Pani Popo – One Good Thanksgiving (Hawaiian) Roll Recipe

Pani Popo is (are) homemade rolls with a mixture of coconut milk and sugar poured over the top right before you bake ‘um!

I made pani popo form scratch for the first time yesterday and I want to share this with you just in case you are at your computer looking for a really good recipe for Thanksgiving.

Now I don’t think these are “technically” Hawaiian I believe the recipe is Samoan but to me they’re good so who cares. No offense.

Since the coconut milk sits in the bottom of the dish and bakes you get this gooey yummy underside to your rolls and you will see some of that goodness under your rolls as you take them out of the pan. That’s normal. So ono!

I use my bread machine to mix and knead. You don’t have to look up your instructions for your bread machine either. Just hit your “Start” or “Go” button- whatever. Keep it mixing until your dough is formed. The initial setting that moves the paddle in short bursts is the mix setting and the faster one that follows is the “knead” setting. Either one has worked for me when I am mixing my dough. For really big batches I have to sneak a spoon on the sides to help incorporate all the flour. Once it is all mixed together, I let it knead at the set knead speed and I set my timer to make sure I am following the directions to the best of my abilities. πŸ˜€

Let’s get to it!

Pani Popo

Recipe very slightly adapted from original source: Samoa Chat Kitchen, recipe submitted by K. Suaava McDonald


6 cups flour

1 packet – or 1 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp. of milk

1 tbsp. sugar + 1 cup sugar for mixing with coconut milk later

1 teaspoon salt

1 tbsp. butter – or margarine, Crisco

2 cans of coconut milk

Measure about 2 1/2-3 cups of flour and your yeast into your bread machine or a large mixing bowl. In a saucepan add your milk, sugar, salt and butter. On medium low heat continue to cook until butter is almost completely melted. You may test your liquid if you like, but be sure it is not much over about 100 degrees F. We don’t want to kill our yeast, do we? πŸ˜‰ When butter is almost completely melted, add your warm milk mixture to your flour mixture and combine. Add remaining flour gradually to make a smooth dough. Knead for about 6-8 minutes.

Butter your hands and butter a bowl for your dough to rise. Rub that butter all over your dough and set it covered in its greased bowl for about 45 minutes to rise.

After 45 minutes punch dough down and form into little dough balls, placing them into 2 greased 13 by 9 pans. This recipe will make at least 18 rolls depending on the size. Put 9 rolls per pan and let your rolls rise for about 20 minutes.

Mix your coconut milk with 1 cup sugar and pour over your rolls.

(I only used 1 can and 1/2 cup sugar and I had plenny but if you want to make it extra good then mix it all up!) Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until they test done. πŸ™‚

You’re welcome!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the people you are spending it with!

46 responses to “Pani Popo – One Good Thanksgiving (Hawaiian) Roll Recipe

  1. Those rolls look heavenly! so light and fluffy, and then gooey and delicious, and oh so good…….sigh……I would love to have 3 or 4 of those beauties! I know everyone at your table will love them, just remember to eat one for me please!
    Have a happy thanksgiving my friend!

  2. Oh beautiful & Yummy! Happy Thanksgiving Di!!!

  3. Coconut milk flavoured rolls? Oh boy, bet these are yummy and go down a treat huh. You’ve got that bread maker worked out Dionne, way to go.

  4. I seriously feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. Those rolls look insanely good, I so want to eat them all. Thank you soooo much for the recipe, I’m definitely trying this out now! πŸ™‚

  5. they look delicious!!! (^_^)

  6. Dionne, your rolls make me want to give them a try! And I have never made yeast rolls before. Yours look fantastic! I love the use of coconut milk.

  7. It sounds really interesting with coconut milk πŸ™‚
    These rolls looks perfect and sounds yummy!

  8. So these rolls look heavenly…and I can only imagine how great they must taste (I love the use of coconut milk….just brilliant!) Thank you so much for sharing them with me. I will be trying these soon!

  9. Your rolls look awesome! I’m such a carb fanatic, but have never had rolls like these before…must try!

    • I agree! (And I have a sweet tooth which is one of the reasons I love your blog! You have some awesome goodies!!) That one time I tried low carb diet it was a joke. MUST HAVE CARBS. Life is too short to go carbless. Roll, anyone? πŸ˜€

  10. You are just killing me with these rolls, fresh baked right from the oven with e scent of coconut milk and slightly caramelized sugar on top, oh my, I’m drooling all over. I’ll try this soon, so soon.
    I passed an award for you, feel free to drop by and pick it up.

    • Well we are even with those knot rolls of yours! My my, but I may have to make those for Christmas! πŸ˜€ Thank you SO much for the award I am very flattered that you thought of me!

  11. If you had lived closer we’d set a meeting and trade knots for pani popo πŸ™‚

  12. Let me just say that when you have love for bread and a sweet tooth, this is one of the best combination you can find!!! Those are the best rolls ever. Enough said πŸ™‚

  13. Another delicious recipe complete with photos that makes me want to reach into my computer and grab myself a bite πŸ™‚ I have a quick question for you? Did you ever make a corn casserole. I tried one for the first time this Thanksgiving. It was corn (I guess that’s obvious :), flour, cream cheese, jalepenos, butter and evaporated milk and was baked. I just don’t know if it was flavorful enough and seemed like so much corn with not a lot of the middle stuff. Any baked corn recipes you could share? πŸ™‚ Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Dionne! ….oh my gosh and I saw a gigantic sized My Little Pony in the drugstore holiday aisle. So random but made me smile!

    • I’ve never made a corn casserole. I’m very inexperienced when it comes to casseroles. It may need more of the other ingredients or something like cut up cheddar biscuits added to offset the corn. I had an awesome Thanksgiving! I hope you did too! My little girl has a big stuffed MLP I told her she has one more year of custody and then it’s MINE! πŸ˜€

  14. …just proofed my response AFTER I submitted it. I should probably try that first. I missed a question mark and a period. That kind of stuff drives me nuts. Sorry, I was blinded by the beauty of the fresh baked rolls so it’s not really my fault!

  15. This recipe looks amazing! I bet it was fabulous. They are a lot of samoans in Hawaii, maybe thats why? Anywho, thanks for your lovely comment!

  16. This looks better than what I made for dinner. Kudos on this bread pudding! I really do like your pictures.

  17. I am not going to wait until the next Thanksgiving to try this. Just pulled out some leftover frozen coconut milk so I can make this asap! Look, I’m going to be upfront and tell you that I found your image on The Cuisine of Hawaii Facebook and am disappointed that they did not link to your blog. The recipe that they put up uses frozen dinner rolls which is just shortchanging the recipe.

    • I appreciate the mention in a BIG way! Thank you for the compliments that was very sweet of you! These are quite good and I’ll be making these all year round. πŸ˜‰ It’s cold enough here in WA that I can bake without causing my family to have heatstroke!

  18. This is a great recipe… blogged it on Facebook thanks!!!

  19. In your directions you say to place 9 rolls in a 9×13 but the photo shows 20 rolls in a 9×13. How many should I place in the glass 9×13 and does it make a difference if I use metal? Looks yummy!

    • I put them all in the pan just to be different but the recipe suggested otherwise. It bakes the same if I use metal and now that you mention it, I could go for some of these now too!!! Good luck and I hope you like them!

  20. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made this for a potluck yesterday and they turned out so well. I also used a 9×13 pan and less than once can of coconut milk and I should have left a baking sheet under the pan! I poured the rest of the milk in the pan for serving. I will make this again. Thanks.

  21. what if you don’t have a bread mixer? can you use your hands?

  22. Reblogged this on Try Anything Once and commented:

    This has been a favorite of ours since the first day I made them! Mom’s homemade rolls are nostalgic but these are a little something from home. These rolls have been a really big favorite with anyone that has ever tried them. Change up your traditional dinner rolls at Thanksgiving this year!

  23. Gorgeous rolls, Dionne!!
    (Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!)

  24. I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  25. I have a question, I could not find coconumt milk in cans, only in a carton refrigerated, can I use that? and if so how much? Thanks!

  26. Hi… I’ve got a question: Your instructions says to use 2 13×9 inch pans and to put only 9 rolls per pan. That seems like there would be so much room left in the pan… they won’t even be touching other after rising. Also, your picture shows about 20 rolls that fit nicely in your dish… I’m confused 😦

  27. YUMMMMMM! thank you very much! P.S. Recipe itself a bit vaugue however I managed..
    (Poor me)!!!

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