Easy Pani Popo Recipe

Pani Popo will be your new favorite recipe when you're craving something sweet for breakfast, snack time, or dessert ... or even to accompany dinner. This recipe is as easy as can be, calling for only four ingredients and a little bit of baking time. (Keep in mind that you will have to wait for the dough to rise, but during that time, you can cross off other items on your to-do list, or simply relax!) According to Polynesian Cultural Center, Pani Popo is also known as coconut buns. This sweet treat is comprised of sweetened coconut milk and yeast bread, and its place of origin is Samoa.

We have recipe developer and founder of Pantry to Plate, Stephanie Rapone to thank for this particular recipe. Rapone says that her favorite part of the recipe is the simplicity. "I love how easy these are! We are also crazy for coconut in my family, so we love the flavor," she shares. This delightfully sweet coconut treat is sure to become a staple in your own home, and it's similar to a sweet doughnut or a cinnamon roll with a flavorful glaze that will make your taste buds dance.

Gather the ingredients to prepare Pani Popo

To make Pani Popo, simply grab 12 frozen yeast dinner rolls, a can of coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and white sugar. This is not a drill — that is literally all you need to whip up something this delicious, so get excited.

Prep the baking dish

First thing's first: Grab your favorite 9x13-inch baking dish or one that is similar in size. You will also need some non-stick cooking spray to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom or sides of the dish. Next, place the dinner rolls in the baking dish, and make sure there's about an inch and a half of space between each one. You'll also want to spray the tops of the rolls with non-stick cooking spray, which will help them brown while they're baking. Once you've done this, it's time to move on to the next step.

Wait for the dough to rise

You know what they say ... the waiting is the hardest part. However, you don't need to do much during this easy step. Simply cover the baking dish with rolls in plastic wrap, and set it aside in a warm place so the dough can thaw and rise. Within about three to four hours, the dough will have doubled in size, and then you're ready for the next step. See, we told you it would be easy! 

During the time you're waiting for the dough to rise, you can whip up your favorite cup of joe, kick back, and relax with a good read, or get to other things on your to-do list. The time will go by quicker than you'd think, and then you're one step closer to enjoying these delightfully sweet rolls.

Preheat the oven, and prep the Pani Popo

Once the dough doubles in size, you'll want to preheat your oven to 350 F. While the range is in the preheating stage, you can get your mixture ready. Grab a mixing bowl, and add in the coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar. Using a whisk, mix until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined nicely. Now, pour the mixture over the rolls, and then they're ready to get baked.

Bake, and enjoy

Pop the Pani Popo into your preheated oven, and then set your timer for 28 minutes. The cook time can take up to 32 minutes, but it's safe to start checking around 28 minutes since every oven cooks differently. Keep those babies in the oven until they have a beautiful golden brown hue. Once they do, you can remove them from the oven, and let them cool for about five minutes.

Once you let them cool for a few minutes, remove them from the pan, and place them on a serving dish. Use a basting brush to brush the tops with the sauce that was left from a pan. "They should be served still warm," Rapone shares. "I don't recommend trying to keep and reheat, as it's just not the same." So, be sure to dig in and enjoy as soon as possible after they cool down for a few!

Easy Pani Popo Recipe
5 from 26 ratings
This easy Pani Popo recipe will be your new favorite when you're craving something sweet for breakfast, snack time, or dessert. It even makes a tasty side.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Pani popo on serving dish
Total time: 33 minutes
  • 12 frozen yeast dinner rolls
  • 1 ¼ cups canned coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup white sugar
  1. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish or similar-sized oven-safe dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place the dinner rolls in the baking dish with at least 1 ½ inches between them.
  3. Lightly spray the tops of the rolls with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to thaw and rise until doubled in size, about 3 to 4 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. While the oven is preheating, whisk the coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture evenly over the rolls.
  7. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown on the top.
  8. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan to a serving dish.
  9. Use a basting brush to brush the tops of the rolls with the sauce in the bottom of the pan, then enjoy.
Calories per Serving 186
Total Fat 7.4 g
Saturated Fat 5.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 3.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 27.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Total Sugars 13.3 g
Sodium 142.0 mg
Protein 4.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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