Hawaiian Pineapple Bun

This recipe is a combination of two different kinds of breads: a soft and fluffy Hawaiian bun such as those popularized by the King’s Hawaiian brand, and a Hong Kong pineapple bun (bolo bao) which gets its name from its cracked yellow cookie-like topping. Traditionally, a pineapple bun actually does not contain any pineapple. This recipe breaks away from tradition, incorporating canned pineapple juice into the Hawaiian bread dough, and adding an optional pineapple jam filling. The latter twist is reminiscent of buttered pineapple buns as well as Taiwanese pineapple cakes.

Hawaiian Pineapple Bun


Hawaiian roll

  • Sponge

    • 28g all-purpose flour

    • 4g yeast (active dry or instant)

    • 28g water, warm but not exceeding 100 degrees F

  • Dough

    • 113g canned pineapple juice

    • 57g unsalted butter, softened

    • 71g brown sugar

    • 2 large eggs plus 1 extra yolk, mixed

    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    • 326g all-purpose flour

    • 21g potato starch

    • 6g salt


  • 55g butter, room temperature

  • 135g sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Egg yolk

  • 1 tsp milk (oat milk is okay)

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • 1/8 tsp turmeric

Egg wash

  • 1 egg, mixed

  • 1 tbsp water or milk (oat milk is okay)

Pineapple jam filling (optional)

  • Canned diced pineapples

  • Potato starch

  • Water


Making the Hawaiian roll

  1. Mix sponge ingredients in a stand mixer bowl and proof for 15 minutes.

  2. Mix wet ingredients into the stand mixer bowl.

  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

  4. Add dry ingredients to the stand mixer bowl. Beat using flat beater for 3 minutes at medium-high speed, then scrape dough into the center of the bowl. Switch to dough hook and knead for at least 5 minutes at medium speed. The dough might still be sticky.

  5. Lightly grease another bowl, round the dough into ball, place in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours.

  6. Deflate dough, then split into 16 pieces and shape each into a ball. Place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and proof for 1 hour.

Making and adding the topping

  1. Cream butter by hand or in a stand mixer.

  2. Add sugar in increments.

  3. Add egg yolk, milk, vanilla, and mix until combined.

  4. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and turmeric. Add to wet ingredients in increments and mix until combined.

  5. To top the buns, take a spoonful of the topping dough and roll into a ball, then press between two sheets of wax paper so that it forms a flat circle. Carefully peel the topping away from the wax paper (inverting it into the palm of one hand and peeling away the wax paper with the other hand works for me), then add to one of the buns. Press down so that the topping conforms to the shape of the bun.

Baking the buns

  1. Combine the egg wash ingredients in a small bowl.

  2. Glaze each bun with the egg wash using a silicone brush.

  3. Bake at 375 degrees F for around 15 minutes. Internal temperature should be > 190 degrees F.

Adding pineapple jam filling (optional)

  1. Take canned diced pineapples and dice them further, then mash them a bit with pestle.

  2. Simmer with some canned pineapple juice for about 15 minutes until reduced a bit.

  3. Make a slurry out of the potato starch and water in a small bowl.

  4. Add the slurry a spoonful at the time, mixing after every addition, until thickened to the desired consistency.

  5. Split each bun lengthwise (but not all the way through) with sharp knife, then add pineapple filling.