Cantonese pineapple buns (known as bo lo bao in Cantonese) are a staple at any Chinese bakery. They don't actually contain any pineapple, but get their names from their golden and cross-hatched cookie-crusted tops. If you're looking for a shortcut recipe for pineapple buns with BBQ pork filling, I have that too!
These buns are known to be labors of love -- they're not always easy to replicate at home, and can take a lot of time to do so. That's why I'm so excited to share this easy, shortcut pineapple bun recipe where you don't need to fuss with making your own dough!
The shortcut for these delicious pineapple buns is to use store-bought sweet rolls. All you have to do is make the cookie topping!
Check out the 4 simple steps below on how to make your own homemade pineapple buns:
How to make homemade pineapple buns in 4 easy steps:
Step 1: Mix together the ingredients for the cookie topping
Mix together your softened butter and sugar first until it's smooth.
Then add your other ingredients, the egg yolk (for flavor and golden color), vanilla extract (for flavor), and sifted flour, baking powder, and baking soda (these will help the cookie rise a bit and give it the light, crumbly texture).
Step 2: Roll it into a log and let it firm up in the fridge
Once the ingredients are well-incorporated, wrap it in plastic wrap and roll it into an even log.
Put it into the fridge for 20-30 minutes to let it firm up. This will make sure that the cookie topping doesn't just completely melt when it's baked!
Step 3: Flatten into 8 equal pieces and place them on store-bought buns
After 20-30 minutes, remove from the plastic wrap and slice into 8 even pieces. I like to use a kitchen scale here to make sure they're all the same weight, but that's optional.
Take one piece, roll it in your hands to make it a ball, then gently press between plastic wrap to flatten into a disc until it's about ¼ inch thick. Repeat with the rest.
Preheat your oven to 375F. Prepare your baking tray by lining it with a wire rack. This will ensure that the bottoms don't burn (I learned this the hard way)!
Step 4: Bake the pineapple buns (on a wire rack to prevent burnt bottoms)
Place each disc on top of a sweet roll, and use a butterknife to gently indent a cross-hatch pattern for that iconic pineapple bun look -- make sure to not cut all the way through. This step is optional, it's also common to bake them as is, without the cross-hatches.
Brush with some egg wash, and bake for 13-15 min or until they're nicely golden. Enjoy when it's warm!
Check out these other popular smellylunchbox recipes:
- Shortcut Pineapple Buns with BBQ Pork
- Steamed Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls (Cheung Fun)
- Chinese Turnip Cakes
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Easy Homemade Pineapple Buns
- 8 Hawaiian sweet rolls (or other soft dinner rolls)
- 50 g butter, softened (~¼ cup for 8 rolls)
- 50 g sugar (~¼ cup for 8 rolls)
- 90 g cake or AP flour (½ cup + 2 tablespoon for 8 rolls)
- 1 egg yolk (for the cookie batter)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 whole egg (for brushing the top)
Make the cookie topping
- In a bowl, mix softened butter with sugar until smooth. Add 1 egg yolk and vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated.50 g butter, softened, 50 g sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 egg yolk
- Sift in flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until all the flour disappears.90 g cake or AP flour, ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and roll into an even log. Refrigerate for 20-30 min to allow it to firm up.
- After 20-30 mins, remove the plastic wrap and cut it into 8 even pieces. I used a kitchen scale to make sure each piece was the same weight but that's optional!
- Roll each piece into a ball, then press it flat in between plastic wrap until it’s ¼ inch thick. Repeat with the rest.
Bake the pineapple buns
- Preheat your oven to 375F (convection off). Separate the Hawaiian sweet rolls, and place on a wire rack on a baking tray (this ensures the bottoms don't burn). Lay a cookie topping on each roll. Using a butterknife, gently indent a crosshatch pattern (optional) but don’t cut all the way through.8 Hawaiian sweet rolls
- Whisk or beat an egg in a bowl, and lightly brush the cookie tops with this egg wash.1 whole egg
- If your oven uses convection heat (it distributes heat with a fan), you may want to use aluminum foil to create a protective wall around your baking tray to prevent your rolls from getting too toasty.
- Bake for 13-15 min or until cookie tops are golden. They’re best enjoyed slightly warm!