4 cup plus almost 2 tbsp or 205 ml which is just few drops more than half can of coconut milk.
  4. Leave the dough in a oily bowl, covered, to rest until doubled in volume.
  5. When risen, divide it in 9-10 balls and place them in a baking pan or skillet (like me).
  6. Cover again and let it rest until almost double in volume.
  7. Meanwhile heat the oven to 375F and mix the rest of the coconut milk with the sugar.
  8. Pour over the rolls, sprinkle some raw sugar on top (optional) and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and the coconut milk is absorbed.
  9. Serve warm or cold

If you liked these papi popo, you may also like

Cottage cheese dinner rolls 

Cottage cheese whole wheat dinner rolls

Cardamom coconut buns

Cardamom Coconut Buns

Sending love your way,


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    Hello! My name is Roxana and I'm a self-taught baker, wanna-be photographer and the writer behind Roxana's Home Baking, where I share original and adapted scratch recipes. 

Here you'll find no fuss, no hassle easy recipes with ingredients you most likely already have in your kitchen.  Read more ....


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  1. says

    These look really good Roxana! Did you use light coconut milk or the regular? I love how it has all been absorbed into the rolls- they look so moist and tender. :)

    • Roxana GreenGirl says

      Hi Betty,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      I used regular coconut milk, but I’m pretty sure the light one will work as well :)

  2. Terris@ Free Eats says

    Roxana, you never let us down with your bread recipes! These look absolutely beautiful and the pictures make my mouth-water. :) Nice work!

  3. Deeps @ Naughty Curry says

    oh my… these look decadent & unlike any other bread i have eaten. the coconut milk must have given it a lovely flavour… gonna make this :)

  4. Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb says

    I am glad u reposted it then because those look realy awesome. I have to remember pani popo (funny name) and I better save your recipe for a future try out. thx a lots for sharing! =)

  5. says

    I love homemade bread!!! I love the idea of coconut milk in the recipe, I can only imagine it gives a gorgeous flavor!!! Beautiful, Hugs, Terra

  6. Marsha @ The Harried Cook says

    I am totally going to make these! They look and sound incredibly good, Roxana… And the pictures are as gorgeous as ever! thanks for sharing

  7. says

    Wow these look amazing! I never heard of buns being baked in milk before, but it seems like it worked pretty well. Will have to try it at least once!

  8. Kiri W. says

    Oh wow, these look amazing! Thank you for sharing, I love Dionne’s blog but haven’t been following that long yet :)

    • Roxana GreenGirl says

      Oh no, please don’t be sad. I was the one that did the last import, so it’s my fault. I never thought you should be blamed. Hugs <3

  9. Bri says

    pani popo is Samoan

    But your version of the recipe seems interesting and I will give it a shot tomorrow for breakfast! Thanks

  10. dee taylor says

    These sound so good! I have one question, though. Is the yeast instant yeast, or rapid rise yeast? Or does it matter. Just wondering, thanks!

    • says

      Hi Dee,
      You can use any dry yeast you have on hand. My preference is active dry yeast, but rapid or instant work just as well, the only difference being the rising time


  11. says

    I just saw this recipe, and I totally do not have time to cook anything now, but they look so tempting… I am writing down the recipe and I think I might skip some other chores and make these instead.

  12. says

    Made them :-). They are wonderful, so fluffy and soft… and the house smelled so good from the sweet coconut milk… I am glad I gave in to this temptation :-). When I started lining out the ingredients, I realized that I had very little all purpose flour, and I got so upset. But then I decided to measure anyway, and it turned out that I had exactly 3 cups – my lucky day!
    Thanks for the recipe, Roxana. I am so happy to finally try one of your gorgeous breads. Now I know that they taste amazing too :-)

  13. Molly says

    These look amazing, but I don’t want to have to go out and buy grapeseed oil. Could I use coconut oil, or any other type of oil, instead?

      • says

        I just made these, just came out of the oven and are still piping hot. They taste very good, I think I put too much coconut milk in them. The store only had 13.5 oz cans and I wasn’t paying attention when I was pouring. Also, the dough was sticky, is this normal? The top is nice and almost made a shell over the rest of the rolls. The inside, well as I said, I think I over drenched them.

        I’ll have to make them again, and soon! Thanks for the recipe!

        • says

          Hi Vicky,
          Thanks for the message. The dough should be soft, not sticky. Next time maybe you should add a pinch more flour or cut on the liquid.
          As for the rolls, yes, they form a crust on top and the bottom is still wet. As they cool down the milk will be absorbed.

          If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to email me.


  14. Renata says

    Roxana, that’s insanely delicious looking and I will have to give it a try sometime soon. The coconut “pool” is just a fantastic idea! So is the use of the cast iron skillet (I will have to borrow this idea, as I have recently purchased one and every chance to use it is very exciting). Needless to say that your photos are superb!
    Thanks for sharing!

  15. says

    Hi Roxana, your bread looks beautiful. It is a very unusual bread with coconut milk pour onto the dough before baking. Would the milk make the bottom of the buns soggy? Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • says

      Hi Veronica,
      The bread is slightly moist at the bottom, but as it sits after baking, all the milk is absorbed. If you worry about soggy buns, you could reduce the milk by 1/4 cup.

  16. Berenice Pepe says

    How would these turn out if one used only chickpea flour ? These buns sound absolutely delicious. Am looking for a regular bread recipe also … is it possible to use only chickpea flour. ? Thanks fo any help you can provide. Bernie

    • says

      Hi Berenice,
      You can not use chickpea flour with these buns. Chickpea flour is too chewy plus the buns need gluten to rise. Gluten is found only in wheat flours.

  17. Melissa says

    I want to make these tomorrow but I only have regular oil (or coconut oil) and regular milk or almond milk. Could I make them with these ingredients? Thanks!

  18. Diane Martinez says

    I would like the original receipe from your friend Dionne, can I get that info to look her up, please.. Thank you

  19. Rebekah says

    I found this when looking for a way to use up coconut milk. I’ve never made breads with yeast before and though I followed directions, it didn’t dissolve so they didn’t properly rise. They came out a little dense but otherwise good. I also used applesauce instead of oil as I usually do and worked just fine.

  20. Kori says

    Hello. I just found this recipe and it looks soooo amazing. Can’t wait to make these rolls. But I had an ingredient question: is that coconut milk from a carton (like for drinking) or coconut milk from a can (like for cooking)?
    Thank you and I look forward to tasting these fantastic looking rolls !

    • says

      Hi Susanna,
      I just cover the rolls with prastic wrap and store them at room temperature. If you want to store them for more than 1 day, you may refrigerate or even freeze them.

  21. Lindas says

    Hi, just now making these, trying them in my bread machine, dough cycle, and will take out for second rise and cook according to recipe instructions. Have a question on the sugar. The ingredients call for 1/4 – 1/3 cup of sugar, but does not note to add this to flour mixture. Is the entire amount to be sprinkled on top just before baking or did I miss something in the instructions?

    Thanks, Linda

  22. Linda says

    Yes, I just now see I did miss something. The sugar is added at the end, mixed with coconut mile. Sorry! You don’t need to post either of these comments. However, I can let you know if the bread machine worked all right, if you like. Thanks, Linda

  23. Amjad+Jindran says

    Can we make this Sourdough type rather then making it sweet, i mean add salt then sugar, would like to try loos yummy, thanks Roxana.

    • says

      Hi Amjad,

      Pani popo are sweet buns, but if you want more of a savory bun, you can probably cut the sugar amount in half and completely skip the sugar on the top.

  24. jen says

    what type of yeast is used? Active dry or rapid rise? I would like to make the dough in a bread machine too, do you have any suggestions as far as the order of adding each ingredient? Thank you for the recipe!

    • says

      Hi Jen,

      I prefer active dry yeast but you can use rapid rise yeast as well.
      As for the order, I guess you have to follow your bread machine directions. I have never used one and don’t know what to advice you.


  25. Glenn A says

    Thanks for your version of the Pani Popo Recipe. Native to Hawaii (and Hawaiian), Pani popo is not a Hawaiian but Samoan recipe. Looks great though


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