Photo by staff writer Victoria Bishop-Smith.

Coconut milk, flour and sugar are a few of the main ingredients used in Pani Popo to give it its unique coconut flavor that will satisfy your sweet tooth!

Coconut is a popular ingredient seen in a lot of Samoan recipes.

Fun fact: In Samoan, “popo” translates to coconut and “pani” translates to bread.

Native to the Samoan region, this simple recipe is seen throughout Samoan bakeries and shops. After they are baked to perfection, the buns are served upside down and drizzled with the sweet coconut sauce.

Although there is not much history surrounding the dish and its origins, this sweet treat has become a staple food in Samoa, and is typically served as a snack or dessert. It can also be paired with other food to make a complete meal.

If you want to make this recipe for yourself, follow the steps below!


  • In a bowl, mix 3-tablespoon lukewarm water and yeast. Let it sit until dissolve for about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile in a microwave safe medium bowl, combine 1 cup coconut milk, with the butter pieces, sugar, salt and microwave for about a minute. Stir until everything is melted. Lightly whisk in the egg and powdered milk to the butter mixture (if the mixture is too hot let it cool to a warm mixture to prevent eggs from curding.)
  • Dump everything into the yeast mixture.
  • Mix. Add about 3 ½ cups of flour and continue mixing dough.
  • Add in enough additional flour (if needed) to make soft dough.
  • Turn dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 12 minutes or more if you want airy bread.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the dough Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled.
  • Punch the dough down.
  • Divide dough into equal pieces. Shape into balls.
  • Place in greased 12 -inch round pan and bake. You may refrigerate before baking for up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Add the remaining coconut milk in the pan. Brush the top of the loaf with coconut milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the baking pan and let it cool. I like to eat mine when it is still warm.


  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoon) Active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons Warm water 105F- 115 F
  • 1 can coconut milk 14-15oz divided in half
  • 4 tablespoons (56.8 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  •  ¼ cup (30 grams) powdered milk I used full fat milk
  •  ½ cup (100 grams) Sugar
  •  ½-1 teaspoon (2.84 grams) salt
  •  3 1/2 cups (448 grams) to 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  •  2 -3 tablespoon (28.12 grams to 42.18 grams) raw sugar optional for the top

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