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Pineapple bun
Traditional Chinese 菠蘿
Simplified Chinese 菠萝
Literal meaning pineapple bun
pineapple buns just out the oven

A pineapple bun is a kind of sweet pastry popular in Hong Kong, Macau, some other areas in southern China, and in Chinese communities in North America. They can also be found in bakeries in Taiwan. It is known in Cantonese as bo lo baau, in which "bo lo" means "pineapple", and "baau" refers to a kind of bun-like item in Chinese cuisine. It is commonly found in Chinese bakeries, and is mentioned quite frequently on TV, radio and films in Hong Kong.


The pastry

The top of the pineapple bun (the part which is made to resemble a pineapple) is made of a dough similar to that used to make sugar cookies, which consists of sugar, eggs, flour, and lard. As such, it is crunchy and is quite sweet compared to the bread underneath. The bread dough underneath is the same used in Chinese style Western breads, which is a softer and sweeter dough compared to Western breads. It is a popular pastry for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Although the pastry is known as "pineapple bun", the traditional version contains no pineapple. The name "pineapple bun" actually originated from the fact that its sugary top crust is cooked to a golden-brown color, and because its checkered top resembles the epicarp of a pineapple.[1] It is high in calorific value (high in carbohydrates, saturated fats and cholesterol), it has been declared one of the top 10 most harmful snack foods in Hong Kong[2].

It is very similar to the Japanese melonpan in its manner of cooking and in the fact that it is named according to its appearance.

Buttered variant

Many Hong Kong restaurants, such as cha chaan tengs and dai pai dongs, offer an item called a "buttered pineapple bun", which is a pineapple bun with a piece of butter stuffed inside. They are known in Cantonese as bo lo yau (菠蘿油), in which "bo lo " means "pineapple," and "'yau'" (oil) refers to butter. Variants of this include using custard in place of butter.

Typically, the pastry would be brought hot from the oven to the diner's table, and served halved with a large slab of butter in between them. This item is sometimes criticised for containing too much fat and cholesterol.

Other common variants

The pineapple bun may come in miniature sizes (迷你菠蘿包), and/or it may be used as a bread-roll to sandwich for example luncheon meat (餐肉菠蘿包), or it may be pre-stuffed with red bean paste (紅豆菠蘿包), custard cream (奶黃菠蘿包), barbecued pork (叉燒菠蘿包), or a sweet filling of shredded coconut (椰絲菠蘿包) as in that in a cocktail bun. Amusingly, it is possible to order a pineapple pineapple bun, actually stuffed with pineapple (菠蘿菠蘿包), although this is very likely the product of misinterpretation of the name by non-native bakers.

Soboro-Pan in Japan and Soboro-Ppang in Korea are variants which use the same ingredients, except that the top does not look like a pineapple.

Popular culture

  • McDull, the main character in the Hong Kong cartoon film McDull, Prince de la Bun is often seen with a pineapple bun, since the Chinese name of the file is 菠蘿油王子(Prince of Pineapple bun with butter).
  • In 2005, "Pineapple Bun" was nominated as a potential Pacific typhoon name but was rejected. The director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Lam Chiu Ying, as one of the judges for the naming process, commented: "If we say XX country is being ravaged by Pineapple Bun, that would be too hilarious."[3]


  1. ^ "Where's The Pineapple?". My Kitchen:My Laboratory. 2007-05-27. Retrieved 2009-06-29.  
  2. ^ 10種零食損智商 (Chinese)
  3. ^ Ming Pao, 24 May 2005

See also



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