Hong Kong Style Pineapple Bun Recipe 港式菠蘿包
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Pineapple Bun 菠蘿包, known as bor lor bao in Cantonese, or bo luo bao in Mandarin, is a very popular Cantonese/Hong Kong style pastry served as a dim sum snack, breakfast bun, or dessert pastry and it’s sold in Chinese bakeries all around the world.
If you’ve never had a pineapple bun before, the first thing you’d notice is that signature golden, crumbly crust which resembles the pattern of pineapple skin. Underneath that crunchy and sweet crust is a fluffy and soft bun that sometimes comes with a custard or red bean stuffing.
You might be tempted to draw connection between this and a Mexican bread called concha but I can assure you that they taste very different as the pineapple crust is less sweet and lighter in texture and the bun is softer and less dense than that of concha.
Oh yes, there is no actual pineapple in the bun!
I first got addicted to pineapple buns while on a trip to Hong Kong, where my wife, a Hong Kong native and self-proclaimed pineapple bun expert who grew up waking up the smell of pineapple buns from nearby bakery, took me to a local shot to show me how a freshly baked pineapple bun tasted like.
As I sank my teeth into that golden-crispy-shelled bun, my eyes just immediately lit up and I had to take a few more bites to confirm that I was eating a Chinese pastry. The crust was crispy yet light and the bun was fluffy with the right consistency and sweetness. I was sold on the spot!
As for my wife, she enjoyed her pineapple bun served as a bor lor yau, which had a thick slab of butter sandwiched in the middle of a freshly made pineapple bun. A bite into it, I felt an explosion of semi-melted butter mixed with soft bread and crunchy shell. It was definitely something to die for!
To recreate that epic experience in Hong Kong, I started testing my own pineapple bun recipe. After going through a handful of recipes from all over the place, I finally came up this version which passed my wife’s taste test! I even got a thumb-up from her serving up freshly baked pineapple bun bright and early 🙂
Her blessing also means I can official share this tasty homemade pineapple bun recipe with step-by-step instructions with aspirational readers like you!
Giveaway Contest Reminder
Before I let you jump into this rather long recipe, I’d like to remind you that you have until this Monday night to enter to win this 5.5-Qt Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven that I am giving away. If you like to cook and bake, you’d not want to miss the opportunity to grab this handy Dutchen oven!
Hong Kong Pineapple Bun Recipe 港式菠蘿包
Yield: 8-10 Buns
Prep Time: 180
Cook Time: 20
Total Time: 200
Milk Bread Dough
- 310g / 2.4c bread flour
- 95g / .35c chilled water roux (TangZhong) from below recipe
- 1 large egg, about 60g
- 5g/ 1.75tsp active yeast + 30ml / 1.7 tbsp. warm milk or water
- 70ml/0.3c milk/heavy cream
- 50g / 0.4c sugar
- 3g salt
- 30g / 2tbsp butter, softened in room temperature
- 1tsp vanilla extract
Water Roux (TangZhong) for bread dough
- 20g / 2.8tbsp flour
- 80ml/0.33c milk
- 110g Cake flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 50g butter, soften in room temperature
- 45g sugar
- 2g salt
- 10g baker’s dry milk (optional)
- 10g milk
- 1/4tsp Baking powder
- 1/3tsp ammonium bicarbonate*
- 1 egg yolk and ½ egg white, beaten
- To make the bread dough and water roux, please follow my Soft Asian Milk Bread recipe. The water roux can be made ahead of the time and left in the fridge. The dough takes roughly 1-1.5 hours to prepare and finish the first rise (up to step 7).
- Once the dough is ready, divide the dough into 10 portions for regular size buns or 8 portions for extra-large buns.
- Use your palm and roll each portion of the dough into a ball. Place the dough balls on lined baking sheet. Let the dough sit for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, divide the chilled pineapple crust dough (see instructions below) into 8 or 10 pieces.
- Roll each piece of crust dough into a ball.
- Place a crust dough ball in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough with your palm and then roll out into a 4”-5” wrapper.
- Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and place the crust dough wrapper right on top of a bread dough ball to cover most of the bread dough. Repeat until every bread dough is covered.
- (optional step) To create a more distinctive checkerboard pineapple pattern, lightly run a knife over the pineapple crust without cutting through.
- Pre-heat the over to 380F/193C. Let the dough sit for another 30-45minutes or double in size. Brush the crust and any exposing bread dough with egg wash.
- Bake at 380F for 8 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350F/176C and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack and serve while the crust is still crunchy!
Pineapple Crust Dough Instructions
- In a mixing bowl, mix the egg yolk, sugar, and butter with a hand mixer or whisk until fluffy and smooth.
- Slowly add milk while mixing with a hand mixer/whisk.
- Continue to mix until milk is fully incorporated and the mixture is fluffy.
- Combine the cake flour, dry milk, salt, baking powder, and ammonia bicarbonate in a separate bowl. Sift all the dry ingredients and transfer to wet mixture.
- Mix the dry ingredients with the wet mixture until fully incorporated. The final mixture is of cookie dough consistency.
- Transfer the pineapple crust dough onto a plastic wrap. Wrap the dough and shape it into a log. Chill in a fridge for at least 1 hour and only take out when ready to use. You can make this pineapple dough 1 day in advance.
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I used your crust or topping recipe. Not easy to handle due to the hot weather in Malaysia.
Turned out well. Buttery and not too sweet..so nice. Just ate 3.
Thanks for the recipe
Hi! Thanks a lot for your recipe! I got sold when you said that you got the stamp of approval from your pineapple bun expert wife, My buns came out really good! Good flavor and texture. I made a few of the buns with custard fillings too.
It may seem daunting but once you make the dough the hard part is waiting. The instructions are clear and the buns come out fantastic!
A wonderful soup – real soulfood! Thought it was a bit complex first but great instructions & tips made it easy & fun to cook. Highly recommended!
I was looking for a decent recipe since I first visited HK few year back. This one is the best I found! Really great. I enjoyed them very much. Thank you for that!
For the pineapple crust, the ingredients list includes salt, but the directions don’t mention the 2g salt anywhere. Is salt supposed to be part of the pineapple crust?
hi Erika, thanks for bringing this to my attention. Yes the 2g of salt is supposed be in the crust but I accidentally left it out of the instructions (it’s fixed now). Thanks again for raising this to me. Hope you get to try this recipe soon!
Thanks, looking forward to fresh bolo bao!
I’ve already baked a lot of pineapple buns before, but I have to admit that this recipe is the best one. I followed it accurately and they turned out perfect! They were even soft and crunchy (topping) on the second day. I highly recommend this recipe
hi Lisa, thanks for your kind words and glad that the pineapple buns came out good!
Intimidating at first but found that it was really easy! These tasted just the way I remember, eating them fresh out of the oven at the bakeries in NYC. Will make these many more times to come!
Thanks so much for posting this!! Really excited to try to make this this weekend for my mom to try. I only have instant yeast, do I need to adjust anything about the amount I use or the proofing time?
Also this is about your custard, but I saw your recipe, was wondering if I could add some strawberry jam in that to make it strawberry flavored?
hi Ayana, thanks for checking out the recipe. if you use instant yeast, please make sure you add 30ml more water/milk to the dough to compensate the difference. Proofing time should be unchanged. For the custard, I have not experimented with other flavors but strawberry jam sounds yum. Please let me know how the custard came out. Thanks.
Hi, made the bun last night it was great! Kiddo love the crunciness. How to I reheat to get the crunch? Will it be too hard?
hi Regina, the best way to reheat these buns is to put back in the oven and heat up at 250f for 7-10 minutes (10 minutes if stored in the fridge. It won’t make the buns too hard and they’ll still be relatively crunchy. Hope this helps.
This totally helps! Plus if I use your bread recipe from YouTube of making soft bread by hand for polo bun is suitable?:)
Yup. The pineapple bun bread recipe is basically the same as the milk bread recipe. Happy baking!
Just tried this recipe, they came out fairly well and taste good but the top “pineapple” layer didn’t really get crispy. I had to take them out of the oven because the bottoms were getting too brown and the buns are definitely cooked all the way through but the top “pineapple” layer is like malleable like you can dent it. Any ideas on what to fix?
Hi can I know why my pineapple crust while proving it’s slowly splits out baking it cracks until no pattern s at all, I’m using the crust cutter to do the patterns!
Making the bolo boa today, it is still in 2nd proofing stage. Just wanted to know if can add any fillings into it?
Hi Mimi, thanks for trying out the recipe. Yes you can stuff in the filing before you shape the dough into balls. My favorite fillings are either custard or red bean paste. Please let me know how the buns came out!
PERFECTION!!!!!!! My house stays at 66F in the winter, but extended proofing time with no adverse effects. Better than from Asian markets here in USA
If I wanted to double the recipe, would I double the yeast too? Or just let it rise longer?
I’d use slightly more yeast but less than doubled. Yeast grows exponentially when the conditions are right. You’ll need to proof for a just little longer from my experience. Hope this helps.
Do you have this recipe in cup/tablespoon/teaspoon measurements?
Hi Angela, similar to the other bread reacipe, I’ll have to convert that information and make an update on the original ingredient list. Will let you know once that’s done.
Hi, I would like the conversion too!
For the pineapple crust recipe stated that we need 1/4tsp Baking powder + 1/3tsp ammonium bicarbonate*. If I couldn’t find the ammonium bicarbonate, I could substitute with the same amount of baking powder. Does it mean that I need to use 1/2 tsp of baking powder in total?
Hi Veve, sorry for getting back to you late. Yes you will need slightly over 1/2 tsp of baking powder in total. Hope this helps.
Hi! I made this bo lor bao and i love it! It was soft and taste really good. I have no experience making bao, but i have a question, when i was rolling the dough is was sooo sticky.. i want to know if thats normal or made something wrong?
hi there, thanks for checking out my recipe. The dough can get sticky in the beginning but as you keep on kneading it should get less sticky and the surface should turn smooth. If you haven’t done so check out my milk bread video on Youtube.
Thank you so much for sharing. I attended bakery school in Hong Kong bread when I was in Hong Kong. But when i came back to USA, i could not make the breads. Those recipe won’t work. They never came out right.
First time, I feel so proud of my self. Haha. The buns came out nicely round on the top.
Hi Davina, thank you very much for the feedback and I am so happy to hear that the buns came out nice. Hope you get to make these lovely buns often 🙂
Hi! I would love to make this for my Bolo-loving Hubby but there are only 2 of us at home. How should I go about freezing the buns so we can slowly eat them all? even if I half the recipe, it’s quite a bit for both of us to finish within 2 days 🙂
Hi Sharon, thanks for checking out this recipe. If you live in a cool area, you can stretch the shelf life to 3 days. If you need to store for longer, either freezing it or refrigerating it should work, depending on how much longer you’d like to keep. From my experience, once the bun goes in a fridge, it loses that crunchy texture even you reheat the bread in an oven. Hope this helps. Thanks again for visiting the blog.
Hello, how do I reheat the bun to have the cruchyness next day for my son?
Thank you for this recipe! My husband is from Taiwan and pineapple bread is his favorite. We live in an area where there aren’t any asian markets, so it is hard for me to buy treats for him. I started researching how to make pineapple bread. I’m experienced at making breads, but was surprised at the complexity of it! It’s like a soft sweet bread wrapped in cookie dough! I’ve also never used a roux before. With your recipe, I was able to figure out how to make them. Thanks! -Nicole
Hi Nicole, thanks for the feedback. I am so happy to hear that the pineapple bun came out good and your husband loved it.
Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. So easy to make and so rewarding. I added more water to the dough to make it moist. That might have helped it become really soft. Keep baking! 🙂
Hi there, thank you for checking out my recipe. I am glad that you liked it bread. Happy baking!
Thanks for the recipe – have just attempted to make the buns this evening. They turned out well aesthetically, but taste wise they were short of what I’ve been used to from Chinese bakeries. Any tips for making the buns softer? Not fully sure if the softness of the buns from bakeries is due to some form of additive, making the buns super soft.
Thanks for checking out the pineapple bun recipe. Regarding the bun, it’s possible to make it soft and fluffy without additives (most bakeries do use them) but it takes some practice and patience. I have posted a detailed recipe and video on how to make the Asian soft milk bread. Please follow that recipe up until the shaping step then switch to this recipe to shape the dough into balls. Hope this helps.
I have difficulties to measure the ingredients amount by ‘g’. Is it possible to have an alternative recipe by using the measurement by cup, tsb, tbs, etc?
hey, I understand that converting from the US measurement system is difficult. I have just updated the ingredient list to include the US measurement to the best of my ability. Please note that I don’t normally use the US system so the numbers are approximate. Hope this helps.
These Bolo Bao were incredible! Love that soft base paired with the crunchy cookie crust. They are a new favorite with my family.
Hi Tera, thank you for visiting I am glad that you have found these pineapple buns tasty.
While in San Francisco, I introduced my husband and daughter to pineapple buns. They were immediately hooked—my daughter ate bor lor yau every day of our visit.
When we got home, I made your recipe for pineapple buns. My daughter’s reaction: Thumb up and “You nailed it, Mom!”
Hi Janet, thanks for your feedback. I am really happy to hear that the recipe got the stamp of approval of your daughter. She certainly has a good taste :). The truth is the freshly baked pineapple buns are just insanely good. Thanks again for trying out this recipe!
Hi, I made this recipe & also the one for hokkaido milk loaf on a previous occasion, and both times the bread turned out AMAZING! My go-to recipe when I want to eat soft bread (sometimes I crave baguette/french bread instead of asian-style bread) The only thing is the topping for the bo lo bun was not sweet enough for my taste, haha, but that’s just personal preference. Also my topping didn’t turn out as bright yellow as yours – maybe because I used baking powder? Thanks for the great recipe.
Hi Myrth, thanks for checking out my recipes. Glad that you found the bread recipes helpful. For the pineapple crust, you can add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter. Thanks again!
Thanks for sharing. We live in Qingxi Dongguan and I’m married to a Mainland Chinese girl. We’re having a baby this week and I decided to do something special for the love of my life.
My wife loves pineapple buns and I love baking so I gave it a shot today and they turned out quite nice. The bread dough was a little sticky but overall they worked out great!
Hi Eric, thank you very much for the feedback. I hope your wife liked the birthday pineapple buns you made!
Thanks for sharing the recipe, but I follow it and it get very watery dough, its not possible to work with, I think 180ml of total liquid for 310 g of flour is a bit too much. had anyone have any success without changing anything? Cheers
Hi Kevin, thanks for checking out my recipe and sorry for the confusion. Yes there was a typo on the recipe. The 80ml of milk is double counted as it was supposed be part of the roux ingredient. I have made the correction and it should work now. I apologize for the inconvenience. I hope you get to try this again.
If I use instant yeast and skip the proofing step, do I need to add 30 ml of water to the recipe?
Hello Janet, you will still need it as the total liquid level doesn’t change. Thanks.
Hi Janet, I apologize but you were absolutely right that I double counted the milk in the recipe. The 80ml was listed in both main dough and the roux but in fact only the roux needed 80ml of milk. I have corrected and I am sorry for all the confusion. Thanks again for visiting my blog.
Milk is listed twice in the ingredients for the dough. Which one is correct?
Hi Janet, the 70ml is heavy cream but if you don’t have that in hand you can also use milk instead.
I am referring to two different items in the list of ingredients.
Line 3: 80 ml milk
Line 6: 70 ml milk/heavy cream
That’s too much liquid for the amount of flour, so I just used 80 ml milk.
The buns came out wonderfully, and are still soft and fluffy a day later!
isn’t ammonia bicarbonate the same thing as baking soda? not baking powder? or did you mean ammonia carbonate
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, not ammonia bicarbonate.
I buy baker’s ammonia from King Arthur Flour (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/bakers-ammonia-ammonium-carbonate-27-oz). It contains both ammonium carbonate and ammonium bicarbonate.
Baking powder comes in several formulations, but they’re all different from baking ammonia.
Thanks for sharing the link. I use ammonia from an Asian supermarket.
Which Asian market carries baking ammonia? Can you post a picture of the package?
Here is a picture of the Ammonium Bicarbonate package I have. If you live in NYC, i can recommend a place in Chinatown. Please let me know.
Hi Yi, you really have passionate and talent in cooking. I remembered there was a bakery in HK,the pineapple bun was huge and with the marmalade inside. I hope someday I’ll find time to follow your recipe here and with my favorite marmalade.
Thanks again for sharing the recipes that i’ve been long for!
These rolls look irresistible! What a great recipe and you obviously are fabulous baker because these are perfect!
The recipe looks great but when it comes to baking, I am out of my depth. Like the new website, especially the archive. I can catch up with recipes that were posted before I subscribed.
You might consider writing about coping with a small kitchen.
Any tips would be appreciated. For example, I cook in the kitchen and prepare (chop, slice, etc) in my living room. Still procrastinating about the red yeast paste, hubby is a hard sell. Glad the cat is well.
Hi DB, I like the idea of writing about cooking in tiny kitchens. Thanks for the suggestion!
Oh gosh, they look sooo good!! My childhood favourite and definitely worth every calorie.
Thanks Judith. Yup, this is one of few Asian pastries I don’t mind the calorie!
These do indeed remind me of a pineapple! Really cool recipe — thanks so much.
Haven’t had one pineapple bun since ages! Yours look perfectly perfect, Yi.
Thank you Angie. These buns are delicious indeed!
I am terrible at baking. I cannot follow precise directions. I will beg my wife to make it. 🙂
That’s even better! Hope the buns came out good!
I cannot tell you how excited I am about this recipe. Bo lor bao is my favorite thing to eat at dim sum. I always get it,even if I’m the only one eating it. One question: do you have any good custard recipes for the filling? I love my bo lor bao with the custard in it.
Hi Jennifer, thanks for visiting. I do have a golden custard recipe. Will share it sometime. Perhaps I’ll post a steamed custard bun recipe sometime.