Pani Popo is a Samoan sweet roll baked in a delicious coconut sauce. One of my favorite Pacific-Island dishes from my bakery days in Hawaii.
Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls)
Oh how I love Pani Popo. Even though it is a Samoan dish, I was first introduced to it when I lived in Hawaii. As I mentioned before, I worked at a bakery when I lived in Hawaii and was introduced to SO MANY amazing treats and recipes, this being one of my-all time favorites. I loved waking up early in the morning and making these delicious Samoan coconut buns. The smell is intoxicating!
What is Pani Popo?
This Samoan classic dish is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. Translated, pani popo quite literally means coconut buns. And that’s what they are! Light, fluffy yeast rolls soaked in a sweet coconut syrup mixture and baked until the top of the buns are golden brown. They are soft and fluffy on the inside and the bottom is nice and gooey, like a sweet roll should be (but gooier). I love that I am am able to make these at home for my family and that they LOVE them as much as I do. Seriously, my kids go nuts over these.
Ingredients Needed for this Recipe
You can make your own yeast rolls with our delicious Homemade Dinner Rolls recipe. It’s an easy recipe using ingredients like all purpose flour, active dry yeast, butter and salt mixed into a soft dough and baked into rolls. OR you can use frozen rolls to cut your prep time way down.
The sweet coconut milk mixture comes together quickly using coconut milk and one cup sugar in a small saucepan cooked over medium-high heat until it’s nice and thick. Pour the delicious sauce over the raised rolls and bake. You can serve these rolls with pretty much any dish. They’re delicious as a breakfast item, side dish or even dessert.
More Tropical Treats
- Hawaiian Wedding Cake: Hawaiian Wedding Cake starts with a simple cake mix. Add a splash of coconut and pineapple and it becomes a refreshing cake that tastes like a piña colada.
- Coconut Cream Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting: This Coconut Cream Cake is a coconut lovers dream! Coconut infused cake, with a rich and creamy coconut cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with even more toasted coconut, you will be in coconut heaven with every bite.
- Caribbean Coconut Fudge Bars: These Caribbean Coconut Fudge Bars can’t be beat! A soft oatmeal cookie crust with chocolate fudge and gooey coconut topping- an instant favorite!
- Orange Pineapple Cake: Orange Pineapple cake is a light, fruity cake with an island flair. You will love the delicious whipped creamy topping! Perfect for potlucks and parties!
Pani Popo (Samoan Coconut Rolls)
- Coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray and arrange rolls evenly to thaw (if doing homemade rolls, roll dough into golf-ball size balls and arrange the same way).
- Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray (to keep dough from sticking to the plastic wrap). Allow to rise until doubled in size. This can take 4-5 hours. If you need the rolls to thaw quicker, follow the quick-rise instructions on the frozen roll packaging.
- Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk and sugar over medium heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved and sauce has thickened (about 5 minutes). If you want a thinner sauce, you can just whisk the sugar and coconut milk together in a bowl without heating.
- Pour about 2/3 of the coconut mixture over the rolls and bake for 20-30 minutes (or according to package/dough recipe instructions) or until golden brown and dough is baked through.
- Remove from oven and pour remaining coconut mixture evenly over the top of the rolls.
- The rolls should be sticky and gooey on the bottom (read notes above). Can be served upside down or right-side up.