The top of the pineapple bun is made of a dough similar to that used to make sugar cookie, which consists of sugar, , 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 of a pineapple. It is high in calorific value , it has been declared one of the top 10 most harmful snack foods in Hong Kong.
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.
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 , in which "''bo lo ''" means "pineapple," and "'yau'" 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 , and/or it may be used as a bread-roll to sandwich for example luncheon meat , or it may be pre-stuffed with red bean paste , custard cream , barbecued pork , or a sweet filling of shredded coconut as in that in a cocktail bun. Amusingly, it is possible to order a ''pineapple pineapple bun'', actually stuffed with pineapple , although this is very likely the product of misinterpretation of the name by non-native bakers.
*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''.
*In 2005, "Pineapple Bun" was nominated as a potential 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."